Skip to main content

Downsize your closet to maximize your happiness

As humans, we accumulate quite a bit of clothing over our lifetimes. And sometimes, letting go of stuff can be difficult because, well, you never know when you might need that flannel shirt that's still sitting in its original gift bag with tags on it from your birthday three years ago!

It can be quite freeing to let go of things to make room for the items you really love and wear often. And with so many people suddenly forced to work from home during the pandemic, any extra space feels like a luxury. 

So, you've made the decision to downsize your closet -- now what? The first step is generally the hardest one: You'll need to decide what to keep, what to donate and what to dispose of.

If you utilize the Marie Kondo method, you will go through each item with this mindset: "Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service -- and then let them go." For those items that are still in good shape, you can put them aside to sell, give to a friend or donate. The ones in rough shape should be put aside to either be repurposed or recycled. There are plenty of online resources to learn about ways to ethically discard old clothing that you don't want. The article "14 Things to Do With Old Clothes That You Can't Donate" on the life-planning website Cake is a good place to start. 

Once you've decided which clothes you want to keep, you'll begin the organization process. You can start by putting the seasonal items in piles for storage. Purchase mold-resistant canvas storage for under the bed or for higher shelves. These can range in durability and are easy to find with a quick online search for "under the bed storage" or "storage bins." If you have a higher budget to play with, you may decide to opt for a bed frame that comes with existing built-in storage for a cleaner look in your bedroom.

When it comes to the regular-use items, you'll want to create a system that works for you. Some people prefer to organize by color; others prefer to organize by cut -- for example, putting all T-shirts together, all dresses together or all activewear together. This process could require some trial and error, but you'll know it's the right look for you when you see it. For items that you'll be hanging, purchasing hangers that are the same color and style will minimize distraction when viewing your clothing. 

For the items that you want to store, you can always start with a chest of drawers, if you have the space. In order to create more room, a great trick is to purchase smaller bins and, instead of folding your clothes and laying them out the way you'd see in a traditional clothing store display, turning your folded T-shirts 90 degrees and stacking them in the bins. This is a great option for workout clothes as well. 

When it comes to your undergarments, you want to utilize smaller bins or purchase mini dividers in order to break them into their own categories. This will allow you to not only see everything in front of you (versus having to dig for those avocado-print socks you really want to wear today) but also stack items without them spilling all over one another and looking cluttered. You can do all of the above in your closet as long as it has shelves. Otherwise, you may want to consider a hanging shelf option where you can use the same methods and create just as clean of a result. If your closet has a door that opens toward or away from you (rather than a sliding door), you can purchase an over-the-door closet hanger for additional storage options for undergarments and smaller items. 

With your footwear, you may want to consider moving all shoes and boots to a front entrance, as you can find all types of shoe racks to match your decorating aesthetic and maximize storage. However, if that isn't an option, you can purchase an over-the-door hanging shoe rack or a stackable, multitiered shoe rack for the closet floor. Some people prefer to organize their shoes on closet shelves so they can see their footwear at eye level. 

Downsizing your closet is not only a way to create more space but also a creative process that could be taken on as a fun project -- with an incredibly rewarding result. So, if you've been looking for a sign to take that first step, this is it!