Organizing closets simplifies your life

By Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's 7 a.m., and you're running late because you couldn't find your favorite sweater or your child's left shoe. As you reach for a jacket before heading out the door, a soccer ball rolls across the room and a broom handle hits you in the head.

Instead of getting angry, resolve to get organized -- and what better place to begin than your overflowing closets?

"An organized closet makes your life easier on a daily basis," says Edwin Santiago, a designer for California Closets in Fairfax. "It simplifies your life."

Because we could all benefit from a little simplicity and a lot more storage, we asked readers to send us photos of closets in their homes that give them the most grief (a single rod and stationary shelf, anyone?). We picked three and then asked local closet companies to suggest redesigns of the storage spaces to make them more efficient. On the following pages are their solutions for a bedroom, kids' and coat closet.

Should you become inspired by these designs and decide to consider your own custom closet, ask yourself: How do I use my closet space? What are my frustrations? What do I want to keep in my closet? What would I eliminate?

Here's a tip: Resist the urge to tidy up before inviting a designer to see your closet.

"It's actually a detriment to de-clutter," says Karen Sylvestre of Closets by Design in Manassas. Designers say they need to see exactly how a closet is being used to figure out the best organization. Most closet companies offer a free in-house consultation. Prices for custom closets will vary depending on sizes and your choices of options and accessories.

If you're not in the market for a major closet redesign, we've included guidelines and storage products that can help anyone improve the function, efficiency and look of their closets today.

Whether you tackle the job yourself or hire someone to do it for you, a properly organized and uncluttered closet will make you happy every time you open the door. Even if it's to pull out the vacuum.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company