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Clean the closet - change your life

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WHAT DO YOU see when you come through the front door of your home? Is your first impression favorable?

It’s not uncommon for people to feel shame or regret over their physical space. So imagine seeing an orderly entry each time you walked in — it could change your outlook. I’ll take it a step further and suggest that by cleaning your closet, you can change your life. Since January is Clean Out Your Closet Month, start with the entry closet.

For many homes, this is the coat closet for the household and guests. Review your family’s coats — what fits, what isn’t worn anymore, what can be donated. Watch out for saving things you “paid good money for.” Unworn, they’re wasting space, which is costly in several ways, including time lost searching through the mess for what you need.

When you have sorted through the coats, hang only what is used and on one kind of hanger. Heavy coats call for good wooden hangers; otherwise, clear plastic ones are my favorite. Group the coats by wearer.

Hooks and coat racks
These are so easy to use, and they help eliminate coats lying on horizontal surfaces. However, they can create a cluttered look, so use with caution. We use a free-standing coat rack in an inconspicuous spot. Umbrellas dry easily on a coat rack, but store them out of sight off-season. Hooks are great on closet sides and on the back of the door.

Another item to help keep order is a cap rack hung on the back of the closet door. This is great if you have a family member who collects baseball caps.

Most entry closets have an upper shelf that is usually underused. Use stacking clear bins to store gloves, hats and scarves. Keeping these contained will save you from orphan gloves, crumpled hats and scarves that fall.

Store more there
Think about the principle of frequency of use. If you use it often, store it in front where you can access it easily. In back, store holiday decorations, archived tax records, luggage and rarely used entertaining pieces. Think about items that are always used together. For example, if you store your vacuum in this closet, keep the vacuum bags and attachments there as well. Another possible item to store in the closet is a box for returns, repairs and other items that need to be taken on errands. The next step is to put the item by the door (or in the car) the night before.

Making space suit you
Gain space in a standard closet by repositioning the closet rod. My neighbors showed me how they moved their rod back, making more room in front and a deeper shelf above the rod. Lower the rod to the length of your longest hanging coat, leaving an extra inch to keep the coats dust-free. Now you’ll have more space at eye level, and can add an additional shelf above the rod. If your coats are all short, they can be double hung, which doubles storage space. Some closet doors are very narrow and hide coats from view when opened. Solve this by turning the rod from front to back. This brings the coats into full view and can quadruple storage.

Consider a mirror in the entry
This is your last stop before leaving. A quick glance in the mirror as you don your coat prevents leaving with egg, or lipstick, on your face.

Get instant gratification
The entry closet is a good place to start organizing, because it can be done quickly and the results are immediately visible, spurring you on to tackle other areas. Give yourself half a day to complete this project.