Follow these tips and tricks and never waste time searching for a scarf again.
closet organization

Deal with common closet conundrums – awkward space, overflowing accessories, messiness, etc. – with the help of the steps, solutions, and tips below. 

Steps to an Organized Closet

1. Start with a clean-out

Pick a day to sort through everything in your closet. Put clothes, shoes, and accessories that are no longer in style or no longer fit in a giveaway box (discard items damaged beyond repair). What remains should be the wardrobe you actually use.

2. Keep only what belongs

What's in your bedroom closet besides clothes? If possible, find homes for suitcases, vacuum cleaners, sports equipment, and so on in an attic, basement, utility room, or other spot. Store coats in a hall closet or on hooks in the mudroom or entryway.

[READ: How to Care For Your Handbags]

3. Count your clothes

Make a list of what you have, and estimate how much space each piece occupies so you'll know how to configure your closet -- how much space you'll need for long hanging (single-rod) items, short hanging (double-rod) items, and shelf items, such as shoes, accessories, and folded clothing. Slim, good-quality hangers also make a closet neat and take up less space.

To estimate how much closet space your family's clothes occupy, use these guidelines, provided by the National Closet Group.

[LEARN: The Best Way to Care For Your Jeans]

4. Be flexible

Keep in mind that your wardrobe will change with the seasons and over time. Don't plan for a closet that only fits the things you own now -- you'll want to have some wiggle room.

5. Make a wish list

What features would your dream closet have? Pull-out shelves? Hidden storage? Mirrored doors? Great light? These things aren't unattainable luxuries; they are practical additions, and will go a long way toward making your daily routine easier and more pleasant. You can add some of these details yourself using store-bought components; for larger projects and built-in features, you'll need to hire a professional.

[LEARN: The Right Way to Wash Cashmere at Home]

Closet Fixes


How to do it

Part 1

Step 1

Vertical Space: The backs of doors are handy spots often overlooked. Two of the solid-core doors support valet hooks. We hung a mirror on the third. The mirror and artwork, in matching frames, have Velcro dots on the backs to secure them as doors are opened and closed.

Step 2

How Illuminating: Recessed ceiling lights go on when the doors open, activated by a switch on the doorjamb. (Have an electrician install lights, as states have specific safety regulations.)

Step 3

Shelving It: Labels on the shelves ensure that purses, sweaters, and so on go in their proper spots. On a lower shelf, a basket organizes evening bags. A pull-out accessories tray is located near the mirror -- convenient for putting on jewelry. Drawers can hold lingerie, or keep seldom-used bags dust-free.

Step 4

The Shoe Fits: This 32-inch-deep closet is great for shoes; roomy shelves on one side hold them two pairs deep, with space in front for boots and the highest heels.

Step 5

Boxed In: Bright canvas storage boxes, on shelves and beneath hanging clothes, offer a neat way to hide out-of-season shoes and clothing.

Step 6

It's a common problem: Hanging space is sufficient, but there's no room for shoes, belts, handbags, and folded clothes. We solved it by using an inexpensive armoire -- painted and fit with contemporary hardware -- instead of a dresser to complement the closet. We added closet-system shelves and a drawer unit, which vary widely in price, depending on the components.

Step 7

Adjustable fit: We purchased closet-system shelving with walnut trim from an organizing store. The shelves, custom cut to the width of the armoire, are attached to hanging tracks, and can be moved up or down as needed. The top shelf houses handbags; shelf dividers attached to the second level keep stacks of tops and sweaters from tumbling down (they're arranged by color so you can quickly find what you want).

Step 8

Top Drawer: A 15-by-15-inch, three-drawer cube matches the shelving and is ideal for stashing scarves, jewelry, and other small items.

Step 9

Hanging Together: Add a row of hooks along the top of each door so belts remain within view. Hooks are also great for holding accessories as you put your outfit together.

Step 10

See Through: Two rows of stackable, open-ended plastic shoe boxes keep footwear organized but visible; out-of-season or infrequently worn pairs go in clear, lidded plastic boxes below -- also easy to identify but away from the everyday pairs.

Step 11

Deeper Shelves: We had plywood shelves cut to order for a bookcase from an unfinished-furniture store, extending them from the front -- 3 inches for sweaters; 6 inches for shoes. The white-painted unit anchors hanging rods.

Step 12

The Shoe Fits: This 32-inch-deep closet is great for shoes; roomy shelves on one side hold them two pairs deep, with space in front for boots and the highest heels.

Step 13

Fold it right: A pull-out plywood shelf for folding clothes was attached beneath another shelf with under-mount glides (from a hardware store). A folding board is a great tool for achieving even stacks of clothes. An 8 1/2-inch-by-11-inch cutting board makes it easy work.

Step 14

Found Space: To ensure that no space was wasted, we installed a shelf just above the lower hanging rod to hold trays for scarves and gloves.

Step 15

Inside Story: One door was fitted with a bulletin board of fabric-covered Homasote fiberboard; the other door has a mirror. Both are suspended by industrial Velcro fasteners, which are strong enough to support 100 pounds on their own. A lint remover hangs from the doorknob.

Step 16

Dividing Line: Wooden shelf brackets, painted white and turned upside down, serve as sweater dividers.

Step 17

High and Low: The floor-level space and top shelf hold canvas boxes and bins for out-of-season clothing; labeled, painted video boxes, contain out-of-season shoes. Totes and handbags are in sight but out of the way on the high shelf.


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