I’m sensing that many Design Mom readers are itching for a little change in their lives. Possibly some spring cleaning/organizing instincts are kicking in. And they’re making lists that will inevitably bring them to Ikea and Home Depot.

How do I know this? I received about one million (really good) Ask-Design-Mom questions over the weekend. So I’m going to attempt to answer one each day for the next little while and I’m crossing my fingers that you’ll contribute your best ideas as well. Thanks in advance.

Ask-Design-Mom Question:
I’m a first-time mom of a ten-month old, and my daughter, Scout, is the happy inheritor of loads of clothes from older cousins. What I’ve never been able to figure out is how to gracefully store what needs to be stored and keep out the right size for now in an accessible (organised even?) way. Seems like there should be some smart system that allows moms to have the right sized clothes for the right season available, and not have to rummage through a big silver Sterilite box. There is absolutely no wabi sabi to stacked Sterilite boxes. Ideas? Thanks for the great blog. I check it everyday. Johanna

Design Mom Answer:
Thanks for the question, Johanna. And I feel you on the clothes storage issues. It’s sort of an unexpected hassle in the first couple of years having a new baby. Although my dreams are filled with pretty closets like in the picture above, this is how I (very imperfectly) manage it:

First, I am hardcore about only keeping the best stuff. Sometimes, I’ve stored something of Maude’s thinking it was so cute, and when I pulled it out for Olive it was all ratty and faded. Basically, I was storing the memory of a cute outfit instead of an actual cute outfit. So I suggest being pretty brutal when you sort through all those inherited clothes. If you’re not going to love putting it on Scout, pass it along or donate it.

Also consider sizes and seasons. Once you have a handle on if your daughter is average size (does she wear 3-6 month clothes when she’s 3-6 months old?) or not, get rid of everything that doesn’t match up with size and season. What I mean is, if Scout is going to be in 6-12 month clothes during the winter months, and there is a really cute 0-3 month coat, well, too bad for Scout, the coat should not be stored.

Once you’ve pared the clothes down to just the really good stuff, my best success has come from using smaller containers instead of larger ones, making them less overwhelming to sort through. Because I put them in closets, I don’t mind that they’re in neat plastic boxes. I use smallish ones, and I use see-through ones. (Something similar to the 6 hanging ones in the picture above from the Container Store.) I designate the boxes like this: 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-24 months, and then 1 box per year. The first year clothes tend to stay in better shape so I split the year in two parts, but older clothes get pretty thrashed and there’s less to store. Once my box is full, well that’s that.

When the clothes are divided into smaller boxes, I know I can ignore all the boxes except the size she’s currently wearing. I still have to do some sorting, but a lot less. At some point, when she’s growing about a size per year, going through her wardrobe will be just like going through your own. You’ll do it seasonally and it won’t feel like so much management.

That’s one way. Another way: I know a friend with lots of boys who doesn’t store anything. Clothes just pass down from one brother to another until they’re too thrashed and get thrown out. Also, somewhere in my head there is a vague memory of someone mentioning something about using a dresser to sort. . .

What are some more ideas?