Maximizing Storage Space

So, it’s back to school time so I’m trying to sort through the summer stuff and the fall stuff and figure out if my kids have enough clothes to make it through the first week without going naked.  (“Do you really need 32 T-shirts? Are ALL of your pants 3 inches too short?  How did you grow 3 inches in 3 months???”)

As the CEO of my home I’m not only in charge of MY closet, I have to worry about the closets of everyone else in the house. My sweetheart is a hoarder who still has T-shirts from high school days. My teenagers like to keep everything they own on the floor. You get the idea. So how do you keep track of everything, keep it clean and in working order, and store it accessibly? I don’t have a super-solution, but I’ve got a few ideas:

  1. Go by the numbers: I’ve found this works for everyone. For my pack rat sweetheart, there is a limit to the number of shirts in the closet. (Hint, it’s less than 125.) For my shopping-addicted teenage daughter (aren’t they all?) it’s “no more than” – X number of T-shirts, shoes, sunglasses, whatever. For my ADHD youngest, it’s establishing a bare minimum of acceptability: X number of clean underwear that fit, X number of pants he can wear to school, etc.

  2. Go with the flow: you know those 124 shirts? Well, there are about 20 he actually wears on a regular basis and he tends to keep them somewhere between the laundry hamper and the dryer. I finally figured out that he likes them out where he can see them, not tucked away in a closet. (As if a closet you walk back and forth in front of is “tucked away”. Go figure.) So he has a standing closet rod in the bedroom for his everyday clothes. The advantage is that if we have company over we can clear it off and let them use it for their clothes. Going with that same logic, my youngest won’t keep anything in a drawer. He can’t see it there so it doesn’t exist. I got tired of seeing everything on his floor all the time, so we put in some shelves for his stuff instead. His folded shirts, shorts and pants go great here. As for socks and underwear? A couple of baskets (suitably male) corral these and still leave them visible enough for his piece of mind. What works for them works for me as long as it keeps things neat and clean and cared for.


  3. Make your space do double-duty: we’ve all seen those lovely closet-organizing systems but most of us live in homes built somewhere between 1940 and 1990. Huge walk-in closets just weren’t in the blueprint. So what do the rest of us do? Well, a lot of the closet space we DO have isn’t being used. Even if you aren’t into a total makeover (and most of us aren’t) you can install a second closet rod underneath – I recommend at least half – of your existing rod. Hang slacks beneath shirts or shirts beneath shirts and skirts – whatever works. If you aren’t very handy, these hanging rods will work for some.


  4. Use the floors: for most closets floors are a missed opportunity. If they are filled with piles of shoes, install a shoe rack so you can add in other items. What other items? For my son it’s sporting goods – a big tub full of his basketballs, paintball weapons, frisbees, and whatever else he’s got in there. My daughter has all her “accessories” stored on her floor. Bags, sunglasses, and some jewelry all find a place here.

    coat-closet-clothes-short-longPhoto by Bob Hiemstra courtesy of Real

  5. Raise the bed: my last challenging item to keep clean and stored were blankets and other linens. We have cold winters and hot summers, so blankets need to be kept somewhere during the summer. So, I put my bed on stilts. Keeping blankets in vacuum storage bags underneath my bed keeps them clean and makes them easy to find when the temp drops in the fall.

    storage underneath the bed:

I hope these help. What tips do you have for maximizing your closet?

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