Find out what’s causing chaos in your closet and how to fix it with the help of professional organizer Shira Gill.

By Marla Christiansen
Updated August 27, 2018
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Closets are magnets for clutter and random household items. Do a quick scan of your closet for items that have lost their way. (I’m talking to you diaper bags, passports, gift wrap—you get the picture!) Instead of glossing over these items, round them up and take a few minutes to put them back where they belong.
Vivian Johnson Photography for Shira Gill Home

Let’s face it—no matter the size, closets are prone to messes. Given our busy schedules, at some point during the week, clothing is bound to get stashed away in a hurry and wind up in a crumpled pile or the wrong place. Even with the best intentions, maintaining order in our closets often falls to the wayside. After all, it’s not every day that guests get to see what’s behind closed doors.

Pinterest-worthy photos aside, a properly organized closet can have some serious benefits, like speeding up our morning routines or keeping clothing from getting wrinkled and wrecked. If an organized closet has always eluded you, you’re not alone. That’s why we turned to professional home organizer Shira Gill for some help. With experience in transforming hundreds of homes, Shira has a special knack for creating beautiful, boutique-like closets. Her talent for freeing closets from clutter has repeatedly translated into sleeker style and more mindful living. We asked Shira for a list of common closet mistakes and how to remedy each. Here’s what she had to say.

Vivian Johnson Photography for Shira Gill Home

1
Lack of Vision

Without a clear vision and plan, the task of organizing an entire closet can feel draining and daunting. Before you spring into action, make sure to define and clarify exactly how you want your closet to look, feel, and function. Whether you want your space to feel like a well-curated boutique (get inspired by the photo at right!), or you’re just looking to simplify your morning routine or refresh your style, defining your “why” will help ensure that you stay on track throughout the organizing process.

Vivian Johnson Photography for Shira Gill Home

2
Ignoring Random Items Instead of Relocating Them

Closets are magnets for clutter and random household items. Do a quick scan of your closet for items that have lost their way. (I’m talking to you diaper bags, passports, gift wrap—you get the picture!) Instead of glossing over these items, round them up and take a few minutes to put them back where they belong.

Vivian Johnson Photography for Shira Gill Home

3
Organizing Before Decluttering

Organized clutter is still clutter. Attempting to organize your belongings before thoroughly editing them will probably leave you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Do yourself a favor and streamline your wardrobe first.

Most people tend to buy the same items again and again. If you find yourself staring at a sea of identical sweaters (or jeans, or handbags, etc.) pick your favorites and donate the rest.

Vivian Johnson Photography for Shira Gill Home

4
Asking Yourself the Wrong Questions

If you’re on a mission to create a streamlined closet, but feel overwhelmed or resistant to parting with your belongings, you may simply be focusing on the wrong questions as you assess each item.

Unhelpful Questions:

  • Could this be useful one day?
  • Did someone give this to me?
  • Did I pay a lot of money for this item?

These questions are rooted in guilt, obligation, and fear, and will provide you with the justification to keep just about anything!

Helpful Questions:

  • Does this item fit and flatter my current body?
  • Would I buy this item for full price today?
  • Would it impact my daily life not to have this item?
  • Could this item be useful/helpful to another person?

These questions will help keep you focused on creating a space that supports your current goals, values, and lifestyle. They are rooted in abundant thinking: “If I end up needing a ski sweater or a pair of black tights, I can easily buy or borrow from a friend.” The goal, of course, is not to be careless, or get rid of everything, but rather, to remain focused on keeping things that help elevate your style and simplify your life.

Vivian Johnson Photography for Shira Gill Home

5
Not Creating Zones

Once you’ve edited your wardrobe, achieving organizational mastery is as simple as following these two rules:

  1. Group your belongings together by type—dresses together, jeans together, sweaters together.
  2. Store each category according to frequency of use. Store the things you use frequently at arm’s reach for easy access, and tuck away seasonal, formal, and occasional-use items in less accessible areas.

The key is to ensure that all of your belongings are assigned a clear and intuitive “home," so staying organized is easy and second nature.

Vivian Johnson Photography for Shira Gill Home

6
Splurging on Organizing Products Without a Concrete Plan

There is a common misconception that if you stock up on great storage products you will suddenly be organized. Don’t fall for it! Before you head out to take The Container Store by storm, make sure you have made a specific list of items you actually need to store your specific belongings. Pro tip: Don’t forget to measure first so you can ensure you buy things that fit well in your closet. Otherwise, you’ll just find yourself in the same organizational rut you started in—surrounded by a sea of bins and baskets you don’t know what to do with.

Vivian Johnson Photography for Shira Gill Home

7
Buying Mismatched Storage Products

While it’s tempting to experiment with a whole array of different styles, colors, and brands, don’t. When it comes to organizing products, it’s best to stick with one style and color palette so you can create a clean, streamlined aesthetic. Practice restraint and invest in uniform bins, baskets, and hangers for a cohesive look. The investment will be worth it and your closet will thank you.