Sunday, September 7, 2008

Three Ways to Make the Most of Your Closet Space

cat in basket in closet

You don't have to have a huge luxury closet to have one that works well, as long as the space is well-used. Here are three approaches you can take - after you've decluttered, so you're only storing the things worth saving.

1. Use closet accessories.

There's a wide range of products to help use closet space wisely. Most of these are available in many styles, from many sources; I'll show (and link to) just one example.

double hanging closet rod

Double hanging closet rods.

closet organizer that hangs from the rod

Organizers that hang from the closet rods.

orange closet organizer, hangs from rod, double hang rod built it

The KangaRoom Complete Closet - which sort of combines the two items mentioned above, and comes in four different colors.

overdoor shoe organizer pockets

Overdoor organizers, for shoes and more.

shoe rack

Shoe racks, cubbies and such that can use the floor space under a rod. Freestanding elfa drawer systems can be used this way, too. [photo from]

tweed shoe boxes with clear panel to see inside

Shoe boxes and other storage boxes, clear or otherwise, to go on the shelves (or nicely stacked on the floor). Baskets or buckets could also be used, but don't have the advantage of being stackable.

shelf dividers
Shelf dividers.

closet hook, being used to reach clothes on top rod

And for goodness sake, if you can't easily reach everything on the shelves, have a stepstool close at hand. A closet hook might be handy, too.

2. Get a do-it-yourself closet system.

elfa closet

Some of the major brands here are elfa (shown above), Rubbermaid Configurations and Schulte freedomRail. The stores selling these systems will usually provide design assistance. Both elfa and Rubbermaid got good ratings from Consumer Reports back in July 2006.

When doing the layout, consider how much space different types of clothes usually take.

3. Hire a custom closet design company.

There are a huge number of companies to choose from, both local independent companies and franchises of larger companies. Here are some points to consider.

Is the system adjustable? In general, avoid any system that isn’t; your needs may change over time.

Does the company provide only standard-size components, or will they make components to match your closet's exact dimensions?

What kind of warranty is offered?

How long has the company been in business under the same owner?

Are the installers employees or independent contractors?

Does the company take any steps to minimize the impact of its products and operations on the environment?

How thick are the melamine panels? Some sources suggest you are better off with 3/4 inch panels (with a span no greater than 36 inches).

For more suggested questions, see the advice from organizer Lorie Marrero.

Up next: Closet dividers for the clothes on the rods

Related posts:
6 options for storing your purses
A Personal Uniform Isn't For Everyone (for the shoe box photo)

[lead photo by Carmyarmyofme / Carmen]


Michele said...

Great post. We have an early 1950's house that was built as basic workforce housing, so it has limited closet space. I've maxed out the closets by using elfa. I used all the same color scheme in every space in the house so it is all interchangeable if I ever need to adjust. I priced Freedom Rail, and while it is a great product, my closets would have been a lot more expensive using it over elfa.

Lori Bruhns said...

I wanted to say I couldn't agree with you more about have a great closet that is inexpensive. I too love finding new closet organizing tools to make every inch count. I am addicted to purses & love the over the door purse organizer. It is a great item because you can customize the distance between the individual hooks. They can be purchased at your local BB&B or LNT for around $10. Thanks again for the great post.

Jeri Dansky said...

Michele, I'm glad to hear you've had such success with elfa. (For anyone wanting to pursue that, now's a good time; The Container Store is having its annual 25% off sale.)

Lori, please let me know if you find anything else especially helpful for the closets!