Sharing a closet: one of the unexpected pleasures of a domestic partnership.
While we’d all love to have custom closets designed to keep us organized and maximize our space, it’s simply not a financial reality for most couples.
Here’s a look at four easy ways to improve your shared closet space that won’t break the bank.
Many single people are used to living in small apartments or shared housing with limited storage space. Because of that, we develop certain storage habits that may not serve us well when it comes to sharing a closet.
For me, it was suitcases. Living in a one bedroom apartment, I had always stored them in the bedroom closet.
Where else would they go? When my husband and I bought a house, I put our large suitcases in the master bedroom closet because that’s what I had always done. But how often did I actually use those suitcases? Almost never.
Meanwhile, I spent dark mornings stubbing my toes on them while other things I did use frequently were pushed aside to leave room for them.
Remember: your master bedroom closet is prime real estate. Moving large and rarely used items to another location can free up a lot of space and ease frustrations.
It’s no secret that getting rid of things is a way to clear space and pave the way toward an organized closet.
Actually getting rid of things, however, can be harder than it sounds. We convince ourselves that we’re going to wear that shirt we bought a year ago that still has the tags on it, or that we’ll lose a few pounds and fit in those too-small jeans again.
Here’s a trick my husband and I use to keep ourselves honest: about once a year, we each look through the other’s clothes and pull the things we can’t remember having seen the other person wear in the past year.
The first time we did this was an eye-opening experience. We each formed a pile of items we’d never seen the other wear in five years of knowing one another. The items don’t always go straight to Goodwill.
Sometimes we still insist on keeping things we insist we’re going to wear someday, but it does help us to take a more honest look at what we’re actually using.
Quick: where do you store your shoes?
If you’re anything like me, they’re laying on the floor of the closet in a jumbled pile.
Investing a little in shoe storage will go a long way toward making your shared closet a more usable and organized space. An over-the-door shoe organizer or expandable shoe rack is a relatively inexpensive, pre-fab solution. Repurposed bookshelves and media stands also make great shoe storage.
To remedy the big pile of shoes on the floor of my closet, I used a 6’ Closetmaid shelf installed close to the floor to make room for two levels of shoe storage.
If you want to be more creative with your shoe storage, there are some great ideas on Pinterest, like these magazine files used to store flip flops from Lovely Lohas, this system of tension rods from 3 City Girls NYC, and this shoe rack created from PVC pipe from Cookie Loves Milk.
Most closets – even large walk-in closets in new homes – tend to come with a single shelf or rod hung roughly at eye level, which can be a big waste of space.
How many things do you have that actually reach the floor when hanging from that shelf? Adding a second “level” of shelving at waist-height immediately doubles the amount of space you have to hang shirts.
I had plenty of space to hang items in my closet, but little space to put folded items. Installing two more shelves left plenty of space for my husband and I to hang our clothes while also creating more space for folded t-shirts, which had previously lain jumbled on a single shelf.
There’s no one-size-fits-all shelving solution for every couple, but that’s the point: if you and your spouse own your home, you can customize your closet to suit your needs without breaking the bank on an expensive organizational system. If you rent, modifying your closet by adding additional shelving may not be an option, but you can still “customize” your space with inexpensive bookshelves, plastic drawers, or wire baskets.
What have you done to make your closet a share-able, organized space?
Mary Beth Foster is a full-time high school English teacher who lives in Mint Hill, NC, with her husband of two years and their two cats. She tackles craft projects, home renovations, and culinary adventures in her free time. Read more about her creative endeavors on her blog: http://fosterhouseblog.blogspot.com/.