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The Project: An Organized ClosetIt sounds simple, but finding a system that really works for you isn't child's -- or even decorator's -- play. Thankfully, there are experts you can call upon for help. The design consultant at California Closets assessed my storage needs and took inventory, counting up shoes, sweaters, suits, and ties. Then, she drew up plans for the space using a 3-D computer program that let us add shelves here, move drawers there, and play with colors before anything was finalized. We went with a clean off-white, one of eight finishes available in the material I chose. The closet was installed in two days.
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Before: DisorderTen garment racks and countless plastic bins of clothes floated around Kevin's apartment for nearly a year before he sought a solution.
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After: Ordered BlissThe efficient configuration of shelves and handing racks holds all of Kevin's clothes. A center island provides an extra drawer storage and a surface for folding.
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How you arrange items is just as important as the architecture of the closet itself. Follow these strategies and you'll never again say "I have nothing to wear!"
Items to Hang: Anything that is likely to wrinkle (linen, rayon, all-cotton shirts) or slide around in a drawer (silks and satins), as well as garments that are pressed or have pleats.
Know When to Fold 'Em: All knitwear, cotton T-shirts, casual pants (jeans, khakis, corduroys), and sportswear (in a separate drawer from your other clothes).
Group Like with Like: Choose a grouping principle that makes sense to you. I organize by kind -- button-down shirts, blazers, sweaters -- then by color, from white to black. this helps me know my options right away.
Do Clothing Checkups: Every six months, it's a good idea to review your wardrobe. Decide what you want to keep, what needs repair, and what should be given away or discarded. New acquisitions may demand new storage strategies, such as rearranged shelves, extra bins, or additional rods.
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Built-to-Fit StorageThe layout accommodates every belt and sock without feeling cramped. The shoe closet is one of my favorite areas. First, we pared down my footwear -- closet experts say that only 50 percent of stuff removed from an old closet actually ends up in a new one. Then boots went up top, and shoes below, arranged by color. The shelves are protected with nonslip shelf liner.
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Tie DrawersFor the center island, we tailored drawer depths to their contents: 17 inches for ties (I have been obsessed with ties since working in Lord & Taylor's tie department while in college).
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Laundry/Dry-Cleaning SorterThis drawer pulls out to a sectioned hamper -- keeping laundry and dry-cleaning piles organized and ready to be cleaned.
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Slide-Out Valet HookA valet hook can be used to hold dry cleaning or an outfit for the following day. And I can't stress enough how important it is to put clothing on hangers designed specifically for the particular type of item. It will extend the life of your clothes.
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Folding HookThis helping hand flips up to save space when not in use. This model is from IKEA.
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Covered StorageIt's helpful to have the best containers for the job. Stash items you don't use regularly in inexpensive bins and boxes.
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Canvas BinFor long-term storage, containers should be lined with acid-free tissue paper to prevent fabrics from yellowing.
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Large TrayTrays are perfect for holding folded T-shirts, button-downs, and light sweaters.
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Hanger 101Clockwise from top left: Top hangers are slightly curved and ideal for shirts and dresses. Suit hangers are angled to keep a jacket's shape, with a crossbar for pants. A suit hanger with locking bar prevents pants from sliding off. Coat hangers boast a sturdy design for heavy garments.
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Cedar Shoe TreesThese aromatic inserts keep footwear looking it's best. The shoe tree (top) has an adjustable width; the boot tree (bottom) has a high crown for proper support. You can adjust the unisex boot shaper to fit a range of shapes.
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Smart Tech TouchesDesignate an area for charging gadgets. I plug my phone and iPod into a combination surge protector and USB charger (bottom left corner) To brighten the area, I use stick-on battery-operated lights (left top). Design idea: Line the back of a shelf with a mirror to reflect light into shadowy spots.
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