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Golden Rules of Closet Efficiency

Get the look with a Martha Stewart Living Closet System.

1. Double up on rods. Two or even three short rods installed one above the other, rather than one high one, will maximize hanging space in one area of the closet for short items like shirts, skirts, and folded trousers. Reserve another area for storage of longer items such as coats and dresses.

2. Opt for adjustable shelves rather than fixed ones. They will allow you to change the arrangement of the closet as your storage needs evolve.

3. Utilize floor space -- install shelves or cubbies at the base of a closet and you'll never have to rifle through items strewn across the floor.

4. Use every square inch. Examine the closet closely for potential storage: If the ceiling is high, install shelves above the rods to store items you don't use every day, such as hats, gloves, and other off-season clothing. Walls and the backs of closet doors are also handy spots often overlooked; they can support hooks, Peg-Board (to which you can secure any number of hooks), mirrors, and even built-in bulletin boards and display areas for messages, photos, and other mementos.

5. Keep small items in containers. Corralling like things together in bins, baskets, or boxes is a sure way to minimize chaos.

6. Consider convenience. Heavy items should be stored below waist level; rarely used items, on high shelves. Stash a step stool inside the closet, especially if there are high shelves. A foldaway model will take up little space. Make sure the legs are secure and, if the stool is metal, that there are rubber feet to keep it from sliding.

7. Illuminate the space. If a closet is dark, it will be difficult to locate what you need (as well as to get rid of the things you don't). Consider battery-operated lighting if your closet has no power source. Better yet, have an electrician install recessed ceiling lights that turn on automatically when the door is opened. An incandescent light can also help prevent mildew.

8. Reassess regularly. To keep your closets functioning optimally, reexamine them every six months. If the types of items you're storing have changed, rearrange the shelves, rods, and bins.

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