The Home Edit: The First Rule Of Cleaning Your Closet Is Not To Talk About Cleaning Your Closet

The following is an excerpt from the book The Home Edit: A Guide To Organizing And Realizing Your House Goals, out March 18, published with permission of Clarkson Potter.

Tackling a closet is not for the faint of heart. It’s essentially an organizing project scattered with emotional land mines and decision-making trip wires. Just when you think you might be making progress, you’ll come across a dress that reminds you of an event you went to, or a sweater you wore almost every day that you were pregnant with your firstborn. And even if you make it through those hurdles, you may eventually find clothing that forces you to confront the size you were ten years ago. But if you create some goals and ground rules (see also “Rules for Getting Rid of Stuff,” page 41), you can make it through to the other side relatively unscathed.

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1. The first rule of your cleaning your closet is to not talk about cleaning your closet. Not with your friends, who want to get their mitts on your giveaways; not with your mother-in-law, who will do a spot check to make sure all the scarves and sweaters she gave you are still in there; and not with your daughter, who all of a sudden will plead with you to keep some vintage something for her that she will never ever have any interest in. And if you’re married, you DEFINITELY do not want to talk about it with your spouse, since he or she will likely check on your progress and annoy you endlessly.

2. Be realistic. We cannot stress this enough. If you find a tiny pair of low-rise denim from your pre-pregnancy days, just say goodbye.

3. Go with your gut. If for whatever reason you don’t really like something in your closet, you probably will not grow to like it in the coming months. And you don’t want clothing you don’t like taking up valuable real estate.

4. Get rid of the guilt — whether someone gave it to you or you spent a lot of money on something and feel bad getting rid of it. DO NOT FEEL BAD. You should feel bad that it’s taking up valuable real estate in your closet instead of something you actually like! Instead, you can sell it online or in a store if it might have value, you can give it away to someone who might like it, or you can donate it to someone who might need it. All are good options, and none of them includes holding on to something unnecessary.

5. No backsies. Once you decide to get rid of an item, it cannot make its way back into your closet. That is a slippery slope. Stay strong, and keep the donation pile sacred.
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Bare Bones Closet

Some closets come with nothing but a hanging rod and, if we’re lucky, maybe a shelf. So we try to come up with some creative solutions to maximize the space. By now you’ve caught on to our penchant for over- the-door storage. It’s just so helpful that we encourage everyone to feel as passionately about door units as we do. And don’t get us started on our love of carts. Who wouldn’t want one?

1. Baskets for travel and linens line the top

2. Hook added for hats

3. Closet doors used for running shoes and sandal storage

4. Rolling cart can easily be moved out of the way
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Small Space Closet

Do you have any idea how much we wanted to add an over-the-door unit to this closet? Yes, you probably do . . . And it was downright painful that the rod didn’t fit on these charming original doors. But when other options fail, hooks will never let you down! We were able to hang the handbags, and take advantage of the floor space by creating a “chest of floor drawers.”

1. Lesser-used sandals and heels go on the upper shelf

2. Handbags hung on a door hook
3. Denim folded into modular drawers

4. Most-used sneakers and boots stacked in floor shoe boxes

TIP: Stacking shoe boxes on the floor helps optimize vertical space and keeps your shoes dust-free!
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