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7 Tips for a Closet Change-up

With a house that is nearly 3,000 sq. ft., you would think the master closet would be huge. Spoiler alert: it’s not. My wife and I each took half of the closet, but it still only feels big enough to fit one of us. We’ve started to reorganize, a year after moving in, and the beginnings of the changes are going well. Here’s what I’ve done so far, and what I’m going to do.

  1. Less clothes, more space

I donated a lot of shirts during the move, but I still have too many. The ones I need to get rid of fall under the “shirt that can get dirty” category. The problem is, I’m meticulous, methodical, and careful when I’m working with anything that can stain. I hate getting my clothes dirty, and it’s rare that I get them so dirty that I can’t just throw them in the wash. My solution? The 20/20 rule. Here’s what the Minimalists say: “Anything we get rid of that we truly need, we can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes from our current location.” Admittedly, I get a lot of shirts online, but there’s also a Target within 20 minutes. This simple standard should help me clear out old clothes.

  1. Vacuum Bags

We used a bunch of vacuum bags to hold and compress clothes when we moved. After I organized my garage, I have room to store vacuum-packed bags of clothes. They don’t take up much space – the whole reason for using them – they just tend to be heavy. I’ll have very little use for shorts and T-shirts in the freezing temperatures of Idaho winters, meaning I can free up more space in the closet.

  1. Storage bins

We had one goal in mind when we moved in a year ago: Get stuff out of boxes as fast as possible. This turned into “throw clothes in the closet, organize later” situation. It’s now “later.” I took a huge first step when I recently bought cloth baskets for the built-in shelves and a metal frame with sliding bins. I now store lounge wear and socks in the bins, which definitely helps on saving space.


  1. A collection of hats

There are cubbies built out of the middle of the closet. Donating old clothes that I don’t wear should free up space, so I’d love to display some cool items in the closet (especially since my wife won’t let me display them where guests can see). I have a collection of fashion-forward hats. A couple baseball caps, a trilby, a Greek captain’s hat from my parents’ recent trip, a bowler hat (that sadly doesn’t fit anymore), and two newsboy caps. Right now, they are in a box, buried under more boxes, in the garage. The internet has tried to make a joke of fedoras and trilby hats, but I’m proud of my collection and want to display it somewhere.

  1. Drawers for accessories

My winter thermal shirts hang below my t-shirts. I want to remove the wooden bar they hang from and install drawers.

Admittedly, this is after a week of not doing laundry, but it’s still pretty sparse.

My tie collection hangs from two clothes hangers next to my button-downs, sweaters, and jackets. It’s far from ideal – especially when they start to droop on one side and get within reach of our less-than-a-year-old kitten who loves anything that dangles. The drawers can also hold my wife’s scarf collection, and my rarely used pocket square collection.

  1. Trash Bags

I mentioned that I have kitten, but we have another cat, as well. I have to scoop litter boxes fairly often, and also replace trash bags, which requires going downstairs (and our bedroom is on the far side of the house). Though it’s supposed to be for a garage, I found a great idea: using an old paper towel rack as storage for trash bags. I could attach a small paper towel rack to a wall in the closet. It will be so much more convenient that having to run downstairs or even just keeping a roll under a sink.

  1. A gun safe of sorts

I own guns, but no gun safe. My wife and I are looking to start a family, and I need to clear out my gun room to make way for a nursery. Using the closet to store the safe is probably the best idea right now. The major problem is gun safes are both fairly large and fairly expensive. Fortunately, metal lockers are not on both counts, and I can still lock them – plus I have a friend who uses lockers with padlocks and it’s worked well. It’s a short-term solution and I’ll need to line the locker with felt, but a locker in the closet should serve its purpose until I can save up for a real safe. Something tells me any future children will not learn how to pick a padlock by then. I’ve wanted an actual locker in my garage since I’ve moved in, so the locker can have a new life downstairs when it’s no longer needed for firearm storage.

Though I’ve only made a few changes to the closet so far, it’s already feeling like it can hold more. This is a fairly simple project that I can work on during the weekends, and I should have done in just a few weeks – giving me a much roomier closet.

This article was written by Cole Mayer.  A former professional journalist covering crime, court and fire stories, Cole spends his free time freelance writing, playing video games, doing yard work, and slowly writing a crime novel.  He can be reached on Twitter or Facebook.

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