A Nightmare Closet Makeover

In my professional life, I've done at least 50 closet makeovers. I would go into strangers' sacred spaces and tell them what to purge and how to organize. But, at home I was a closet-shover. I was doing the same thing as everyone else, cramming too much stuff into too little space. And, since there was no way I could make the one closet in my tiny apartment any bigger, or stop buying cute, blouse-y tops (and shoes and pants), I made it work really hard.
When Elaine Griffin, an interior designer and contestant on Nate Berkus' American Dream Builders, approached me about getting a closet makeover on the show, I was like YES! Then, I was like Oh, no. Have you seen an episode? The lady is crazy-talented with an emphasis on the crazy (yes, and the talented). But, I'm no fool, I would do anything to have someone else organize my closet. Reality-TV villain or not, Griffin turned my disordered storage into a delightful dressing room. Click ahead to see the small-screen magic, and the big impact it had on my space.
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Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.
Take Inventory, Sort, & Divide
"First, find out how many pieces you'll want to actually put in the space. Hang up all your pants, tops, and dresses, and group together and sort by length. That gives you the big picture of how to best lay out your closet. Always double-hang rods and put the most worn stuff on easier-to-reach rods. Put like with like. And, invest in a folding stool so you can reach the top rod with ease."
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Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.
Use The Doors
"Inside of the closet doors [is] a blank slate that could be used for more accessories — and mirrors to admire your gorgeousness by," says Elaine. Since I don't really have that many hangable accessories, I chose to have one hook to display my OOTD.
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Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.
Know Your Non-Negotiables
My steamer is so big it's like having a roommate, but since I'm a perpetual over-sleeper, I need it to quickly de-wrinkle whatever I want to throw on. So, when designing the closet, we made sure to create a space for it. We ran the cord discreetly under the door to an adjacent plug, so my "roommate" never has to move.
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Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.
Elevate Your Shoes
Elaine is very familiar with my kind-of-excessive shoe collection (that I usually have piled up on my floor), so she added shelves to the plan. Then, she took it up a notch by topping the wire shelves with cedar planks; it looks expensive and smells nice, too.
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Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.
Light It Up
"Installing lighting in a closet is an easy DIY and transforms your dressing process," Elaine says. We mounted two genius lights (really meant for under kitchen cabinets) inside the door and secured the cord with steel cable-tacks along the perimeter of the door frame. It makes my closet look huge! Whenever I open the doors, I feel like I walked into a retail store — a nice one with a great high-low mix.

Click here to see the "before" and watch us in action.