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Hope for the Chronically Cluttered Closet

There's hope for the closet-impaired.

You're scrambling for that scarf that matches your blazer but it falls behind the box of shoes on the floor. While you're rooting around, two shirts fall off their hangers and you bump your head on the rod. Have you finally learned your lesson? Is it time to bring order to the chaos? Fortunately, there is help for the closet-impaired in the form of accessories and closet organizers. Sorting through your stuff is not so bad when you have logical places to store it.

The first step is the most obvious one. Jettison all the stuff you don't need. Clothes you haven't worn in a year, sport equipment, papers or magazines, you never read... get anything that doesn't contribute to your daily wardrobe out of there. Donate the surplus items to charities. Relocate seasonal clothes to another closet or in under-the-bed boxes. And move out anything you don't use regularly. Remember, getting a larger closet means nothing until you clean house. The law of closet physics says that the larger the space, the more stuff gets sucked in to fill it. After you're done, you'll be amazed at how the once invisible items suddenly come readily to hand when you need them.

Next, try sorting according to type and color. Pants, shirts, blouses, slacks, socks, stockings-- hang them or store them separately. Use whatever system makes sense, from dark color to light, earth to pastel, and so on.� Once you decide where items belong, try to put them back where they belong so your system doesn't break down. At this point, if your closet is still stuffed to the gills, you'll need to reorganize it. Be sure to utilize any empty space. For example, if your closet has a high ceiling consider installing a bar or wardrobe lift that raise and lowers for access. Or install shelves and keep a stepladder nearby for reaching them. Purchase portable or stackable shelving and separate shorter hanging items to leave space underneath for shelves.�

You're probably in desperate need of storage space if you're a normal clothes hound, even after you purge stuff you don't wear. Drawer space is critical but the average chest of drawers doesn't provide enough of it. Just consider the things you normally put in a chest of drawers - underwear, socks, shirts, shorts, T-shirts, hosiery, sweats, jeans, sweaters, and sleepwear... that's enough to fill two chests typically so the overflow ends up in the closet.� Go buy shelves and drawer packages, typically made out of ventilated wire or melamine-covered, high-density particleboard planks. Racks, bins and baskets can go along way in bringing disorderly piles under control.

Take advantage of drawers, mounted wall racks, hanging bags or shelves to store shoes. Generally speaking, men have bigger feet and bigger shoes that require shelves. Women's shoes fit better into shoe bags and racks, which are usually smaller. Clear storage bins work well, too. Use hooks, pegs and racks to hang ties, belts and other accessories. If you're ready for a total remedial redesign, try browsing through closet organizers in your housewares catalog or local department and home improvement stores.�

Sources used to create this article include Helen Bond and the Dallas Morning News.