Slideshow: Out with the old - in with the organized
Many people find organizing a closet stressful, but it doesn't have to be that way. What you may not realize is that the end result — an efficient place for storing, viewing and selecting things used on a daily basis — actually helps reduce stress. That in turn can have major, long-term, even life-changing benefits.
"Every day, we get dressed to go out and face the world and everyone wants to put their best foot forward," says professional organizer Amanda LeBlanc. "That starts in your closet when you're getting dressed. When your closet looks like a boutique and you can see everything, it feels good and that correlates into a positive attitude. It provides confidence and a sense of peace and that can change a person's direction."
LeBlanc started her organizing business, The Amandas, with a partner, also named Amanda, a decade ago in New Orleans. The business still operates under the name, but today, LeBlanc is the sole owner. She splits her time between New Orleans and Birmingham, Ala., the home of her first storefront. Last November, she opened a store in Old Metairie (517 Metairie Road, 504-833-5400; www.theamandas.com).
"I wanted a small location with a professional organizer on staff and I wanted to fill it with all the products I had seen work in people's homes," says LeBlanc, who starred in her own reality series, The Amandas, on Style Network in 2012. Undaunted by closets, kitchens, offices, garages and even attics during the peak of summer, LeBlanc and her staff organize on-site. They also help do-it-yourself clients set up a personalized closet system using products from her store. Whether reworking the system you have or installing a new one, LeBlanc offers advice to anyone ready to create a beautiful, functional closet.
LeBlanc suggests standing in the doorway of your closet, eyes closed, and imagining how you want the space to look. She emphasizes the importance of assessing how each individual uses his or her closet. "An organizational system has to be based around a person's habits," she says. According to LeBlanc, there are two main profiles that describe her clients: the "organized-in" person, who wants the look to be clean, sleek and minimalist, with everything tucked away out of sight; and the "organized-out" person, who is often visual and creative and likes to have things displayed in the open or in see-through containers. Figuring which profile best fits you is a great way to start. Then determine what you need, such as shelves and drawers, or if you travel and pack often, perhaps a valet rod.
Take An Inventory, Purge And Measure
LeBlanc advises evaluating your closet twice a year with the change of seasons: spring/summer and fall/winter. January is also a good time because it represents a fresh start. To avoid being overwhelmed, she advises her clients to break a closet organizing job into small, realistic tasks. Instead of overhauling the closet in one weekend, purge things that are no longer wanted or needed the first weekend and hang everything up, for example. The next weekend, group and categorize things by color and type and so on. "Each step builds confidence for the next," she says.
Once you've edited your closet (donate items that are in good shape and throw out badly worn ones), you can count items and calculate how much space each requires. Two hundred shirts, for example, occupy about 200 inches. If working with an off-site professional organizer like those at LeBlanc's store (an expert consultation is free), pictures and dimensions of your closet are necessary for devising a tailor-made plan.
Put A System In Place
"I'm a realist, I know not everyone can have us in their homes," LeBlanc says. However, professional organizers like LeBlanc and her staff can design closet systems without visiting clients' homes. Currently, her favorite products include freedomRail, a customizable system of closet organizing components, acrylic shelf dividers and a collection of slim but sturdy wooden hangers carried in her store. If you can't afford wooden hangers, she suggests using one type of hanger throughout your closet. It looks clean; your clothes will hang in a more orderly fashion, and using the same kind of hanger takes up less space.
Put Your Body In Motion
LeBlanc counsels procrastinators to start the process — however small the first chore. "We procrastinate not only what we don't want to do but what we think we can't do," she says. "You just have to put your body in motion to do it."