Closets are valuable storage space. Make your closet work harder with a clear organization strategy and the right tools from modular closet storage systems to the simplest of shelves and bins. Check out this ideas that can be adapted to any closet space.
Strategy: Folding Clothes
If you prefer to fold your clothes or have a lot of clothing that is best stored folded, Meryl Starr, a professional organizer in New York and author of The Organizing Workbook, recommends these tips for folding clothes within your closet.
1- Shelves should be about 12 inches deep, roughly the depth of a stack of clothes. You don't want a lot of wasted space in front or behind.
2- Ventilated shelves promote airflow around folded clothes, which cuts down on the possibility of mold, mildew, and pests.
3- Group like with like (jeans with jeans, etc.). Same-size items stack more neatly. Put clothes you use most in the center at eye level.
4- Don't stack higher than about a foot, and leave at least 6 inches between the top of the stack and the next shelf for easy reaching in.
5- Add drawers to collect smaller items. If you don't have drawers, use a basket or two. Position drawers below eye level so it's easy to peer in.
Strategy: Hanging Clothes
Hanging up clothing inside a closet is an easy way to keep clothing organized, especially if you have a lot of dress clothes, suits, or dresses. Lorie Marrero, creator of The Clutter Diet online program, recommends these tips:
1- For the double-hang area, put the shortest clothes on the top rod and hang the bottom one as high as possible under them. Use space freed up near the floor for a shoe rack or storage bins.
2- Organize garments by category and separate with hanging labels; the more specific the categories the better. For example, subdivide your shirts into short- and long-sleeve, or casual and dressy. Bonus points: Organize by color within a category.
3- Keep shoes, purses, and jewelry in hanging organizers there are dozens on the market so you can see them alongside your clothes.
Strategy: Storage for Shoes
If you love shoes and deciding how to store them is your main closet woe, try these tips from John Trosko, a professional organizer and co-author of The Experts’ Guide to Doing Things Faster.
1- Slim shoes, such as flats and flip-flops, can be stored two to a cubby. Use spare slots for belts, scarves, and clutches.
2- Drawers give the closet a polished, built-in look, plus handy closet door storage for folded clothes. Bulky items like sweaters and purses can go on the open shelves.
3- Eke out another sliver of storage by putting a shallow basket on the shelf below the top row of hanging clothes. Use it for things that fold up small, such as tights, T’s, or socks
Planning: Clean Up & Clear Out
Plan a closet makeover by measuring your current closet to determine hanging requirements and storage needs. Next, you'll need to clear everything out of the closet so the new system can be installed. This is a good time to go through items you can no longer use and donate them to charity.
Planning: Shelf It
You might think the more shelves, the better but this is not always true. The shelves themselves take up inches of precious storage space, and too many of them can make it difficult to stack or remove items. It's best to design shelves that will fit the various items you have to store.
Planning: Shoe Solution
If shoes flood your closet floor, develop a smart strategy for storing them. Keep the shoes you wear all the time accessible on shelves if you have room. Store seasonal and special occasion shoes in easy to see clear plastic boxes on the top shelf of your closet. Or simply reuse the original box and attach a picture of the shoes to the front of the box.
Planning: Space Management
If your bedroom is small, consider placing your dresser inside the closet. You can install shelving above it and still maximize the vertical space a closet has to offer.
Planning: Closet for Two
Whether it's for kids or for a his-and-hers, a shared closet works best when territories are clearly defined. Place a tower of drawers in the middle of a reach in closet, which will give each closet occupant their own side of the closet. Assign drawers to each person to achieve shared closet bliss.
Features: Closet Cubbies
Organize your own closet or a child's with a combination of double-hanging rods, drawers, and shelves. Drawers corral small items such as socks while cubbies hold folded items. Upper shelves can store out of season shoes and clothing in clear bins with lids.
Features: Slanted Shoe Rack
Storing shoes on slanted shelves makes it easier to see the shelf contents. Before installing slanted shelves, consider how many pairs of shoes you need to store and about what size they are. Ankle boots will need more height than flats. You might want to space the shelves differently, or decide on a set spacing based on the height of your tallest shoes. If you have a lot of tall boots, consider storing them elsewhere, such as beneath a hanging rod. Look for inserts that will help boot shafts stay upright at organizational stores.
Features: Built-In Drawers
Consider built-in drawers for storing sweaters, undergarments, and accessories. Shorter drawers might only store a stack of four T-shirts or two sweaters, which is beneficial because you don’t have to dig through a large stack to find what you’re looking for, but a series of shorter drawers might not offer the same amount of storage space as larger, taller drawers. When you have more drawers, it means you need to have more space for the tracks and other drawer hardware.
Whether your closet is big or small, good lighting will make it even more functional. Look for ceiling-mount lighting that doesn’t need to be hardwired as a quick update for a reach-in closet. Lamps can be used in a walk-in closet for extra illumination, which is beneficial for dressing areas. If your walk-in closet has a window, install a light-blocking window covering. That way, you can keep out the natural light when you’re not using the closet. Constant sunlight might cause some clothing to fade.
Features: Double Bars for Kids
For a narrow and short space, stair-step rods for kids’ clothing storage. Since their clothing is short and slender, you can hang one rod higher and further back in the closet and another bar lower and more towards the front to get a double layer of storage. Consider tension shower rods, which can be installed without making holes in the wall and are easier to change as the child gets older.
Features: Double Bars for Adults
Using double closet rods one over the other is the best way to squeeze more storage space out of a closet. Be sure to measure the length of each item you'll be hanging there and allow another 6 inches of clearance above and below each rod. Blouses, shirts, skirts, jackets, and kids' clothes will all fit on double rods.