I was thrilled when designer and author Caitlin Flemming asked me to help organize her closet. Caitlin’s San Francisco home is exquisitely furnished, but tight on storage space. Instead of attempting to share the tiny closet in the bedroom with her husband, Caitlin repurposed the entry coat closet for her own storage needs.
She enlisted the help of California Closets to help transform the tall and narrow closet, installing smart systems to maximize vertical space (which makes a lot of sense because Caitlin is 6 ft tall!).
Caitlin and I decided to put my 5-step process from Minimalista to work to efficiently whip her new space into shape. I’m sharing the big reveal below, plus the simple steps we used, so you can apply them to your own space:
Step One: Clarify
Before starting any home organizing project it’s crucial to clarify your specific goals and the outcome you want. Consider how you want your space to look, feel, and function. In this case, Caitlin’s closet makeover goals were simple: To transform her entry coat closet into a stylish and functional wardrobe area.
Step Two: Edit
Remember: The less you own, the less you have to organize, clean, and maintain. Editing is simply the process of intentionally deciding which items you want to keep and what you’d like to let go of. Luckily, Caitlin is super decisive and was able to let go of old outdated items she didn’t wear, filling a donation basket in a snap.
If you get stuck along the way, try asking yourself the following clarifying questions:
Does this item fit and flatter my current body? (Beware of the aspirational items that just make you feel bad about yourself!)
Would I buy this item for full price today?
Is this item really worth the space it’s taking up in my closet?
Is this item adding value to my life right now?
Does this item energize or drain me?
Step Three: Organize
Once you’ve eliminated the items you no longer need, use, or love, you can start to think about organization. In the most simple terms, organization is just the process of grouping similar items together and assigning each group or category a designated “home.”
In Caitlin’s closet we hung dresses, blouses, coats and jackets, and used her new open shelves for storing folded jeans and sweaters as well as shoes, boots, and handbags. We tucked grab-and-go items like swimwear and scarves in open bins (I brought my favorite labels) for easy access.
Step Four: Elevate
And now for the fun part! Once you’ve organized your space, it’s nice to add some personal touches and decor to complete the transformation. You might try fun patterned wallpaper, a throw rug, pretty lighting, framed pictures or an inspiration board.
Elevating Caitlin’s closet was a breeze since she already owned an extensive selection of objects and decor to help personalize her closet. We added a vintage rug and mirror for texture, and Caitlin accented the space with sweet details like framed photos of her and her husband (high school sweethearts), an old key, books, and art by William McLure. She also swapped out the knobs on her drawers – an easy way to personalize and elevate any space.
Step Five: Maintain
Life can get messy, but your closet doesn’t have to. Inevitably you will buy new things and things will come in and out of your home and life. In order to maintain a streamlined and stylish closet you must respect the boundaries you have set up. Every time a new item enters your closet, a similar item should be donated or taken to a buy-sell-trade or consignment store. (When deciding whether to sell or donate your unwanted items, consider if the time it takes to consign or list on Ebay is really worth the dollar amount you may earn, usually a tiny fraction of the original price.) It’s also helpful to keep a vessel in your closet for storing donations as they arise. I repurposed one of Caitlin’s pretty Moroccan baskets to set up an easy donation drop-zone she can use moving forward.
Hope you love Caitlin’s closet as much as I do, and that you picked up some tips and some inspiration along the way. Click here to order Caitlin’s book, Travel Home. It’s one of my faves!
Photography Credit: Stephanie Russo