Imagine a typical bedroom. What large storage spaces come immediately to mind? 

Closets and dressers, right? Great for some styles, but a nightmare for others.

If your closet is a nightmare, what do you do? It's not exactly a container you can replace at the dollar store. 

Ah, but you might be surprised.

Take another look. What's working and what's not? 

  • Are clothes hanging from the rod, or strewn across the closet floor?
  • Are shoes lined up in pairs, or tossed haphazardly?
  • Can you see what's in your closet at a glance, or is your closet more like Fibber McGee's?

If you're a cram and jammer, that last description probably fits. If you're an I need to see it person, clothes are probably hanging from the rod, but you might also have multiple items hanging from a single hanger, too, as you mixed and matched in an endeavor to put outfits together. And the I know I put it somewhere person may find all sorts of forgotten treasures tucked in among the clothes.

So how do you take your closet from where it is to where you want it to be? 

At its most basic level, a closet is a big, rectangular space. Once upon a time, a Type A organizer decided that closet should come complete with hanging rods and a shelf (or more, if you have the luxury of a walk-in closet). And the Type A organizer, a rule follower who likes hanging rods and shelves, lived happily ever after.

Maybe -- just maybe -- you're not a Type A organizer. If that's the case, the solution lies in redesigning the space to suit your styles. 

Take another look in the closet, keeping in mind that everything you see is a style clue, not a character flaw. What parts of that rectangular space are you using well? 

Cram and jammers might love the lone shelf -- so much so that it's packed with clothes. And the rod? Well, it may have clothes on it, too, even if they're draped over the rod rather than hung on it. 

I need to see it folks may have the opposite problem. Because hanging things on the rod allows them to see what they have, the rod may be packed. It might even be "coded" by color or season. The shelves may be sparsely populated, so the owner of the closet can see what he or she has, or the shelves may house a haphazard mix of colors and fabrics. 

Similarly, I know I put it somewhere organizers might actually be using this particular space very well, with the possible exception of those buried treasures. But, if they remember that the closet is where those treasures are housed, and they have space for them there, who am I to say that they should go somewhere else?

If your closet is working for you, take a moment to celebrate. Maintaining an organized closet is no small feat. If it's not working for you, it's likely that the set-up is the problem. Re-think. Re-organize. What would work better? Can you use your containers to make that happen?

Or maybe your closet is just grand, and you're looking at your child's closet. Depending upon the age of your child, it might be time to arrange that big, rectangular space according to his or her styles in order to save time, money, sanity and your relationship.

Next week, we'll talk about the personal styles when it comes to closets and drawers, as well as ideas for rearranging the narrow rectangular spaces that are drawers. Meanwhile, here are a few things to think about.

Standard issue isn't always standard. Do you need to ditch the rod? Add another one below it for shorter hanging things? Add more shelves? Roll in some clear drawer units?

Divide and conquer. If you're storing more than clothes in your closet, how can you create distinct, logical homes for everything that's housed there so you can find what you need quickly?

A season for everything. If your closet is overstuffed with clothes for all four seasons, what might be a logical home for your out-of-season items? 

But I live here! Is your closet a logical home for everything that's stored there? 

One final caveat. I'm not suggesting a complete (expensive) closet overhaul -- just a re-vision of your space and how you're using it. Even if you can't replace your closet itself with inexpensive organizers, using style-specific containers to re-vamp your closet so it fits your styles can help you whip this large, rectangular space into shape in a budget-friendly fashion.

Copyright 2016 Lisa Hess