Why Reorganizing my Closet Made me Happy

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Tammy Strobel of RowdyKittens.com.

My husband, Logan, and I live in a very tiny house. We also share a super small closet. It’s about six feet tall and two feet wide. Theoretically, there is plenty of space in the closet for our stuff. But over the last few months, I felt annoyed by the lack of room in our closet.

Logan has more clothes than I do and I felt like his stuff was starting to take over our shared space. I tried to mitigate this problem by placing some of our winter clothes on the top closet shelf, but Logan felt that the space looked cluttered. Plus, he could never find his hats. In short, we both felt like our closet was exploding with stuff.

Communication is essential in a partnership, especially when you are sharing a small dwelling. So on a hot summer afternoon, we stood in front of the closet and talked about how we should reorganize our belongings.

I suggested, “Why don’t we put our winter clothes, that we aren’t using, in the empty kitchen cabinet?”

Logan exclaimed, “That’s a great idea! We should have done that before!”

As we sorted through our clothes we created a donation pile for the items we no longer wore and put our winter clothing out of sight in the cabinet. As we organized, I thought about Barry Schwartz’s happiness research.

In “The Paradox of Choice,” Schwartz argues that “a bewildering array of choices floods our exhausted brains, ultimately restricting instead of freeing us.” This can be applied to buying a new dress, picking out new college classes, or even trying to decide what to wear in the morning. Schwartz also notes that too many choices “erodes our psychological well-being” and does not make us happier.

I found this to be true, especially in the case of my closet. After it was neatly organized, I took a step back and smiled. The space felt uncluttered and it was easy to see what my clothing options consisted of. Now I don’t have to sort through my merino wool sweaters in the morning, as I’m looking for my new summer dress. As Schwartz said, “I believe that we make the most of our freedoms by learning to make good choices about the things that matter, while at the same time unburdening ourselves from too much concern about the things that don’t.”

If you have a closet that’s overfilled and cramped, take a few hours and start organizing the space. Reducing clutter will give you the clarity to focus on the things that matter, like your family and doing work you love.


Tammy Strobel is a writer, photographer, and tiny house enthusiast. She created her blog, RowdyKittens.com, to share her story of embracing simplicity. Since then, her story has been featured in the New York Times, The Today Show, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, and in a variety of other media outlets. Tammy’s new book is called, You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too.



  1. says

    And…..it’s contagious. Getting rid of old clothes and closet items feels great, and is usually an easy 1st choice for people not as far along the path to get started with.

    Who’s to say a kitchen cabinet is just for foodstuff? It’s available space, I’ve done the same with some of my empty kitchen storage areas, works great!

    • says

      You definitely have to celebrate the small victories, even if it’s just cleaning out a closet. Although, if you’re aiming for happiness, it’s a little low. Just be happy in One step and forget the rest. I explain it a little better here: http://j.mp/RQrYNa

  2. says

    I agree with your sentiments completely! I want to focus on what’s important not on clutter and stuff. Thanks for the inspiration to attack my clothes! Clothes first, then the rest of the closet.

  3. Rae says

    Question for all that have shed a lot their stuff:

    Any regrets about getting rid of something? Did you miss anything?

    I am teetering on the brink of a major life change and have been so inspired by Be More With Less and Rowdy Kittens. I don’t know how I’ll feel after the purge I am thinking about….I guess I’m a little stuck in fear right now. But also so ready to breathe easier, have more space, peace and clarity in life.

    But what if I get rid of something sentimental and miss it?

    Thanks all :)

    • says

      Rae – I don’t regret giving away any of my stuff. But it also took me years to pair down. I’m a big fan of taking very small steps. So if you’re feeling nervous, maybe you can give twenty belongings away a week?

    • Diane Mouto says

      I am just beginning to declutter. I went thru all the closets early this year and donated lots! as I went back thru again in July I found it was easier to get rid of the items I was holding on to for sentimental reasons – a mardi gras ball gown, a great dress I bought for a good friends wedding and spent alot on . . . I seem to be one of those people who holds on to expensive things.

      Anyway – the second time around was so much easier! and it feels great to have room in the closets, and to have gotten rid of things that I truly will never wear again.

      When I work up some nerve, I am going to do the kitchen!

  4. says

    I totally agree! I would love to downsize into a smaller place but my hubby’s not on board – yet (I remain hopeful). Our apt is around 500 sq ft and before I was married I lived in around 300 sq ft and loved it!

  5. says

    Thanks for sharing, Tammy – closet decluttering is a favorite pastime for me too! Things I no longer need have a way of finding the topmost shelves, and it’s always a relief to let them go.

    Likewise, I’ve found that having fewer, good-quality clothing choices is such a help in getting ready to go anywhere! In fact, my mom is envious of how easy it is for me to pack. I tell her the secret: fewer things to choose from! :)