How to Design and Organize a Small Closet

Jezebel Magazine dropped by our home in Atlanta to talk about style and take a peek into my closet. From our conversations, Kelsie Allen Barton and Ashton Pike wrote this story, which also features fellow Atlanta sartorialists Tenisha Clarke, Sohaib Iqbal, and Carnell Roberts. Below is our full interview, along with a handful of snaps from visit.


Do you live in a house, townhouse, apartment or condo?
A 1930s craftsman bungalow.

How big of a factor was the closet when choosing your home?
Like most older homes, ours offered just one petite closet in the master bedroom plus three tiny ones in the hallway and guest bedroom. The day we moved in we realized there was no way to store all of our clothes in the bedroom, so my husband Chad claimed the closet and a chest of drawers while I took over an armoire and chest in the guest bedroom, along with two IKEA PAX wardrobes we found on Craigslist.

Since then we’ve both significantly downsized our closets, reoriented storage in the existing closet, invested in new drawers and dividers for the wardrobes, and added on a master bathroom where we cased in the wardrobes for a more built-in look. Getting dressed is so much easier when everything’s well-organized.

Square footage of your closet? 
The bedroom closet is 15 square feet, but the IKEA wardrobe is the real workhorse — it only takes up 7 square feet and keeps up with most of my clothes. We also hang coats in a 2-by-2-foot hall closet. All in, I’m working with around 25 square feet of space.

Does your “closet” extend beyond the physical closet space into other areas of your home?
Everything’s stored in the wardrobe and closets except for some cycling gear that stays with my e-bike.

Is your closet color coded, or organized by item?
I like to first organize by temperature and use, then by item type and color. Cold weather and warm weather tops hang separated at eye level in the wardrobe, with sliding trays and drawers below for jewelry, delicates, bottoms, athleisure, and shoes. A shelf above the tops gathers hats and bags. Coats and dresses hang in the closet, where there’s a shallow cabinet for vintage silk scarves and winter gear. The cabinet is also home to everything needed to take good care of our clothes: a sewing machine, mending kit, lint rollers, shoe polishes, plus an iron and a portable steamer.

Did you use a closet organizer, builder or designer? If so, who?
I’m a total Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up enthusiast. Marie Kondo not only convinced me to clean out and organize my closet for good, but also to buy her second book, Spark Joy, that’s all about storage and organization strategies. We added these little brass woodland creature knobs and door knockers to drawers and wardrobe doors, and our contractors, Keith Jones and Tim Allen Homes, framed around the IKEA units to create a built-in look.

How much time a day/week is spent organizing your closet?
I try to put everything back in its place at the end of each day, take care of laundry once a week, organize every month or so, then have a deeper cleaning and organizing session once each season. A big pot of French press coffee and a good playlist go a long way with that last routine!

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When did you first fall in love with fashion?
In elementary school I made couture clothing collections for my cat, Suitor, with a hot glue gun and scrap fabric. He was not a fan. In college I learned more about proper sewing from my Nanny Colston and worked as a fit model for SCAD Atlanta. Listening to Ángel Sánchez and Zac Posen mentor students, learning how to serve looks from Miss J. Alexander, walking the runway in Savannah — those are probably the moments when I really fell in love with fashion as an art.

What are your clothing/accessory obsessions?
There’s really nothing like well-designed, well-made clothing that’s been tailored just for you. Natural fibers, strong stitches, neutral colors, French seams. Those are my current obsessions.

Where are your favorite places to shop?
Antique Row in Chamblee is amazing. My Nana Sherry volunteers at Attic Treasures, this little charity shop that’s always brimming with vintage designer pieces. I love online shopping for second-hand designer deals — , Tradesy, , Poshmark, . I also have a closet on Tradesy to sell clothes when they’re ready to head to a new home. I’ve sold 145 pieces there.

What gets the most space in your closet?
Although the weather calls for them just a few months a year, flannel button downs and super soft alpaca sweaters.

What designer do you have the most of?
It’s a tie between , , Zady, and Elizabeth Suzann makes the best flannels. I live in is an incredible bespoke shoemaker. And I’m now up to three pairs of Stella McCartney wool trousers — the tailoring is impeccable.

How would you describe your overall style?
Efficient, elegant, ethical, easy. Occasionally a little earthy.

What’s the most recent thing you purchased?
This week I found a silk-lined A.L.C. blazer on The RealReal for $51.

What’s the next big purchase on your wish list?
Rationally it should be a pantsuit. Realistically I’m always thrifting for a pair of jet-black leather motorcycle pants.

What’s an oldie but a goodie in your closet that you pull out time and time again?
This vintage Cabela’s chamois button down in a gorgeous saddle blanket print. My mom wore it all the time when I was little and last year she finally let me grab it from her closet. I had to promise to wash it on cold and never, ever let it see the inside of a dryer.

Anything that’s too impractical or precious to wear, but you had to have it anyway?
This ridiculous vintage blue fox coat. I would never buy new fur — the industry as a whole is inordinately unkind to animals and the environment. I actually found this coat at the non-profit thrift shop where my Nana volunteers in Chamblee, Attic Treasures. Every penny of the $130 spent on it went straight towards helping kids and adults in our community. People often ask about it when I’m out and about. So here I am, riding around on an electric bicycle with my zero-waste vegetarian lunch kit, spreading the word about ethical and sustainable shopping in a vintage fur.

What would someone be most surprised to find in your closet?
US Air Force Extreme Cold Weather Flyer’s Mittens. They are assigned for expeditions to Antarctica. They are $25 on eBay. And they are absolutely appropriate for an Atlanta snow day.

What or who inspires your style?
Emmanuelle Alt. Equestrian and old-school outdoor gear. Star Wars. Military uniforms. Ceremonial clothing. My parents and thinking back on my childhood. Geology. Take Ivy, this 1960s book of American campus style as told by Japanese sartorial enthusiasts. Nature, that greatest of all designers! It all feels right when what you’re wearing fits in with the world around you.

All-time favorite piece in your closet?
A Claddagh ring from a windswept honeymoon through Ireland to Edinburgh to Islay.

What item do you consider your secret weapon?
Alexander Wang over-the-knee boots and coated black denim.

Related reading
What’s in My Wardrobe: A Complete Closet Inventory
Modern farmhouse: Renovating our 1930s Craftsman Bungalow
The Marie Kondo Method: How to clean your closet, organize clothes, and clarify your life

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