Tuesday, June 30, 2015

49 Four Week "Wait-No-More" Organizing Challenge! Week 4 - Master Closet Organization Plan

Welcome to the final week of our big  "Wait-No-More" Organizing Challenge. To recap, I am focusing on four main areas of our life that need a lot of organizational help. Instead of biting off more than I can chew all at once (and subsequently becoming quite overwhelmed), I am tackling one space each week.  We took so much time focusing on the kitchen/living room for the first half of the year, that the rest of our home began to suffer severely.  Having certain areas of our lives on the fritz has added to a little renovation burnout.  So, I told my hubby to take a little break and I have been working hard to take back neglected bits of our home and life!

And many of you are joining in and working on a few of your own spaces, which I totally love! For this week's organizational challenge, I am focusing on our master bedroom closet.  Here is my inspiration....

If that room looks familiar, it is because that is our master bedroom closet.  The awkward layout of our lower level didn't allow the space to be considered a bedroom (due to lack of a window), so we turned it into a large dressing room.  We could have done a giant wall-to-wall closet, but A) it would have cost us a fortune and B) we just don't have that much to store, nor do we want that much to store.  Since we initially divided our belongings between two armoires, a dresser and some open shelving, we have been very happy with our current situation.  Boy-oh-boy, it sure does clean up nicely!  This week I hope to get it back to that fabulous condition.

Although the room fits all of our belongings, and functions well in general, we have done a poor job keeping it tidy and have lost control of the space.  Well, I guess I can take credit for most of this one too... What happens behind Bryan's closet doors, stays behind Bryan's closet doors.  That is one of my favorite benefits of having two separate armories; I have no clue how organized or unorganized his closet is. #happywife

But an organized system only works if I work to maintain it.  Of course, the goal is to create easy-to-maintain set-ups, but sometimes lack of time, effort and motivation get in the way.

I have quite a few problem areas happening around the room.  First, the typical unused clothing problem.  It has been over a year since I have done a good closet purge, and inevitably I have some work to do in that department.  But this time, I really want to go the less is more route.  I hope to come up with a variety of outfit creations that I love, using a few key favorite pieces, and really simplify the amount of clothes that I own.  Having too many items to select from causes me to become overwhelmed and I end up wearing the same things anyway.  And the other half of the items become ignored/forgotten.

How much one should have or keep can become a touchy subject.  There is no right or wrong amount of clothing to own.  We all live different lifestyles and have different passions and if you love clothes, I say hooray!  I have no judgement towards those who live out of a giant walk-in closet filled with the latest and greatest trends or someone who has their wardrobe narrowed down to a single drawer.  You are the only one who can decide how much it makes sense for you to have.  That really goes with anything in life right?

When it comes to purging and letting go, I don't typically have too hard of a time saying goodbye to unused things that take up space or that no longer make me happy, because I know the end benefit is worth it.  Occasionally, I can even sell items and come out ahead.  But I tend to struggle more with clothing (just as I did with certain types of toiletries).  Some articles of clothing can be expensive, so even though they ended up being ill fitting or have gone out of style or have become damaged at some point, I am pretty good about making excuses to hold on to something.  In fact, during this process I found multiple shirts that I forgot I owned as well as a shirt and a dress that I have been making excuses to keep for about 3 years (yet still haven't worn).  Selling clothing can be time consuming, tedious and hard to reap much reward.  I prefer to donate, but that is when I become a bit more strict about pieces I let go of.  And although it may sound weird, I don't like not knowing where that donated clothing is going.  I would like to know that someone in need is benefiting from it, or that it is truly being passed on and receiving new life.  The unfortunate fact is that many common donation facilities only use about 10% of the clothing that is donated and the remainder becomes extra work, waste and has alternative impacts to the process.

That said, I am going to sort ruthlessly and not worry right away about what the outcome of the clothing will be.  I am just going to ask myself important questions and make decisions accordingly:
  • Does the item still fit?
  • Is the item comfortable?
  • Is the item damaged?
  • How often is the item worn?
  • How versatile is the item/How many outfits can I create with the item?
  • Do I have the space to store the item?

 I am not going to ask myself:
  • How much did this item initially cost me?
  • Does the item have a sentimental attachment?
  • What am I going to do with this item once I let go of it?
  • Will there be a need for this item three years from now?
  • Will the item fit better if I change my exercise and diet routine?

Because at the end of the day, those last five questions are all ways to make excuses to hold on to something that I no longer need.  Once I have my keep pile narrowed down, then I will decide how to handle the items that didn't make the cut:

  • Sell on eBay
  • Sell on local garage sale websites/Craigslist
  • Sell at a garage sale
  • Sell to a consignment shop
  • Sell to Thred-Up or Poshmark
  • Use damaged items as cleaning rags
  • Use damaged items as stuffing for pet bedding
  • Donate to charity
  • Donate to a shelter, church or crisis center
  • Donate to Dress for Success
  • Pass on to friends/family who wear similar sizes
  • Have a clothing swap party

Feel free to leave additional suggestions in the comments below as well.

Every time I go through these sorting and purging sessions, I become that much more aware of any purchasing mistakes I have made and it helps me become better with my intentional shopping.

A reader previously joked about her "chairdrobe", and I loved it so much that I designated this pile in our closet my "benchdrobe".

Because I knew I had a closet clean-out lingering in the near future, I started tossing my clean clothes into piles on my bench vs. hanging them up.  It was helpful in me realizing what I don't wear very often (the items still hanging in my closet), but has been a nightmare to find anything I am looking for each day.  Time to get my closet back in order.

Other areas that need some love are my jewelry nook....

My makeup vanity...

And my travel/toiletry drawer.

OK, fiiiiine.  All of my drawers....

So, let's take a quick look at my plan of attack.

There are some things we have implemented that are working:

  • The amount of available storage
  • Jewelry display/holders (I just need to actually use them)
  • Drawer dividers in vanity
  • A hook for setting out outfits
  • Sweater storage boxes
  • Shoe storage shelves
  • Accessory storage (belts, swimwear, handbags, tall boots, etc...)

And a few things that are not:

  • Outfit planning/selection process
  • Make-up bag
  • Vanity set-up
  • Travel/toiletry drawer
  • Clothing drawers
  • Scarf storage
  • Too many articles of clothing
  • Laziness - I have not been great about putting things back where they belong

I took my jewelry off of the jewelry board to test it out in the kitchen, and the necklaces became a tangled ball and I never took the time to re-hang them.  I rarely use my vanity any longer because of poor lighting, the wrong mirror setup, storage and access to it after I am done in our bathroom.  My makeup has since been tossed around and broken in a cosmetic bag while other items are still in the drawer.  I love adding scarves to my outfits and have outgrown our previous drawer divider system.  My travel/toiletry drawer is just a random dumping ground and no longer speeds up my packing process.  And again, I need to streamline my morning outfit selecting process and pare down my closet in general.  Quite a few little problems have all equated to one big master bedroom closet disaster.  And being that the closet is the first space I see in the morning and one of the last I lay eyes on in the evening, it is time for a change.

Just like all of my organizing projects, all surfaces that were problematic were given a blank slate.

Everything was wiped down and vacuumed and ready for a re-do.

Majority of this project will be about letting go and making the most of the items we already have.  No painting this time around either, although, I do hope to update the vanity area using this as inspiration.


However, instead of lamps I am leaning toward some sconces with adequate lighting.  I also found a mirror on Craigslist I am hoping to score to keep the budget down, and if I can sell mine, then I may even break even or come out ahead.

Because we use both our master closet and bathroom for getting ready in the morning and at bedtime, we also plan to install a door connecting the two spaces (creating a true ensuite).

Here is our door inspiration:

( 1 | 2 )

We also have a door to install for our coat closet upstairs and hope to get them done at the same time.  With two door installations on the agenda, I am not sure this piece of the project will make my Friday reveal, but it is just around the corner and I simply can't wait for the impact that change will make.

With the upcoming holiday weekend, our week has also become jam packed with entertaining and activities.  That means this challenge has me on an extremely tight deadline.  And I have a feeling that I have hours upon hours of clothing sorting ahead of me, because each article is getting touched assessed and noted.  Time to start a new Netflix series.  Any suggestions?

You can find all of the challenge details in this post here, and also download some FREE project planning printables to help you get started!


  1. I'm just getting ready to go through my clothing this week. I've decided this time to do things a little bit different. My weight fluctuates up and down - a lot. So instead of getting rid of things that don't fit right now, if I like them they're going in one of those bags you hook up to your vacuum with a label indicating what weight they fit at.

  2. I recently gave up about 60% of my wardrobe, and I was lucky enough to give it all to a good home (boyfriend's sister). I used to hang on for 'just in case', but once I found the idea of capsule wardrobe I was really motivated to get rid of things I never wore and it was so freeing! Now I have a wardrobe that fits my lifestyle (and me) and I wear everything (given the weather). Plus I was able to buy new clothes that I absolutely love.
    For reference, if you're interested in capsule wardrobes or just refining your wardrobe then I recommend Un-Fancy.

    1. Oh yes! I have been reading up on the capsule wardrobes as they seem to really be a hit amongst fellow bloggers. Definitely something to consider and it seems to work really well for some.

    2. Hi Jennifer, I am loving your master closet organization! I wonder if you could tell me where to get the white shelves that store your purses and have the 3 drawers below it? You are amazing at what you do and inspire me to have a more functional home!
      All my best

    3. Hi! The towers are Closetmaid and I found them at our local Home Depot. They offer a variety of mix and match pieces. :)

    4. I love your armoires. Can I ask where you got those?

  3. Have you read the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo? I think you will love it. And it's main point would help you bunches with your clothes purging process this week: "Does this item spark joy?"

    Because that single question will cover whether an item fits, is comfortable, it's worth keeping, etc. And if you love it you will use it and you'll make room to store it. If you're keeping it because you think you ought to, you'll have to force yourself (or at least remind yourself) to take care of these items that don't really spark joy for you. If you love them, you will naturally.

    If you don't have time to read the book this week, check out the following blog post and these few videos to get an idea of what it's about. I really think the book is right up your alley and you'll love it. It just seems to me that it would suit your personality, which is bubbly and optimistic, and full of emotion and joy about her house and her things. Someone who thrives when their home is beautiful. I'm not getting anything from recommending the book or the videos. I just honestly think you'll like it, and these were the videos that convinced me to buy the book.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbkPlsEj7MA (7:17; same video as in the blog post)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvCtkbmW96s (7:23; her followup)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9RrHBXRgNw (15:02; full time-lapse of the process)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70lqu2ZyfVQ (9:11; skeptic turned believer giving her review)

    Hope you like these videos, even if ultimately you don't buy the book. :)

    1. Thank you April! The book is sitting right next to me as we speak. Ironically, it is next on my reading list due to a friend's recommendation. I am now even more excited to start reading, and check out those links. :)

  4. My favorite method of purging clothes is to turn all my hangers around on Jan 1, then when putting clothes away return them to 'normal', so that on Dec 31 you can easily see which clothes you've worn in the past year and which you haven't! I've been doing it now for 5+ years and wind up donating the majority of the clothes I haven't worn that year (with the exceptions of some formal wear/infrequently worn items with special significance, and I limit those to 5 pieces).

    1. I have been wanting to do that for awhile now, and was thinking this was the perfect time to begin! Thanks for letting me know it works well. :)

    2. I also started doing this. It is also helps when I am picking out an outfit, because I will try and pick something from the turned around hangers first. This way I try and make sure I am wearing all of my clothes.

  5. I didn't know about Dress for Success and I find it really interesting!
    Regarding clothes that have already seen a lot of wear and tear, H&M collects items in their Conscious program. At least in Spain, every store accepts them and they give you a €5 coupon per bag.

    On another note, I can't wait to see the new vanity setup. I'm all about round mirrors lately, and I think that's where you're going...

    1. I will have to look into H&M, I haven't heard about that here, but it sounds great! And yes, totally into round mirrors lately, they are my jam!

    2. It´s HM Conscious


  6. Jennifer, that is exactly the bifold door I separated and used as a French door between my dining room and music room--it came out perfectly and you've made a great choice. We took off the hinges, filled the holes, and painted, then installed with small knobs and tension (sort of a button that pops up into a dent when you shut the door) at the top of the door frame. The narrow doors are much more traditional as one would find in France, and I get complements on them all the time--they have worked great. Don't know if you're going to similarly install, but I wanted to let you know of my good luck with same! :)


    1. I am so excited to hear that Anne! That is very similar to what we were thinking of doing, we have been wavering between hinging them as french doors or hanging them as dual sliding doors. Happy to hear your review!

  7. I love ThredUp and StitchFix!

  8. I'd love to see a floor plan sometime of your basement! The closet sounds neat!

    1. Hi Ashley! I have the floor plans on my Home Tour page, you can also direct link to the lower level here: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Lm60JT2OwwE/UBB3vZ9s1cI/AAAAAAAAVSY/CnJ9o68f6Q4/s1600/LowerLevelFloorPlan.jpg

  9. My advice on clothing- only keep what brings you joy. If you use that as your criteria, it makes the decluttering go so much faster and it's slightly less painful. Most of us only wear what brings us joy anyway, which is why we don't wear half of what's in our closets!

  10. I'm went through my closet and donated bags and bags. I could probably go through again, now that seasons have changed. I need to go through hubby's closet....its a mess!!!

  11. All of this closet talk has got me really pumped to clean out a lot of my closet. My family and friends are always telling me I have too many clothes. However, I have a walk-in closet in my apartment. I need to figure out a way to keep how many clothes I have in there. For while I started a system I called "Buy one, Donate one" where if I bought a new shirt, I was required to donate/toss out a new one. Maybe I should keep up with that again?

    1. I try and do the same, I was keeping a donate bag in my closet to fill if I would hang up something new. It ended up being a little too bulky for the space I have, so I am hoping to add it somewhere else in my closet. It works so great!

  12. I have been following this series hungrily. I have not had time to do the work required to notate and link up my projects, but I HAVE gotten some done and I am stoked. This has truly been an inspiring and motivating series. Perhaps bc of the focus on function and speed. But adding pretty to the list even on fast projects reminds me that those little extra steps have big impact on the finished feeling. Also, focusing on speed and one project a week has helped me get several tackled this month which I know I will be adding and tweaking, but I got 4!! tackled instead of getting bogged down in perfecting the first. All this accomplishment is energizing! Thanks so much for this idea and best of luck finishing out your 'do it now' projects <3

    1. This makes me so incredibly happy Hannah, and what this series is all about. Thank you for taking a minute to comment and share your excitement with me. You totally made my day!

  13. I went through my entire closet a few months ago. I always hated the "have an entire closet full, but nothing to wear"
    I realized a big problem was fluctuating weight due to recent pregnancy (so many items didn't fit "right now", but didn't mean I didn't like them anymore). I kept every item I still liked, but separated by size so that every item in my closet were things that I liked and fit well. The remaining clothes I stored in Rubbermaid bins in my storage closet.
    I've dropped enough dress sizes, I'm about to do another major purge again (removing all clothes that are now too big). But I've agreed to "shop from the storage unit" before I purchase anything new.

  14. Your plan sounds really good Jen. But my question is (and pardon my ignorance here, since I am new to the US) why do you store your shoes in your closet? Don't you take them off when you enter your house and leave them at the entry (or in the coat closet)?

    1. Hi Swati!

      We keep our daily shoes in a shoe cabinet near our front door, but being a gal that likes to switch things up, I keep my dressier/more color specific options in my closet.


  15. When you're all finished, I hope that in addition to the closet reveal, you'll also share the clothing/outfits you decided to keep! I like to be somewhat minimal in my wardrobe as well, with simple mix & match items, but it's hard to find inspiration in that department online. Most blogs and pins I've found are more geared toward the "clothes-horse" "fashionista" types, so I'd love to see what someone with a bit more simple, yet stylish wardrobe comes up with! I know you're not a fashion blogger, but choosing clothing wisely is all part of being organized, right? : )

    1. I can get on board with that! Definitely far from a fashionista, but I will see if I can find a way to share a few of the outfits I selected and the why behind each. Thanks for the encouragement!

  16. Great organising advice! Anrola.com

  17. Hi Jen! I have to agree with Hannah above that I have gotten much inspiration from this series and have accomplished several small projects without linking up before/after results. So far, I have:
    organized medications,
    created a binder of important documents,
    cleared/cleaned utility room counters (which were so dirty!!),
    made a nail polish caddy (this label was my first Silhouette labeling project and I am so proud of myself for figuring it out),
    completed an "initial" clean out of our garage (organization systems and secondary cleaning still to come but it made a huge difference)
    and installed a playroom bench/cushion (similar to yours) but made the cushion out of re-purposed curtains. My hubby & I made the cushion together last weekend and were actually working "together" by the end of the project.

    I still need to tackle master bath organization, sort children's books/toys so playroom is more manageable and reorder our kitchen cabinets but we are making good progress thanks so your suggestion of this program! Good luck with the purging!

    P.S. I did check out the Container Store labels you suggested. I don't love them as much as the Martha Stewart ones but there were some good alternatives while I keep looking. Also, Target's Dollar Spot has an assortment of metal and chalkboard labels right now! They are 4 for $1 and definitely a find in my opinion.

    1. Wow Sydney! I am so impressed with all you have been able to accomplish! Sounds like you have been buuuusy, but so much fabulous progress! Send me some of your energy ;)

      Also, congrats on using the Silhouette. It is fun and addicting, hopefully you will now have confidence to love it and use it for many more projects.

      Thanks for the label update also, sounds like Target has them cheaper than you can make them!

  18. I'm not sure if it would be useful for you, but I found the Ikea hanging scarf organiser to be very helpful. It's easy to see everything you have (and looks very pretty when it's full of colourful scarves!) and it's quick to put scarves back in so it stays neat.

  19. I desperately need to overhaul my closet. And I just may have used an entire can of Pledge Multi Surface on my mom-mobile. Kiddos are so gross.

  20. Your posts are my cup of coffee! Cleaning our closet seems daunting but after seeing yours, I'm inspired.
    Bloodline! Great Netflix series...addicting! Kyle Chandler! Should I say more? Oh and adult only!

    1. Thank you! I still have hours of sorting ahead of me so I appreciate the suggestion!

  21. My closet is one of my favorite places to purge, seems like I can always find SOMETHING to get rid of. Which is also frustrating but I've gotten better at shopping the more cleaning out I do! I second seeing what kind of things you keep, sample outfits!

  22. Love your "keep" questions. I need to do something similar -- but am faced with the challenge of having only given birth 2 1/2 weeks ago. It's left my closet in a state of flux and a total disaster. I'm inspired to at least make an attempt to get it sorted, and maybe pack away what I still want but doesn't fit yet. Can't wait to see your finished product -- I'm always inspired by your sense of style.

  23. Refresh Quigley and co HomeJuly 2, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    Such an inspiration to get started and de-clutter straight away - love your room design (follow you on IG) is your wall pattern wallpaper or stencil? Can't wAit to get started on clearing out! Thx

  24. I can't wait to see what you do re scarf storage - it's an ongoing problem for me! Love the other ideas though!

  25. I use foam core board to divide my drawers. It is inexpensive and has been in place for over a year without issues. I do not doubt you could dress up the edges with washi tape, but I am good with clean lines in my drawers. I like that I decided the sizes of spaces. I did not create little squares, just straight pieces front to back.
    I fold/roll panties, socks, etc.- line up bras. Anyway, works great for me and can see everything at a glance. No searching!

    1. I was just thinking of wrapping some foam core with fabric to use in a few of the drawers. Great to know it has been working out well!

  26. I did a major clothing purge after baby #2. I hardly have any clothes, but I've realized it doesn't matter. I only kept the things I actually wore, so I don't miss anything. Getting dressed is so much easier. I actually put a new outfit (that I love) together today because I could SEE everything hanging in my closet and the shirt and skirt together caught my eye. Love it!

    1. Love this testimonial! So great to hear that less has proven to be more!

  27. Jen, I love everything you do! Thanks for sharing. Two ideas - have you ever looked at the wardrobe capsule idea? Also, I think local Buy Nothing Projects are a great place to gift any hand-me-downs. Thank you for sharing your awesomeness with us!

  28. I was away recently and just got a chance to read this… I am so honored to have supplied you with a word for the hot messes that are chairdrobes and benchdrobes! #lifegoals

    I am pleased to say that my chairdrobe is no more! Found some great slim hangers to start working into our closet as we purge all the clothes that don't bring us joy!


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