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College & Post-Grad

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Closet Organization Reveal: Before & After + Organization Tips!

By far one of the best parts of my apartment in Chicago is that we somehow got the miracle of big closets in our bedrooms. I have so much storage space, and can even fit my whole dresser inside my closet! In all of the chaos of the moving process, however, I took advantage of this extra space a little too much and ended up haphazardly storing things everywhere just to finally be done unpacking.

It wasn't as if my closet wasn't organized, per se....everything did have a place - it was just a lot of ugly places that eventually become quite the eyesore. Although looking back on the "before" pictures now, I feel anxious all over again just thinking about it...During a particularly anxious winter weekend (yes, I clean and organize when I'm anxious), I decided enough was enough and basically tore through my entire closet. Shoes & clothes had to go, the insane tower of DVDs I had stacked on the shelves needed a new home, and my laundry basket storage full of shoes had officially outlived its practicality now that I'm no longer in college.

I got to work first by taking out clothes and shoes I never wear and donating them - I actually did a great job of this for the most part when I graduated, but it was definitely time to try again and let some more things go (never my strong suit). Then I scoured the internet for some cute storage bins that wouldn't break the bank and scored big with these grey bins from PB Teen.

I used the Medium-sized bins, and they were the exact perfect depth and width for the shelves in my closet, but the mini ones seem great for things like bathroom organization! P.S. They're on sale right now! Get them quick!

Then I found this cheap and small shoe storage shelf to hold my most-frequent pairs from Target - it's great because you can stack more on top if needed - my only complaint is that my taller shoes and booties only fit on the top shelf, but maybe it will keep me from buying any more because they currently fit perfectly!

Probably my favorite item I bought was this little nail polish organizer from the Container Store. Essie nail polish collecting is such a problem for me - but at least now they have a home! (Don't be fooled...these are just my springtime colors. The fall & winter ones are on display on my vanity...)


Without further ado, here are the (gruesome) before pictures. Don't judge me!

Yikes. The DVDs, Laundry Bin, Books, Miscellaneous items stashed away, and random heels on top of the shelves definitely needed new homes...

Thankfully after a lot of hard work, a lot of forcing myself to throw things out, and a lot of making space under my bed, here is the final result!

Ahh. That's better! 

Thinking about tackling a similar project on your own? Here are some tips to help you get started!

1. Start with the toss - keep - donate strategy. This is honestly something I've never done. Some of my friends through high school did this in their closets each winter and each spring, but I have such a hard time throwing things away that graduation/this project were the first times I've ever really done it, but it was so refreshing. The most helpful rules I used were asking myself if I would buy this in a store if I saw it today, and if I had worn it in the last 12 months. If not, it was time to let it go. Period. No exceptions.

2. Give everything a home. A lot of things in my closet were things I still need/use/want, but they were not in the right place. The massive mountain of DVDs got relocated into a couple of DVD sleeve organizers like this one and this one, saving me tons of space. The books got moved to a bookshelf in our living room, and the random little junk pieces got tossed. My hats were hung up on the back of my bedroom door next to my scarves and purses, and the shoes I don't use very often/seasonally were relocated under my bed in a shoe organizer like this one. This was all definitely a time-consuming process, but so worth it. If you can't find a home for something - question if you really truly need it.

3. Storing things seasonally is useful - but be careful of overkill. Some organization articles will suggest that you purchase a bunch of expense under-bed storage and bins insisting that anything for winter must be stashed away, and while that can be helpful for bigger or bulkier items, I don't personally believe you need to break the bank on expensive storage to do so. I own a few plastic bins like these that I keep under my bed, and I try to just keep them organized more or less in the same categories, but I have plenty of summer clothes, dresses and tops in my closet. Sometimes you can layer things, and it's a lot easier when you take trips to warmer weather and don't have to climb into a cave under your bed just to pack!

4. My best organization tip for all areas of the house: Sort by category. I am still a bit of a pack-rat - an organized one, but one all the same. The best way I stay organized is by knowing where a general category is. I have a scarf & winter accessory drawer, so if I don't know where a specific pair of gloves exact location is - I know it is in that drawer somewhere. I might be hunting for a specific charger, my GPS, or my car charger when I rent cars for road trips - nothing I use super frequently, but a total pain when I can't find it quickly. All of these types of items are stored in the same plastic bag under my bed. Out of sight, but easy to find. 

Has anyone else tried tackling any major organization or cleaning projects lately? I'd love to hear some of the ways you made it happen!


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