Step 1: Paring down to necessities. Sonya needs only a couple of coats handy, so she moved the extras into a less crowded closet. Random DIY materials, like silicone sealant, that had mysteriously made their way into the closet were moved to the garage. High-frequency items, such as Sonya’s bowling ball, umbrella, ironing board, and stadium chair (she takes it to outdoor concerts, the beach, and her niece’s soccer games), each earned a specific place to live.
Step 2: Picking an inspiring color. When a storage spot is easy on the eyes, you’re more inclined to keep it neat. Gia painted the back wall green (one of Sonya’s favorite colors, and one that complements the rest of her home), so when the closet door is open, it seems like part of the decor. (Paint color: Valspar Jalapeño Jelly 6005-6A, $28 a gallon, lowes.com for stores.)
Step 3: Choosing the right storage. Boxes that completely fill shelves are ideal, since they leave no space for a mess. (They do fill up, however, and need a purging now and then.) Gia used espresso-colored canvas bins ($34 each, westelm.com) and lime green storage boxes ($20 each, exposuresonline.com) to stash unsightly items that don’t get a lot of play. Open baskets (Pjäs, $15 each, ikea.com for stores) that can slide out or sit on the floor stow goods that Sonya uses more often.
Step 4: Making room where there wasn’t any. Gia raised the top shelf of the closet and the clothing rod about six inches. She then sawed 17 inches off the rod and reattached it to a six-foot shelving unit (Expedit, $60, ikea.com), making use of vertical space that was dead before. The back of the door provided more “found space,” thanks to a hook rack―a great makeshift spot for coats on their way to the rod and a good permanent home for long, light items, like scarves and sun hats.