You can squeeze a lot more clothes into a small space if you fold them, it’s true. Just be sure to declutter them first. Otherwise you’ll just be reorganizing clutter.
We have a laundry chute in our home.
Not really. We just fling dirty clothes over the bannisters and then next time we go downstairs, we pick them all up and put them in the laundry baskets in our utility room. The trick is to do this before unexpected guests arrive who’ll think we live like slobs (we don’t, except for these few brief minutes of abandonment each day).
We’ve done this in every home we’ve lived in since moving to the UK in 2010. Why? Because we can! It’s fun. It’s deliciously freeing. And it also reminds us of when we lived in Bali and had a wonderful housekeeper called Padmi who took care of all our laundry for us. Fresh sheets twice a week, impeccably ironed clothes, delightfully rolled panties that were a treat to unfurl.
Oh, and the best bit was when we went travelling and she helped to pack our suitcases. Most Balinese people can’t afford closets to hang their clothes, so they are masters of folding. She would fold our clothes into our bags in such a way that the creases never showed. We’d arrive at the other end, take them out of our cases, hang them up, and they’d be ready to wear. Her parting gift, when I left Bali after 20 years, was to teach me these skills, and I got quite good at it, but not as good as her.
The art of folding
People from other Asian cultures are good at folding too, especially in Japan, the home of origami and very small homes with hardly any storage space. But most westerners were not brought up this way and find it much easier to hang clothes than to fold them.
One client I worked with purchased a three-drawer dresser because she’d read a book about tidying and thought she should learn how to fold. And there the new furniture sat, unused and blocking her dressing area, while clothes piled up around it. She bought it with the best of intentions, but it added to her problems rather than resolving them.
Folding clothes and organizing them vertically in drawers (see the photo at the top of this article) does allow you to cram much more into whatever space you have available. But gradually, as you take things out and wear them, the remaining items tend to fall over. Women seem to tolerate this, whereas men feel it’s ridiculous and prefer to go back to good old-fashioned stacking clothes in piles.
My best advice is to use drawers for things that don’t wrinkle, such as socks, scarves, nightwear, underwear, tracksuit pants, and so on. Use hangers for anything that creases. And if you still don’t have enough space for all the clothes you own, you’ll either need to declutter or invest in more storage space.
Do bear in mind, though, that most people wear only 20% of their wardrobe. Figure out the 80% that’s just taking up space, let some of it go, and you’ll probably have plenty of room for the rest.
Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2015, updated 2023
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