©2019 Master Key Organizing | West Chester, Pennsylvania
Serving Chester County and the Greater Philadelphia & Lancaster Areas

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  • Angela Commiskey

Dancing Through the Closet

This is the first of our highlighted projects. Locked (Before)/Unlocked (After) photos are a great way to visualize what organizing can accomplish, but occasionally we want to bring you the story of the project!


This dance studio has operated for decades, with the director and teachers collecting costumes and props that are frequently used throughout the year. The director occasionally cleared out old items, but new ones were made, purchased, or donated faster than space was being made for storage. With transitions in staff, they decided it was time to do a large clear-out, inventory and sorting of their items.

Upon arrival, I started with a review of the closet, and adjacent changing room cubbies, discussing what worked well and what was a problem. Some things were obvious - clutter needed to be cleared out, and space needed to be made for new items living in piles of bags.

Importantly, we also talked about the invisible issues - processes such as: how the teachers can prepare costumes for a recital, what to do with costumes to be washed, and how to handle the return of costumes (and props) after a recital to keep the closet in order ongoing.

For the teachers of the children's classes, props needed to be easily accessible (and returnable) in order to keep pace with the active kids and back-to-back classes.

Throughout the process, I worked with the director to determine needs, and identify items for toss, donate, and keep. Items to be kept were then re-grouped, and time was spent updating storage. For example, silky costumes were given new velvet hangers, so they would stop sliding to the floor.

With my sewing background, I was also able to identify the quantity of materials they had in bins and approximately what could be made with each fabric. No more pulling out everything to see what might work - now a bin sheet tracks what is available!

Details were important to the director, so everything from hairpieces to sashes were counted and packaged in re-usable bags, then labeled with the quantity. Not everyone needs this level of detail, but the teachers were thrilled that they will be able to save time during concert seasons searching for enough of the right item for their students!


"Oh wow! Did you push the walls back?"

- Student

​"Look at the labels, and the headpieces are all counted. This makes me so happy!"

- Student

“I was overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning out over 20 years of costumes and props at my studio to make room for new pieces, but it was nearly impossible to get everything back into the closet after each concert. Angela walked through the closet with me, identifying storage problem areas, and recognizing what was good about the space as-is. We worked together to sort through items to keep, trash, or donate, and she provided suggestions for new storage solutions.

By the time she was finished, broken hangers were replaced, drawers were labeled, and the floor was cleared of overflowing boxes and costumes. Each teacher at the studio knew where to find costumes and props for their students, and the put-away after our last concert was made so much easier!”

- Studio Director