Like an unruly rugby match, shoes, belts and hangers fiercely compete for space in many walk-in closets. Fortunately, you don't have to spend a fortune to create the perfect closet. Discount stores, home improvement chains and upscale home boutiques offer many options.
Professional organizers recommend these steps:
• Know yourself, says Standolyn Robertson, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and owner of Things in Place, based in Massachusetts. ''You need to make sure that you're really considering a system that will work for you,'' Robertson says.
• Consider your finances. Professionally installed projects range from $300 to $15,000, according to Mort Malis, owner of the Miami franchise of California Closet. Pre-fabricated do-it-yourself shelves and closet materials from home supply stores are a budget option, says Efrain Machado, owner of Luv My Closet in Miami Beach. Although Machado sells closet units that can cost up $8,000, he has also created attractive solutions using trays, wicker baskets and decorative boxes priced from $5 to $14 at Target.
• Sort and purge. Empty out your closet and make some ''hard decisions,'' about each item, says Robertson of NAPO. Your give-away pile should include shopping mistakes, ill-fitting garments and worn out items, she says. Malis of California Closet says to discard or give away anything that you haven't worn in the past 12 to 18 months.
• Create groupings. Clothes and accessories should be organized by function and season. Rotate your seasonal items, with out-of-season clothes in the back and high-use items in the front. Store folded sweaters and T-shirts on open closet shelves.
• Double Up. Use shelves and different levels of horizontal rods to create layers of space.
• Discard wire hangers. In humid South Florida, metal hangers can leave rust stains. Opt for plastic, wood or fabric-covered hangers.
This is from my latest column in the Home & Design Section of the Miami Herald.
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