In early 2018, Japan‘s famously serene organizing consultant Marie Kondo gained attention for her method of tidying. If an item no longer “sparks joy,” she calmly advised, bid it goodbye. Currently, we could all do with a reminder of the things that spark joy—but, when it comes to closet organization, where to begin?
Lisa Adams, CEO of LA Closet Design, specializes in personalized closets and counts Reese Witherspoon and Christina Aguilera among her clients. She believes a good starting point is to visualize your space’s potential. “A well-designed closet should be somewhere you can be inspired, where you can relax, pack and stage,” she says.
First, Take Stock
The first thing professional organizers such as Adams recommend: take an inventory of all your clothing—including accessories and footwear.
“Searching for things in a badly planned wardrobe is stressful and time consuming,” explains Haya Kramer, founder of Graylane Solutions, which specializes in designing beautiful functional spaces. “When your collection is laid out in front of you, dressing is a pleasure.”
A well-designed closet is a huge asset and adds value to any residential property—Haya Kramer
Both Kramer and Adams recommend sorting things into three categories: keep, donate, and recycle responsibly—allowing the gems in your collection to stand out. “That way you can choose something, hold it up against you, slip on different footwear, work out what works with what, et voilà, you’re ready to go,” says Kramer.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Kramer stresses that when it comes to closets no two people are alike, which means, she says, there’s no one solution. “Lockdown has given people the time to tackle jobs they’ve been meaning to do for ages, including sorting out their wardrobes. But it’s by no means straightforward—our closets are packed with our most intimate and personal possessions. It’s a task that has to be approached with great sensitivity.”
Adams agrees. “It’s normal to have an emotional attachment to your clothes, but it does mean that it’s hard to let go of things.” In this case, she says there should be a negotiation between what’s sentimental and what’s practical. “Deciding what to keep is a delicate dance. Ideally, a closet should only contain pieces that are worn regularly and loved—each item has to earn its place.”
Room for Improvement
When it comes to curating your wardrobe, Adams advises a pragmatic approach: keep the space you have in mind. “I always encourage clients to take a deeper dive into editing their wardrobe, as space is valuable,” she explains.
“There should always be room between your hangers, so you can flick through clothes easily. Ensuring that nothing is squashed together frees up your thinking: you can be creative when putting together an outfit—like you’re shopping in your own closet. If you can see and reach everything, you’ll never have to wear something simply because it’s the item right in front of you.”
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After editing your wardrobe, organizing it will depend on what suits you and your lifestyle. This could be by category, color, or season, with subdivisions within each group.
“What works for me is separating by sections,” says Theresa Roemer, whose three-story closet is the largest in the world. It was custom built for her lavish home in Houston, Texas—currently on the market with Nan and Company Properties—and spans 3,000 square feet (279 sq m). Inside you’ll find a floating staircase, a makeup and hair station, a champagne bar and designated shoe, bag, hat and coat rooms.
A closet should only contain pieces that are worn regularly and loved, each item has to earn its place—Lisa Adams
“I organize my pieces by brand and color. I have a lighter side of the closet where I keep all of my spring and summer garments, and another side where I keep darker clothing for fall and winter,” Roemer explains. “I need to be able to see everything, so that I can constantly be inspired by my collection.”
Finally, a few extra elements can turn a well-organized closet into a thing of true joy. Adams’s essentials include good-quality hangers, as well as dividers that can be placed on shelves to keep bags upright and in drawers to create separate compartments for smaller items.
“Valet rods are my other secret weapon,” she says. “They’re built into all the closets I design, but you can buy different types, including collapsible ones, to fix inside your wardrobe or on walls. They give you the ability to style an outfit beforehand and really play around with different pieces.”
When your collection is laid out in front of you, dressing is a pleasure—Haya Kramer
“I like to include an island chest of drawers,” adds Kramer. “It’s an elegant focal point and allows for a natural division between clothing in a his/hers shared closet. Large mirrors are both functional and feel luxurious, and good lighting is crucial.” When it comes to this space, there’s value in splurging a little—after all, as she explains, “a well-designed closet is a huge asset and adds value to any residential property.”