Organizing My Closet

Lemon Stripes Organized Shoe Shelves

At the end of 2018 I was making some big changes in to my mental and emotional health, cleaning out the bad vibes and making room for a fresh, less anxious start. Part of that was to really get a handle on organizing what was easily the messiest room in our house. The room, as you know by now, functions both as my closet and my office (#cloffice) and I literally cannot be productive in a messy space so it was a big priority for me to set up some systems to not only get it that way but keep it that way.

I’ve mentioned this before but Anel calls me the messiest clean person he knows. My house is pretty much always meticulous, but when you open drawers or closets it’s either extremely organized and labeled or, more likely, a hot mess… As the before photos below demonstrate beautifully. There is no in between with me.

My clothes were in the latter category, but I can now proudly say that they’ve stayed extremely organized since we started this project last October. This is how it all went down…

My past attempts at organizing

I can’t tell you how many times I read Marie Kondo’s book and went through her whole process. Probably 4 or 5. It always felt great and I’m into it, but it always fell apart after a few months. I knew that I needed something more. Someone who could set me up for major success with systems that were sustainable.

How I found an organizer

I literally Google searched “home organizers in Stamford, CT” and ended up coming across Stefanie Jones, a local organizer who is now my friend. I’d say I’m borderline obsessed with her but I don’t want to sound creepy. She is amazing, hilarious, the best mom, and we’re now setting up play dates for our kids. It was a match made in friend heaven! Plus she’s really good at organizing and has set me up for serious success with in the cloffice.

The clean out

Stefanie came over for a three hour clean-out day which turned into four hours because we were chatting, laughing, and having so much fun. We are both on the same page about Marie Kondo’s Kon Mari method in the sense that we love the concept but also don’t always find it totally realistic. So we went through each and every item in my closet and put them into piles of keep, donate, and store (e.g. maternity clothes that I won’t need for a while).

While I was going through all of the piles, she was simultaneously measuring my closet and drawers and asking me what my pain points were. These were my top five:

1. I get so much product sent over for shoots that it ends up piling up and becoming a huge mess. Obviously I realize that’s not actually a problem and I’m so grateful for what I do and everything that is sent to me, but it’s a lot of excess and having that physical visual mess stresses me out.

2. I would fold my clothes Kon Mari style and they would look nice for a few weeks, but then end up falling all over each other and it would be a big mess again. I’d have to go in every month or two and refold everything in my drawers.

3. My actual closet (aka with the door on it) was so packed and messy that it stressed me out. I wouldn’t even open the door because it was basically a giant pile of crap. I needed a system for in there because it was essentially wasted space.

4. I love displaying my shoes, but the flats would often fall over and it would look messy. I have limited space so I had to stack them, but wanted them to look neater.

5. I have a ton of baseball hats and no storage solution ever worked. I challenged her with finding a way for me to store them where I could see them all and take one out easily whenever I wanted.

Donations

One thing that I love about Stefanie is that she works hard to donate old product to people who really need it. Instead of going the easy route and dumping stuff at Goodwill, she donates to local shelters and to an organization that helps pregnant teens. I was able to give them some of my old maternity clothes and baby stuff too, and that felt so good. She sent me pictures of some of the girls picking out new clothes and shoes from my piles and to see actual people benefitting from the donations was really nice.

I also decided to sell some of the pricier products on Poshmark, and donated the proceeds to the same charity. Not only did she help me do something great for myself, but she works hard to help other people in the process.

The Systems

Junk Basket: I had a basket from a set of three I bought from Amalia’s room that we were no longer using in there so she moved that next to my dresser. I don’t actually fill it with “junk” but more stuff that I need to deal with. Either product I need to donate, things I need to shoot, or something that I have to get fixed. I have a note in my calendar to go through it every Friday and I actually do it! My floor isn’t covered with stuff and I don’t feel stressed when things start to pile up because it’s hidden.

Shoe Dividers: The shoe dividers that she found are maybe my favorite thing in the whole room because they just make my shoes look so damn nice!

Drawer Dividers: Ok so turns out that if I have dividers in my drawers, I’m able to keep my Kon Mari folding on point. Who knew it was that easy? She found dividers for my socks, clothing, jewelry, and even underwear. I think the sock drawer might be the most dramatic before and after.

Baseball Caps: I love seeing all of my hats on display in the closet on this hat rack, and the fact that they’re in rainbow order is basically like porn for me LOL. The only rub with this rack is that I have so many hats that I have to put 3-4 on each hook so it’s a little bit of a process to put them back but the rainbow display keeps me doing it.

The Aftermath

I’ve done purges many times before and I’ve tried to organize on my own and with other companies in the past, but nothing has stuck for more than a few weeks, maybe a month. But it’s been over three months and I’m literally just as organized as I was on the day that she left my house. The keys for me were:

1. Having a “junk” basket where I can dump things and go through them later.

2. Installing dividers so that I don’t have to work hard to fold everything perfectly. I can just do my best and the dividers do the rest of the work.

3. Owning less things obviously makes a world of difference. Pictured here are my fall/winter clothes and I have another summer wardrobe in another closet in the basement so it’s not like I am completely minimalist or anything, but compared to what I had before, this is a vast improvement.

4. Labeling things. In my closet, she labeled all of the bins and drawers which, for some reason, makes me “stick to the rules” of the labels. Organizing is partly a mental game, I’ve learned.

Three months later I’m still feeling organized and clean. I’ll check back in with you guys in a few months to let you know if anything has changed but I really don’t think it will. This exercise was so helpful for me because I can apply a lot of what Stefanie taught me to other areas of the house… Although we just hired her again for our coat closet because I have no idea what to do with that hot mess.

Scroll down for lots of before and after photos and links to all of the products that we used. If I missed anything, let me know!

Home Depot Closet System / J.Crew Factory Shirt c/o / J.Crew Factory Skirt c/o / Leopard Flats / Similar Crate and Barrel Dresser (Mine was discontinued) / Rejuvenation Drawer Pulls












Medium Montauk Rectangular Bin Grey (On top of drawers and ratton bags)
Montauk Rectangular Basket Grey (Basket on floor in closet)
elfa Mesh Start-A-Stack White (Drawers in closet)
Dream Drawer Organizers White Pkg/2 (Dividers in clothing drawers)
Acrylic Russell — Hazel Tray Clear (Used for perfumes on dresser)
Shoe Holder White Pkg/2 (Shoe organizers)

Organizing by Stefanie Jones aka The Realistic Organizer aka my new BFF. Photos by Julia Dags aka my other BFF.

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  1. Jessie said:

    I am in complete organizing mode and it feels so good! I started following the realistic organizer on insta when you mentioned her earlier and am loving her ideas. This post is making me SO HAPPY because I need those drawer and sock dividers immediately! Well done ☺️

    1.31.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      She has great ideas and is such a wonderful person! So glad you like the post and you will LOVE the sock dividers.

      1.31.19 · Reply
  2. Kimberlyj said:

    Life goals! I need to rearrange shelves and hanging areas, so overwhelming.

    And…no wonder I can never get a Dudley! Kidding, your size is another life goal.

    Thanks for the post.

    1.31.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Hahah yes I buy all of the Dudleys so no one else can mwahhhh haha. JK they’re restocking in the next few weeks and I’ll be announcing the date!

      1.31.19 · Reply
  3. Allie said:

    I love the drawer organizers. I’m a fairly organized person, but the inside of my drawer can look a little rough. What a perfect solution! Thanks!
    xAllie
    http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

    1.31.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I’m the same way. It’s been great to have that. Keeps me in line!

      1.31.19 · Reply
  4. Erica said:

    I never knew I needed underwear dividers until your post! Seriously, I’m always trying to get ready in the morning while the lights are at a minimum and never know what color I’m grabbing in the sea of Hanky Panky’s!!

    1.31.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Right? Dividing my HPs by color makes me oddly happy. I must be old lol

      1.31.19 · Reply
  5. Lauren said:

    Looks sharp! Would love if you could do a specific deep dive into jewelry storage, organization, cleaning, etc. My jewelry pile is a mess!

    1.31.19 · Reply
  6. Morgan said:

    Wow, ordering those shoe organizers ASAP!!! Thank you! 🙂

    1.31.19 · Reply
  7. Kelly said:

    Swoon!! Looks AMAZING!!! I am so grateful to have a walk-in closet, but mine is ultra dated… it’s the only place in the entire house with awful carpeting (circa ’97), no natural light, really bad wire hanging mechanisms, and a jank builder grade brassy clouded tiny light fixture. It certainly serves a purpose but I would love to rejuvenate it and get organized once I purge some more belongings that don’t serve me well anymore. Inspiration!

    1.31.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Do it! You can literally use Ikea or Home Depot storage and make it look really nice without spending a lot of money. We also wallpapered the back of my shelves for another upgrade.

      1.31.19 · Reply
  8. Julia said:

    This is so inspiring! I need a Stefanie in my life.

    Do you find that hanging your sweater stretches the shoulders?

    1.31.19 · Reply
  9. Allison said:

    Love this so much! Looks amazing! Where is the jewelry case from?

    1.31.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I linked to it above, but the brand is called GLAMBoxes. It is great because you can see everything inside!

      1.31.19 · Reply
  10. Emily said:

    Everything looks great, Julia! Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    1.31.19 · Reply
  11. Libby said:

    Wow a dream closet!!! And that collection of Dudley Stephens fleece!! That is #goals ahah!! Stay warm!

    xoxo Libby
    https://premedwearspearls.blogspot.com

    1.31.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Hahah they’re my pride and joy. I live in them all winter!

      1.31.19 · Reply
  12. I am in full blown organization mode too! Curious- how do you like hanging your sweaters? I find that mine stretch or I get those weird hanger bumbs so I fold. Have you always hung them or is this new? Am I doing it wrong?!

    1.31.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I always hang them but I only use these hangers and they don’t get the shoulder bumps! I bought the hangers at BBB and love them.

      1.31.19 · Reply
  13. Ak said:

    Looks great! Can you share sources for the sunglasses tray and that awesome personalized canvas tote that says “Lemon Stripes” on it?

    Thank you!

    1.31.19 · Reply
  14. Meagan said:

    Impressive! Where is the white dresser from?

    1.31.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I linked a similar one from Crate and Barrel. Mine was Land of Nod and is now discontinued. But I also linked the drawer pulls which you can buy and put on any white dresser!

      2.2.19 · Reply
  15. Stefanie Jones said:

    Love, love, love all of this! Kinda wishing I’d set you up to fail so we could do it all again soon! 😉 The hats and sock drawer look so fab!

    2.1.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I mean I could easily mess it all up no prob lol

      2.1.19 · Reply
  16. Keshia Cole said:

    I love the redo. So interesting!

    2.1.19 · Reply
  17. Elizabeth said:

    What is your Poshmark username? I would like to follow your closet. lol

    2.1.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      @lemonstripes!

      2.1.19 · Reply
  18. Casey said:

    Love this project! Would you mind sharing where you purchased your mirror? I’ve been on the hunt for a slim profile floor length mirror – thank you!

    2.4.19 · Reply