Large Walk-In Closet Organization: Summer 2014 Update

I shared a “before tour” of my closet with you when I started this clothing & accessories organization series back in May in my Closet Clean Out post.  I am happy to report that I am finally ready to share my “after” look!

I’ve just completed a major purge of my wardrobe, weeding out items from my twenties and (yes, it’s true) late teens that I no longer felt suited me now that I am in my thirties.  While I did do quite a bit of spring and summer shopping in recent months, I am making it a point to keep whittling down my wardrobe so I only have pieces I truly enjoy wearing.  A great tip for keeping the size of your wardrobe under control is to remove an item for each new thing you bring in.  While I have not purchased anywhere near what I recently purged (eight large trash bags full of clothes and several shopping bags filled with other items all to charity!), I plan on sticking by this rule as I already have well more than I need.

OJ|OLJ_07-18-2014_01While I took my time with the purging process, going through my wardrobe a little at a time over the course of several months, I was able to complete the actual tidying and organization of the closet over one weekend.  Once everything I no longer wanted was gone I found it very easy to go through my closet in one fell swoop.  Having a great organizational structure already in place helped a lot.  After some consideration, I decided not to change “the bones” of the closet at all.  I am referring to the Elfa setup I designed and installed when we first moved into the house seven years ago.  While I did change it up a bit a few years ago in my previous closet overhaul, I felt that the current design really suits our needs right now.  In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

To say this closet, which is located in our master bedroom, is large is an understatement.  It’s really pretty massive and I love having so much space to work with!  We could definitely store a lot more in there, which is nice because that means there’s room to grow if we need extra storage someday.  Even so, I’ve arranged everything in such a way so the closet look full.  I find this makes everything easy to locate and access.  While I didn’t make a lot of big changes, freeing up some space allowed me to tidy up and tighten up the organization I already had in place.

The layout of the closet is very long and narrow, which is why I’ve fondly dubbed it “the bowling alley.”  Unfortunately, this layout makes it pretty tricky to photograph or even film, but I did my best to give you a sense of how I am using this space for storing both my and my husband’s wardrobes, as well as all of our travel gear and some of my bulky filming equipment.

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When you walk into the closet there is a deeper alcove on the right side.  This is the perfect spot for my husband’s things, as there is plenty of room for the 18″ shelves I installed there.  This allows more space to comfortably store his clothing, which is much broader and longer than mine.  I haven’t changed the organization of his wardrobe since I first installed the closet seven years ago with the exception of a few minor tweaks.  I keep most of Don’s folded clothes out on shelves, which is the way he prefers it for easy access.  The only items of his I store in boxes are his dress shoes and backup items such as new undershirts and socks.  I use Elfa components to keep his accessories in order, including the Gliding Tie & Belt Rack that clips right onto the shelf.  I drilled the Hangmate Belt & Tie Rack as well as the 5-Hook Rack right into the walls for his belts and hats.

I keep a few other items tucked into this area, as well.  There are several clear storage boxes for holiday clothing located on the very top shelf.  I am using one my my beloved Reisenthel Fabric Storage Boxes for my gym bags and swim gear which I stow on a low shelf.  Our Walnut 2-Step Wooden Stool rests against the wall for easy access.  Don is very happy with his portion of the closet, which comfortably holds all of his clothing in a way that appeals to both him and me (not necessarily an easy feat!), located right at the very front where he can easily access his things.

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I keep all of my things on the left side of the closet.  I take up quite a bit more space since I have a much larger wardrobe than Don.  It works out well for me to store my clothes and accessories on the wall with more shallow 12″ deep shelves.  I have a few hooks on the back of the closet door for robes.  I also use the Elfa Hangmate Belt & Tie Rack and 5-Hook Rack drilled directly into the wall for my belts and hats.  Having these tucked more on the side makes sense for me since I don’t access these things as frequently as my husband uses his like items.

I store my footwear in a few different ways.  I love my Flip Flop Hangers to keep my flip flops organized in an easy to see, easy to grab fashion.  I keep the majority of my heels, wedges, flats, and sandals in clear shoe boxes organized by type with my least worn shoes on the top shelves and my most worn everyday style shoes lower down.  I have one shelf for my Uggs and short boots, which I use boot shapers to help maintain the shape.  I use the same boot shapers which also have handy hangers attached to hang my tall leather boot collection on a low rod.  This keeps them off the floor and easy to access.  Plus, it looks great!

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I keep all of my hanging clothes as well as some folded items in the middle my side of the closet.  I have a stack of ten Linen Drop-Front Shirt Boxes that I purchased (on sale!) several years ago where I used to store my massive sweater collection.  I actually parted with more than half of those sweaters in my recent purge and freed up some space to keep my jeans and leggings folded.  I haven’t been a fan of having my pants on hangers for awhile now and this is the perfect solution to keep them accessible and easy to see thanks to the clear windows.  I have both my sweaters and pants organized by type in these boxes.

I keep my hanging clothes organized by type as well, as I find that’s the easiest way for me to navigate my wardrobe.  On the top rack I have tops, flyaway cardigans (so challenging to fold!), and jackets.  My sweatshirts, athletic gear (some cold weather running layers as well as my golf and tennis clothes), slacks, and skirts are on the lower rod.  I picked up a great tip to switch around the hangers of items you are uncertain of keeping so they are hanging with the hooks on the rod backwards.  If during my next spring clean out I find these hangers still backwards, I’ll know I did not wear that item and it’s time to let it go.  I’m doing this with most of my skirt collection, which I haven’t been interested in wearing in some time.  We’ll see what stays and what goes next year!

There is ample room to hang both my short and long style dresses, which I have also organized by type and by season.  While I love using the beautiful Walnut Wood Hangers I’ve had for almost ten years now for the majority of our clothing, I prefer Huggable Hangers for my dresses to prevent slippage.

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The far end of the left side of the closet is my favorite part, because it is wear I store my handbag collection and accessories.  I am definitely a bag lover!  I love the Elfa Hanging Drawers for accessory organization.  I keep my bags stored by type in their dust bags (if they came with one) in the bottom six drawers.  The next level of drawers is where I store my wallets, wristlets, and extra pouches.  I recently divided all of my smaller accessories into clear accessory boxes.  Six of these fit perfectly inside one drawer!  I also have two more of the Elfa 5-Hook Racks drilled directly into the back wall on either side of a full length mirror where I hang my scarf collection, organized by season.

I have three woven boxes that I purchased from Crate & Barrel about ten years ago (sadly no longer available) where I stow away special jewelry and watch boxes for my nicer pieces that I want to keep.  I have two clear boot size boxes on the next shelf up for my special race wear as well as our Disney World gear.  Lastly I have a couple of pillows that I use for different seasonal bedding on the very top shelf.  There’s actually a lot of shelf space left on the upper portion of my side of the closet.  While I tried to space out my wardrobe to fill most of the space on the wall, I didn’t have anything I needed to store up top just now.  Having room to grow is always nice!

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The closet narrows after the partition where Don’s wardrobe is on the right side.  I installed 20″ deep shelves in this space since I knew I wouldn’t need it for hanging storage.  I used to keep a large collection of collectibles from my childhood on the top two shelves, which I have recently moved to another space while I decide what to do with those items.  This freed up a ton of space for me to reorganize our travel gear and add in some bulky items such as filming and photography gear that I do not need to access frequently.  I also keep my wedding dress, which is preserved, and my wedding day accessories on the top shelf.

One shelf is lined with eight large Reisenthel Fabric Storage Boxes which house a variety of things, including much of our travel gear and packing accessories.  I keep our large collection of luggage that we’ve accumulated over the years on the bottom two shelves.  Everything feels much more well spaced and less cluttered now that I’ve opened up the top two shelves!  I keep even more travel-related items in two of the large Storage Lockers I have tucked under the shelves on the floor.  I had purchased these wheeeled heavy duty plastic trunks ten years ago when we moved into our condo for our storage area in the parking garage.  I recently cleaned out all of the collectibles and memorabilia I had stored in them to make room for bulkier items, including our now massive collection of extra hangers thanks to my huge wardrobe purge.  The fourth trunk is empty, meaning more room to grow if needed!

I decided I will put up a separate post sharing how I organize all of our travel gear for my upcoming travel series.  Check back next month if you’re interested to see what I keep on hand for our travels and how I store those items!

 Here are a few of my favorite closet organization aids from The Container Store:

I go through each part of the closet in more detail in my coordinating video if you’re interested in a closer look:

I would love to hear how you organize your closet if you care to share.  Check back next week for a look at how I organize my large size vanity where I stash my makeup and jewelry.
Happy organizing!

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22 comments

22 thoughts on “Large Walk-In Closet Organization: Summer 2014 Update”

  1. So jealous of your closet, in a good way! I live in an older home (built in 1932) and while we have 2 closets in our bedroom, they’re small. Mine is a reach in only, with a regular door. It had one bar at eye level and a shelf above. After a few years I had my husband put in bars perpendicular to that one, on the two sides, a top bar and a bottom bar. While this did give me a lot more room for clothes, it’s still SO small. I’m in the middle of purging, too, and will be reorganizing when I’m done… I think some containers on that top shelf are needed and another way to store my shoes will be the biggest changes, aside from reducing the amount of clothes I have.
    We have a vacation coming up and I’m going to try streamlining what I bring (I usually pack too much!). We’re doing 2 days in a hotel, one night on a ship, 3 nights on an island, one night on the ship again, and then two more nights in a hotel. That’s a LOT of packing and unpacking so I want to pack so I can live out of the suitcase!

    1. Sounds like you’re doing your best to work with the space you have. Good luck with your packing & have fun on your trip! 🙂

  2. Hi Jen,

    Your closet looks great! Even though you kept it structurally the same, I think it looks a lot different. Very put together; I love it! Your organizedlikejen videos give me so much inspiration! My husband and I are moving soon and I am so looking forward to putting all of these tips I’ve learned from you to good use.

    Thanks for a great video! Hope you have a nice weekend 🙂
    Lauren

  3. Great video, thanks Jen! Does your closet get dusty? Mine does and dust settles at the top of the hangers. How and where do you store photo albums/memory boxes?

    Thanks!

  4. Thank you for sharing! It must feel so good to have your closet just the way you like it…I love that feeling! I was wondering if you were going to do an updated vanity tour as you said you’ve been weeding things out of your makeup collection. I’d love to see your vanity revisited!
    Annabelle

  5. Hi Jen,
    I’m so excited to see what’s in your travel bins, I travel a lot for work and you have been my organizational inspiration for years!!!! I’m also super excited to see this years travel series too!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  6. Hi Jen,

    I was just thinking how gun it would be to have a walking closet/room in my future house. I keep picturing it like having a little store inside your house where everything is your size ^^ Shopping my own stash always makes me find long forgotten gems and save money in the long run too. Does is feel like that for you too?

    Sabine

  7. I’m looking forward to your jewelry storage video. I currently have mine in the stacking jewelry tray system from The Container Store in the shallow vanity drawer in the bathroom. But, I’m outgrowing the space. Because I’m not happy with the storage spot, I’m just not wearing most of my stuff. I find myself putting on the same pair of earrings every single day. I need some inspiration here.

    Also, I’d love to see your coat closet in the mud room. Ours is a mess. No clue what to do with gloves, hats, scarves for our Chicago winters. Right now have an open (overflowing) bin…one for me, one for my husband…on the shelf above the coats. But they are awkward to access.

    One other (hopefully not too nosy question). Do you guys wear shoes in the house or slippers/socks? We wear slippers, so I’m lazy about kicking off my shoes in the mud room and then not getting them back to the master bedroom closet.

    Thanks, Jenn!

    1. I have a video on my mudroom organization, which hasn’t changed – httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO9XrsZF-FM

      We don’t wear shoes in the house. We keep our most frequently worn pairs in the mudroom and any others up in our closet.

  8. Hi I loved the closet tour – everything is so neat and tidy. It has inspired me to reorganize my dressing room. I have a question – can you please do a video showing your jewellery storage? Did you already do one? I can’t seem to remember. Thank you

  9. I am sure you don’t need any suggestions in the organizing department. 🙂 but I have a tip for you! If you need any extra bags for your handbags, a lingerie bag ( I use woolite), is an excellent one. You can see through them, they wrap around the bag well, and they can allow the bag to breathe!
    Happy Organizing!

  10. Hi Jen,
    Totally unrelated to your closet, which looks Ah-mazing btw, but I was wondering if you had any plans of doing any “Haul” videos in the near future? Those are so fun (like your errands hauls, etc).

    Also, would love to see an updated Filofax video now that you are in the process of switching over to your personal size Kikki K organizer.

    Best,
    Jocelyn

  11. Can we see the inside pockets and dividers in your Erin condrom suitcase? I see they are on the Erin condrom site but no interior photographs.

  12. I don’t know if this is the right place for the comment from your video but in regards to the boots and stuff, I would give them away or donate them if you haven’t worn them in so long. I do get that it’s hard to do stuff like that but there’s no point in keeping something you don’t use, especially if they hurt! I recently threw away a lot of little things that hadn’t gone off but I didn’t use and I went back and forth but then just pitched them. Haven’t thought about it since! That’s the thing, once you actually get rid of them, the decision won’t plague anymore!

    Also, a little trick with the shoe boxes that you have is to take a picture of the shoes that are in the box, get them developed and then either tape the photo on the front or put it inside (since they’re see through) and then you know what’s in each box at a quick glance. 🙂

    (Phew! That was a lot of steps to get a comment to you….do you think you’ll enable comments soon?)

    1. Great tip about the shoe box photos! As for the comments on MHWL, when I do bring them back they will be moderated. Hope to soon!

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