Thursday, October 27, 2011

Closet Organization

I have a confession to make, my closets aren't very organized.  Sometimes I use my closets as a dumping ground for things I don't know what to do with.  Anyone else do this or am I alone in my disorganization?

When we finished our basement, we created three rather large closets around the typical basement plumbing and "stuff".  For the last five or so years that those closets have been finished I've struggled with an organization system for at least two of them.  The third has a system but you wouldn't know it from looking at it.

I also have another confession to make, I'm a little bit of a paper hoarder.  These basement closets are where I hoard my papers.  This past week I needed to pull out our tax information from the last two years for the bank (we're refinancing).  Should be relatively easy, right?  It wasn't, took me a while to find the appropriate file.  If anything happened to me my husband would have a dickens of a time laying his hands on what he would need.

Since my mom's incident last month, I've been trying to prepare ourselves for medical emergencies.  On my list of items to accomplish was getting all of our paperwork in order.  Of course to get our paperwork in order I first needed to go through the closet, make sure all the paperwork is together, get rid of what we don't need and then reorganize the closet.  Whew, I'm tired just thinking about all the work!

As usual, when I start an organization project I sit down and ask myself what my fundamental problems are with the area.  Here are the problems with the closet I tackled this week.
  • To much stuff haphazardly stacked on top of each other
  • Unnecessary paperwork mixed in with necessary paperwork not filed in any sort of order
  • No sustainable process for keeping important papers appropriately filed
  • Homeless items in the closet 
While those are just four little sentences, it's a much bigger project than I get accomplish in a week.  Especially week number two of my cold which has been trying to kick my butt (and winning some days).  My target for the week was to get the super unorganized stuff out of the closet, sort it and start an organization system for the closet.  I say the super unorganized stuff because half the closet is semi-organized Christmas items.  If I can develop a system for the front half, when we pull the Christmas stuff out I'll re-organize that before I put it away.  I have to keep these project doable or I'll get overwhelmed and never finished.

I don't actually have a picture of the closet before due to the fact that I started pulling out everything when looking for my tax information but here is a picture of the stuff strewn all over the basement.  Because everything is pulled out and scattered it looks a little worse than it really was.

After pulling everything out I started sorting it into piles.  The basic piles were kitchen items/dishes, Christmas wrapping/boxes, paperwork, books.  While I was going through I really debated whether I needed to keep the items or not.  I kept the crystal from our wedding even though we don't use it (maybe we'll use it more since I can get at it easier) but I got rid of the lemonade maker that has sat in the closet for four years.

I went to Lowes and found a heavy duty shelving unit that my son put together for me.  My plan is to get at least one, possible two more for the closet.  Here is my halfway picture where I've started putting items back.  This isn't a great picture but it gives you the general idea of what I plan to do.  There's a drain in the middle of the floor so I can't move the shelf all the way to the wall, however my husband thinks we can squeeze another one in to make an L shape.  I probably won't buy the other shelf until next week so we'll see about that.

Today I took a half day off work and I've been going through paperwork.  I'm putting all the papers that I  don't need in a box which I will take to work and shred one of these days.  Sometimes banks or other local businesses have collection days where you can bring in papers to be shredded.  Our bank just did that last weekend but I wasn't ready then.  Papers that I want to keep I'm putting together to develop some kind of filing system.

Here is what I still need to do for stage one.
  • Develop filing system for my paperwork, may include buying a filing cabinet
  • Buy a heavy duty shredder
  • Develop better wrapping paper/box system
  • Finish putting items away
  • Label boxes so I know what is inside (without opening the lid)
That's my organization project for the week, what have you been up to?  Feel free to post a link in comments to your organizing project.

I'll be linking this up over at I'm an Organizing Junkie and A Slob Comes Clean

You might also like:

Streamlining the Wardrobe
Bathroom Organization


  1. Good for you! My storage area under our steps is a disaster zone and needs a major purge. It's hard work to clean out and be ruthless on what to keep and not to keep. Good luck to you, looks like you're moving in the right direction.

  2. That does look like a big project!! But I know it will be wonderful when you get it finished. The first time you go to grab something out of there after it's organized will make you smile.

    I think I must be a paper hoarder too. Because of that, I'm a terrible filer/paper organizer. I read about using a filing system that works for you. I think I've finally found one that works for me. It's not perfect - but it's a HUGE improvement over what it used to be. I have a plastic 2 pocket folder that I label with the year and all of our bills go in there. Then at the end of the year, I take a big rubberband & put it around the folder & stick it in a bin with the other folders. I know where it is & I still have to sort through a years worth of paperwork, but at least I don't have multiple years all jumbled together.

  3. Terry - Storage areas are the worst! My under the steps area is also on my radar. We actually have a system there but it isn't working well right this minute so it needs some attention. Good luck to you when you decide to tackle it.

    Duckville - I like that idea of a file by year. I've been trying to get away from a lot of paper communication but there are always some things that will need require filing. I'm almost done and am really looking forward to finishing!

  4. Paper is my biggest enemy. I run a homedaycare, homeschool 2 of my children and of course run a household. Soooo much paper. It's overwhelming! Don't give up!

  5. paper is my enemy also...~sigh~

  6. It looks like you're making real progress. And I just love that you had your son put together the shelf for you. Paper? Ugh. It's my nemesis.

  7. I am a closet dumper :( so dont look in the main closet here lol.

  8. Wish I had the closets to "hide" things in - probably a very good thing I don't though - you've inspired me to tackle my catch-all wardrobe this week as it has become a home to the homeless over the last few months so thank you.

    Keep up the good work and I'm sure it'll be worth it.

  9. Paper is an absolute bear! I have a four drawer file cabinet which holds nothing but stuff I can't part with. Have you thought about getting on--on craigslist or a garage sale, maybe? It looks like one might fit in that spot rather better than another shelf.

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