Going back in the Closet: 3 Steps to Organizing your Stuff

I am in the throes of closet makeovers for three clients.  Some require a professional organizer, others are less complicated, but all require considering function first.  In total, there are two office supply closets, three adult closets, one hall closet, a toy storage closet and two children’s closets.  I am keeping busy.

So let’s talk about the three steps to organizing your storage!

1. Closet Objective

First and foremost, determine your closet objective.  Meaning, what do you plan to use the closet for?  Is it for office supplies, linens, children’s clothing, boots and coats?

Is the closet in the right spot for that need?  You may wonder why I mention this, but one of my clients wanted the closet furthest from the front door to be the coat closet and the closet off the main hall to be the children’s toy storage.  I switched them, because the furthest closet is closest to the family room area and where their children will be playing with their toys.  The closet on the main hall is en route to the powder room and my client’s office – ideal.

Will you be storing both seasons of clothes in the closet or have out of season storage in another closet or the dry cleaner’s?

Who is going to use the closet and how tall are they?  This is especially important for children – don’t you want your children to reach their own clothes in the morning?

2. Space Needs

Now that you have determined the who and the what, you need to assess how much of what you have.

Ladies This means getting a rough estimate in inches of width of all of your long hanging: long skirts, dresses, coats vs. short hanging: blouses, slacks, skirts.  Then determine how much space you need for folded items: sweaters, casual t-shirts, workout clothes, etc.  Finally, the fun part!  Count how many pairs of shoes you have.  Ok ladies, let’s not underestimate – we all know you have a lot of shoes…  Make a note of how many of these are tall winter boots.  Take into account thick hangers if you prefer them.  I like to hang my “work” sweaters on these.

Gents You need to determine your number of suits, dress shirts and slacks – a rough estimate in inches will work.  Then you will need to calculate your folded needs: t-shirts, sweaters, workout clothes etc.  I don’t know about most gents, but mine has a lot of shoes!  So count them gentleman.  Take into account, how many are work boots.  Do you want to keep those in your main closet or in a separate space like the mud room or garage?

Children Parents, first you will need to take into consideration the age of your child.  If your children are very young, I recommend low hanging and some bins for toys/socks/shoes etc…  Have some long hanging available for the future teenage years.  Many closet systems are set up so that you can take out some shelves and reconfigure fairly easily as junior grows up.  Get a rough estimate of hanging vs. folded.  Also, take into account typical number of shoes: dress shoes, school shoes, sneakers and flip-flops are the norm in my five year old daughter’s world.

Linens, Pantry, Office Supplies Have more than one height of shelving if possible.  It never hurts to measure what is going in the closet.  For example, how wide are your towels when they are folded?  What height is your tallest bottle of olive oil?  How tall is your largest magazine rack?

3. Closet Design Rules of Thumb

This is my favorite part!

Man's Walk-in Closet

For this Man’s Walk-In Closet, I provided plenty of hanging for suits, shirts and slacks and just enough space for shoes.  My husband would need twice as much space for his shoes – many of them boots.  As a landscape architect, he is frequently measuring outside and needs work shoes that can go from office to mud.  This gentleman only has three pairs of shoes, so we may eliminate the shoe shelves entirely.  His wife joked that her extras could fit there.  Note how there are lots of shelves for sweaters and gym clothes.  They did not want drawers as they have a large dresser, but as you can see in the first photo, drawers are an option in closets.

Plans are drawn from precise measurements of the space. This is so important.  I used easyclosets.com for all of my drawings.  Note that there are three walls and one wall is not as deep so only could accommodate shelves.  You need at least 22 inches of depth for hanging.  Allow 39″ in height for a typical man’s suit.

Woman's Walk-In-Closet

For a Woman’s Closet, I allow much more space for shoes (and this client loves shoes), lots of short hanging for blouses, skirts and slacks and I add long hanging for dresses.  36″ is a good rule of thumb for short hanging and 66-67″ for long hanging.  Remember to take into account shelf space for handbags and hanging space for belts, scarves and other accessories.

Small Teen's Closet

This Small Reach-In Closet was a design challenge. The teenage daughter in the family is not super tall, so I was able to reduce the height of the long hanging to about 53″ to allow for some shelf space.  Her mom said she doesn’t have any dresses, but Prom is not far away, Mom.  Sorry did I just freak you out?

Think I forgot her shoes?  I am putting a hanging rack on the back of the door.  I could not sacrifice hanging space in less than 36″.  She will have a bureau for her folded clothes, so did not need much shelf space.

Larger Reach-In Closet

This larger Reach-In Closet was much easier to configure.  Two girls share this space as well as a large dresser.  The youngest will have the low hanging to the left hand side and the older will have the medium hanging to the right.

All still seem overwhelming?  Interior Designers work with space planning and closet planning every day.  Please let me know if you need help with yours.  I’ll be in my closet, straightening out my sweaters.  LOL!

I love to hear from you.  Are your closets tidy and a dream come true or are you struggling to find that favorite blouse? Let me know!


3 Responses to “Going back in the Closet: 3 Steps to Organizing your Stuff”

  1. homes Says:

    Thanks for the tips! It will be really useful for me. My closet is always a mess. LOL

  2. Sarah Devaney-O'Neil Says:

    Excellent Post Catherine! Look forward to pics (hopefully you’ll post some) of your 3 projects when they are done!

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