I’m both deeply embarrassed and extremely excited about sharing this with the Internet. Mostly excited, but still, I would appreciate you doing your best to withhold judgment when it comes to my ‘before’ photos.
My disclaimers (slash excuses) for having a closet in such a state are: that I was hardly ever home to organize, when I was home I didn’t have the time or motivation to organize, and on top of all that, being an “influencer” if you will, I end up with a lot of clothing, much of which may not be things I should necessarily keep but I am terrible at getting rid of. And thus, I end up with the below…
Sorry you had to see that.
Before college I was a very messy young person. Ask any of my childhood friends or family members, and they’ll tell you my room was a constant junkyard. Not that I didn’t love the idea of having a super awesome clean room, but it was as if I just didn’t have the “tidy” gene or something.
Then I went to college, and when I found myself sharing a cramped dorm room with another girl (who, much like my former self, was less than neat and organized). I suddenly developed a case of minor OCD when it came to my belongings, keeping them organized and keeping my space tidy. Needless to say, when my parents or friends from home visited me at school, they couldn’t believe it was my dorm room or apartment they were seeing. And vise-versa, my college friends couldn’t believe I was ever not OCD.
Somewhere between then and now, post-college life, I found myself living in a mess similar to that of my pre-college self, and every moment of it was pure torture. But, for the reasons I listed above, coming around to organizing my war-zone of a bedroom was merely a dream that I set for myself for an un-scheduled time in the hopefully near future that I told myself would be soon, but never was.
Throughout 3ish apartment moves, all while doing a lot of traveling, my room remained more or less the same; a disaster, with minor moments of pretend tidiness, but I never found a true solution for a problem that would always come back.
And then, one day, I decided I couldn’t live like this any longer. Or maybe I decided it was time to do some real adulting. Or maybe I decided I was too embarrassed with my mess… probably a combination of all three. And then when my manager told me her best friend was a professional closet-organizer, I said I’d never needed anyone in my life more than I needed someone with that job title.
Internet, meet Dana, my hero. And please admire her work with this juicy before and after:
Dana, @clutterflyclosets on Instagram, acted surprisingly un-phased when she first saw my mini–hoarders-episode-of-a-closet. She even claimed she’d seen worse (how that is possible I find hard to visualize).
We worked together to solve problems that were keeping my messes messy and my tidying from staying tidy… like not having proper swimwear storage (I have an unfathomable collection of bikinis) or not having effective shoe storage. Basically, the heart of all my problems was A) too much stuff and B) the stuff I did want to keep around didn’t have a proper home.
So together we tackled it. But I really don’t want to take too much of the credit here, because mostly she tackled it, and I assisted. With her help over the course of a few weeks (she worked around my weird travel schedule) I finally went through things I’d never worn, things I’d once loved but had grown out of, things that flat out didn’t fit me, things that I didn’t even know I had, etc. etc., you get the point. Once I’d trimmed the fat (about 50% of my belongings were “fat” in this case), Dana set out to figure out clever storage solutions for the things that I did actually want in my closet.
How’d I get rid of stuff? About 80% of the clothing I decided to let go I donated (some of that stuff I still have yet to donate, so if you know of any women’s shelters or organizations that accept donations please comment suggestions below) and the other portion of things I truly loved but told myself I couldn’t keep any longer I listed for sale on my Depop. (Depop, if you don’t know, is an app for selling and buying clothing. Follow me on Depop here as I continue to list some of my favorite things! Trimming the fat is a never-ending job, in my case.)
We came up with bikini storage in the drawers of my my stand-alone ikea closet (I used to cram bikinis into those wire drawers you can see in the before photos), a shoe wall on an otherwise un-used area of wall space in my closet, we doubled my hanging space by adding two lower rods for jeans, pants, skirts and shorts, created proper bag and accessory storage on my built-in closet shelves (where my shoes used to pile up) along with storage for easy-to-grab folded sweatshirts and sweaters, extra hidden shoe storage for sneakers and flats in a clever ikea invention you’ll see below, and upgraded my chest of drawers to something that can handle my excessive amount of athletic gear, tees, and an unusually large sweatpants collection. All that, plus other small but massively significant organizing miracles that I could never have even thought of had I taken on this project alone. Like, for example, storing individual bikinis in small, sheer drawstring bags so I can keep separates together and keep all my suits in visible order. Or, finally using one SINGLE type of slim, velvet hanger throughout my closet that can actually keep clothes in place, rather than a multitude of rainbow hangers that clothes slip off of constantly, as beautifully depicted in my before photos. And also getting clips for my new hangers to hold up bottoms on the lower rods. Or just hanging up bottoms in general! Or dividing my closet shelves with acrylic dividers. Or how to properly fold clothing in my drawers in a way that is maintainable. Or how to organize stuff in a maintainable way, period.
Okay, I know, that was a lot of words to describe my closet metamorphosis. So if you got lost somewhere in all that, maybe the following photos of Dana’s work will paint you a better picture.
If I could take everything I learned from working with Dana to fix this problem and boil it all down to one piece of advice, the underlying solution to an ever-growing mess is this: everything, EVERY little THING, must have a place. If it doesn’t have a place, make one. If you don’t have space, make space. If you can’t make space, you have to say goodbye to it. The end.
Everything else merely makes organizing easier, but if you follow that simple rule, you’ll achieve organization. And organization looks different to every body.
With the tricks Dana taught me I actually ENJOY putting clothes away now. I get a little twinge of excitement when I need to put something away, because I know exactly where to put it. And it’s been a few months since Dana and I deemed the space finished, and I’m proud to report that since then my room has actually remained organized (whereas a few months after a cleanup pre-Dana, my room would already be back in a state by now).
My closet now:
Beyond having actual space to move around like a human being and not a cave-dwelling hobbit, having an organized room has it’s other benefits. I can mentally feel a shift when I come home now. I feel more relaxed and at ease. Cleanliness has a profound effect on mental health, and having a zen, sacred space to rest in has already noticeably affected my mental well-being.
Beyond that, I feel like I’m actually able to put outfits together now, whereas before I’d find myself wearing the same jeans days on end simply because they were at the top of the pile of other jeans that I forgot I even owned. Being able to easily preview everything you own is such a simple concept but really has a big impact on actually wearing the clothes you have available.
Lastly, having my clothing organized and not spilling into the rest of my bedroom has inspired me to fill the empty space in my room with décor and art where clothing and general messiness once was. Having clear floors suddenly made my empty walls extra obviously empty, so I felt more motivated and inspired to finally do something about decorating them. I came up with this gallery wall made entirely from prints I found on Society6.com to hang over the bed and I couldn’t be happier with the result and how insanely affordable it was to do it.
Link to the exact prints I chose here
All in all, I’m sure you can tell that I’ve had an almost borderline spiritual experience with this whole bedroom transformation, but it really has been a life-changer for me.
I’ll link all the organizers and knickknacks that Dana and I found on amazon below if you’re interested in using some of these to give your belongings better places to be put. I certainly think that there are people out there who find organizing to be in their second-nature, and then others who could tackle a similar (and most likely smaller) project on their own. However, I can’t say I’m one of those people due to my current life circumstances (aka my excuses) and I can’t say enough good things about Dana and how glad I am that I decided to finally get help rather than attempting to do take on this project on my own, which in my case had proven to be ineffective long-term.
And go check out Dana’s website here here to see some more drool-worthy before and afters, and also in case you live in the Los Angeles area and are interested in getting help from her for your own space! If you do, make sure you mention you came from me and she’s agreed to give a niiiice little discount to my followers! (Or use my code HELENOWEN where applicable on her site)
A huge, HUGE thank you to Dana for everything. Like I said, you are my HERO. And I have some bathroom and kitchen messes with your name on it next. ;)
If you liked this post and would like to see similar posts from me in the future please leave me a comment and tell me! I read every single comment and they remind me that people actually read and enjoy reading me rambling on about things I’m excited about. And hey, thanks for reading so many words, that’s a huge ask in today’s day and age, I appreciate you so much and I’ll see you in the next one!