Before and After: This Closet Makeover Features a Creative Laundry Basket System to Get It Organized

published Feb 23, 2023
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Before photo of Lauren Schopen's disorganized closet.
Credit: Lauren Schopen

Color-coded organizational systems in clear modular bins that fit perfectly within the space they’re organizing are certainly drool-worthy. But these seemingly picture-perfect spaces are often not as affordable or realistic as you can imagine — and it might not even solve the organizing issue you had at the start.

A true and lasting organizing solution involves tackling the real-life problem at hand, figuring out how to address it, and then implementing a system — with the resources accessible to you — that will last. 

Lauren Schopen’s closet makeover demonstrates exactly this kind of organizing prowess. She completely overhauled her husband’s closet, and though the “after” may not look like your typical glossy spread, it’s jaw-dropping in its creativity. 

Credit: Lauren Schopen

“After living together for 15 years, I finally accepted the fact that my husband would never use hangers and drawers. The traditional system for clothes organization simply did not work for him,” shares Lauren. “He honestly tried but continually struggled to keep clothes put away or find things. His closet was pure chaos with clean and dirty clothes of all seasons mixing. Things were just not working.”

The solution Lauren landed on is far from typical, and her inspiration came from an unlikely but incredibly useful source. As she was researching how to set up play areas, arts and crafts rooms, and clothes organization in preparation for foster children, Lauren realized that “not all brains work the same and traditional systems don’t work for everyone.” 

She put this realization to use when re-doing her husband’s closet. “I needed to completely overhaul the closet into a system that my husband could sustain,” she says. “He needed to be able to see all of his options when getting dressed and when putting away clean clothes. Clear labels were a must.” 

Credit: Lauren Schopen

So, in five hours and with a $200 budget, Lauren created a space that her husband could actually keep organized — and it features a creative organizing system that utilizes laundry baskets. Here’s how she did it:

  • Take everything out. “First I removed absolutely EVERYTHING from the closet,” says Lauren. “Because clean and dirty clothes had mixed, I had to wash everything. That was the most tedious and time-consuming part.”
  • Categorize. “I then set up different bins in the room to separate types of clothes (pants, shorts, T-shirts, dress shirts, etc.) while also separating out items to donate that didn’t fit, or items to throw out that had become ripped or stained beyond repair,” she says. 
  • Paint. For a pop of color, Lauren painted the back wall.
  • Install shower curtain rods. She spread shower curtain rods across the interior of the shower for the baskets to sit on. 
  • Set baskets on rods and label them. “After labeling the baskets, I set them in the curtain rods,” says Lauren. “It was important that they be movable (they slide or can be taken out and put back with ease) so that with changing seasons, etc., all you would have to do is move the basket to a different ‘shelf’ and not have to take the items themselves out and start over.”
Credit: Lauren Schopen

The project is certainly unique and didn’t come without its challenges. “The hardest part was really trying to get into the mind of someone who thinks entirely different [from] me,” says Lauren. “This project was done as a surprise birthday gift to my husband, so I didn’t have him to ask for feedback or check in with as I made decisions about how it would work or where things would go.”

The task, though not easy, was extremely rewarding. “In the end, it was incredibly worth it to witness how loved and accepted he felt. He had always felt like a failure in not being able to keep a clean closet and getting dressed filled him with anxiety,” shares Lauren. 

She adds that having a system that’s entirely designed for him made him feel truly seen and he’s been able to keep up with it. “It has been six months since the project and he has been able to keep it entirely clean and organized. It’s a big win for him and a big win for the project!” 

Credit: Lauren Schopen

For those who would like to take on a similar project, Lauren shares how to best go about it: “When you approach your own closet or area that can never seem to stay perfect (your desk, under your bathroom sink, your purse, whatever that organization problem area of your life is) remember that what works for 99 percent of other people just may not be what works for you.”

Lauren continues with an admonition: “Stop banging your head against a system designed for others and really think outside the box to design one that meets your own needs and is sustainable … Worry less about what looks good and concentrate on what will actually work for you and your life.”

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