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The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After

By 07/04/2016January 3rd, 202048 Comments

See how I applied tips from Marie Kondo to purge and organize my closet. It’s a great exercise to get organized this year.

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After

Okay I know I’m late to the party on reading this book because I’d heard lots about it for months. It wasn’t until I saw my lovely client Lisa in New York this past Spring that my life started getting magical. The book came up in one of our conversations and Lisa said, “I’ve read it so you are welcome to have it”.

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam


The premise of this book is basically when you are organizing and purging your stuff, you hold each item in your hand and ask yourself if it ‘sparks joy’, if not, OUT it goes.

She has since written a follow up to the first one called ‘Spark Joy’, and I’m thinking I should read it as well because it answers frequently asked questions about what to do with necessary items that don’t spark joy. When I posted a picture on Instagram a few weeks ago, some of my followers said they liked it better than the first one.

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

Our master bedroom

The magical art of closet organization.

One of the first chapters I read was about socks. I laughed when I read the except about storing socks because what she described was exactly what our sock drawers looks like:

“. . . When I opened her sock drawer, I could not suppress a gasp. It was full of potato-like lumps that rolled about. . . “

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

Marie says your socks work hard for you and need to rest in between wearings. If they are balled up they are always in a state of tension and sometimes if they get forgotten in the back of a drawer the elastic stretches beyond recovery.

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

I got to work on the sock drawer right away. There are no visuals in the book but there’s lots of videos on youtube that show how to fold socks, here’s a good one:

[youtube_sc url=”” rel=”0″]

And one more thing, I bet you always wondered what the heck you’re going to do with all those shoes boxes you save (I do). Well, here’s where you can use them, just like I did when I organized my two sock drawers here:

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After

I admit, I have opened and closed my drawers a few times afterwards, just to admire them.

Next, my scarves!

I’ve had them hanging on this IKEA scarf organizer stuffed hanging in between my dresses, for years! And they wrinkle when they simply get pulled through the loops and hang there (below):

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam


I realized that out of the three drawers in my night stand, one was completely empty! So, I got to work folding all my scarves.



Do you not hear angels singing right about now?

I certainly did ; ) ; ) and I have room to spare as you can see. It also felt very satisfying to have a use for all the empty shoe boxes I had lying around on the top shelf of my closet. And I can see all my scarves at the same time, so they will get worn!

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

Next, I moved on to the closet! The three drawers that you can see is where my bras, panties and PJ’s live.

Here’s what they looked like:

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

As you can see my panties shockingly look kind of folded because every time Terreeia (pronounced Maria with a T) does the laundry she folds my underwear. So then I always fold hers too. But when I pull mine out of the laundry I have ALWAYS just thrown them in the drawer so they are half folded and half a disaster!

 The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria KillamWell not anymore my lovelies! I have turned over a new leaf. Marie says once you organize your house once using her system, it stays that way, and I can see that. Who would want to go back to the way it was once you learn how to fold everything properly? Not me!

I even had room for my tights on the left side once all my underwear was folded up in tiny little rectangles!

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

Here’s my wall of shelves behind mirrored doors in my closet. I really love the hooks that my necklaces hang on, I only wish I had the foresight to hang them slightly lower (above).

Marie advocates folding as much as possible and everything should be folded in a rectangle so that it stands up in the drawer instead of piling everything on top of each other. This way you can see everything all at once when you open the drawer:

[youtube_sc url=”” rel=”0″]

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

This is what my closet looked like even before the organizer by Designer Closet Guys was installed.

I painted my closet orange because it was going to be the accent colour in the bedroom. That didn’t end up happening but I still love this colour in here, it’s happy and energizing!

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam


Terreeia got totally into it along with me and folded all her clothes too! She has the four lower shelves and I have the three on the top.

It’s crazy how much room you suddenly have when you fold everything the right way.

Marie says “Every piece of clothing has it’s own ‘sweet spot’ where it feels just right”.

In fact she talks a lot about how satisfying it is to fold everything just so. I was skeptical until I got the hang of it. Then I kept looking around for what I could fold next.

Once you learn how to fold the KonMari way, you feel like you’ve suddenly mastered a very useful and practical skill you can use the rest of your life.

Next it was time to tackle my pants. I have most of my jeans and pants piled on two shelves at the front of my closet:

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

You can see two of my scarves that I’ve stuffed on the bottom right of this shelf because I was tired of pulling them wrinkled out of the loops where I was storing them.

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

When I folded my pants I thought for sure they wouldn’t fit with the new rectangular system but they did with room to spare. And I did discard a few pairs, especially a $400 pair of True Religions (they’re coming to you Leah) that I’ve been hanging on to, waiting to fit into them again. Sigh, but they will be dated before that happens at this rate!

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

Here I want you to notice the hanging clothes on the left. Marie says that you have to start with the long sleeves and then go shorter and shorter until you get to the tank tops. It’s like drawing a line with an arrow going up!

It’s amazing how it transformed the look and feel of the closet immediately! See the after below:

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

The bag of clothes you can see on the bottom left is my permanent ‘Sally Ann’ bag. If I wear something and that day decide I never want to see it again, in the bag it goes.

With this purge I obviously had more that was going out the door but not that much. Terreeia and I are pretty good at clothes purging so besides the clothes we disposed of that were simply worn out and too ratty to be recycled, we only had two big bags left to donate.

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

Have you noticed a theme with the colours in my wardrobe? Orange, it’s like I knew my closet should be orange because that’s a big colour in my clothes. Why? Because yellow is rarely available, apparently not everyone likes that colour or looks good in it. Every time I want a colour I often end up with orange because it’s the only one available.

There was one more chest of drawers located in the guest room (below), with my work-out gear with miscellaneous resort wear in the bottom drawer.

Related posts: 8 Lessons our Editor Learned from the Decluttering Bible 

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

Guest room

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

The top drawer has all my fitness tops and the second drawer all my bottoms.

The Magical Art of Closet Organization: Before & After | Maria Killam

It’s truly amazing how folding everything into a rectangle suddenly gives you so much more space!

Marie says you start with what you know will be easy to get rid of like clothes and then books. Leave the items you might be attached to until the end.

I’m going to keep going, books next, I wonder what Marie says about books that are purely decorative! I have a lot of those!

Happy 4th to my American friends!! xoxo Maria

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact us! We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your room together. You can find our fabulous e-design consultation packages here.

Related posts:

Maria’s New Closet Installation

Maria’s Master Bedroom: Before & After (in my last house in the city)

5 Ways to Transform your Bedroom Right Now

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  • Norine says:

    I thought my folding was “good enough” – obviously not – love your before and after pics!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    When we first got our closet organizer I put everything back in organized by color. It looked like the color wheel. A few weeks later we had some friends over & my husband showed them my closet & they all made fun of me & claimed I had too much time on my hands. I told them I had all that extra time because I could find anything in an instant. And it certainly sparked joy when I walked into my closet.

  • Maureen says:

    Oooh! looks great Maria.

    You are giving me a push to get going again. I have that book and have also bought and partially read Spark Joy. Did the bedroom, bathroom, and now the kitchen. I know, room by room is incorrect, but works better for me.

  • Ange says:

    Happy 4th to you also. I read Marie’s book. She has a lot of great ideas. However, I have been doing most of her suggestions for years, except for folding my t-shirts and putting them in a drawer. Once I put them in a drawer it was amazing how much more room I had in my closet. BTW- I Love all your shoes!

  • Wow love the after shots…I’ve organized my closet recently but still have scarfs hanging on hangers, love the folded look but wonder don’t they come out wrinkled? Wish I had saved more shoe boxes, I’ve used shoe boxes in hall closet to store light bulbs in, but love the idea using the for socks.

  • sandyc says:

    I’ve been doing all these things for years as well in the clothes closet (although I don’t have nearly this much “stuff” anymore) (always used shoeboxes and others too). Don’t know where I learned but my late husband always asked me to pack his clothes when we traveled, and his 300 and my 100 sweaters (seems liked) were always neatly folded and stored in a humongous armoire that he brought from his first marriage. With the world smallest closet actually called a walk-in by builders, I have more challenges now but I’m coping. Books in the house are a doable project, lack of work surface in the kitchen (for me and 3 cats) makes me very frustrated, and corralling papers in the D’office for work and several major projects is aaaaaaargh! I think I’d better pick up the book and go to chapter 3. Fun seeing your befores and afters and delightfully colorful.

  • I went through the book and did all the folding, but then every time I needed,i.e. a pair of jeans, I couldn’t see which pair they were until I unfolded each pair to look, then had to fold each of the rejects back again. I’m always in a hurry so that just didn’t work. I also just reorganized a closet for a client who had hundreds of sweaters, all neatly folded, and she could never tell, i.e. is this the orange, lightweight one with long sleeves and v-neck, or the orange sleeveless mock neck one? We weeded out all the sweaters, then hung them on special “no bump” hangers, according to weight, sleeves, etc. and she is thrilled! This is the opposite of Marie Kondo’s advice, but I guess you have to find your own way to spark joy! 🙂

  • Diane says:

    Thanks for such a great post, Maria! My clothes will be transformed.

  • gogogramma says:

    Can’t quite subscribe to the whole idea, some makes sense, some seems a bit too obsessive.

    • Maria Killam says:

      It did to me as well until I started folding. You get hooked right away because it’s true that every item has a ‘sweet spot’. You have to try it to believe it! Thanks for your comment! Maria

  • I haven’t read that book yet, but this last year, I went through every single thing in our home and I donated, sold or threw out about 2/3rds of my items. The neighbours laughed as they saw so many items leaving our house through the course of the year!

    I now have a home that I love and getting rid of the excess items makes me feel so great each and every day.

    I only have what is useful or beautiful, and it’s liberating.

    But now, I must go onto the folding!!

  • Well the sock advice is great. My husband insists on rolling his socks and of course one sock is always stretched out. I will use the shoe box and see if he will like my method better. However sometime you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! Now I need to go to my lingerie drawer and organize it. Your closet looks just perfect! Such a fun and informative post as usual.

  • Barb says:

    Maria. Great job! How funny because I am doing the exact same thing this week. I just bought the book. I also finished repainting rooms in my house based on Maria’s color consultation and it looks fantastic. Now I am trying this method of decluttering and love it. Once I am done, I will send you photos of my rooms with the new paint colors! I think that I will buy the second book, too. I got them also in audio so you can listen while cleaning out.

  • Susan Ansley says:

    I was looking for something to do for the 4th and FOLDING is it! Thanks for sharing this “gem” 🙂

  • Maria—you did WELL!!!
    Marie Kondo’s book besides being extremely helpful & life changing—is a delight to read, isn’t it?!
    Even if you’re a slug and don’t intend to do anything of the sort (pun intended)….read it anyway for pleasure.
    I love the little ceremony she does when she parts with a pile of stuff–she thanks the things for serving her :-).
    I’m at this very time helping an 86 year old sprightly lady move into small quarters. She started to freak when I began taking things out in categories (another Marie technique)INSTEAD of room by room. I had to assure her that she need not make ALL the decisions now, that we were just going to look at all of the audio tapes, CD’s and videos that were scattered about the house, put them in one place and later she could choose her favorites. Wow–that really put her at ease!
    Now I just have to do MY stuff!! Haha.

    • KA says:

      I always think this is easier to do for other people. I need to do this with my mom after dad died and my sister’s stuff now that she’s in a nursing home at age 55. Trying to merge and purge 50 years at mom and dad’s house plus my sister’s and my stuff and mom’s and my stuff. All while I finish the renovations at my house, started before my sister had a seizure, totalled her car amd then got really sick. “Oy” as they say in New York.

  • Jann Newton says:

    Great job! I’ve read the book, but haven’t implemented her advice. This is the inspiration that I need! Thanks!

  • Hey Maria, I love this book and did a major declutter about a year ago when it first came out. Good for you! I never posted on my blog but all my family and friends on facebook were pretty inspired. I’m glad you are enjoying it. 🙂 Your before and after pictures look fabulous!

  • Carol says:

    This is a great post and I really liked the before and after pictures. I read half of Marie’s book and
    didn’T really get that much out of it but obviously I missed something. I’ve been working on my clothes closet this last week so this post is very timely. I’m going to watch the videos and see if I can get the hang of her folding method as it made a big difference in your closets. Thankyou for a very inspirational article

  • There is something profoundly liberating about tidying up. Things had really fallen apart in my life after my husband died, his business partner sued me for $20 million, and I, a non-lawyer, was forced to represent myself because I didn’t have $400K for a retainer. He lost the suit but I gained 60 lbs from stress eating and my home became gridlocked with clutter. I was a fearful, depressed mess. This “Marie thing” sounded like a breath of hope, and while I wasn’t willing to throw out as much as she might have counseled, I did it at my own pace and it helped me get back on my feet. It was good to examine and redefine my relationship with stuff, and it helped me stop lying around watching life pass me by, to scared to step up and act. Color me grateful to Marie Kondo.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Wow, what an amazing comment! Thanks so much for your contribution here, it gives hope to others as well!
      I did wonder how it could be life changing (since I’ve only started) and now I get it!!

  • Tina says:

    Your underwear and sock drawers look great and it has inspired me to do the same but will have to wait until tomorrow. I can’t wait, as I just love the very tidy look.

  • Nancy says:

    Great post Maria! I’m inspired now after seeing your before and after photos.

  • M says:

    Great post! Love the pics. I feel totally inspired… To at least purge. Never thought to paint my closet a fun color, especially since it’s so packed I can’t even see the walls, but if I weeded out maybe I could use that fab raspberry I covet in the BR off your laundry. Yes!!
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Mairi says:

    IKEA has sets of 4 collapsible nylon ‘shoeboxes’ for only $10. The set has a couple of smaller 4″ sized boxes useful for scarves. I got them in turquoise and they are so useful and sturdy, I’m going to order more for my drawers.
    Seeing everything at a glance as you have done Maria also makes purchases more planned. I found that I buy less and avoid duplication by staying on top of the drawers and closets.
    A book I’m planning to read next is “A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy” (by Sarah Lazarovic) as a reminder to be mindful of Everything that comes into the house.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Thanks for that tip! It’s a good one for anyone who doesn’t have enough shoeboxes 🙂 That sounds like a good book to read too!

  • Pam says:

    Loved this post. I have been doing a lot of purging, which feels fantastic, but can see the joy in the further ordering of it all. Very inspiring, and it is good to take one drawer at a time– otherwise I can feel overwhelmed with it all. Here’s my real question— what is the wall color in your closet? I have painted several Ben Moore samples and wasn’t coming up with the right amount of cheerfulness, but that hits it perfectly. Will you share?

  • mrsben says:

    In all honesty Marie, I never heard of the book or its author but am not surprised she is of Japanese descent as when my daughter modeled in Japan many years ago she adopted a few of their customs, one being storage skills that we here in the West due to the average size of our homes are just not as savvy. That said; for dividers in my dresser drawers I use strips of Balsa wood that can be obtained in most big box hardware stores which are more than reasonably priced and can be easily constructed using the product called ‘no more nails’. In summary; I have always folded my socks however never thought of standing them up …. duh! … so lesson learned and thank you for sharing. -Brenda-
    P.S.: Your closet and drawers are looking ‘marrr-velous darling’ … ☺.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Thanks Brenda and everyone for your encouraging comments, it was way more fun to do it than I thought I would be 🙂

  • Kate says:

    Maria, does it leave creases in your pants and jeans? What if a pair isn’t worn for months? That’s my biggest concern.

    • Maria Killam says:

      I would hang anything that you know will crease, my jeans and cotton pants don’t generally get wrinkled. Maria

  • Jennifer Hogan says:

    I always had difficulty getting rid of clothing and hated going through my over stuffed closet and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. I solved the problem. On Jan 1st I placed a small rubber band over each hanger in my closet and put a safety pin through all my socks, lingerie, pjs and other stuff in my drawers. Throughout the year, when I wore clothing or did laundry I removed the rubber bands and safety pins from the items that I wore. At the end of the year I could easily identify what I had worn or used and those items that had just taken up space in my closet. I gave away 90% of the things that I had not worn or used, keeping only some special occasion items that would be appropriate for a holiday party, wedding or funeral and a few items that I couldn’t bear to part with. I can fit all of my clothing in one 5′ closet and one small dresser. I continue to use the rubber bands and safety pins, but the job of figuring out what to get rid of has become a non-issue. It takes me about 2 hours to rubberband and pin my belongings and 30 minutes to bag up the stuff I don’t wear.

  • Mid America Mom says:

    Great job! I always struggle with the bra,sock, underwear thing. I used to have a divider drawer but did not fold- just laid. What a difference! *Love the art deco 3 drawer chest* – that paint looks fabulous with that wood stain. Oh where did you get such a big mirror for your bedroom Maria?

  • KJ says:

    Michael Kors, Vince Camuto, Eileen Fisher, Nike, Chaus and Topshop all have yellow items currently. Not sure if it is the style or shade you prefer. You can search the Nordstrom site by color in each category. Here are the yellow dresses, for example:

  • DDU says:

    Great job, Maria! I used a small clear accordion file (for coupons) from the discount store to stow my scarves when I “konmari’d” my bedroom. Scarves stay upright in their little pouches, and I can see them clearly. Everything really does stay tidy now that I have edited to the essentials.

    I notice you stored your T-shirts on top of each other on your closet shelves, rather than in a line as Konmari suggests. Were they too floppy to stand up by themselves, or did you have another reason to stack them? Konmari would say the shirts on the bottom are being smooshed and feeling sad! Best wishes.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Well it’s because if I stacked them in a line on a closet shelf then I can’t see them, I actually couldn’t find anything about how to store on shelves, Marie believes in drawers so she doesn’t seem to talk about folding on shelves. Any advice would be appreciated 🙂

  • Pam says:

    Hey Maria, I am seeing lots of replies from you, but wondering if my question got lost within my share. Will you share the color of your closet orange? I have been painting samples of orange, and not coming up with what I want. Your closet color is perfect!

  • Annie says:

    Hi Maria! I have both of Marie Kondo’s books. I organized all my clothes about 2 months ago and have kept them that way since. I LOVE opening my drawers and seeing everything looking beautiful and “getting a little thrill” every time 🙂 I began to help my 15 year old daughter and we got through most of her things doing our joy check (she humored me) and then life got crazy and we suspended for a while. But I am in the middle of my personal papers right now. I too would like to see more on shelf storage. For my personal stuff I put swim suits and cover ups in clear shoe boxes on shelves and stacked the few sweaters that wouldn’t hang on shelves and I can see them. I have a few lighter weight sweaters on velvet hangers that I wear more often. I would like to get my college age sons on board before they return to school in the fall. Alas, I deem my husband hopeless for the moment… He can’t find his glasses, keys, wallet or phone on a daily basis although there is a key hanger and shelf right by the back door…
    FYI – I sought your color advice for a second home we own and last weekend took my colors with me which you recommended and I hope to move forward with my project soon. I hope I will be sending you some photos of completion before the winter sets in!! As I said earlier, life got crazy and I have a lot of irons in the fire!! Be well and I really enjoyed this post!!

  • Clothing organization is one of my great gifts! I give you an A+! I listened to Marie Kondo’s book on my iphone while I cleaned for a few hours one afternoon, it was entertaining and kept my mind off of what feels like one of the most mundane things in the world to do. Maybe that is the difference between someone who would rather create than someone who would rather tidy… A tidy fanatic LOVES to tidy. I just love to be surrounded by tidy, I don’t love to DO it!

  • I forgot to say that the one trick I adopted from Marie with clothing is vertical folding! Athletic clothing can be slippery and gets wrinkled and lost in my drawers, this trick has been very helpful to me!

  • Rena says:

    I am laughing because my drawers and shelves all look like the before pics. This is going to revolutionize my closet! Thanks so much.

  • M says:

    Great thread. The comments are also very informative.

  • Katherine says:

    This is the system I use in my closets/drawers and I use this to pack my luggage. So much easier on the eyes to look at and I can lay my hands on something in a flash.
    My husband teases me that I alphabetize everything – ha, and then he gets me to pack his luggage for our trips.

  • Christina says:

    I was surprised to learn this week that there is a growing ANTI-Marie Kondo movement happening. Personally, I was inspired by the notion of keeping only what brings joy but her philosophy goes too far with some apparently, probably with those who live in more spacious surroundings. I really appreciate what you have shown here, Maria, and that is folding your pants and standing on end, rather than rolling them which creates too many wrinkles BUT, you must have drawers that are tall enough. After seeing this, I’ve begun writing furniture manufacturers and requesting that the bottom drawer in any dresser or chest of drawers needs to be really deep, graduating in depth as you go up. I also like displaying shoes because I do forget what I have, BUT find that dust gets on them so I will be sticking with shoe boxes and photographs on the front each.

  • Rosemary says:

    Can someone come to my house and do it for me and I’ll watch, lol. I don’t have the patience.

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