Before and After: Storage Room / Cedar Closet

Great project this weekend with a client to attack the home’s storage room/cedar closet.  Her family uses this space, about 80 square feet, as a spot to store occasional-use items, holiday decorations, some clothing, and some items from the clients’ childhood homes.


There were a number of goals for the project.  She wanted to get rid of items that  were no longer useful, by separating out items for trash/recycling and items for donation. She needed to be able to see everything at a glance, and making it easy to access what she needed, when she needed.  Finally, ideally, this space could provide storage for other items in the home, as they have limited space for long term indoor storage.  And it was important to BOTH of us that we reuse as much as we could from the space (even if it was a Huggies box), for the new organization.


Cedar Closet Collage Before

The whole project took between 3 and 4 hours, as every single thing was removed from the space and sorted through.  She did a great job of critically thinking through what was in the space, and what really needed to be kept for the future.

What did she let go of:

  • Gift boxes – Like lots of people, at the end of opening presents during the holidays, she was good about gathering up gift boxes to be used again in the future.  Many of us got that habit from our own mothers, in a time where things like gift bags weren’t what people used.  I don’t blame them, quite frankly. Back in the day, getting gift boxes were hard to come by; if you were lucky, you could ask for them at a register. If you were somewhat unlucky, you had to go to the Customer Service desk and wait on a long line and ask for boxes, and hope for enough (and an equal amount of tops and bottoms). The least lucky of us would go to a place that was just plain out of boxes, or didn’t give them out. So, the urge to save boxes, especially durable ones or uniquely-sized, is one we come by honestly.  My client stopped saving boxes a few Christmases ago, thinking, “Why am I saving boxes when I never use the ones in the closet?” She hadn’t taken the step further to get rid of the ones she knew she wasn’t using any more.   They took up a lot of space, and now, they could go off to be recycled.

  • Gift bags – similarly, my client is GREAT about reusing whatever she can, and gift bags are a great example of that. Unfortunately, some had gotten dusty, moldy or damaged in storage, so those were instantly discarded. Of the rest, she sat back and prioritized. She knew she had a good supply of birthday gift bags already, in multiple sizes.  Most of her friends are out of the “having babies” age, so the supply for baby gifts was really much greater than the need.  She did know that a selection of male or gender-neutral themed bags would be good for her collection, so she grabbed a few of those, and got rid of all the rest.

  • Bows – She had a lot of bows and ribbons. Again, being someone who is good about reusing items, not wanting to contribute to landfills, and not wanting to spend money on things when she already had them, a collection like this isn’t surprising. However, she just didn’t use these bows much any more, and some of them had been squashed together and probably not really revivable.  While she doesn’t want to contribute to a landfill, that isn’t an excuse to keep storing unwanted items in your own home.   We selected out donatable ones, and got rid of the rest.

  • Scraps of wrapping paper – My client is definitely good at identifying that the end of a roll of wrapping paper or the ends that you cut off might be a good size for smaller gifts and for stocking stuffers.  However, when you buy new wrapping paper each year, you tend never to go back to the scraps.  She had a good handful of wrapping paper remnants, many of them creased or flattened, that we recycled.

  • Easter baskets (kept the 2 most recent, got rid of 4 older ones) – Really no good reason for keeping 6 baskets with only two kids… She kept her 2 favorites and donated the others.

  • Open Easter grass and tinsel that gets… everywhere.  This probably contributed the high comedy of the project!  Between Easter basket grass and tinsel, it seemed to be in every box we opened! We would open up a new box, and there was more red tinsel.  I think she may have been fully cured of any desire to save an open package of tinsel or Easter grass in there again!

  • Some clothing and shoes – She’d held onto a few things that, realistically, just won’t see the light of day again.  Off to the donation pile they went!

  • Decor that served a purpose once, but weren’t part of the home’s style any more. My client thought about whether or not she’ll *really* use a number of things again, and decided to donate wreaths, baskets, decorations, linens, etc.,


When the cedar closet had been completely emptied, we vacuumed, wiped down all the shelves, repaired a shelf that had come loose from the supports, and roughly wiped the walls to refresh the surface of the cedar, reactivating the value of the cedar in that space.

  • Blankets were washed and other soft goods, like sleeping bags, all were placed in durable and clear bags to keep dust out, but not have items out of site.

  • Some toys that were sentimental from the client’s childhood were cleaned up and re-stored in a better box

  • Wreaths — she kept two of them. The largest, more fragile one was placed in a large box (maybe the one it was purchased in, but had remained empty?), and the smaller one, hung up on a hanger, rather than having other items placed on top of it.

  • Costumes were gathered in individual bags, and placed in a larger shopping bag, hung with hangers.

  • Some toys for their kids, they they just haven’t grown into yet, were boxed together and kept accessible for the kids when they’re ready for them.

  • Cookie tins for holiday baking. Rather than stacked here and there, they’re consolidated in one box, to be grabbed on baking day.

  • The small christmas tree, that her kids decorate, is easy to get to and take out, without having to dig it out of other items surrounding it.

  • Seasonal decorations other than Christmas were placed in boxes, together, in order of where they fall in the calendar.

  • The punchbowl which hadn’t been placed back in the box it came in was cleaned out and returned for safe keeping.

  • Christmas items were the biggest effort, obviously.   All the Christmas items were stored together, in a way that is going to make getting ready for the holidays easier. Because they celebrate Christmas with one part of the family at Thanksgiving, those items that were needed sooner were kept separate from the rest. (How often do we just lump all the Christmas stuff together at the end of the season, and not really think about how we may need some of it sooner than others?)

  • Finally, everything got fresh labels, so that there was no more “what’s this?” guesses when uncovering boxes within boxes.



Cedar Closet Collage After

It was a tremendous transformation, all the goals were met! This space has really become hugely functional for this family! Here are some panorama shots of the whole room:


Cedar Closet Panorama Collage





  1. iheartorganizing

    Clapping my hands for this one! So great! And I am so impressed with how quickly you tackled that space, just one weekend? I am STILL working on mine! Way to go!

    • Clever Girl Organizing

      Thank you so much! It’s amazing how much having a good plan, time without interruption from anyone and good tunes can do to help get that much work done in one day! It was a long one, but so worth it to walk away from a finished project at the end of it!

      *You* get so much done all the time… I’m sure yours will get done soon enough! Thanks for taking the time to check it out and dropping me a note!

      (PS — check out my latest before and after on a garage I posted yesterday for another example of “that’s a lot accomplished in one day!


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