Before & After: Entryway Closet

One of the most used, and often the messiest closet in our home, is the entryway closet. It’s the first stop when we drop everything off at the end of a busy day, and the last stop to gather what we need to rush out the door. Part of the reason it’s difficult to keep this space in order is because we are juggling too many activities and responsibilities. We neither have the time nor energy to focus on keeping this closet organized. However, a disorganized space can be cause a lot of frustration and set the tone for the rest of the day. And by taking the time to create a joy sparking entry closet, it can be a welcoming sight to let you know you can feel confident going out the door, and offer you the comfort of knowing you can finally relax at home.

In this Before & After, the entry closet belongs to a family with 2 kids who love to play sports. They needed a place that they can easily store and access the jackets and shoes they wear daily, and all the equipments for their outdoor activities. As always we want to start fresh by emptying out the closet. Make sure to remove anything that doesn’t belong in this closet. Depending on the size, some families can keep their entire coats and jacket collection in one closet. Others with more limited space should only keep the ones you wear the most frequently. Same goes for shoes. The idea is that you can easily get in and out of the door with the least amount of time searching for what you need. And if you have properly tidied your clothing and shoes, then you should only have the ones that spark joy left in your closet.


Because this is a communal space, we organized each person’s items and placed them in their own section of the closet. Hang your coats and jackets using the KonMari “rise up” method with the longest on the left and shorter as you move to the right. This visual trick of seeing the bottoms of the jackets lined up going upward is not only visually pleasing, it’s also very calming. This will also save you time when selecting a jacket to compliment the length of your outfit. Keep your empty hanger in the same spot helps you to return it to the same place. (Also, having uniformed hangers will make your closet look a lot neater. Wire hangers from the dry cleaners can’t support the weight of most coats and jackets, it also ruins the shapes of the clothes. It is best to return those to your dry cleaner for reuse.)

If you store reusable bags in your entryway closet, fold the bags so they are shaped like a rectangle. File all the folded bag vertically inside of one larger reusable bag. Folding the bags takes up a lot less space than just shoving them away, and stay neatly stored even when you take a few out to use.


For the kids, they each have a section of their closet with their name labeled on the shelf. Here we have a space for their lunch bag and bike helmet, caps, and even included a fun little bucket for their sunscreen. Their most frequently worn jackets are hung next to their back pack that is also on a hanger. We used their existing blue and pink hangers to designate each of their space.


Small basket was used hold their accessories such as hats, gloves, sunglasses.

We utilized the pull-out wire drawers in this closet for keeping their balls and baseball gloves neatly stored away. If you don’t have a built in closet like this, you can use any large basket (laundry baskets are great, especially one with wheels for easy access).


I do need to mention that I only worked with the mom on this project, so other than her own items, everything else that belongs to the other family members were kept but only organized. A closet like this will take the whole family’s participation to maintain. It requires being on top of putting things back each time for a week or two for it to become a habit.

How does your entryway closet greet you?

Before & After: Clothing Closet (No Hangers)

Everyone has their own preference when it comes to how they’d like to store clothes. Some people love to hang everything. Others such as this client, only fold them. According to the KonMari method, folding clothes into neat little rectangles offers many benefits:

  • It saves you space when the clothes are folded then stored vertically in the drawer.
  • You can easily see the clothes you are looking for, and take them out without messing up the rest of the pile.
  • Clothes don’t get wrinkled when you smooth them out first with your hands (and infuse them with positive energy as you touch the fabric). Storing them vertically instead of stacking doesn’t put any weight on the clothes, which prevents more wrinkling.
  • You can easily spot stains, missing button, or holes when you spread out your clothes before folding them.
  • Your drawers will look so neat and visually pleasing when you are finished (especially when you sort them by colors from dark to light, or by color in the order of the rainbow), your drawers will spark joy every time you open them.

For my client, the trouble is not being able to see or access the clothes in the back of the closet. Her morning routine was frustrating because she’s not able to find what she wants to wear without making a mess of the closet.

BEFORE: Clothes Closet (No Hangers)



We started out by taking everything out of her closet, separating them by sub-categories for t-shirts, tank tops, long sleeves, pants etc. Then she picked up each piece to see if it sparked joy for her. One thing I started to notice was that she had multiples of the same top, sometimes in different colors, but most of them are exactly the same. The reason was because when she finds something she likes, she doesn’t want to not have it when she wants it, or not be able to buy the exact same design again. So even though she knows what sparks joy for her, she didn’t have enough storage space to comfortably hold the amount of clothes she had.

Early into our session, I sensed my client was getting increasingly anxious. This is a normal reaction when we confront things that maybe subconsciously triggering our fears and guilt. As mentioned above, having multiples of the same item gave my client a sense of security. For many people, these negative feelings are what stops them from decluttering and getting organized. And often, the biggest value in having an organizing consultant is to support and guide you through these obstacles and get the job done. The practice of repeatedly checking each item for joy allows us to learn to take control of these feelings. When someone thoroughly tidy up their home, surrounding themselves with only the things that spark joy, the magical transformation will start to have a positive affect in all areas of their lives.

After taking a few breaks in between the joy-checking and folding lessons, we placed the clothes in separate boxes by categories. I generally like to use any existing boxes in my clients’ homes, then make suggestions for what type of containers to purchase if the client chooses to.  In the phase one photo, we used filing boxes she had at home. In phase two, she purchased boxes that sparked joy for her and transferred the clothes. For the socks and underwear drawer, the boxes we found around the apartment fit so well, she decided to keep them as is.

AFTER: Clothes Closet (No Hangers) Phase One


AFTER: Clothes Closet (No Hangers) Phase Two



I also suggested that she only keep 3 of the exact same items in rotation, and store the “back ups” in a separate box. By doing so, those pieces in her every day collection will get worn out, giving her a chance to replenish them with the back up ones, and plenty of time to look for replacements when those wear out. This solution allows her to keep the duplicates that spark joy for her, while not over packing her closet. Most importantly, this stockpiling habit manifested from her insecurities and fear has been brought to light. With the new closet organization, she’ll able to start each day feeling more positive. And without the anxiety and stress she used to experience daily, she may start to feel more confident in herself in other areas of her life.

Because of her busy lifestyle, I also showed her how to easily take the washed and folded clothes from the laundromat and make them work with the KonMari folding method without completely re-folding them. I reminded her that when she gets too busy with work, it’s best to just leave the laundry in the stack instead of quickly shoving them away in the closet. It is better to set aside the time to put them away neatly.

My client emailed me the next day expressing how easy it was for her to get ready in the morning. She even had fun showing her husband while standing in front of the closet acting like “hmmm…what should I wear today?”  What a big change from her previous morning experience! I also checked in with her a week later about putting away the clean laundry, and she said she is able to put her clothes away and maintain the closet without much extra time or effort.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Before & After. If you need a quick lesson in folding the KonMari way, here’s a video.



Before & After: Open Pantry

This week Before & After is for an open kitchen pantry. The convenience of having an open pantry is easy access, but it also means seeing the clutter if it’s not organized. Especially if you enjoy cooking, it can be frustrating to not be able to find the ingredients you need. My clients is a busy working wife who recently changed to a plant-based gluten-free diet. After a long day at work, it would be nice to come home and quickly put together a healthy meal.

Before: Open Pantry


In the before image, the shelves are packed to the edge. Other than seeing the various bottles of olive oil, there’s no clear division of what goes on each shelf. Part of the problem also is that some of the rice and pasta made their way to a separate wall cabinet because the pantry was full.  And by spreading out items from the same category, you end up not knowing exactly how many you have. And most likely you’ll buy more before you actually run out.

Before: A separate wall cabinet that holds more rice and pasta


As with any organizing project, start by visualizing how you’d like to use the space. In this case, we want to create a pantry where the homeowner can easily see what are on the shelves, be inspired by the ingredients to cook a nice meal, and take out what she needs without having to rearranging anything in the way.

Next, take everything out and sorted them by category: sauces, rices, pasta, soups, canned food etc. Anything expired or no longer fit my client’s diet were removed. Anything that belongs with the snacks or beverage category were moved to the appropriate cabinet.

After: Open Pantry


This built-in pantry has an inner shelf within for shorter items. This is a nice feature, but also creates a problem for what can go underneath or in front of them. Sometimes storage takes a few tries to get the right combination. Our focus is on ease of use, so use your instinct and personal habit to determine the best pantry storage solution. Here you see a wide selection of oils and vinegars. A plastic shoebox-sized container was used so you can pull it out to reach the shorter bottles in the back. Even though bottles in the front are taller, it works because they are also the most used. Applying the KonMari method of “rise to the right”, which visually lifts up your mood, the bottles are also placed shortest on the left and tallest to the right.

The cookbooks are sorted by the type of cuisine, then lined up from the tallest to the shortest within each group. If you prefer, labeling or creating dividers can make it easier to find the book you need.

After: Open Pantry Close Up


Pantry organization is most successful with clear divisions. This doesn’t mean everything has to be in matching containers or containers at all. Here, the jars of coconut oil fit right in between the 2 plastic containers. The mustard and olive tapenade are placed on a lid used as a tray. The variation works well according to the size of the bottles and the numbers of bottles you have. I also like to leave at least half and inch of space in between the bottles and jars so you can see what’s behind, and have room for your fingers to grab what you need.

The seasonings on the back upper shelf are lined up by grouping the different brands. Unless you bought a whole set of seasoning at once, it’s very common to have bottles or bags from different brands. It is best to keep matching bottles together to create visual uniformity. Your eyes will flow easier across to find the flavor you need quickly.

After: Open Pantry Closet Up 2


On another shelf, the rice and pasta are divided using the mesh wire baskets originally on these shelves. These baskets also include the rice and noodles from the other wall cabinet so now they are all in one place. Again, instead of putting the basket next to each other, we created another space to placed other types of grains in between.

If you bake, you can place your frequently used baking ingredients such as baking powder and vanilla extract in one container like we’ve done here on the bottom left. When you are ready to bake, you only have to take out one box with everything you need. And clean up is easy too!

The finished pantry looks full but not stuffed, just like how we should feel after we eat! I hope you’ve enjoyed this before and after. Does your pantry inspire you to cook?

Before and After: Armoire with Drawers

In this before and after, my client who frequently hosts parties and playdates needed help organizing a large armoire with 12 drawers. Over the years these drawers have been filled with things from party napkins, to batteries, to candles and coloring books. It’s a beautiful piece of furniture that became the ultimate junk drawers.

One of the goal for this project was to create personal drawers for her 2 kids to keep their homework and school supplies organized. We also wanted to make sure every drawer clearly defines what belongs inside.

BEFORE: Armoire with drawers


Facing the armoire was a long dinning table. We started the process by clearing the table to create a workspace. Then we emptied out drawer after drawer, and placed each item on the table by category (Office supplies, tools, party supplies etc.) My client told me after 20 minutes that if I wasn’t there she would have stopped already. This reaction is normal and expected since drawers like these are the most difficult to sort through. You are making thousands of decisions for items you’ve ignored for a long time. And very often you will find multiples of the same thing because when things get lost under the pile, you end up purchasing a new one. These 12 drawers and 4 shelves took 5 hours to declutter. Let’s take a closer look at some of these drawers.

I want to point out that we did not purchase any small containers for the interior organization. My client had a big collection of holiday and thank you cards, so I used those boxes and lids to create these “bento boxes” to create divisions.


Office Supplies Drawer

The plastic containers that hold the craft paint were once food containers. My client had a stack of them ready to be recycled, but I suggested we use them inside these drawers. What amazes me with my work is that almost every client’s home already have containers that works. Ziplock bags are also great for holding markers and paint brushes.


Arts and Crafts Drawer

We all have various charging cables and plug that ends up all round the house. Here, we gathered the cables and wrapped them with rubber bands. Another box holds all the plugs. Keeping with the charging theme are batteries. The same type of batteries goes int he same ziplock bag so there’s no need to label them.

My client likes to hang pictures on their walls, so we kept the hammers handy next to the picture hanging supplies.


Charging and Tools Drawer

My client enjoys entertaining. We placed together everything she needs for hosting a dinner party with candlelight. There are special serveware in one drawer, cloth and printed paper napkins in another. By having drawers like these, she can ask other family members to help set the table while she’s cooking, and they won’t need to ask where anything is.


Candles Drawer


Serveware and Coasters


Napkins Drawer

Originally these greeting cards were all in separate boxes or piled up in different drawers. I sorted them by holiday, separated the envelopes and filed them by size. Then finally, I used a label maker, and a few of the tallest envelopes to create dividers for each holiday category. This filing system will make it very easy for her to find what she’s looking for. And all those boxes and lids were put to good use as shallow containers for the other drawers!


Greeting Cards Drawer

This drawer is for my client’s daughter. The empty space is for her school notebook and folder. She has a tray for her pencils, sharpener and erasers. The drawer also holds her kindle, calendar book, and a container of hair products used each morning to get ready for school.


Daughter’s Homework Drawer

Her brother has the same set up with his things. These drawers are side by side and labeled with their name. Their mom told me they loved their drawers so much they were showing them off to their friends. : )


Son’s Homework Drawer

Since organizing these drawers, the whole family has been enjoying easy access to what they need. They feel lighter overall knowing that each drawer is neat and has a purpose. They feel less stressed getting ready in the morning and during homework time.


Do you have drawers like the before photo? I hope the tips shared here can help you declutter. If you get stuck, I’d be happy to help.

Before & After: Girl’s Closet Part 2

Following my last session working with a 9-year-girl on her closet, I went back to see what we can do about the other half of the space. The family has been using it as a pantry and storage space. When I showed up this time, I was delighted to see my young client folding her own clothes and putting them away using the KonMari method. Her mom did purchase 4 new dresses for her, which I later found out she told her mom “You buy me too much stuff.” She even gave away a few more things to her friends.  I am so proud of this girl. She has fully embraced the KonMari Method, and getting in touch with what brings her joy. This new found confidence and understanding will continue to benefit her in all areas of her life.

For part two of this closet organization, I worked with only the mom who is responsible for the miscellaneous items. We emptied the closet and dusted off the shelves. As we moved the things out, we sorted them by categories: food, vases, blankets, gift wrapping supplies, holiday items etc. You can also think of these categories as similar materials: ceramic, glass, metal, textile, paper.  We moved all the food items to the kitchen pantry, and only left items that are not used frequently in this closet. Our goal was to minimize the family coming in and out of the daughter’s bedroom.

BEFORE: Bedroom Closet/Storage Closet





AFTER: Bedroom Closet/Storage Closet

I REALLY LOVE this closet transformation. I felt like I discovered a treasure chest filled with things in beautiful colors and textures. The result added a cheerfulness which didn’t feel out of place in a girl’s bedroom closet.

Let’s take a closer look:

I placed the tall glass vases on the top shelf. They reflected the light and made the ceiling look even higher. The Easter baskets handles are very tall, so they also went on the top shelf.  The blankets are folded so they expose a clean edge. They are also grouped by their color schemes. The holiday table clothes and utensils made sense to be on the same shelf. I repurposed the vases and planters to hold the smaller items. Also, the shorter easter baskets came in handy for keeping the ribbons and bow, while a tall ceramic vase was perfect for the rolls of gift wrapping.




The cleaned up shelves allows my client to still keep items like the vacuum and golf clubs in the closet but out of the way of her daughter’s things. There’s now room to also display some toys.


Both the mom and daughter couldn’t believe the transformation of this closet. I personally love how the colors of those blankets infused more joy into the space.

What do you think about this before and after? I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions.

Before & After: Girl’s Closet Part 1

Recently I had a blast working with my youngest client yet, a 9-year-old girl, on her closet makeover. Because her bedroom was the guest room, the closet functioned as a storage/pantry. The items were never removed when my client moved in. As a result, there were paper towels, holiday decorations, a vacuum cleaner, and many other Costco purchases stored next to this little girl’s clothes. Access to those items meant going into my client’s bedroom when she’s with her friends or studying. This was something I felt would definitely become a problem as she becomes a teenager and wants more privacy.



We started the session by talking about the issues she has with the current closet: folded and stacked clothes becoming unraveled, household items blocking her drawers and she’s unable to find what she needs. I explained to her the KonMari method, then began the joy-checking process. My client was very comfortable saying thank you to the items she placed in the bag to be donated. However, she also apologized to her mom before putting the clothes in the donation bag (her mom was not in the room with us). I asked her why, and she explained that because her mom bought it for her that she felt bad giving it away.

That guilty feeling is completely normal, and is one of the main reasons why people have trouble letting go. I explained that her mom cares more about whether the clothes made her feel comfortable and confident wearing them, then keeping something that doesn’t spark joy anymore. For her to keep anything she won’t wear is more of a waste then allowing the clothes to have a second life elsewhere.  (Note: When working with younger clients, I let the parent know to not go through the discarded items or put anything back into their child’s closet. This is to show trust and respect in a child’s decision, so they can have confidence in themselves in learning what they like.) With those thoughts in mind, and learning to trust her feelings, my client was able to complete the process and felt good about her choices.

At one point her mom came in to see how we were doing. My client told her mom that she had put something in the bag that was too small that she once loved. Her mom offered to put it in a memory box, which made me a little bit nervous after 3 items went in the memories box after given that option.  So I suggested we limit to only those truly special and meaningful to her. I also asked if she knows where the best memory box is kept. She immediately put her hands to her chest and said “your heart”. What a smart girl. I told her that our memories can continue to bring us joy, and it’s with you anytime, anywhere. Suddenly the memory box didn’t feel as necessary.

BEFORE: Girl’s Closet




In the 3 hours we worked together. I showed her how to fold her clothes the KonMari way. She thought it was really fun and was excited to put away her own clothes. We put all the pajamas in a drawer. Her socks, underwear, and bathing suits in another. All the short and long sleeve tees in one. And all the pants and shorts in the lower drawer. Her dresses and skirts were hung and lined up from longest to shortest. And her furry vests, sweatshirts, and heavier long sleeves are also hung and sorted from darkest to lightest.

AFTER: Girl’s Closet




My client was so happy with the results, she was excited to invite her friends over to see the newly organized closet. Before I left I reminded her that the more she can show her parents that she is responsible by keeping her closet nice and neat, the more they’ll trust her. I was so proud of what we have accomplished in the 3 hours, and she now has the skills that will benefit her for the rest of her life.

Stay tuned for part 2 when I return to help organize the other half of her closet to move the miscellaneous pantry stuff out.

Before & After: Toddler’s Bedroom

Little kids’ clothes are so cute that buying them is hard to resist. The same goes for stuffed animals that offer our children comfort and imaginative play. Whether they are purchased or received as gifts, they can quickly get out of control.

In this Before & After, my client needed help with her 3-year-old’s bedroom. He has over 40 t-shirts, 50 stuffed animals, and 200 books. This is very common in the households I’ve been in with young children. And parents are overwhelmed by the clutter, the amount of laundry, and the time and energy to clean up.

According to Marie Kondo, children as young as three can start to tidy. It’s important to develop these habits and learn about responsibilities as these life skills help to build confidence, and teach them to be a contributing member of the family. Our job as parents is to show them how to take care of the belongings they love, and offer support and encouragement as they try to do it themselves.

During this initial session, the mom and I worked one-on-one to discard the items that she felt confident no longer sparked joy for her son. We separated the toys and books they borrowed from the neighbor and library to be returned. We also moved the ones that are no longer age appropriate to another room for his new baby brother.

Using the KonMari method, we started with the clothes category. Children grow so fast, it’s important to pull out any that are too small or worn out. In general, owning 14-16 tops, 8-10 bottoms, 3-4 coats or jackets, 3-4 pairs of shoes, will get you through two seasons (spring and summer wardrobe, fall and winter wardrobe). I do encourage you to keep all seasons of clothing in one place because you may need to travel somewhere with very different weather, and you can mix and match to create new outfits. When the clothes start to get snug, then make new purchases, and prefereably involving your child in the choice making process. Try to resist buying larger sized items when you see a good sale. We often store those away and they get forgotten. By the time we take them out, either they are too small, or doesn’t match the interest or animated character your child is into. Unless you have multiple children and want to keep them as hand-me-downs, you really don’t need more clothes than what’s listed above for a child. Children generally like to wear their favorite clothes over and over, and the less clothes to choose from means they can get ready faster, and you’ll have less laundry to do. (Some people have known to delay having to put away clean clothes by tossing them back in the hamper to make them “go away”.)

So let’s take a look at this before and after. You may be surprised that the room is actually quite neat. but my client knew there were some items that her son doesn’t use and needed to be removed.

Before: Books and stuffed animals


Stacking the folded t-shirts means you can’t see what you have, and pulling one out will mess up the pile.


The closet had nice containers but they make it hard to see what’s inside. Behind the laundry basket on the floor is a shoe rack, but the shoes are never worn and are all too small now.


After: Pajamas, socks and underwear drawer

The far left are the underwear, the socks are in smaller boxes to keep them separated by sports sock and ones with graphics. The pajamas are folded and placed as sets.


We sorted the items in all the storage bins into most frequently used items and placed them on the lowest shelf, and seasonal or occasionally used items higher up. The clothes are hung from the longest to the shortest. We looped the snow gloves on the hanger with the snow plants so they are easy to find. The shoe rack behind the laundry basket was removed so the basket can be pushed all the in.


The T-shirt collection has been pared down to her son’s favorites. We folded them the KonMari way and place the side with the graphics on the outside so you can easily find the one you want. The small box contains rash guard for swimming because the fabric is slippery and the shirts can’t stand on their own.


We organized the books and lined them up by size. In children’s rooms, I like to place them from the tallest to the shortest then back to tall again because the negative space creates a smile shape. I told my clients that if her son pulls the books out himself, as long as he puts them back, it’s fine that he doesn’t put them back in the same spot. When they have the time, they reorganize them by playing a game to of sorting by size, or matching books from the same series.

FullSizeRender 2


The next step we plan to do is for me to work with her son to continue to reduce the number of stuffed animals he has. I also reminded my client to not purchase more by replacing material things with experiences for her son.

I hope you enjoyed this before and after. Let me know if you have any trouble decluttering your child’s room and if these tips have helped you.