A few weeks ago, I wrote about Beth’s closet and kitchen makeover. Shortly thereafter, I heard from Lea Ann, who had just finished a closet makeover of her own. I was amazed by the “before” and “after” photos:
What a difference! I asked her to share with us exactly *how* she accomplished this transformation. She wrote:
Background: I lived in San Francisco where space was tight. Moved to Wisconsin and am suddenly in a 770 s.f. apartment that has more space and closets than I was used to. To leave San Francisco, I’d given away all but a car load of items and road tripped to Wisconsin. Thus I didn’t have that much to move into an apartment and certainly didn’t devise a system for anything. My “system” was to toss things on shelves and in drawers and be done with it.
.Real Life: I’ve lived in the apartment over three years and have accumulated “stuff” and stored the “stuff” by making a couple trips annually to IKEA to stock up on all kinds of containers to contain my “stuff”. I have this incredible walk in closet that I’d lined with shelving units and hanging organizers…so much so that I felt closed in when entering the closet. So I began tossing things INTO the closet and shutting the door. Was never happy with this, of course, but it kept the clutter out of my apartment and in that closet.
.August, 2010: I’m informed by my coworker who is also a neighbor that there are water leaks and the owner and an HVAC guy will need access to every upper units attic access – which happens to be in the master bedroom closet. PANIC. I panicked. Then thought this is the time to conquer the closet once and for all. Sort of. Life is ongoing and so is the closet maintenance.
- I began by taking everything out of the closet and placing it into my living room.
- Each item was put in a category: clothing/shoes, linens or “stuff”.
- When the closet floor and back shelves were empty (amazingly large and clean!), I vacuumed it out and stood back, proud of my progress.
- I tackled each category from the living room, keeping only what I loved and needed, and gave away the rest. Linens were tucked into the bathroom closet. Current size/season clothes were hung up or put into a shelving unit while “out of season” and “out of size” clothing items were put in boxes labeled as such.
- The “stuff” on the coffee table was sorted through, one container at a time, and homes were found for items.
- When I needed a container to house an item from the living room, I pulled from my Outbox.* I’d pick a container that was the appropriate size and then contained the items and put them away in the closet.*The Outbox is the area in my office nook off the living room that I designated for items that I’m not sure yet what to do with. Having the Outbox helps me have a place for those “I just don’t know” items and lets me decide when I have more time what to do with the items. I also used the Outbox to store all the pretty, empty containers and empty banker boxes that I have available in which to store items. When I’m done around the apartment, I will gather up the extra containers and give them away to my highly organized sister-in-law Maya or donate them to the thrift store.
.What helped me during this makeover were these things:
- I decided on some key words and kept those in mind the whole time. My words for the project were quick, organized and pretty.
- I put like with like in my first quick sort with items from the closet to the living room, then when I sorted items to be put away in the closet, I kept like with like.
- It wouldn’t have gone as smoothly if I hadn’t pulled everything out of the closet and started with a blank slate.
- When looking at a category/pile of items, I pulled out only what I knew I wanted to keep, THEN for the remainder of the items, they were to be tossed or given away.
- Honesty was key. I pulled out a dress I love but its wearable life is over. So I put it in the garbage. I knew which items I loved and which items I’ve been hemming and hawing about for a long time. I let those items go to the thrift shop! Something I’ve been hesitating on may be a delight to someone else!
- Ongoing Process: I don’t feel “done” and imagine I never will be. So it’ll be a challenge to maintain the closet and not let it get back to how it was. But I do know I don’t want it to get back to the mess it was when a friend saw the closet and went “oh. my.”
- Confidence Building. Completing this project has me smile each day. I smile when I see the closet AND am encouraged that I can do anything – it just takes babysteps.
I’m thrilled that Lea Ann was kind enough to share her makeover with us, and provide us with such wonderful inspiration. If you’d like to see more of her closet pics, please visit her blog, Just Daisy.
Note: I’d love to make “Minimalist Makeover” a regular feature! So if you’ve recently decluttered, please email me your “before” and “after” pics, and a few words about your inspiration, motivation, or techniques:
ct09 AT missminimalist.com (remove the spaces and replace the AT with @, of course!)