Organizing Zen: How To Declutter Any Closet in 5 Simple Steps

Organizing Zen: How To Declutter Any Closet in 5 Simple Steps

Shira Gill believes that "less is more" and that a tidy, organized home can lead to a simplified, happier life. Through years of helping people edit, organize and style their homes, Shira has learned what works and how to approach the process—and she's sharing some of her best tips with Apartment Therapy.

Is your small or cluttered closet causing you stress? Tired of things falling on your head every time you open the door? Follow these simple steps to whip your closet into a stylish, functional, and organized space.

One: Prep

Start by removing everything from your closet. Not some things. Not half of the things. Every. Single. Thing. You can use a large table, a bed, or the floor as a staging area.

Next, set up a bag for donations and have trash and recycling bins easily accessible. You will also want to relocate any stray items that accidentally ended up in your closet (there's that random thing – screwdriver, passport, measuring cup? - you were looking for!). Finally, make sure to wipe down shelving and give your closet a good vacuum, so you can start fresh with a clean slate. This pre-work will help ensure that your editing and organizing steps are easy and efficient.

Shira Gill
(Image credit: Vivian Johnson | Courtesy of Shira Gill)

Two: Sort and Organize

Once you've removed the contents of your closet, make sure to group similar items together in clear piles (i.e cleaning supplies, outerwear, bike stuff, etc.). This will make it easy to see if you have doubles or excess of some items in the next stage of this process (do you really need three identical black coats?). Being organized is as simple as consistently grouping and storing similar things together. You've got this.

Three: Edit

Review the entire contents of your closet and do your best to keep only what you actually use, need, and love. This is the most important step in this process. If you get stuck, try asking yourself the following clarifying questions:

  • Does this item reflect my authentic personal style?
  • Would I buy this item for full price today?
  • Would it impact my daily life not to have this item?
  • Is this item really worth the space it's taking up in my closet?

Four: Store

Now that you have thoroughly edited your belongings you can take an easy inventory of what products you'll need to efficiently store everything back in your closet. A few things I like to invest in when setting up a closet:

  • Uniform, wooden hangers. Same style and color for a streamlined look.
  • Labeled bins and baskets for storing accessories.
  • Sturdy hooks for umbrellas, hats, bike helmets, and handbags.
  • A wall-mounted organizer for hanging cleaning supplies such as brooms and mops.

Make sure to use what you already have, and buy only what you need (no more entering the Container Store without a list!).

Five: Set Up + Style

You've made it to the fun part!

Before you put everything back in your closet, consider how frequently you use each item. Everyday essentials should be stored at arm's reach for easy access. Set up seasonal and occasional-use items at the very bottom, or very top, of your closet to maximize vertical space.

  • Use attractive bins for storing gloves, scarves, and accessories. Pick one style and color of bin to keep everything looking clean and cohesive.
  • Handbags, backpacks, umbrellas, and pet leashes can be hung on sturdy hooks to maximize closet space.
  • Create a streamlined, orderly look by using uniform hangers for coats and outerwear.

To ensure you'll maintain your newly streamlined closet, you'll need to practice putting things away in their assigned homes (no more dumping!). You can also set up a basket or tote bag in your closet for storing donations as they arise so you can easily practice the one-in, one-out rule and stay clutter-free.

Shira is the founder of Shira Gill Home. She is passionate about helping individuals and families learn how to live well with less stuff. Her company offers full-service home organization and styling, as well as online resources and inspiration to help you design a clutter-free life. For information, free worksheets, and organizing resources, please visit: Follow Shira on Instagram @shiragill for weekly tips and inspiration.

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