This Messy Primary Bedroom Closet Went from Overflowing to Organized

See the steps a city-dwelling couple took to clear their closet of clutter in this before and after transformation.

For help reclaiming their messy primary bedroom closet, homeowners Joy and Chris turned to Certified Professional Organizer Yvette Clay of LivingOrder Austin. Their storage struggles included an abundance of shoes with no place to go, inefficient use of space, and rarely worn clothes they'd saved for way too long. After assessing the situation, Clay determined the couple had plenty of space but needed a major purge and appropriate organizing systems. See how this Better Homes & Gardens wardrobe closet transformation unfolded.

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Before: Inefficient Storage

The couple's biggest assignment: Purge anything that wasn't absolutely essential or regularly used. Any items in the closet that weren't clothing or accessories were to be stored elsewhere in their townhouse. "My rule of thumb is that if you can't wear it on your body, it shouldn't live in the closet," Clay says. "Clutter is postponed decisions. Don't put it down—put it away."

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After: No More Wasted Space

After thinning out their wardrobes and redistributing items that didn't belong, Joy and Chris took a true inventory of their clothing and accessories and joined Clay in devising a plan. To jump-start what can be an overwhelming endeavor, Clay introduced the couple to her A-B-C-D prioritization technique, with "A" items being those used most frequently and "D" items those used least or not at all.

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Before: Step in the Right Direction

Before the makeover, Joy had the right idea with this hardworking cubby unit positioned behind the door. But Clay knew it could be improved upon to create more space for shoes. "One thing became quite apparent," Joy says. "With more than 50 pairs of shoes and boots between us, footwear storage was a big priority."

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After: Best Foot Forward

Although up-top cabinets replaced an awkward shelf, the modular cubby unit stayed put. However, Clay eliminated the useless hang bar and organized the jumble of bags, books, and footwear. Canvas drawers and baskets stow socks, intimates, and accessories. One drawer is for items to give away. When it fills up, Joy makes a trip to a donation center.

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In a closet, accessibility is paramount. But having everything visible can look chaotic. Drawer space for sweaters and jeans wasn't available elsewhere, so Joy added cabinet units above the cubbies to hide folded belongings behind closed doors. The two cabinets leave just enough room on the top shelf for the carry-on luggage Joy uses almost weekly.

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Before: Cramped Quarters

Shoeboxes, bedding, bins, and bags crammed the couple's closet from floor to ceiling before their big purge. Although they had ample hanging space, Joy and Chris weren't using it efficiently, and even with the reorganized cubby shelf, shoe space was still lacking.

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After: Raise the Bar

The single-hang rod on the short side of the closet could fit Chris's items, which meant Joy could utilize the longer side and back wall. The key factor to the closet's success: a nine-shelf tower that showcases Joy's shoe collection. "The sight of it makes me happy every morning," she says. Two shoe shelves on his side accommodate Chris's footwear.

Before their closet makeover, Joy and Chris had to step over piles on the floor. Afterward, a single-hang rod remains on Chris's side (on left), providing room for a hamper below. After calculating the linear footage of her long and short clothing, Joy had the closet components cut to accommodate double-hang rods on one side of the tower and single-hang for her dresses on the other. She now organizes by category (such as short-sleeve tops) and sorts by color within each category. A small folding step stool puts higher-up items within Joy's reach.

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Knee-high boots call for horizontal boot bins, which help the shafts keep their shape. (Rolled-up magazines inside help, too.) The clear, lidded bins let Joy see inside and keep boots dust-free and off the floor. Storing seasonal boots up high also keeps them out of the way during the rest of the year. She also loves the bed with built-in storage they purchased to house the closet's overflow items.

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Clay believes in moving everything off the floor, and these easy-to-assemble shoe shelves did the trick on Chris's side of the closet. Their capacity even allowed him to move a few pairs of shoes out of the front entryway. Matching hangers give the closet a neat, finished look.

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Alternating the direction of shoes helps maximize shelf space, while the sleek rail keeps them from sliding off the angled shelves. (Joy opted for a shallow angle to allow for an additional shelf.) By measuring the heights of her shoes beforehand, she was able to install the shelves with variable spacing to accommodate flats, heels, and ankle boots.

Once your closet is in order, don't stop there. "A critical step many people don't take is maintaining their newfound order," Clay says. "Establish daily routines to sustain your system and devote an hour every few weeks to revisit your plan and determine what's working and what's not, then make adjustments if needed."

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Hang Time

When it comes to hangers, one style does not fit all. Learn the different types of hangers, assessing which ones are best suited to the components of your wardrobe, and make sure to buy enough to accommodate future clothing purchases.

Pants (top): This hanger's open end allows pants to slide on and off with ease.

General Use (middle): These are available in many forms; find one you like and stock up. (Joy prefers the velvety ones that prevent clothes from slipping off.)

Skirts (bottom): Clips let you hang skirts rather than folding them, eliminating wrinkles.

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