We’ve all been there. You want to make a change to the look of your home but feel overwhelmed. Wanna’ know what do to to get past that? Go clean out your closet!

You’re probably thinking that you want to get right into the fun stuff. You want to go shopping like, now. Hold on for a minute. Let me explain why this needs to be the first thing you do.

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Langman of Revision Custom Home Design.

Why cleaning out your closet before starting your next home decorating project is a good idea.

One of the fun things I’ve done over the past year is to teach a lecture series at a local furniture shop. It’s a once a month class aimed at anyone who wants to learn a little more about home design. It’s very informal with lots of conversation. This past March the topic was storage solutions as a way to to get people ready for spring cleaning. As I was driving home after class that night I was rethinking the class and the questions were asked, and this thought just jumped into my brain connecting it all.

Now I’m not going to get all Marie Kondo on you and tell you to figure out what sparks your joy, and thank the things that you decide you’re going to get rid of (either by selling, donating, or tossing). However I do think there are a few things you should learn from the process, and not just that decluttering removes stress. And who can honestly say they don’t want to be less stressed? Duh. Both overwhelm and stress are basically the same things.

Let’s tackle this!

First, although you will want to clean and declutter the actual space you want to redecorate before you begin painting and decorating. For this exercise, I want you to focus on your clothes closet/dresser/etc. because that’s where you’ll learn the most.

Pick a day when you have a few hours to spare and let’s tackle this. Get caffeinated and crank up the music if that’s what it takes. Start by taking everything out of the closet. Yes, for real. Every single thing. Once it’s empty take a few minutes to actually clean your closet (dust, sweep or vacuum, and wipe down shelves). Now, sort through each and every piece and decide what’s staying and what’s going. Make piles as you go. Don’t start bagging or boxing anything up just yet.

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Langman of Revision Custom Home Design.

Once you’ve decided which pieces you’re keeping go ahead and start putting them back in your closet – but organize as you go. There are a million ways to do this, but pick the one that works best for you. You could sort tops by color, by sleeve length, or by “dressiness”. You could choose to keep outfits or suits together. It doesn’t really matter as long as it works for the way you want to be able to see and use your clothes.

This is where the learning part comes in.

Take a few minutes to really look at what you’ve accomplished. Look at the clothes you’ve decided to keep that are now neatly put away. Then look at the pile(s) remaining that you’re getting rid of. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What themes are repeated in clothing styles?
  • What colors dominate your wardrobe?
  • Which accessories and clothing pieces are in style? Which are past their prime?
  • What excites you about the remaining clothes in your closet?
  • How do you feel about the clothes you’re getting rid of? Do you regret any of them? Do you feel bad about wasting money on certain ones? Why are you getting rid of them?

Think about what you’re observing and think about how that can translate to your home décor.

If you had to describe your personal style based on these observations what would you say?

Are you the type of person whose closet is full of traditional or classic items, and the majority of the ones you’re getting rid of simply because you’ve worn them out. Maybe you’ve replaced them with a newer but similar version? This could indicate that your home decorating style is fairly traditional or classic as well. Your main pieces of furniture have probably stayed the same for years, and you simply need to add a fresh coat of paint to your walls, rearrange a few things, and swap out some art or décor items for the space to feel new to you.

Do you follow a lot of the trends and find you’re constantly replacing them because they’re no longer current?

This could indicate that you’re a risk taker, and are ok with making bold decisions. You might find your favorite pieces at garage sales or thrift stores, but be ok with replacing them if you find something more exciting.

Have you changed the colors you wear because you’ve changed your hair color and the colors that look good on a brunette don’t look as good on a blonde? One piece of advice that’s been around for years is to choose colors for your home based on your wardrobe because you already know those colors are flattering to you (and who wouldn’t want every advantage possible, especially in their own home?).

Were many of these items gifts that you never really cared for? Although hand-me down or heirloom furniture can be useful, sometimes they can weigh on you emotionally. If it’s something you feel obligated to keep, even if it’s not what you consider your personal style maybe it’s time to recognize that they’ve served their purpose and can be given away or repurposed. Sometimes painting or reupholstering a piece can breathe new life into it and become something you love.

This exercise should help you to not only identify a few your current design preferences but also your decision making personality (which is especially good to know if you are collaborating with a designer on your next project), as well as your reasons behind keeping certain items.

Additionally, decluttering your home has the added bonus of decluttering your mind and reducing your stress. Who wouldn’t want to feel that relaxed euphoria of accomplishment before diving into their next project?

Before you go: Since you’re now in cleaning mode, it’s a great time to upgrade some of your closet and storage accessories. Here are a few of my favorites!

  • Slim Velvet Hangers: Not only can you fit way more in the same amount of space (compared to bulky plastic hangers) but the velvet texture keeps garments from sliding and falling off. https://amzn.to/2WcUZFh
  • Vertical Dividers for the Top Shelf: The top shelf of your closet s a great location to store sweaters or purses and other bulky items, but you can only stack them so high before they tip over and make a mess. Dividers like these help to contain your stacks and provide stability. https://amzn.to/2Z5voQC
  • Shoe Storage: Even people who don’t have a large shoe collection appreciate having a shoe rack like this one. One rack can hold up to 10 pairs of shoes. Depending on your preference, you can mount the racks flat or at an angle, and if your collection is larger, this modular unit can be stacked. https://amzn.to/2WnIhJ4

Rebecca Langman, Interior Designer | Revision Custom Home Design

Rebecca Langman has had a lifelong passion for design and architecture and graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design at the Harrington Institute of Interior Design in Chicago. Later, she gained experience working in furniture and accessory showrooms, as an in-house designer for a remodeling company, and designing floor plans for new home construction. Her biggest wish is to make clients feel that their home expresses their personality.

Learn more about working with Rebecca Langman of Revision Custom Home Design through her eDesign Tribe member profile!

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