Way Back in the Closet

Sandy asked me how I organize my closet. I can’t take all the credit. First I had the amazing Maxine Ordesky, of Organized Designs in Beverly Hills, design my closet. Maxine has years of experience and an extraordinary eye for detail. Her first two questions when designing a closet are, “How tall are you?” and “Are you left- or right-handed?”

Maxine divided the closet into two sections, casual and fancier. I can stand in the middle of either section and reach everything I need to put together an outfit. Here’s where my additional help comes in: the fabulous Tom Nevermann, the Moving Doctor.  Tom and his team organized the closet when I moved in, and everything is in the perfect place.

In each section, clothes are grouped by type and color. All items face the same direction (in my case left, because I’m right handed) , and all hangers the same direction (away from you, so you can easily pull them out).

Sorted by ColorNotice how thin the hangers are, maximizing the closet space. These are Joy Mangano’s original Huggable Hangers, though there are similar products available. They’re waterproof for hanging wet clothes. They’re textured so clothes don’t slip off. The ends are gently rounded, so they don’t make bumps in sleeves. They do not swivel, which means they don’t get tangled with each other. I won’t use any other kind of hanger.

Huggable HangersShelves are divided vertically, so stacked items stay in place. For instance, sweaters are on lucite shelves that slide out, so I can stack them easily without cramming them into the shelf. Sweaters are stacked with the necklines out, so I can see what kind of sweater it is.

Sweater ShelfShoes are stored on adjustable shelves to maximize space. In each pair, one shoe has the toe out, the other the heel so I can see exactly which shoes I want. This is also efficient storage, since women’s shoes tend to be wider in the toe than in the heel.

ShoesSocks and lingerie are in drawers with lucite dividers. I had to rein in Maxine here, she wanted each item to have its own compartment. So, full disclosure, my lingerie items touch each other. Sorry, Maxine. Again, arranged by type and color, with the ones I use most often at the front.

SocksAs a curly-headed gal, I don’t wear hats much. It’s a full-day commitment once I’ve got that hat hair going on. I do have a few nice hats, but they tend to collect dust, especially the straw and velvet ones. So they’re on high shelves, out of the way, wrapped loosely in lightweight clear plastic. Purses are on high shelves, too, since I rarely use them.

HatsRecently worn items that I don’t want to put back yet are on hooks or pull-out rods. So are any hangers that don’t have clothes on them–Maxine is unyielding on this rule: Never put an empty hanger back on the rod! She’s right. Scarves are mostly hung, not folded (unless they’re knitted ones that might stretch out). If moths are a problem, I’d recommend thin cedar paneling glued to the back wall where the clothes don’t touch it. (I have a separate cedar closet in another room. Since I live in Los Angeles, I hardly ever wear wool so I don’t need easy access to all those cold-weather clothes).

My jewelry closet in my previous home is featured in Maxine’s book The Complete Home Organizer. We made some refinements here. The goal is to have a pretty secure place to keep my jewelry. It won’t stop a determined burglar, but the carpet cleaner won’t be able to easily grab anything. The good stuff is in a safe, this is my everyday jewelry.

Jewelry ClosetThere are two sections, they lock with the same key. The top section has cubbyhole-style shelves, for big items. Right now it’s got my passport and some credit cards, some cash and whatever else I want to keep pretty safe and out of sight. Halloween candy. Christmas gifts.

The bigger, bottom section is divided into wooden drawers. They vary in depth, with the deeper ones (for bigger items) on the bottom. Maxine chose a fleece-like fabric to line these, so things don’t move around when I open and close the drawers.

Deep drawer

Smaller items are in removable, adjustable lucite bins. They’re arranged by type, color, and size.

EarringsThe removable bins are handy for several reasons. I can take them out to clean the jewelry, or reorganize it.. The last time I evacuated for a nearby wildfire, I just stacked the bins in a duffel bag and took them along.

Silver stripsSilver jewelry is in a drawer with 3M Silver Protective Strips to prevent tarnish. They’re available on Amazon, but I just drop into Norris Hardware in Pacific Palisades to get mine. Norris Hardware has been around since 1925 and they have everything. Oriole food. Pool skimmers. Silver strips.

I may sound like a clotheshorse, but I’m really not. Most of my friends are convinced I’ve never seen the fancier section of my closet. They’re pretty much right. Also, my system isn’t perfect. Tom thinks I fold my t-shirts using a cardboard form so they’re all folded exactly the same size. I don’t. Maxine thinks I…well, let’s not get into what Maxine thinks about my underwear. It’s a sore subject.

Am I this organized in the rest of my life? Hell, no! But Maxine and Tom set me up with a system that’s easy to maintain. In my house, being in the closet is a good thing.