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Jamie's cluttered closet

In the January/February 2011 issue, Experience Life published the first article in the popular “Order Out of Chaos” series. It started with circulation coordinator Christy Rice’s entryway. We then moved to senior editor Courtney Helgoe’s home office, before ending with senior editor Anjula Razdan’s pantry/refrigerator. Under the tutelage of feng shui and decluttering expert Andrea Gerasimo, each of my fellow team members — and our readers — learned helpful strategies for bringing order to commonly cluttered spaces in our homes. Invaluable lessons, as clutter’s impacts can reach far beyond the physical space (see “Clutter Busters” for more on that).

I’m happy to report that the series is coming back with the January/February 2012 issue — and that it kicks off with my master closet, a space that has been the bane of my home existence since we moved in nearly three years ago.

The problem started on day one, when l didn’t take the time to really think through how I wanted my closet to function. As we moved into our newly remodeled home (bought from my husband’s grandparents), I was more excited to organize and decorate our great room, kitchen and bedroom than the 6-by-6-foot space off my bathroom. That would come later. Ha!

Clothes were haphazardly hung on on the three rods, shoe boxes were stacked on the top shelf, my husband’s many sweaters on another. Since all of my clothes would be in the closet (my husband works the graveyard shift), I moved in a dresser for my everyday clothes, and stacked four crates next to the door for sweatshirts, workout pants and other miscellaneous items. I was so proud when I bought the over-the-door hook where I could hang my robes … and purses … and belts. Then the door wouldn’t open all the way. Or shut when I needed to hide the area from guests.

To my credit, I did at one point (in three years!) organize the hanging clothes according to season and purpose. Otherwise, it continued on as the clothes-strewn disaster seen above until Andrea arrived and personally introduced me to her decluttering philosophy. As Andrea first surveyed my closet, I explained that I felt anxious and overwhelmed whenever I was in there; she helped me realize that since this space is one of the first I enter each morning, it’s important that it be welcoming and calm so I can start my days off in a more peaceful state of mind. And so our day began …

You can read lots more about Andrea’s philosophy and system in the forthcoming Jan/Feb 2012 issue. I, for one, can’t say enough good things. She helped me sort through that entire closet in just a few hours: I donated two full bags of clothes/shoes; I gifted several clothing items to co-workers, friends and family; I added more to my garage-sale boxes; and I created a consignment pile, which I’ve been meaning to do for months.

With the help of one art director, one senior editor, one TV producer, and two photographers, all of my clothes were rehung and folded (even my underwear, thank you Lydia Anderson!). We added shelving, a set of hooks, several totes and some repurposed items I had around our home.

My closet now looks and feels like a completely different space, one that’s both functional and inviting. I no longer dread getting ready in the mornings. In fact, I find myself wanting to spend  time in there, drinking my coffee, folding clothes, and just enjoying the new-found space I didn’t realize was there just a few weeks back.

One final note: This one-day decluttering project would have taken several had it not been for all of the help we had on hand for the photo shoot. A HUGE thank you to the folks mentioned above for making this happen in a few hours versus few days! And for those of you wondering about after photos: I don’t want to ruin the surprise that you’ll see in the print magazine — so you’ll just have to wait until the Jan/Feb issue arrives :)

(Update! See the after photos of Jamie’s closet here.)

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