organizing closet

Photo: David Tsay

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The Possibilities
"This closet is not a magical bottomless pit," Walsh says wryly, daring to poke his head in. All evidence to the contrary, "it will hold only a finite number of things." The trick is to designate which things, and to assign a clear purpose for a space that does not announce one. Sohal—who, like Dawn Bridgewater, is organized in her work life (she's the owner and designer of Bare Collection, a jewelry and handbag line) and views this closet as something she's just been too busy to tackle—decides to designate the space for stuff she needs "quick and easy access to," such as home maintenance supplies (lightbulbs, tape); the shopping bags and wrapping paper that she "obsessively" reuses; and "rainy day" kids' toys, like games and art supplies. Everything else—baby gear the boys have outgrown, sporting equipment like tennis rackets—will move to the playroom or to deeper storage in the garage.

The Process

When Walsh and Sohal begin their purge, both seem dumbfounded by how much stuff she's managed to, well, stuff into this small lair. Sorting like items into large plastic bins, they create piles of kids' toys (Taboo, sidewalk chalk), home stuff (screwdrivers, batteries, the candles Sohal keeps on hand in case of an earthquake), sporting equipment (tennis balls, golf gloves), and baby gear (a car seat, a mosquito net covering for a bassinet). A bin labeled HUSBAND, meanwhile, fills with a running vest, a radar detector, and shoe polish. Next Walsh stacks several sizes of clear plastic bins on the newly excavated built-in shelves to gauge how much volume the closet can comfortably hold, since he is adamant that the floor remain clear. "Once you get floor creep, you've lost the battle," he says gravely.