For many people, a walk-in closet is considered a luxury offering a spacious place to store your clothes, shoes, purses and other accessories. In a perfect world, think well-organized racks of clothing, perfectly arranged shelves of shoes, and beautifully placed, easily accessible hats and handbags.

However, even walk-ins can get cluttered and feel chaotic. It’s time to tackle that closet, organize it and get rid of items you never wear.

“In essence, a walk-in closet is like a little room in your house, and like any space, you want it to work for you and serve you well. It’s like a walk-in cupboard,” said Debra Baida, owner of Liberated Spaces in San Francisco.

If you’re lucky enough to have walk-in – no matter what the size—Baida said you need to maximize the space.

“And you should be able to see everything in the closet. Everything should be easy,” added Julie Naylon, owner of No Wire Hangers in Los Angeles.

Here are 10 tips for getting the most out of your walk-in closet:

1. Pull Everything Out and Regroup

“For example, all shirts together, all pants together, all suitcases,” said Andrea Wait, owner of Andrea Wait Organizing Services in San Francisco.  “Ask yourself what is it that you want in this closet? Is this a clothes closet? Then just have clothes in the closet. Anything that doesn’t fit in that category should go somewhere else.”

2. Purge to Keep Clutter-Free

“Go through your grouping of items and decide what you want to keep and now donate the rest,” Wait said.

When you decide to purge for donation or sale, the items should leave within 24 hours, so no second thoughts creep back in, Naylon added.

3. Give the Closet a Thorough Cleaning

Vacuum, dust and wipe down shelves, bins and racks.

4. Establish Zones

“Create zones for where everything should live by category,” Wait said.

You can have zones like “long hang” for coats, skirts and dresses, “seasonal” and “shoes.”

You can also sort by clothing type and then further organize by occasion. For example, all casual dresses together and cocktail-type dresses together.

“The fewer categories you have, the easier it’s going to be to maintain,” Naylon said. “Don’t overcomplicate it. You could separate casual from dressy. Work from casual. There are many different ways.”

But put your “go-tos” up front so they’re easily accessible, Baida pointed out: “Have those things front and center. Put the clothes that you’re using less frequently a little less out of reach. Those can be up high, further toward a corner or in the back of the closet.”

The same is true for seasonal clothing. Pack it away so it’s easy to rotate items back in later.

5. Install Adjustable Rods

“Have one rod high up for long-hanging items, and one short for shirts, skirts, pants,” Wait said. “Hang items grouped in their categories, and if you’re really going for it organize each group by color.”

6. Keep Shoes Off The Floor

“Add shelves on one wall and use the entire vertical space for shoes,” Wait said. “The shoes you don’t wear as often should go higher up on the shelves.”

Instead of installing a shelf you could also place a bench for shoes. You could also organize your shoes by type (heels, sandals, boots, sneakers and flip-flops). Also to fit more shoes, stagger them (heel in/heel out).

If you have room, the stackable drop front shoe boxes from The Container Store are a great option for corralling your footwear.

7. Add Shelves For Purses and Bags.

Also, shelf dividers work well to prop items up so they’re not slumping over, Baida said.

“I like to have purses up above and make sure you stuff the bags so they keep their shape,” Naylon added.

 8. Hang Up Your Hats.

Use hooks for hats so they’re displayed, but up and out of the way, Naylon said.

9. Add Drawers for Foldable Items.

Depending on the size of your closet, you can add stacked drawers to your storage options.

Drawers also work well for underwear, socks and pajamas, Naylon said. They’re also ideal for storing jewelry, scarves and sunglasses.

10. Decorate and Style.

“You can personalize your walk-in closet,” Naylon recommended. “You can put down a nice rug and make it an extension of your house. If there’s an empty top shelf, you could put your jewelry on it and maybe a framed picture”

Add a mirror, art and wallpaper to make it feel like your own personalized space.

Liz Wolf

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