Monday, May 19, 2014

Tips for a Tiny Apartment: The Closet

Living in Paris has its joys, but tiny, antiquated apartments are not one of them. At least not if you are a family of four! In this series, I'm sharing my tips on how to survive, room by room, if you live in a tiny apartment.

Tips for a Tiny Apartment: The Closet

Tips for a Tiny Apartment: The Closet

Most Parisian apartments don't have built-in closets, much less walk-in closets. So while you might look at my closet and think "She and her husband have to SHARE that space?", Parisians are looking at it with envy. I literally get ooohs and ahhhs when I give the tour. Go figure.

I'm probably the only person on the planet to feel this way, but I LOVE cleaning my closet. From my days of working at a clothing store I learned how to fold nice, neat stacks of clothes and it is SO satisfying to purge my closet then refold everything.

For the normal people in the crowd (i.e. the other 6.9999 billion people on the planet), here are some tips to help keep your closet organized, particularly if you don't have much space.

Clear out the clutter

Many blogs before me have given tips on this so I won't rehash what you can readily find elsewhere. But try these tips for getting rid of stuff:
  • Challenge yourself to wear everything in your closet once. After you've worn it, put it at the bottom of the pile/back of the rack until you've gone through everything once. If you just can't bring yourself to wear something before pulling out a repeat, then you probably need to get rid of it.
  • Ask yourself, "Would I buy this today?" Just because you already own it, doesn't mean you need to keep it. It's a sunk cost - it's not like you're going to earn interest every time you wear it! I had this one sweater I was determined to like and so I forced myself to wear it a lot, and it ended up being in a bunch of pictures. Now everytime I look at those pictures I hate the sweater and wish I would have gotten rid of it a million years ago. Buying the sweater was a mistake but I made it a bigger mistake by wearing it all the time.

In a tiny closet, declutter first then adapt to the space.

Only store clothes and shoes

Once you start tossing other items in your closet, it's a slippery slope. You'll have less room to organize your clothes with weirdly shaped objects taking up space and you'll be more likely to let your nice, orderly closet fall into disrepair. Whatever else you think you need in the closet, take a good hard look at it and see if you really need it at all.

Adapt to the space

I personally love wooden hangers but they take up so much more room than crappy hangers or folding your clothes. One day, when I'm a princess and all my dreams come true, I'll have a closet that's half the size of my castle and I'll buy a ton of matching wooden hangers and hang all my princess dresses on them. Until then, I have to accept what I've got and adapt my clothing to the space. Specifically:
  • Fold clothes instead of hanging them. Each stack has a theme - sleeveless, short sleeve, long sleeve, etc.
  • Toss frequently worn items (pajamas, hoodies) on hooks so I don't have to fold them each time (making it more likely I'll take the time necessary to fold the rest).
  • Baskets for socks, underwear, belts, etc.
  • Hang the stuff that must be hung (dresses, suits, coats).

Another tip I often see is to stash out of season clothes somewhere else. Sounds good, but... where? I don't have anywhere else! As I mentioned in my bedroom tips post, I detest having things under my bed and we don't have space in our bedroom for another dresser or an armoire. Rather than store out of season clothes somewhere else, I think it's better to force yourself to whittle down what you have. When it comes down to it, you probably wear the same 5-10 pieces most of the time anyway!

Is your walk-in closet the size of my apartment? Please don't rub it in! Or is your closet just as tiny as mine? How do you stay organized, particularly if you have to share the space with a spouse or roommate?

Check out the rest of the series:
Tiny Apartment Tips: The Kitchen
Tiny Apartment Tips: The Bathroom
Tiny Apartment Tips: The Bedroom
Tiny Apartment Tips: The Closet
Tiny Apartment Tips: The Living Room

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Vicki Lesage, Author