Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Type of Project: Master bedroom closet
Project Time: 3 hours
A collector of fine clothing goes to battle with…a small closet. This is a well known tale known by many a woman.
Maybe she has an older home from an era where large closets just weren’t built or large wardrobes didn’t exist. Maybe the home was built by someone who didn’t understand closet design. Whatever the issue, small closets and well-dressed women can be difficult combination.
But they don’t have to be.
This was the issue for one of our return clients. We loved working with Lucia last fall helping her create functional organization systems for her closet. Her winter wardrobe was extensive and beautiful, but it forced us to be creative and thoughtful in our design of a closet system that would actually work.
Lucia’s was a wardrobe that made us dream--beautiful pieces from around the world, reminiscent of people and places we only usually spy in magazine layouts or online brochures.
Katie and I were thrilled when Lucia contacted us to help shift her clothing from her fall and winter wardrobe to her spring and summer clothes.
Her closet is laid out well in terms of the limited space, it’s just a smaller closet than many we often see in the Memphis area. And it is a very small closet for a woman with as expansive of wardrobe as Lucia’s.
When the Closet Space is Small But You Still Need It to Be Functional
Because we were familiar with Lucia’s closet from the fall, we knew we had our work cut out for us in the wardrobe transition. Lucia likes to keep her clothing for the current season in her bedroom closet, which is what we recommend. This saves people time in using just one space daily. Clients can stow their off-season clothes in the attic or unused bedroom, rather than between various rooms and closets daily.
A high point of our day with Lucia was her sharing how well the systems we built in the fall had worked for her. Creating these functional systems and our discussions about management routines allowed her to use the full closet with ease.
There is less stress when people only see and use the items in their closet that are currently in season.
Also, when people create new routines around systems that benefit their patterns and styles of living, they will stay with those systems consistently.
These are win-wins all around.
Since we knew the systems worked in the fall, Katie and I were aware that our biggest challenge of the day was simply: space. We needed to make sure that her spring and summer clothes could also work in the same space that her cold-season clothes had. Lucia travels often to LA and around the world, gathering gorgeous pieces that needed to be thoughtfully placed and accommodated appropriately.
The Five Best Tricks for Utilizing a Small Closet
These tips are ones to which we often return. We used several, but not all, of these for Lucia’s closet. If you are a small closet person, be sure to bookmark this page!
Move out of season clothing to another space or higher up in the closet.
File fold clothes in drawers.
Add shelving (i.e. shoe shelves) underneath hanging clothes (check out our Instagram stories for more pictures of this!)
Hang jewelry on the wall or sides of dividers in the closet.
Be ruthless and keep only the items you love and wear.
The Four Steps To Switching Out Clothes for A New Season
Our process with Lucia began with our best practices. Katie and I recently used these on my closet.
Sort all items by category
Purge and donate any items that Lucia did not wear or no longer wanted to keep
Move out the old-season items to a separate space
Bring in spring/summer items to the closet
When you transition clothes from one season to the next, purging is incredibly important. You needn’t keep things when you didn’t wear them when you had the opportunity. This just takes away more space.
You’ve heard me mention before how Katie is excellent at encouraging our clients to purge their clothes. She’s always helping people see why they should donate pieces they are no longer wearing or holding onto for the wrong reason.
The day we worked with Lucia, Katie was not her normal self—the clothes were just too beautiful—and she couldn’t rightly encourage Lucia to part with as much. This told me that we had finally found Katie’s purging limits! This also tells you about the level of gorgeousness of Lucia’s clothes!
How Separating Categories of Clothes Can Be the Smartest Trick
In completing the first part of this process—the sorting—we realized the amount of dresses Lucia owns would be an obstacle. Not only did she have many, many dresses, she had a variety of types of dresses. And a good majority of her dresses were the long, more flowy style of dresses.
Read: A lot of fabric.
Our first trick with all the dresses was to split them up.
Tip: When you have a large quantity of one type of item, it’s often difficult to find one set space for all of that item. Find two locations for the one type of item and group the items by subcategories.
For Lucia and her dresses, we needed to separate her dresses by category—everyday dresses, evening gowns, and so on. This way we could utilize the space better, but she would know exactly which section had the appropriate dress for the occasion. This was another way we were able to keep all of her spring/summer clothes in one closet.
Also, we needed to switch out how Lucia displayed her shoes to conserve space.
Tip: Place pairs of shoes side-by-side, but in opposite directions, when space is limited. With one quick glance, you’ll see all of your shoes, but they won’t take up the same amount of space as when they are stored traditionally side-by-side.
While the limited closet space was definitely our biggest challenge, our success was placing all of Lucia’s clothes within arm’s reach. She uses a step stool for pieces that are high, but she can reach everything. We were pleasantly surprised to find that we even had a little space left over on the top of the closet.
Our Three Favorite Organization Pieces for Limited Space Closets
We love these three pieces for most closets, but they worked extremely well for Lucia’s.
When Husbands Want Their Closets Done Too
We loved getting to work with Lucia again and we are excited to help her daughter with her closet when she returns home from college in a few weeks. Lucia is working on convincing her husband to let us come in and help him with his closet.
You wouldn’t believe how often we hear this. Wives are always telling their disbelieving husbands about how organization can change their routines and systems. And once the husbands let us help them, they tell us they should have worked with us months ago!
The best comment of the day came from Lucia, when she told Katie and me, “You two are miracle workers!”
To impact clients’ methods and systems where they see and feel the changes on a daily basis is powerful. Allowing our clients to have more time with their family and friends and less time worrying about their homes has been our goal all along.
And in all honesty, spending time with such beautiful clothes in Lucia’s closet was a great added bonus to this project!
Until next week!