Closet Makeover Contest Winner – Before & After Photos

Congratulations to Carrye of Half Moon Bay, a public school teacher who won the Closet Makeover contest! Her closet was a catch-all of things for which there was no space anywhere else in the house. In this closet is a combination of DVDs, make-up and toiletries, cleaning supplies, linens, food and wine, pet food and supplies, tools and hardware, and a little bit more…


BEFORE                                                                                                 AFTER


Read more about the process…







When I arrived and met Carrye in person, we sat down for a quick goal and task-setting meeting. She let me know that she intended to get rid of a lot of stuff that had been hanging around for too long, so that meant she was ready and willing to be actively involved in serious decision making. I explained my process and level of involvement needed from her to make this a successful mission. She agreed and I got started with preliminary sorting while she tended to other household chores.

I emptied the closet, sorting like items into big Rubbermaid bins I brought along. I brought her back in and got her started looking over a few bins at a time. In the meantime I dusted and cleaned the closet with my personal solution of water, vinegar, and baking soda.



There were great old-timey blankets stored in an antique wooden chest at the bottom of the closet. The blankets were a bit musty from being put away for so long, so I aired them out in the soft sunlight while I chipped away at the closet. Sunshine and a warm breeze will help to remove a lingering musty smell from linens. If the smell persists, they may need to be washed in a vinegar/baking soda solution then hung out to dry in the sun. The sun works wonders for lots of things.


I wiped down the inside of the chest with the combo vinegar/baking soda/water solution I brought along and let that air dry too.


I gave Carrye a little bit at a time to go through, enough to not overwhelm her. I encouraged her to take short breaks regularly, so she can recharge and return with a fresh perspective for each bin of stuff I needed her to make decisions on. This is half of what she eventually let go from the closet. We also got rid of as many cardboard boxes, plastic bags, and big bulky plastic bins as possible.


Once we knew what she was keeping, the detailed organizing took place, and…



I brought along a few natural baskets I anticipated needing.


Paper towels and paper bathroom product tucked away yet easy to reach.

Carrye had lots of smaller bins and baskets that I was able to wash with warm water and soap, and reuse. I aired them out to dry in the sun. Plastic needs sunshine love too…look at how peppy and happy they look!


Hair and nail supplies.

Dvds, food, first aid, medicine and supplements, cleaning supplies. All in a top to bottom placement thought out in advance. Dvds won’t get spilled on. Food won’t get contaminated from spilled toiletries or cleaning supplies, etc. (using skills incorporated from Culinary Class 101 here).



Sheets and towels neatly folded and placed in more natural baskets I brought along. Bigger blankets folded and quilts rolled, which prevents creases and folds from forming on these special, handmade linens. You can go a step further and store quilts in a pillow case if you don’t intend to use them often. Storing them in plastic is a no-no, as they need air to breathe. The plastic can sweat (creating humidity) and some plastic bags may leach colors from dyes and damage the quilt, especially with long-term storage. Anything that the quilt is stored in or on must be acid-free.


More organized toiletries using existing bins. Dog food and pet supplies stored together on the floor in matching purple bins to make them easy to differentiate from her personal goods and find.



BEFORE                                                                                                 AFTER



Tips to maintain an organized storage closet

  • Once things are organized, take a mental note of what you have in stock and where it is placed. Example: if the “dental supplies” bin has three toothbrushes, 2 rolls of dental floss, and three travel size containers of mouthwash, this is likely enough to last and you need not buy more until grabbing the last of any one item to use. Only when you grab the last one, add it to your shopping list.
  • Keep an ongoing list of supplies that need to be replaced. This way, you do not “wonder” if you need something while out at Costco and end up buying ten more of something when you already have nine at home. There should only be one list in one place, such as on the refrigerator where you see it often, or in your cell phone note pad. Once you are on your last of anything, add it to the list, then check it off when replaced.
  • Use the 3/4 full rule. Refrain from overfilling any bin, basket, shelf, or drawer by only filling it 75% maximum so that things don’t squash together, overflow, or spill out. If things are overflowing in a given space, make it a point to use up excess of what you have and maintain only what you need in the immediate time.
  • Assess the closet again in a few months. Put a date on your calendar to remind yourself. Why? Because you’re going see if you still have an emotional attachment to that thing you were hesitant about getting rid of three months ago and kept even though you “kinda sorta” thought you didn’t need it. If you can let it go after this re-assessment, wish it well and send it off. Otherwise, make use of it soon.
  • Toiletries (including make-up, lotions, soaps,) spices, medicine, vitamins and supplements DO expire, even if they don’t have a date. Something to think about when you assess the contents of the storage closet now and again.
  • If you haven’t used something for an entire year or more, seriously consider if you want it to take up valuable storage space for much longer. You can sell it, compost it, donate it to charity or post it for free on Craigslist and let someone else put it to good use.
  • Jut because there is extra space, does not mean it has to be filled.
  • Appreciate what you have. Don’t ignore or abandon it, leaving it in a dark corner to be lonely and unused. Bring it out, put it to use, breathe life into it. What we own is an extension of us. Bring it out of the closet to play!

Do you have additional tips for maintaining this organized closet? Please share by leaving a comment below. Thanks for reading and having fun with me on this closet makeover adventure!


Isabella Guajardo, also known as Girl With A Truck™, is a professional home organizer and member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). Living in Oakland and Monterey, she travels in her truck to work with clients throughout the SF Bay Area, East Bay, South Bay, Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz and Monterey Peninsula. She shares simple and creative ways to stay organized and stylish while reducing, recycling and re-purposing. Join Bella Organizing on Facebook.

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