When my husband and I got married, and we moved into our new home - I gave up a closet the size of a small bedroom for this reasonably sized walk-in closet. Nonetheless, it was still an adjustment for me. Shortly after moving in, we had all the wire shelving replaced in our home (I can't stand that stuff!). I looked at closet systems, but decided on this custom approach. Custom actually ended up being a slightly cheaper alternative because it is primarily made out of plywood with some wood trim, and I painted everything myself. (Two coats of primer and two coats of paint - yikes! what was I thinking!?) In addition, I was able to create a design to give me exactly what I wanted.
Even if you are not open to doing a custom closet - I think the concepts I have incorporated here can be applied in a variety of ways. The design of my closet included elements such as shoe racks, an additional layer of shelving on the top of the closet, a chest of drawers and a jewelry cabinet built into the wall. In addition, I was sure to allocate an appropriate amount of long hanging space for my needs.
When the contractors came in, we had to empty all our closets in our home. I mean every closet - coat closet, pantry, master bedroom closets, linen closets, guest room closets. Every flat surface available in our home had stuff piled on it. It was a big mess for a week or so, but in the end it was all worth it in order to get rid of the wire shelving. The crown jewel was my new master bedroom closet. Here is what I did...
#1 SHOE RACKS - These small shoe rack shelves were a huge bonus. This is where I keep my go-to shoes with additional pairs on upper shelves that I don't need to get to as often. The nice thing about these shelves is they are adjustable. I think some sort of shoe storage is imperative in any closet.
The shelves above the chest of drawers ended up being perfect for sweaters and other items that are better folded than hung on a hanger. I like them on shelves, rather than in drawers, because it is easier to view what you have. Shelves for some folded items are essential in my opinion. You can find shelves made of canvas you can hang on a closet rod or even use a separate shelving unit placed in your closet.
|More Extra Shelving|
#3 STEP LADDER - How do I get to those high spaces in the closet? This handy little step ladder is light, folds up to almost nothing and stores easily. I found this one at Lowe's. I admit it would be nice to have everything in my closet at arm's reach, but if I have to use this little step ladder occasionally in order to utilize all the extra storage space up high - it is totally worth it.
|Stored Step Ladder|
#5 CHEST OF DRAWERS - I had this chest built into the closet when I had the entire closet redone. I like that I can keep smaller items in here and keep them easily organized. Even if you are not going the custom closet route - it's possible to just place a piece of furniture in your closet.
#6 HOOKS ON WALLS - These metal hooks purchased from Lowe's are an easy and inexpensive addition to any closet. I use these for hats and belts, and they make use of otherwise unusable space. I also have another hook on the wall above my jewelry cabinet; here I have a purse that does not fit on my other shelves and the hook assures it has a home in my closet.
#7 HOOKS FOR EXTRA HANGERS - Throughout the closet, there are additional metal hooks available. I find these useful to put together an outfit, to pack for a trip, or managing laundry that needs to be put away.
I love these hooks, I actually have some of these little babies hidden all over the house. Lowe's has them in either chrome or satin nickel finish. These are much better than plastic adhesive hooks because they an handle more weight and are much more durable. If you can install them on wood, that is your best option. If you have to install them on drywall and there is no stud in the location, you need to use drywall anchors.
#8 SCARVE STORAGE - I use the plastic shoe holders to hold my scarves. I have tried several types of scarf hangers and it drives me crazy when scarves always slip off - so I like this solution with the pockets the best. For scarves that have a tendency to wrinkle - I roll them up and place them in the pockets. Using this clear plastic version, makes it easy to see everything I have.
#9 BOOT HOLDERS - In the winter I line my tall boots up inside my closet and use these boot holders made from upholstery fabric with rolled up magazines inside. The holders keep the boots standing upright. In the warmer months, these boots are placed out of the way in the back corners of my closet behind the hanging clothes. See my post here on how to make these boot holders..
#10 FUN LIGHTING - Oh why not add a chandelier to your closet!? The lighting is better than the flush mount lights you typically find in a closet of this size. (I can recall I realized how dusty I noticed my shelves were after installing this because the original light was so dim). Not to mention it's just plain old fun. This miniature chandelier found at overstock.com makes me smile whenever I walk in my closet.
#11 CLEAR PLASTIC BINS - Any basket or bin is useful for storage, but I'm a fan of clear plastic bins so you can see their contents. I label mine with simple white pieces of paper taped inside. I like this option because you can easily change the label. If you get all the same type of bins, they stack easily and therefore they are easier to keep organized.
#12 LAUNDRY HAMPER - I have a hamper in my closet. If you have the space - keeping it in the closet is a nice option and it keeps the clutter our of your bedroom. For the longest time I used just a simple plastic laundry basket. Once I finally got a real laundry hamper - I thought to myself - why did it take me so long?!
#13 HANGERS - In my opinion, even an organized closet will look less so if your hangers are not consistent. My favorite hangers are the plastic tubular hangers from The Container Store. They hold up better than other brands of plastic hangers. I know the "huggable" hangers have become popular, but I'm still sticking with plastic. The advantage is I can hang dry slightly damp clothes on these and then move them right into the closet (I wouldn't do this with the velvety texture on the huggable ones). A disadvantage for the plastic hangers is some clothing might tend to slide off easier, but most of the time I don't have issues with that. Most of the hangers in my closet are this type of hanger.
For skirts I prefer to use these types of hangers that can accommodate hanging multiple items in a single hanging spot - this is perfect for shorter knee length skirts to maximize space. I bought all of these skirt hangers ages ago at Target, but I think you can easily find something similar at Target or elsewhere.
I use the clear plastic retail hangers for tank tops and spaghetti strap items that can slip off the plastic hangers. They are not all exactly alike, but they are similar enough from my perspective to maintain a consistent look. The best part is that they were all "free" (leftover from clothing purchases where I got to keep the hanger).
#14 DONATE - Yes, this is a closet organization tip. Occasionally sweep through your closet to identify items you are no longer wearing. It's really silly to organize a bunch of stuff you don't want or need. Here are the rules I try to follow.
- If it does not fit - it needs to go
- If you have some similar items, and always go for one of them - get rid of the other(s).
- If you can't remember the last time you wore it - it needs to go.
- If it is worn out, stained or torn beyond repair - it needs to go.
- For items you can't decide on - ask yourself "If I saw this in the store tomorrow, would I buy it again?"
Even though I am no longer traveling - having my closet organized continues to make daily living easier. It's easy to get ready in the morning as everything I have is in clear view and easily accessible. It's a breeze to put laundry away because everything has a designated spot in my closet. My closet definitely a place I am happy to be in. The way I see it - since I have invested so much on clothing and accessories - why would I want my closet to be a disaster area?