Closets. We love them. We hate them. We always feel like they could look and function so much better, but HOW? The shelves aren’t deep enough and there’s never enough room for our stuff and why can’t I find my favorite shirt that goes perfectly with these pants and I KNOW is in there?!
At the end of most days, a large majority of people are unhappy with their closets, but the blessed things have doors (most of the time) so we can shut them and forget the problem until the next time we need to wear clothes, or store important things, or find the holy grail at the very back of the very bottom… Seem familiar? Once again, in Zen Method style, I am here to remind you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I am a closet junkie. I have been fortunate in my life to live in places, even small one-bedroom apartments, that gave you a closet for every need: kitchens had pantry closets, entryways had coat closets, bedrooms had clothing closets, bathroom and hallways boasted space for all associated things! It was a privilege I wasn’t even aware of - until now. Moving into our new apartment, my partner and I combined two households into one. We spent months searching for the perfect place for us to live and when we finally found it, we noticed it was a little short on storage space, but loved the rest of the apartment so much that we decided we would “make it work.”
Six months later, fully unpacked and settling into our comfy spaces, we realized that ample storage space will need to be more heavily considered in our next apartment search. Have we made it work? Of course. I insisted on being the only one allowed to structure where things are stored and how to adapt homes for each thing despite a sad lack of closet doors to shut them behind. I’m sure I’ll post a “creative storage” post soon, but for now, I’ll be focusing on closets, the best ways to clean them out, restructure them and maintain them.
Approach the closet you’re thinking about right now. What is it for? Where is it located in your home? How is it currently serving the needs of that space
Accept and forgive whatever it is now, that was then, this is NOW and now, it is completely realistic to work towards a Zen Method that makes your closets something to show off to your friends, family and perhaps even that one skeptical in-law that seems to give your house the white glove treatment (how dare they?!) at family functions.
Prep a space close to the closet, within the same room or an adjacent room, give yourself workspace to navigate in, put down a sheet or a tarp or something you don’t mind getting dirty to create your main sorting pile.
Then, empty that closet. Yes, THAT closet. All of it. Until it is EMPTY.
Spread its contents on your tarp/sheet workspace and with your favorite music blaring or a good friend sitting with you, sort through it. Allow yourself the space to see the things you hold on to and track why; sort them into categories that represent their sentimentality and usefulness in your life. Separate out things that are just clutter or junk and throw them out or add them to a donation pile; find like items that have use in other parts of your home, give them a proper placement there.
Finding things that belong to family members or friends? Take a picture!
Send the picture to the friend or family and inquire if they’d like it back and when you can get it to them. Sometimes, they’ll just say to donate it because in the time they’ve been without it, they’ve bought another!
Sentimental items are important to keep, and there are different ways to honor what something means to you:
Is this to be gifted to a child/handed down through the family later? Perhaps having it packed properly in an airtight/water tight container is the call.
Is it a memorial of someone you lost? Maybe you always wanted it in your home, but never found a place for it to be?
Now is the time, it shouldn’t be hidden in a closet , it should continue to give you that sentimental enjoyment. Find a good way to display it with your existing decor; whether it be a shadow box frame, picture frame or curio cabinet display, allow the item to bring you a sense of connection and happiness daily while storing it safely.
If it is a pile of clothing, identify when the last time you or a family member wore it, if you liked wearing it, if it fit you well and if your memory fails- try it on! How does it make you feel? If the answer is anything but great, it may be time to add to the donation pile.
Continue this sorting process (With breaks! Take a breather!) until your “empty that closet” pile is gone. Take things that belong in other parts of your home to those rooms and find them easy storage with like items. Discard of trash and put your donations in boxes and into your car/by your front door and commit to dropping them off or calling to have them picked up.
Check out your empty closet! It’s cavernous, isn’t it?!
Not for long… determine what the closet’s intended use should be: Coats and weather gear? Cleaning and home maintenance? Clothing and shoes? Declare how you would like the closet to work for you and your family and then make it so. Build the contents in the closet so that it serves you and makes that one function of your life simple.
When you have other time to spend, repeat with each closet in your home, by the end, see that you will have a less chaotic storage system and gradually adapt to where things live and their ease of accessibility.
The things we have kept will live best where they are most used, displayed where they will enhance and improve our space and once our shock of “how much stuff we had in that closet” wears off, hopefully not find their way back to our now emptier and more organized closets.
Be well and keep living in the light,
Zen Method Philly
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