I’ve moved around a lot— 12 times in 15 years to be exact—and created disasters in more than 80 closets. I read books, consulted neat-freak friends, and spent more than the price of a decent car on custom closet organizers.
And my closets still looked like over-sized junk drawers. Today, I am the proud owner of eight beautiful closets and one closet that I simply call “The Unfortunate Area.” The transformation involved more pondering than cleaning, and the question I asked and answered myself was pretty simple:
Is it me or the closet that needs organizing?
Before you spend money on a custom closet organizer, I suggest you ask yourself the same question, because a closet organizer gives you more space for dresses, sweaters, and shoes, but it doesn’t pick up your dirty clothes or put clean ones away for you.
It gives you the opportunity to radically improve the efficiency and expand the capacity of your closet. It can help make you exceptionally organized.
But it doesn’t do it alone.
A closet organizer is not your maid. It gives you the tools to keep your shoes neatly arranged, your clothes properly separated and your ties and belts hanging within easy reach.
But the organizer doesn’t arrange your shoes, pick up your clothes, or keep your ties and belts untangled.
When people ask professional organizer Askari Sabbaghi whether a custom closet is worth the expense, his answer is always the same,”It depends on what you do with it.”
Sabbaghi, owner of Vancouver, BC-based Clever Quarters, said he encourages potential customers to clean their closets first and to become fully involved in the planning of a new closet organizer.
The more you invest in the process, the more likely you are to make valuable use of your new closet, Askari says.
Most of the value is personal — the satisfaction or having more space. When budgeting for a closet organizer, keep in mind that you will unlikely recover the cost of the newly designed closet when you sell your home.
Rick Clarke, a Vancouver BC real estate broker, says an upscale closet gives your home “curb appeal” but not actual dollar value.
“A well-organized closet will help sell a home quicker than a neighboring home of same price range and features,” Clarke, owner of Centurty 21 New Trends, says. “When a buyer enters into a home as a property that will be their principal residence…the warm fuzzy feeling of a well laid-out, looked-after, move-in-condition home certainly helps.”
If you opt for a closet organizer, here are three tips to keep it organized:
1. Don’t put anything on the floor.
You may have room on the closet floor—you should now that it’s organized—but keeping a bare closet floor is the first step in staying organized.
If you set one shopping bag on the floor one day, you’ll set down two on your next shopping trip, and before you know it, the floor will be cluttered with all sorts of debris (or, in my case, so crammed with junk that shutting the closet door qualified as a strength-conditioning workout).
2. Making cleaning out your closet a monthly activity.
You probably know the rule about throwing out anything you haven’t worn in six months (unless it’s a seasonal item). But, unless you never go shopping, you will accumulate too much stuff in half a year.
So don’t wait that long. Make the fourth Saturday of every month (or some other day you can schedule) a day to clean out your closet.
This rarely takes more than 15 minutes and my personal rule is this: If I think about throwing something away on more than two visits to the closet, it gets tossed on the third.
3. Make it personal
If you make your closet a space you love, you will treat it with more respect than if it’s just a storage place.
Paint the walls of your closet your favorite color, cover the floor with your favorite rug or hang pictures of your family.
This is the advice that really changed things for me. Once I considered the design and decorating potential of my closets, it became important to me to make and keep them beautiful.
So why do I still have one really messy closet? Because my rat-pack tendencies need an outlet. And now that “The Unfortunate Area” is a single space rather than a housekeeping lifestyle, I find it amusing rather than embarrassing.
Rick Clarke, Owner, Century 21 New Trends, Vancouver, BC., interview 11-13-2012; Web: www.realestatevalley.ca
Askari Sabbaghi, Owner, Clever Quarters, Port Coquitlam, BC, interview 10-15-2012 and information from website blog