I Sent a Pro Organizer Photos of My “Chaotic Closet” — Here’s How She Fixed It

published Feb 3, 2023
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Messy closet before organizing.
Credit: Laura Wheatman Hill

Recently, I admitted to having numerous “doom boxes” — bins around my home filled with items that I “didn’t organize, only moved” — that help keep things together so that I can get to organizing it later. But, there’s an even bigger clutter-related secret that I haven’t shared until now: I have a “chaos closet.” 

In my four-bedroom home, this closet (the biggest one in the entire place) is located in the main bedroom on the first floor that I’ve converted into an office, guest room, art room, and classroom. Because of this, the closet has become home to a mayhem of miscellaneous things — from art supplies, extra school supplies, gift wrap items, suitcases, and photo albums to dresses I rarely wear, costumes, old diaries, love letters I never want to read again but will never throw away, board games my kids don’t play, and table linens.

I knew that this space needed to be tamed so that it could be more functional, so I reached out to Jean Prominski, certified professional organizer and founder of Seattle Sparkle, who was kind enough to take a look and give me her professional opinion.

First, Jean asked me what I liked about the space. I told her I liked that my kids could come in and access art supplies and that I could store paint and hot glue out of their reach. I also like having an indoor space for suitcases and holiday stuff as opposed to storing it in the garage where it could potentially get dirty or be infested by spiders. Additionally, since I sleep in a smaller bedroom upstairs, it’s nice to have my special occasion dresses down here to not crowd the closet I currently use. She also wanted to know what I disliked, which is, of course, the disarray. 

Credit: Laura Wheatman Hill

Then, she had me go through and get rid of stuff I could store elsewhere or give away. Next, it was time to cohesively group items. This meant I had to take everything out of my chaos closet and move some of the shelves around. I then found organizational tools to better store and organize my things.

I got clear shoe boxes from The Container Store to store art supplies in so my kids could see what was what. I already had these small craft supply organizer boxes for bits and bobs and larger ones like these for big scrapbook-size paper and other supplies. I moved my love letters and old wedding albums (I’m divorced) up high, which left more room at “kid level” for coloring books and collage materials. All but one suitcase and one duffel went to live in the garage since I rarely use them. Linens moved down a level to be easier to reach. 

Credit: Laura Wheatman Hill

For the board games, Jean told me to stack them vertically so I could take them out off the shelves like books. Alternately she suggested “to save space, I have also seen people store board games in plastic zippered pouches, like these or these. You can cut out the name of the game and tape it to the outside of the bag.”

To tame my gift wrap collection, Jean suggested a gift wrap organizer, so I got this hanging one that can swivel in my closet, helping me access all my various accouterments. I had more stuff than would fit in this container, so I also used long, narrow under-the-bed containers, to hold the rest. 

It didn’t actually take as long as I thought it would once I started putting things back into the closet and, when I was done, I no longer had a jumble full of things about to crash on top of me. Instead, I had an orderly space, with clear sections and a floor I could walk on without crushing something. Sure, it’s still a mishmash of miscellaneous items, but controlled chaos is better than complete chaos.