Organize & Clean

I Sent a Pro Organizer Photos of My “Disaster” of an Office Closet — Here’s What She Told Me to Change

published Jan 11, 2023
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Credit: Jennifer Billock

I was so excited when we first moved into our current apartment. I was going to get my own office — with a door that closes! — and an entire enormous closet all for me. So I carefully arranged my possessions in there: all my treasured items with sentimental value that didn’t fit out in the apartment; my yarn, fabric, and crafting supplies; and my extensive portfolio of magazine and newspaper clips. It was gorgeous.

Credit: Jennifer Billock

And then, I added in the extra space heaters we weren’t using. And then, the reusable bags I didn’t have space for otherwise. And then, my yoga ball, some photo albums, my travel bags, and some extra shelves. One day I looked into the closet from my desk, and it was a disaster.

I was in need of some professional help, so why not ask a pro organizer to take a look at my closet and give me some advice on taming the mess? I jumped at the chance — I love some good organization — because things had gotten out of hand and I needed help.

Credit: Jennifer Billock

For the project, I basked in the knowledge of Jean Prominski, a certified professional organizer and owner of Seattle Sparkle. Believe me when I tell you that if I could have her organize my entire home, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Credit: Jennifer Billock

Prominski’s first suggestion was to put the things I rarely use toward the back and in the harder-to-access spaces. That meant shuffling around some shelves so I could fit my yoga ball on the top, and boxing up my portfolio pieces with desiccant (the little “do not eat” packs that keep moisture away from important things). Since those are personal archives that I only access sometimes, they should go on the left side with the yoga ball.

Prominski also suggested I rearrange my treasured items storage so it would all be on the bottom in the back of the closet since I honestly never go into the bins I use to store everything.

Credit: Jennifer Billock

Next, we tackled my craft projects. I had one open-storage cart for some of my yarn — the IKEA RASKOG cart — and the rest stuffed into a set of plastic drawers. At Prominski’s suggestion, I got two more of them and moved all the yarn to open-storage carts. We both agreed yarn looks so much lovelier when it’s on display.

The third stop on our closet organization journey was to manage the items I use regularly. In my first iteration of the closet, I had extra copies of my books for signings stacked up on their side on a wire shelf. I was worried they would fall through the shelving if I stood them upright.

Credit: Jennifer Billock

Prominski suggested something obvious I hadn’t considered: putting something solid on the shelf to stop the books from falling through. Her idea was foam core or cardboard, but I was at IKEA already and wanted to get creative when gathering organization supplies. So I bought four plastic placemats for a dinner table and used them as a shelf liner. It works perfectly.

My reusable bags, which were pretty much all over the floor of the closet, were corralled into an IKEA DRONA box and stored on a shelf. But my favorite suggestion of everything Prominski shared? Move my travel backpacks to the front and hang them on hangers for easy access. It was such a smart decision and something that makes absolute sense. They’re easy to get to, I can quickly decide which bag I need to take, and they look great hanging there.

Credit: Jennifer Billock

I did have to make a couple of changes from our discussion. We talked about adding another shelf to hold the space heaters and my portfolio pieces, but I didn’t have any extra shelves as I thought. A little bit of rearranging, though, and the solution is perfect with magazine boxes on two shelves. I also wanted to get rid of the set of drawers, but it turned out to be the perfect storage solution for in-progress projects. And, my Sparkle Mat fits easily in front of it for quick access.

If there’s one thing you can take away from Prominski’s advice for me, it’s to make sure items you use regularly are close at hand. I used to have to pull everything out of the closet to get to my backpack and travel pillow on the top shelf in the back. But now it’s all at my fingertips — and I feel like I have a new lease on my closet’s life.