4 Ways to Organize Grandma’s Closet When She Downsizes
Our guest blogger is Arar Han, a Certified Aging in Place Specialist and co-CEO of Alert-One, a personal safety, technology and consulting firm.
You’ve always wanted to help Grandma get organized, and now’s your chance; Grandma’s moving into a smaller living space and can’t bring everything, yet she wants her new place to still feel like home. But when you open her closet, you see a sea of clothes, shoes and memorabilia from decades past. How are you going to tackle all this stuff?
The key is to take it one step at a time.
You’ve got to help her downsize and identify what she wants to keep, give to loved ones or throw out. Then comes the fun part: creating a brand new, senior-friendly custom closet that Grandma will love.
1. What does Grandma absolutely need?
The very first thing to do is to sort through that mountain of clothes. It’s best to start this step as early as possible. Leave plenty of time to go through everything so she doesn’t feel rushed. Take it in chunks – don’t try to sort everything in one day. Make sure Grandma has enough shirts, pants, and undergarments to last between washings. Then move on to shoes, warm clothing and something to dress up in for those special occasions.
Separate each category and have her choose which items she wants from each. Like most of us, Grandma might be resistant to letting go of things, so be tough on the first go-round. Ask her how often she really wears that 1940’s cocktail dress and double-check that everything actually fits her.
2. What does Grandma love?
Next, you should figure out which clothes Grandma loves and can’t bear to part with – even if it’s something she never wears. It’s important to include her favorite things, especially if they have special meaning in her new place. Plus, you’ve already taken care of the essentials, so you know exactly how much room you have left for the things Grandma wants but doesn’t need.
3. Sell and Donate Unwanted Clothes
You now know what Grandma’s going to bring to her new space, but what about what you’ve left behind? Good news; there’s a huge market today for vintage clothing. There are plenty of places where Grandma’s clothes can find a new home – and you can even earn her some extra cash.
- eBay can get you the best price with its huge audience, but it can be difficult to stand out. Take beautiful pictures and write a compelling description to attract the right buyer.
- Craigslist is great for selling things quickly, and it’s free to post a listing. Craigslist is organized by location, so your buyer might be able to come pick up the clothes themselves, which makes it easier for you!
- Poshmark is a community of women who shop each other’s closets. It’s easy to use. Just sign up online and snap a picture of what you want to sell. You can use the money you make from Poshmark to trade in for new clothes.
- Donate the clothes you can’t sell. You can give them to charity thrift stores like Saint Vincent de Paul or Goodwill, or your local community theater might be interested in those quirky outfits you don’t know what to do with!
4. Creating a Senior-Friendly Closet Organizer at Grandma’s New Home
A new space means a fresh start.
Grandma’s closet should be bright, simple and easy to use. Keep in mind that she has different needs as an older adult.
- Put everything within easy reach. You don’t want Grandma to have to bend over or stand on her tip-toes to reach her stuff.
- Install easy-to-use handles. Use levers instead of rotating knobs for doors. Dressers should have handles that Grandma can easily grip.
- Don’t overcrowd the racks. No one likes rummaging through crowded clothing racks to find the perfect outfit. Hang clothes properly to make it easy for Grandma to find what she’s looking for.
- Keep everything in plain sight. With a custom closet, you can use drawers with clear lucite faces so Grandma can see what’s inside. Custom storage solutions like shoe shelves will keep shoes from disappearing in the back of the closet. She will love being able to find what she’s looking for.
- Put in lighting. Aging eyes have trouble in low light. More light will help Grandma tell whether a dress is black and blue or gold and white, so that she is always in style.
- Create a place to sit. Make it easy for Grandma to put on her shoes without balancing on one foot.
- Display jewelry in pull-out trays. Lay jewelry out and display them like you would see in a store. Grandma will love being able to see and access everything she owns.
Custom closets are great for maximizing smaller spaces. Designed especially for her, everything will have its own place. Her new closet might even seem bigger than her old one! With your help, Grandma will rediscover her favorite blouse and that long-lost necklace. She will adore being able to wear and enjoy all of her favorite outfits without being overwhelmed by clutter. (By the way, this process works for Grandpa as well).