3 Tips to a Better (Interim) Closet

One of the great parts of our old apartment was that it had 2 fairly large closets for clothes, situated right next to each other in the hallway. Both were about the same size so we had a his and hers — done and done!

The great part about not having to share a closet is that it's okay if his closet gets messy, because that's his own business. And similarly, if one day I want to take everything out of my closet and re-organize it (because that's how my mind works), I don't have to make that an activity that takes up his whole Sunday afternoon, as well.

Now, in our new house, I'm finding the closet situation isn't quite so great. Well, I should clarify, the master bedroom has the worst closet of all three bedrooms. In short, it's just not big enough for the 2 of us. I could probably write at length about its other short-comings, but I'll save that for the day when we finally replace it, but for now we have to live with it — until I can execute on my dream closet.

My dream is to demo the current closet and put in a walk-in closet in our room — or, better yet, simply build up into the attic and make it a master suite with a massive closet and bathroom combination up in the attic. These ideas are thousands of dollars away so, barring any amazing financial windfall, we'll need to work with what we do have.

Thankfully, that's where the other bedrooms come in; one is being used as an office and has a closet that I've taken over for myself and it's about the same size as my old apartment closet. And I think I've finally gotten everything unpacked and organized in it in a way I can tolerate!

Here are 3 tips for how I've come to terms with my (interim) closet:

(1) Fully utilize the highest storage areas
I like deep closets but high closets sometimes annoy me. At 5 feet 5 and a half inches tall (I always claim that extra half an inch!), I'm hardly short but I don't exactly have a tremendous reach advantage. As a result, I didn't realize that in the far upper reaches of my closet was more junk left behind by the seller until several months after we moved in!

After getting rid of that stuff and cleaning those shelves, I decided to move all my infrequently used stuff up high. Veil from my wedding? That goes way up in the corner out of view. Ice skates? Up high but still visible in case we want to hit up the rink at Bryant Park this winter. My Away rolling luggage? In its dust-cover and stowed away closer to the front for the next time I need to travel.

This is the teeny tiny step stool that lives inside my closet to extend my limited reach!

The biggest key, however, to using the high storage is that the floor of the closet must remain (mostly) clear. This allows me to bring in a small collapsible step stool so I can grab at some of the higher storage — or bring in a larger stool as needed.

(2) Add perpendicular rods
The closet I'm using has a ton of side storage and an upper and lower rod for hanging clothes so it's actually fairly convenient as is. However, with the upper shelves being occupied with storing infrequent stuff, I was struggling to figure out how best to store my purses.

I don't have many purses but I like to have the right bag for a specific situation. Whether it's a black tie wedding, job interview or simply a weekend trip, chances are I have a different, appropriate bag for the event.

This is my quick and easy handbag solution — barring a larger closet, of course.

To manage these myriad bags, I decided to buy an additional tension rod that actually runs perpendicular to the ones housing my clothes. I now have a number of shower curtain rings (these work really well with the hooks on either side!) hanging from the rod that hold my bags. It's a very quick, easy and cheap fix — maybe $20 total!

(3) Make it delightful
With all the behind the scenes repairs we've had to make, it's nice to make some changes that we can see and live with more directly. One of those behind the scenes repairs was insulation and, sadly, I didn't realize there was a hole in the wall of my closet that let a little bit of that insulation leak in after it was pumped in from the outside of the house.

I patched up the holes with some wood filler which made for a pretty unattractive, eye-level shelf. This was also a shelf on which I wanted to neatly stack my jeans — which was not really possible without treating that wall somehow. And then it hit me: wallpaper! I could buy some really cute wallpaper from Chasing Paper and cover up the patched up holes.

I spent a good deal of time on some other sites but found Chasing Paper to have better options. I wanted something that would be cool but not too loud as it is something I have to live with day to day. I opted for a peony print in grey and white tones and it works perfectly for inside my closet — it's not too loud of a print and also light enough to keep it looking bright and clean. While I tried to follow the directions, applying the wallpaper was a bit of a pain in the you-know-what but if I can do it, so can you.