How to Stop Singing the No Walk-In Closet Blues… and Other Things I Learned from a Mom of Four

How to Stop Singing the No Walk-In Closet Blues… and Other Things I Learned from a Mom of Four

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If you live in an older home, you may have found yourself spouting such exclamations as: “You call this a closet?! For who? Hobbits???” and “Did kids back in the day not have backpacks and rain boots?! I would kill a man for a mudroom!!!”

Okay, so maybe I’m the only who actually says those things out loud, but if you’ve ever found yourself bemoaning your lack of closet space or kid-clutter-control areas, you need to meet my friend Erin. A mom of four kids, ages 6-19, Erin manages a busy household with some ingeniously simple tricks. She was gracious enough to show me around her home the other day (and treat me to a cup of coffee and friendly conversation – win, win!).

Like me, Erin lives in an older home that lacks large closets, mudrooms, and the like. Yet her house is cheery, warm, and well-kept. Here are some of the top things I learned from her:

Minimize that Wardrobe, Sister – Erin contacted me after I published my One Pair Of Shorts post. She told me that she maintains a minimal wardrobe with a prescribed number of items. I was intrigued, which led to our get-together. Erin has 50 hangers total – 25 for summer and 25 for winter. She doesn’t change out clothes according to the season, which is such a smart time-saver.

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Just 50 hangers cover her clothing needs for summer and winter.

She has a small drawer unit for pants, socks and underclothes.

A small drawer unit for clothes that don't hang.

This simple drawer unit tucks neatly into the side of her closet.

A hanging organizer houses her shoes (Just five pairs… this minimalist has something to learn from her!) and a small wall rack holds jewelry.

A simple jewelry organizer keeps favorite items nearby.

Simple hooks keep favorite accessories nearby.

Her entire wardrobe fit into one small closet, and she even has space to display some sentimental items on the top shelf.

Of these sentimental items, Erin said,

Erin says, “If I’m going to keep it, I want to see it. I’m not going to get any joy from it if it’s in the box.” Word, girl.

What I love about this is that she has eliminated the need for a dresser. Since her entire wardrobe fits in one closet, she has more space in her bedroom.

An entire wardrobe in one small closet - wow!

An entire wardrobe in one small closet – wow!

Of course I asked how well this translates to her kids, especially her teenage girls.

“Kids don’t need more than 14 outfits,” she said. Which, when you think about it, is true. Small kids are constantly growing and bigger ones are usually adhering to the whims of current fashion, so really, a huge wardrobe for a child of any age is unnecessary. “And if we go on vacation, we each take about five outfits each. If you stay somewhere for more than five days, you’ll probably do laundry.” Smart and smart.

She said each of her kids has about 20 hangers each. Some of them are better about keeping a minimal wardrobe and others aren’t, she says. She doesn’t force her kids to donate old clothes if they don’t want to, but she does encourage them to only keep the clothes they really love.

A good lesson for all of us, I say.

For me, that is the most important part of the whole wardrobe capsule movement – you should wear clothes you love. Period. Whether that is 25 outfits or 50 outfits or 100 outfits. I don’t think having a specific number matters, unless having a number allows you to keep your shopping habits and closet space in check. If you love every single piece of clothing you own, you will always feel confident and comfortable in your clothing. Erin has found a way to make this idea work for herself and her family, which is fabulous.

Hooks, Hooks, and More Hooks – The #1 thing Erin does to keep her household organized is make use of her vertical space. Here are a few examples of how she has used hooks in various parts of her house to keep it organized.

Get yourself some reclaimed wood, add hooks, and voila! A place to hang up swim towels and bags.

Get yourself some reclaimed wood, add hooks, and voila! A place to hang swim towels and bags. Even a handy-challenged gal like me could make this.

To-go bags hang near the door for groceries, activities, etc.

To-go bags hang near the door for library books, groceries, activities, etc.

These hooks are near the laundry shoot to hang sweaty, wet, or muddy clothes to dry so they don't mold in the laundry shoot. Genius!

These hooks are near the laundry shoot to hang sweaty, wet, or muddy clothes to dry so they don’t mold in the laundry shoot. Genius!

Perhaps my favorite use of hooks. Each child has a hook for their backpack, plus a bin for the randoms Erin finds around the house. Each child is responsible for emptying their bin. Love it!

This is my favorite. Each child has a hook for their backpack, plus a bin underneath for the random kid stuff Erin finds around the house. Each child is responsible for emptying their bin when it’s full. Love it! Again, it’s just reclaimed wood + hooks.

Label It – Most of us are aware of the power of labels in helping stray items find their way home, and Erin is no exception. Here are some ways she has used labels to simplify her home.

Love her organized pantry with clear containers and labels.

Love her organized pantry with clear containers and labels.

A smart solution to the small non-clothing stuff that ends up with your laundry. In her laundry room, Erin has small bins for wash clothes, hand towels, pillow cases, and the like. The labels are just index cards and ribbon. Easy peasy!

A smart solution to the small non-clothing stuff we often wash alongside our clothes. In her laundry room, Erin has small bins for wash cloths, hand towels, pillow cases, and the like. The labels are just index cards and ribbon. So easy!

I love when people allow me into their homes to see how they use simple techniques to organize. I am always learning from others and I’m so thankful to Erin for welcoming me into her house! Perhaps you could use some of Erin’s tips to maximize a challenging space in your home.

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2 Comments
  • Joy L.
    Posted at 18:35h, 01 September

    I too have been in Erin’s house and found it to be carefully and cleverly organized. I agree that the key to keeping things sane in an older home is to carefully cull the clothes. I live in a more modern house now, though, and I sure do miss my laundry chute!

    • roselounsbury
      Posted at 14:02h, 02 September

      Joy, thanks for commenting! Erin is amazing. 🙂 I loved being in her home. And I totally understand the laundry chute love! We have one and it is indispensable. Although my boys are known for putting non-laundry items down just for fun… 😉

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