We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Even though our closets hold some of our most important possessions, we inevitably end up neglecting them. So we’re asking clever homeowners and renters to share their time-tested organizing methods that really (really!) work in our new series, Reclaim Your Closet.

Having three closets in New York City is a big deal—no argument there. But that doesn’t mean organizing them will be a breeze. Take it from Hallie Gould, editor in chief and GM at Byrdie and Brides, who has two closets in the bedroom and one in the hallway of her Greenpoint, Brooklyn, apartment. The issue? They’re all equally tall, deep, and narrow. “The city is known for a lot of magical things, but unfortunately an abundance of space isn’t one of them,” says Gould. Storing her many shoes and jeans was a huge pain point. “I wanted everything to feel accessible,” she adds. What her bedroom closets, in particular, needed was optimizing. Cue the expert. 

The closet, before. Courtesy of Hallie Gould
The closet shelf, before. Courtesy of Hallie Gould
The shoe rack, before. Courtesy of Hallie Gould

Gould recruited New York City–based professional organizer Jeni Aron after using Yelp’s Request a Quote feature, which helps connect anyone looking to achieve a task with the right professional in their area (and it makes budgeting and scheduling supereasy to do at one time). “I don’t think she had a real understanding of the inventory up there,” says Aron, noting how Gould’s sweaters on the upper shelves were way out of reach. So they got a step stool, cleared out everything in her two closets, made a plan, and got to work.

Phone a Friend (Preferably With a Car)  

First, Aron took stock of what Gould wanted to keep and cut things that were not in great shape anymore, items she had too many of, and pieces she just never wore. Aron donated as much from the toss pile as she could to Housing Works and a local Brooklyn secondhand shop called GranruMarket. “Most of my clients in the city get tripped up in getting rid of stuff when they don’t have a car to haul three or four garbage bags,” notes Aron. Taking the extra step to coordinate transportation will get you to a tidier space faster. 

Gather Your Stats

Aron’s first rule of business: Measure everything very, very carefully. This is especially important when closet space is tight, because you want to maximize every inch. “Everyone’s closet is a funky size unless you’re in a cookie-cutter high-rise,” says Aron. Likewise, don’t purchase any products until you see what you are working with or else you’ll end up buying 200 hangers when you only have 100 clothing items. “It seems obvious, but I think people get lured in by the Container Store and some of these really beautiful products, and if you don’t have a place for them, the products then just become more clutter,” adds the pro. 

Divide and Conquer

Previously Gould stored her dresses in one closet and separates in the other, but it never seemed to make getting dressed any simpler. Aron helped her split her stuff into two categories: everyday and dressy/whimsy. “She helped me realize I shop for occasions—weddings, vacations, theme parties—and wear the same few pieces on a regular basis,” says Gould. “That realization is crucial to keep in mind as I shop.”

Raise the Roof…

The black holes that used to be the top shelf of the closets are now usable thanks to the ClosetMaid risers Aron sourced (and the 24-inch-wide organizers cost only $17!). With the help of the basic shelves, every sweater and pair of sneakers is completely visible from the ground. 

white amazon shelves
ClosetMaid Stackable 24-Inch-Wide Horizontal Organizer, Amazon ($21)

…Then Lower the Bar

In the right-hand-side closet that now houses all of Gould’s jeans, Aron hung a renter-friendly rod that’s got a low bar, thereby creating a tiered hanging system. The under-$15 chrome rod takes advantage of vertical space (no tools required), so Gould could say goodbye to messy pants piles for good. 

metal bar
Whitmor Double Closet Rod, Amazon ($12)

These Heels Were Made for Hanging

Gould had an over-the-door shoe rack before Aron stepped on the scene, but the problem was she couldn’t close the door with it hanging there. So they opted for a streamlined-looking option (with pockets!) that’s slimmer and more aesthetically pleasing than the generic version. Psst: That doesn’t mean it’s more expensive (it was $12 on Amazon). 

The pairs Gould wears the most often are on the door for easy access, while the ones that are for special occasions are out of the way on the highest shelves. “I can still easily access them with a step ladder, but it makes putting things away more of a reality,” says Gould. 

shoe organizer
Gorilla Grip Large 24 Pocket Shoe Organizer, Amazon ($12)

The best part about having a professional organizer come into your space and revamp one corner is that the effects are long-lasting. Immediately after Aron left, Gould got to work on reorganizing her jewelry, makeup, and hall closet. “It felt incredible, like I was giving my stuff to a grown-up home,” says Gould.