Also known as “The Great Goodwill Donation”, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

I’ll fully admit to you that when you see the “Before” picture, it won’t look all that bad. It’s only upon closer inspection that you’ll see how truly grody the closet really was. Please keep in mind the following:

I really do clean my house, I swear. 

Here’s the before:

Doesn’t look too bad now does it? Sure it could use a little organization, perhaps some purging here and there, but you could live with it right? Right? Uh huh…(Author’s note: That bag on the door is my wedding dress that’s never made it to the dry cleaners in the year since I got married…)

Anywho, if you want to purge, reorganize and for heaven’s sake clean your closet you’ll probably want these things before you get started:

A couple of boxes, your vacuum (with attachments), a marker, and a good quality microfiber cloth. I also opted for these:

A nice cold glass of iced tea and my kitchen timer. Can we get real here for a moment? I really like organizing things and I really enjoy making our rental apartment a home…but I have a confession to make. I really hate working more than I have to. Thus the kitchen timer. I really wanted this to go quickly and the timer helps me stay focused on the task at hand. I also wanted to get this done before The Hubs came home, but that didn’t happen, and honestly it worked out better that way, but I’ll tell you all about that in a moment.

Here’s what I did to get our closet in better (and dear Lord cleaner) working order.

Step one:

Take everything out of the closet. I’ll fully admit here that I broke my own rule about this and left my large jewelry box and collection of handbags in there, but they were thoroughly cleaned where they sat. Don’t panic when working on this step, but I must tell you that your beautiful bed will go from this:

To this:

Don’t worry, it’ll look pretty again soon, I swear. Also, a word of caution: Don’t sort through stuff as you’re taking it out of the closet. You’ll get too mired in the “Oh that’s pretty…” or “I remember that wedding I wore that in 10 years ago…” moments and nothing will get done and you’ll be sleeping on your clothes rather than your pretty bed. I did, however, put my clothes on my side of the bed and his clothes on his side. I figured it might make it easier while going through them.

Quick tip: As you’re emptying the closet, if you come across rogue hangers, it is beneficial to have a box handy to catch them. That’s the box you see in the picture above. It also helped me see that we had quite a few dry cleaner hangers which I hate. “What’s wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you: no wire hangers EVER?” (Name that movie…)

Step Two: Vacuum and dust really well. Remember how I showed you the before and it looked ok? Well it’s time for full discloser. Take a peek at this:

Why yes, that is an imprint of my shoes in thick dust, why do you ask? Remember:

I really do clean my house, I swear. 


I gave that closet a real going over with the vacuum and microfiber cloth. I even used the crevice attachment to get the dust off of the baseboards and out of the corners, etc. It was nasty. I’m ashamed. I rewarded myself with a chocolate for getting the cleaning part done. You should too.

Step Three: Replace or install your closet fixtures.

Since we have a rental and I can’t install all of the beautiful Elfa systems that I want from the Container Store, I had to go with what’s already installed, but Hubby was kind enough to indulge me a little and buy one of these neat sweater storage systems from Target.

I’m going to be honest with you here. Part of the reason the top shelf of our closet is always a mess is because I can’t reach it. I’m 5’3″ in shoes and I don’t relish the idea of dragging a stool in there so my clumsy butt can fall off of it while no one is home and I’m doing laundry. So we went with the sweater storage and I. Love. It.

The hardest part of the whole project comes next.

Step Four: Go through your clothes and accessories.

I’ll say this: BE RUTHLESS. I wasn’t always, but then I started having a friend work on closet sorting with me and she was way more critical than I was. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. She knew that I either hadn’t worn it, didn’t like it, didn’t look good in it or (sadly…) couldn’t fit into it anymore and it needed to go to someone else who could be blessed by it. I’m not saying this will be easy. I want you to understand that it won’t be. It’s not easy for me, ever. But I have to be real about this. By the time I reach my goal weight the clothes I have will be worn out or out of style anyway and there’s no reason they should gather dust while someone else could put them to good use. So they went.

I had just finished sorting my stack when Hubby came home and unfortunately saw every piece of clothing he owns sitting on the bed. He gave me a somewhat concerned look when he made it to our bedroom and cautiously asked me what I was doing. Poor guy. Guess he thought I was throwing him out for all of those WIRE HANGERS!!!! Kidding…

As much as I wanted to be done by the time he got home, it worked out great that he arrived when he did. He helped sort his clothes (I wasn’t planning on getting rid of any of his without clearing it through him first…) and while he wasn’t as ruthless as I, he did unload a lot. Like, more than I thought he would. I’m proud. 🙂

After all of that (I’m tired, aren’t you?) I reloaded the closet. I have a couple of tips for this.

I like to organize my clothes by the color spectrum using the ROY G BIV method. (Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet – I throw white, black and brown in before red). It helps me see what I have and where it is for easy retrieval. I can’t take credit for this idea. I saw it on one of the many cleaning, organizing and decorating shows I watch on TV. Can’t remember which one.

I did not opt to organize The Hub’s clothes this way. One, most of his clothes are blue. (No, really, 90% of his clothes are some shade of blue…I do not lie.) And two, he’s not going to maintain it. I know him. It is not going to matter who Roy G. Biv is or why he’s in our closet. Just won’t. So I opted for a simpler method. All short sleeved shirts on one side and all long sleeved shirts on the other. We’ll see if that holds…

All in all the project took me about 3 hours to complete, with help, but it was so worth it. The closet smells better. I can breathe in there! Here’s what my side looks like now:

I can honestly say that I was so ruthless about donating, The Hubs has more clothes than I do now…a fact that I will rub in. 😉 He’s spread out onto my side of the closet now!

Take away tips from Scrappy:
1. All those wire hangers can be recycled. Our dry cleaner will take them back. But if you have any that look like this, keep them:



These large hangers with cardboard tubes are fantastic for hanging your table cloths on! I’ll show you how I’ve organized my linen closet soon.


2. Goodwill (or the donation site of your choice) will give you a receipt for your donation, but you’ll need to value the items yourself. Their website has a list of common items and what they are worth low to high. I’m not in it to make tons back, so I just go with the low number on their chart. I took those and input them into Excel and created a spreadsheet for our donations. It’s simple and makes tax time a lot easier!

I’m still trying to decide whether I like the sweater rack at the front of the closet or in between mine and hubby’s clothes. I’d be interested in hearing your opinions.

Here’s option A (sweater org, then my stuff):

Option B (my clothes then the sweater org):

I kind of like it because it shows a natural break and looks more organized. What do you think? Leave me a comment!

Also, now that it’s clean it’s really tempting to buy all new, pretty hangers that match, but I might be able to swing that with the ones I had left over from all the purging.

Here’s the (rather large) pile for Goodwill that I need to fold and value for donation:

Sorry for the crappy nighttime shot. I forgot to take one in the daylight. Bad blogger!

Honestly, I’m not sure how all of that and all of what’s left fit in there. But I’m glad it’s gone! I am loving the feel of our freshly cleaned closet space. 🙂

Once again:

Before:

And the glorious after:

This post is linked to Thrifty Decor Chick’s Organize It party going on right now! You can find a link to her site on the right side of your screen.

Also posted to Blue Cricket Design’s Show and Tell Wednesday:

Show and Tell Green

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As well as:

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10 Comments

  1. Mommie Dearest! Am I right? One of my favorite movie quotes ever!!!
    We just re-did our master closet and I actually found myself saying that line over and over as well – too funny!

    Great job and great organizational tips! 🙂

  2. It’s beautiful! And when you can get the Elfa – you’ll be in love and never look back. They have so many more Elfa products now than when we did our master closet, but I still love it. Here’s a tip… Work at the Container Store. Even if it’s only for one Christmas season. But do it when you’re ready to buy your Elfa. The savings is amazing. 🙂 Plus it’s a fun place to work.

    As for an opinion… Go with the sweater organizer between your clothes and hubby’s. Not only does it provide the visual break, but it also makes your closet look bigger (at least from the pictures) not having it hanging at the opening of the door.

    Now, here’s a question for you… Where did your wedding dress go??? LOL… It’s gotta be there somewhere.

    Again, it’s beautiful! I’m really digging the chocolate, though.

  3. You did great! I’d put the sweater rack in the middle.
    If you’re going to stay at the apartment several years, go ahead and add a middle shelve or something to help organize your closet. Check out Craig’s list to get odds and ends. We lived the 1st 14 years of our married life in rentals, 5 different places. Most of the time we could just reuse what we had when we moved. We just fixed the holes when we left and had no complaints :^) Most places paint after every renter anyway. A couple of places we even put up Elfa bookshelves on the wall. With so little storage most places, we had to make the best of it.

  4. I just wrote “No More Wire Hangers” the other day in something on my blog! Very funny. Great job on the closet. The best part of those kinda jobs is when they are done!

  5. Looks great! Totally jealous you have a container store by you but I’d be broke if I had one close by. I like the sweater thingy between your two sets of clothes and I do my clothes by pants, short sleeve, long sleeve and dresses/skirts. 🙂

  6. I so need to do this! Looks great! Thank you for letting us know about the valuation list on Goodwill’s website……I had no idea it was there!

    • Christina Reply

      Thank you Joy! It definitely worked well for us 🙂

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