(Julius Goyanko/For The Washington Post)

Sometimes, keeping a closet organized takes more than decluttering or color-coding. Piles will collect and drawers will overflow until soon you’re shoveling through dozens of hats and sweaters in search of one buried scarf.

The solution is to compartmentalize. In other words, give every item a home. In professional organizer Marilyn Bohn’s new book, “The Easy Organizer: 365 Tips for Conquering Clutter” (Betterway Home), due out in November, she addresses this step.

“Objects that don’t have a home become clutter,” she explains. If you don’t know where something belongs, think about where you would look for it, and build it a home.

In closets, a few accessories can bring order to the chaos.

Pierrette Ashcroft, an organizing coach with Get Organized DC, suggests buying Bygel Rails ($2.99 each) from Ikea. They look like shower rods and can be hung on the inside of a closet door to store scarves.

Closet Factory’s Jan Stotlemyer, who provided the hall closet solution on the opposite page, likes to use shelf dividers from Lilian Vernon ($17.99) to keep the top shelf of the closet tidy. These can also be used to prevent tall boots and large bags from toppling over.

For belts, try using a Tie and Belt Hanger ($14.99 from Target). The belts won’t be rolled or stuffed into drawers, so you won’t have to worry about stretching or cracking the leather.

To improve the lighting in your closet, Sears and Wal-Mart sell battery-powered lights that can be stuck onto the inside walls. Most lights are motion-detecting and cost less than $10.

“My biggest piece of advice, more than making your closet look perfect, is to make it convenient,” Stotlemyer said.

She recommends installing a few coat hooks onto the wall near your bedroom closet where you can hang dry cleaning or outfits for the next day. This way, you’re less likely to drape items over a chair or door when you need to set them aside.

“You’ve got to be able to get in and out quickly in the morning,” she said. “And if the closet isn’t convenient for your lifestyle, it will never stay organized.”


“Please, take pity, accept the challenge,” wrote Sandra Arnoult of Silver Spring. She has dubbed her master bedroom closet the “closet of shame” because it is loaded with “too many shoes, too many bags, too many pairs of jeans and way too many sweaters.” She’d like a system that will keep things orderly and accessible: “A place for everything and everything in its place,” she said.


Provided by Duval Reynolds of California Closets, 2800A Dorr Ave., Fairfax. 703-573-9300, ext. 18.

Have a little fun with the walls. Benjamin Moore’s Caribbean Breeze matches Arnoult’s bathroom vanity.

Divide the clothes. Separate items by season, color and style, with business clothes on one side and casual clothes on another.

Keep paint subtle. White or neutral cabinets help the closet look airy and clean. The shade is Benjamin Moore’s Monterey White.

Allow room at the top for storage. Leave one foot of space between the top shelf and the ceiling to store boxes and luggage.

Dimensions: 60 inches wide by 90 inches deep by 95 inches high.

Price as shown: $1,914, including installation.

purge, purge, purge.

“There is no reason to provide a solution to garments that can be thrown out. Closet design should be centered around necessary items.”

Duval Reynolds, California Closets

“If you’re having trouble purging, here’s a trick: At the beginning of each season, hang your clothes on the rod backwards so they’re facing the wrong direction. Then, as you wear your clothes, hang them back on the hangers correctly. At the end of the season, any hangers that are still backwards are clothes you haven’t worn once. It’s a great way to keep track of what you actually wear.”

Jan Stotlemeyer,Closet Factory

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