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Here’s Exactly How a Professional Organizer Would Transform Your Closet

Go ahead and cancel that appointment with the custom closet company. For better results that cost a whole lot less, follow these expert-approved steps.

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The Closet of Your Dreams

Do you have closet envy? Turn on any home makeover show or glance at an advertisement for a fancy closet company, and you likely will. Everything is just so neat and perfect and, well, organized.

Of course, enlisting a custom closet company to remodel your space can cost big bucks (or at least bigger bucks than you may have right now). But creating the closet of your dreams doesn’t have to be out of reach — not if you know a few pro tips and pick up a few essential organizing items.

As a professional organizer and the author of Keep This, Toss That, I can give you the inside track to closet-organizing bliss. The good news? It won’t cost you a bundle. The even better news? This expert-assisted DIY is a lot easier than you think.

Here’s exactly what I would do to your closet to maximize your space, store your items in a way that makes sense, and keep everything clean and organized for the long haul. So let’s get the closet transformation underway! When you’re done, try these organizing tips for the rest of your home that you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Get Your Shoes off the Floor

Shoes are practically impossible to identify when they’re heaped on top of one another on the closet floor. Plus, it’s dusty down there and not well lit, and it’s all too easy for shoes to get scratched.

Add cubbies as convenient places to stick everyday athletic sneakers and other frequently worn shoes. Store pairs that you don’t wear as often in clear, stackable, drop-front boxes, which allow you to reach the pair you want without unstacking the boxes. They make life easier and keep your closet so much neater.

Save even more space by storing shoes like the experts — heel to toe, instead of side by side. Before organizing them, use these smart tricks to keep your shoes stink-free.

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Designate a Treasure Box

From a concert T-shirt to your favorite worn-out hat, we all have clothing that evokes fond memories. Although you likely won’t wear these pieces again, you’re not ready to say good-bye. That’s where a treasure box comes in.

Instead of letting mementos get in the way when you’re trying to get dressed every day, tuck them in a box specially set aside for this purpose. Then you can take a walk down memory lane anytime you like. Find out which other things a professional organizer would never throw out.

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Switch to Slimline Hangers

Mismatched hangers make your closet look messy. Stop using the random hangers you’ve collected over the years and instead swap in a set of slim hangers to give your closet a boutique look. And because slim hangers are thinner than typical hangers, you’ll also save space.

Hang the clothes you reach for most often in the front and center. Infrequently used clothing, like out-of-season and occasion-specific items, can go farther back. And here’s another pro tip: If you run out of hangers, don’t buy more — free up a few by giving away clothes that no longer fit or you no longer love.

Save the mismatched hangers, though — here are some genius uses for them.

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Divide the Rod

Keeping your hanging clothes categorized by season, style and color is a whole lot easier with rod dividers. Just like the ones you find in boutiques that divide clothes by size, these write-on dividers allow you to label your sections.

Follow this method for organizing bliss: First, hang tops from the shortest to the longest sleeve length and bottoms from the shortest to the longest hem length. Then, within each category, arrange clothes by the color of the rainbow. Start with dark followed by purple, blue and greens. Then go into yellows, oranges, reds and whites. You’ll feel happy seeing your clothes all neatly lined up.

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Shelve Some Clothes

Not all clothes are meant to be hung up. In fact, most sweaters are best folded; otherwise, they can get stretched out. Adding in a hanging shelf with drawers gives you space for folded sweaters and more.

It’s also a smart spot to stash loungewear and workout clothes. By grouping all workout gear in one spot, it’s easy to grab and go when you’re in the mood to exercise. Besides hanging sweaters, here are some other ways you’re storing your clothes all wrong.

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Include Shelf Dividers

Slipping on dividers allows you to stack higher on a shelf without the risk of the pile toppling over. These slim dividers from the Container Store create barriers, sectioning off one large space into smaller, more functional ones.

In addition to using them for sweaters and linens, you can also line up bulky accessories like handbags between the dividers. Before stacking and storing sweaters, check to see if they need to be refreshed. This simple trick will de-pill your clothes in less than a minute.

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Add a Catchall for Little Stuff

Without a place to drop those packets with an extra button that come with new clothes, they can end up littering the floor of the closet. Keep small stuff together in a catchall bag. It’s perfect for those button packets and a small sewing kit with tiny scissors for clipping off loose threads and tags.

You can even toss in a few safety pins for last-minute fashion emergencies and fashion tape to avoid a mishap. One more thing you can put in there? A lint roller. Check out these 15 things you can clean with a lint roller — besides clothes.

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Use a Double-Hang Closet Rod

Rethink that single rod. Adding a second closet rod instantly doubles your available hanging space. While you could install a traditional rod, a much easier solution is hanging a bar doubler — no hardware necessary! Use the upper bar for tops and the lower one for skirts and pants.

Aside from jamming too many clothes into a closet, these are the surprising ways you’re ruining your clothes without realizing it.

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Label Everything

Labels make it clear what belongs where, and they also inspire you to take the extra (often ignored) step to put things away in the right place. Plus, they easily let you know what you’ve stored in containers. You think you’ll remember a season from now, but you most likely won’t.

Apply labels to bins, even clear ones, as well as on the edge of shelves, so all it takes is a glance to know what goes where. While a label maker is an excellent investment, these are the things professional organizers never buy.

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Add Hooks

Stick-up hooks are one of the easiest ways to transform your clothes closet. They make the perfect storage spot for tote bags and statement necklaces. Plus, a hook can hold worn-once jeans that are too dirty to put away but too clean to launder. But the best use of a hook may be to hold empty clothes hangers, so they don’t get lost between clothes.

Don’t miss these other great home organization tools under $30.

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Stick Lights Onto the Closet Walls

Illuminating dark spaces, like the floor or the far back of the closet, make it much easier to see what’s stored there. This simple addition brightens the whole closet and means you’ll no longer struggle to tell navy and black clothing apart.

Skip the expensive electrician visit to run wiring and instead opt for battery-operated LED lights. If you go with the motion-activated design, you’ll never even have to remember to turn them off. Now that you can see all your clothes, you can better organize your closet.

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Use the Back of the Closet Door

Take advantage of all the usable storage space you have — including the spot behind the door. Adding a behind-the-door organizer gives you a convenient place to stick clutches, scarves, hats and other accessories.

If your door lacks the clearance to hang the organizer from hooks over the door, hang it from peel-and-stick hooks directly on the door.

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Get Clothes You No Longer Want Out of the Closet

Remove the items that don’t belong in your closet. Clothes and shoes that need to go somewhere else — like to the dry cleaner, back to the store or to a donation location — belong in your car. Organize these items in a set of foldable, reusable bags, dedicating one for each category.

A five-pack of BagPodz will do the trick. Fill the bags and get them to the car. When you’re done, simply roll the bags into a tiny pouch.

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Slide in a Step Stool

No more tossing stuff up to that top shelf and hoping it doesn’t fall back down. Give yourself quick access to the whole closet by adding a step stool. That extra lift makes it easier to reach those less accessible spots. To save space, pick a stool with a slim profile. And make sure to choose a bold color that stands out so you can spot it quickly.

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Stick To a Few Important Rules To Maintain a Tidy Closet

Now that you’ve transformed your basic closet into the closet of your dreams, keep it mess-free by giving it a daily tidy. Pull out any items you won’t need until next season and store them in convenient see-through bins.

Also make sure to schedule a time to sort through things at the end of every season. That’s when you can reconsider if you should keep the clothing you didn’t wear and the shoes that never left their boxes. Remember: Fashions fade fast, so every few months donate super trendy items that won’t stand the test of time.

Ready to pare down even more? Here are the things you can finally get rid of in your closet.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest