closet from distance-compressed Photo: Emily May/Flickr

It’s a scenario we all dread — you’re groggy-eyed at 7am, standing in front of a messy closet with clothes strewn about, feeling as though you’ve got nothing to wear. “When you open the door and stuff starts falling out, that’s when you know it’s time for a closet revamp,” said Dan Petcoff, co-owner and operator of Tailored Living of Toronto.

But where do you begin? Petcoff suggests taking inventory of your wardrobe. “The best way to do this is to pull everything out of your closet and lay it out on your bed or another flat surface.” From there, separate your stash into four piles: keep, throw out, donate and recycle.

clothes-compressed Photo: Emily May/Flickr

Once you’ve pared down your wardrobe, it’s time to decide on the closet configuration. Petcoff says he prods his clients with questions to pinpoint their needs and habits. “Do you prefer hanging things to folding? What accessories do you store in the closet? How many shoes do you have?”

If purchasing a custom closet organization system is out of your budget, interior designer Linda Mazur of Linda Mazur Design Group recommends hitting up big-box stores for items such as storage bins, shoe racks, catch-alls and hanging solutions. Another secret weapon to a  well-organized closet? “Hangers,” says Petcoff. “It sounds silly, but when your hangers are all the same, the closet looks more uniform and it saves space.”

hang-compressed Photo: Emily May/Flickr

Proper lighting can make a big difference, too, but the type of lighting you choose will depend on the amount of closet space you have. “It all comes down to functionality,” said Mazur. “You want to be able to see what you’re working with.” Retailers like Canadian Tire and Home Depot sell battery powered LED lights that are surface mounted. “These are great for older homes or rentals because you don’t have to hardwire them in,” Mazur said. “Plus, the batteries last for up to 5,000 hours.”

Slathering on a fresh coat of paint will help to cover up any scuffs or scratches in the closet. Mazur tends to opt for neutrals. “White is an empty canvas that will reflect the colors in your wardrobe nicely.” If you’re still craving some color in a walk-in or dressing room, she suggests picking a paint that compliments your skin tone. “Bright yellow isn’t the most flattering color first thing in the morning!”

When the paint has dried and it comes time to put your clothes back into the closet (remember: the back of a chair is not their home), Petcoff says it’s best to group items by size and color. “It makes it easy to identify what you feel like wearing. Your closet should be an easy place to shop.” If you’re short on space, be sure to store out-of-season items higher up, or in a different area of the house.

setup-compressed Photo: Emily May/Flickr

With your closet looking the best it has since move-in day, you’ll probably be feeling pretty confident at this point. But keeping your closet organized throughout the year is a tough feat, and you’ve got to be persistent. “I go into so many homes where the closet is just out of sight and out of mind,” said Petcoff. “One of the biggest mistakes that I see is people throwing their clothes in there, closing the door and expecting that somehow, magically, it will organize itself.”

To keep it neat, he suggests keeping track of what you do and do not wear (the backwards hanger trick is good for this) and avoid purchasing items that are similar to things you already own.

If you’ve made an honest effort and your closet still looks like the aftermath of an explosion, it may be time to seek out a professional. “People with the biggest closet messes tend to overthink the situation,” Petcoff said. “It’s really quite a simple process though, and we’re here to help.”

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