Decluttering the Office Closet — Reclaiming & Conquering

I’ve been sharing some of my weekly wins — small steps forward in the direction of minimizing, decluttering, and reaching my primary goals — in my Sunday newsletters, but I haven’t shared much of those little details and sometimes seemingly insignificant efforts here on KN. First of all, if you aren’t already, you can subscribe to emails HERE to get all the exclusive stuff that isn’t shared beyond emails. Second of all, I’m hoping to change that today, and share some of my process and real progress that isn’t necessarily photo worthy (but I think will be relatable to many of you). While I’m loving all the recent space reveals from long, drawn out efforts, it’s the small daily improvements that have been adding up that are making me feel the most accomplished.

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If the basement is my decluttering Everest, the my office closet is my Kilimanjaro. Actually, that would probably be my clothes closet. Or, actually, the garage. But, regardless, the point is, the office closet is up there. And because I try to access it regularly, it’s functionality (or lack thereof) affects me more than other storage spots. The office closet’s primary storage purposes are — to house throw pillows (inserts and covers), throw blankets, gift wrap, future Eliza gifts, and non-primary office back-stock (among other things). I shared my organization for this space a few years ago HERE, but the point of today’s post isn’t to re-share organization — it’s to share my struggle and ultimate decisions in my decluttering journey.

With the office becoming over-filled, it spilled into my office (where I spend the majority of my days), and my office had turned into a multi-year mess —  by association — that never could seem to be resolved. I started making small improvements until about two weeks ago, when I finished it off over the course of a weekend. Today, I can officially breathe in my office and office closet. I’m still making a few slow improvements to my office (see the plan HERE) but it hasn’t looked this good since I first did my office several years ago (see that original reveal HERE).

Eliza teamed up with me during the start of the project — I tossed pillows at her and directed her on the color bag each should go inside.

Decluttering the Office Closet

Saying “Goodbye” To Good Stuff

My main struggle in my office and office closet was that there wasn’t anything that was trash. For the most part, everything I had was in good condition and I could make a case for every item. But, there was too much of it. There was too much for me to even see what I had. As a matter of fact, at one point, I was uncovering nice things that I had forgotten about and had since essentially purchased duplicates. Counter-productive, huh? You save something, just in case “one day…”, but then “one day” comes and you’d saved for so many “one days” that you forget and don’t use it anyway. So, I had to get real with myself. Anything that showed a good bit of wear or had damage was easiest to discard. In cases of near-identical items, things I hadn’t used in years, or things that I was only holding onto for rare hypothetical circumstances, I donated. Once I had whittled my collections down (especially pillow inserts and covers), I pared them down more to fit within my self-allotted space. There were a few pillows I know I’ll never use in main spaces again but thought Eliza may use in her room. I kept a few limited covers but forced myself to part with more than I kept. Again — hypothetical situations and efforts of “preparedness” is the main culprit for how I got here in the first place 😉

Things started spinning out of control when I outgrew my organizers. So, I stopped utilizing my systems and instead, started making piles, telling myself I was going to tackle it all “soon”. But, the next thing you know, the piles grow, time goes on, and well… this happens.

Decluttering Pillow Inserts and Pillow Covers

I had gotten to where I only wanted to grab the pillows that were on the floor (pillow cases with inserts inside) and totally neglected most of my collection because I couldn’t get to the inserts to match covers and I couldn’t stomach adding more entire assembled pillows to the pile. We’ll talk more specifics but first, I’ll share the after — not just the after clean-out, but the “after” I grappled with myself, the “after” of accepting where I was and what I had to do, and the “after” emotional decisions had been made.

Pillow Organization and Storage Ideas

Sources: Hanging Organizer | Collapsible Storage Hamper (similar) | White Storage Bins (similar) | Black Label Clips | Slim Velvet Hangers | Flush Mount Light | Chest of Drawer Pulls (Brushed Brass)

Priority Goal: Decluttering, Not Organizing

This effort and where the bulk of my efforts are focused right now are on lessening the load and minimizing. The organization is secondary, as I get things to a manageable state (for me), put good habits in practice, and commit to the systems organized solutions offer.

Instead of just trying to figure out what storage and organizers I could find to hold all the things, I wanted to get “the things” to a smaller quantity, and then see what I needed to consider managing. Once it gets to that point, it’s a lot simpler (and practical, long term) to organize.

For the effort of decluttering my office closet, I used what I had to tame the beasts (the beasts being all things pillows, throws, and gift wrap supplies). I didn’t try to get fancy or involved with a lot of time because that wasn’t the goal. I wanted to bag stuff and get it out of the house.

I ended up with around SIX big black contractor bags for donations, out of this closet. I didn’t even know six contractor bags of goods could fit in this closet! But once I got to that point, I could see, breathe, and actually appreciate what was left. When you get to a point of so much overwhelm that it hurts to face it, you (I) end up not using any of it.

Donation Items from Purge

When my collections were manageable, the way I’d like to organize became obvious. Again, not today, but as a secondary priority, once some more decluttering is underway. Using what I have works for now and with a single row of wire shelving from the builder, I think I did well with what I had, without doing any hard work. But, I think my ultimate goal to organize this space most efficiently is to add Elfa shelving to the entire closet and use bins up and down this wall, reserving some floor and ceiling space.

Hanging Pillow Covers and Organizing Pillows

Sources: Hanging Organizer | Collapsible Storage Hamper (similar) | Labels Made with THIS Label Maker

When I set up this system, I used the short-hang fabric organizers to leave room underneath for pillow insert bins. THESE are fantastic quality and come in two colors, 3 (short) and 6 (long) compartment options, and even drawers. If you prefer Amazon for more robust options, free shipping, and quick delivery, you can find way more options HERE.

pillow cover storage ideas

Sources: Hanging Organizer

I kept some of my most used/rotated pillow covers out for easier access, and stored my more colorful (specific) and holiday pillow covers in a bin I had on hand. There were a couple of pillows that were unique sizes that I decided were better to keep with their inserts, for now, that I housed as-they-were on the top shelf.

I kept a couple of my favorite types of inserts at various sizes, but forced myself to part with most. The fact of the matter is — there are lots of inserts that are on display with covers already, all around our house. Most switches are cover for cover, using the same insert. I don’t need to house 298349032 inserts, just in case. If I end up needing an insert for some obscure size I got rid of years down the road, I’ll deal with it then 😉

pillow cover storage

Sources: Labels Made with THIS Label Maker

Letting Go of Hypothetical Plans

Just like the pillows, I had a lot of spare throw blankets that literally haven’t been used since 2016, taking up limited hanging space. We keep a lot of throw blankets out, draped, and in baskets in several of our rooms already, so the blankets in this closet are extra/off-season. I let go of any specific, maybe-one-day, hypothetical, highly unlikely blanket plans and thinned the collection. Even perfectly nice neutral, linen-like throws. Even expensive chunky throws with runs that “if I used as a tree skirt you wouldn’t really be able to see” (that’s actually something I told myself even though I never used it as a tree skirt for the years and years it remained in this closet).

FYI — On the far left are dress-up outfits that haven’t been given to Eliza just yet. I also have a large basket on the floor with things and gifts I’ve collected for her but even storing those has become a pain point. As much as I like to be prepared, I’ll be doing a lot less ordering ahead because I don’t want to figure out how to store it all. Then, I inevitably forget what I have anyway. I’m not divorcing this practice completely (I mean, there are some things that you just gotta get when you can at a great deal, right?!), but I’m definitely slowing on the back-stock of things. Her Easter basket will primarily be made up of things I bought last year for warm weather — before even looking at my stash, I can pretty confidently say that her Easer basket is likely already done.

throw blanket storage in the office closet

Sources: Slim Velvet Hangers

One allowance I did give myself (for now) is a saved a few thin blankets and rolled them into a basket to use for our outdoor spaces, since we’re gearing up for enjoying those more. We’ll see if that was just an excuse to keep some or if we use them this year. Regardless, we’re majorly progressing, y’all!

throw blanket storage

Getting Over the Gift Wrap Guilt

First of all, I should never have to buy wrapping paper, bows, or tissue paper again. If I was really being good, I’d probably thin my collection to only what fits in my back-of-the-door gift wrap organizer. Which, for the record, I will never be able to sing its praises enough. But, we aren’t there yet. What I was able to do was…

  • Cull an additional five to size bins and bags of ribbons and bows (for boxes and Christmas trees)
  • Relocate Christmas-specific and wired ribbon to basement storage with the Christmas stuff
  • Part with just-in-case scraps that had seen better days
  • Toss gift bags that I would never buy for myself (that had been received as gifts) — especially for super specific occasions, like baby showers
  • Gathered everything and sorted into like items; brought in stray tags and such that were in the office to their rightful homes
  • Give my mom bags and embellishments she is more likely to love and use

Gift Wrap Organization

Sources: Gift Wrap Over the Door Organizer | Gift Wrap Rack | Chest of Drawer Pulls (Brushed Brass)

I did some work inside that chest of drawers too — I took extra office/craft supplies to Eliza’s school and even tossed lots of packaged old promotional notepads (with identifying contact information so they couldn’t be donated) from my old job that were over a decade old, still in the plastic wrap. Talk about freeing. Even though the promo paper pads were perfectly fine for scrap paper, there’s only so much scrap pads I can use in a lifetime. I kept a package and said goodbye to the rest that had done nothing but steal valuable drawer space.

Gift Wrap Organization

Sources: White Storage Bins (similar) | Black Label Clips | Labels Made with THIS Label Maker | Slim Velvet Hangers

Somehow, I had a lot of wine gift bags. I don’t gift wine often and when I do, I typically tie a bow around it and call it a day. I think I kept one wine bag. Giving myself permission to let go of this stuff — as silly as it may sound — was so therapeutic.

gift bag storage ideas

Side note — the big stack of puzzle boxes were borrowed from my mom, as she completed them, and as I’ve made progress decluttering and made more room in my head, I’ve also made more room to set aside time for puzzles (which I love since it’s one of the only things that can shut my mind off). I’ve been actively working my way through that so I don’t have a real desire to find a solution for those.

Decluttered Office Closet

Sources: Hanging Organizer | Collapsible Storage Hamper (similar) | White Storage Bins (similar) | Black Label Clips | Slim Velvet Hangers | Flush Mount Light | Chest of Drawer Pulls (Brushed Brass)

My puzzles are still doing well in the labeled bag system I came up with a year or so ago.


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And, like I’ve said multiple times in this post — it wasn’t about getting organized to a “t”, it was about letting go and getting rid of stuff — and conquering all the emotions and excuses tethered to it all.

Building Momentum

Once I started — literally, just by taking something out of a drawer and tossing it as its own singular non-effort — it started building my confidence and strengthening my mindset. By the time I got to my office closet, we had decluttered several random areas/drawers/cabinets/items, but the office closet (pillow stash, gift wrap, etc.) was the first big effort.

office closet organization ideas

Sources: White & Natural Hanging Disk Wall DecorHanging Organizer | Collapsible Storage Hamper (similar) | Flush Mount Light

Here’s a quick snap of my office, exactly as it is, early this morning as I’m sitting to finish this post. as a place that was designed for peace and productivity, it’s so gratifying to be back to that place — even in the midst of to-dos and imperfections.

Neutral Office at Night

The more I do, the easier it is. And, while I ended up setting aside time to take on this project to declutter all at once, it doesn’t take planned time to start decluttering. My goal is that now I know what drives me and what leads me to an uncomfortable (honest, debilitating) point, that I’ll get routines, habits, and systems in place to prevent from going back there. I’m still working on being more thoughtful and intentional about what comes in so what goes out doesn’t have to be so painful and difficult.

I’ll keep sharing my journey as I make progress, and I’ll keep sharing some internal struggles (along with motivations), too. To follow along, and to get all the stuff that doesn’t end up on KN, you can subscribe to emails at the bottom of the post.

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  1. 2.24.23
    Sharon said:

    Go Kelley! So proud and happy for you. Getting rid of excess and organization is so important to the mind! It is calming!

    • 2.24.23

      Thank you, Sharon! It feels so so good to have this one behind me. It’s definitely easier to breathe now. 😉

  2. 2.24.23
    Jill Gabbe said:

    Hi Kelley,
    This is amazing (and a little overwhelming!). I’ve been here long enough to remember your last closet organization. It’s comforting — in a weird way — that you also get overloaded with “all the things we love and cannot part with.” Thank you for sharing! cheers, jill

    • 2.24.23

      Hi Jill, Thank you so much for following along with us and for your kind note. I definitely had to grit my teeth to declutter this space, but it feels so good now that it’s done!

  3. 2.24.23
    Corinne said:

    Love it! Your an inspiration! I want to feel that clean, uncluttered, light feeling now too. Thanks!

    • 2.24.23

      Thank you for taking the time to visit, Corinne! I think the hardest part is starting the process, but it’s definitely getting easier as we go along.

  4. 2.24.23
    Daphne said:

    Good for you!! 👍😉 👍

    • 2.24.23

      Thank you for taking the time to visit, Daphne. And yes, it feels so good!

  5. 2.24.23
    Michele M. said:

    WOW!!!! Huge undertaking and what an inspiration! Well done, KN! You should be very very proud of yourself! And what a good thing for your little princess to witness too – helping and seeing the process. Good for you. ♥

    Now I need to do the same thing…….

    • 2.26.23

      Thank you so much for your kind note and sweet support, Michele! This was one of the spaces that I was dreading the most to declutter. Now that it’s done, I am so relieved and excited.

  6. 2.25.23
    Kathryn said:

    Kelly, by keeping everything organized, I move through my days easier. Everything in the office you have done is amazing!

    Do you mind letting me know where you purchased the Roman Shades in your office? Thank you. Have a blessed week ahead.