First, pare it down.
Start by going through all of your clothing, shoes, and accessories and deciding what to keep, donate, toss, repair, and store elsewhere. (Did you know that donating 1 suit, 1 sweater, and 3 pairs of jeans = 1 hour of on-the-job training for someone in your community? Locate your nearest Goodwill® donation center and calculate your own donations' impact at donate.goodwill.org.)
Next, assess what you have.
Regardless of the level of closet renovation you choose, you'll need to know the following:
- Count your pairs of shoes, noting any tall boots that may not fit on a normal shelf.
- Count your handbags.
- Measure the linear feet of short-hanging rod space for clothing you need to store.
- Measure the linear feet of long-hanging rod space for clothing you need to store.
- Measure or estimate the linear feet of shelving you require for folded sweaters or jeans.
- Determine your ideal number of drawers for underwear, socks, pajamas, and t-shirts.
- Make note of other accessories like jewelry, belts, and scarves that you might like to include in your planning.
Related: Finding Hidden Storage
Compare this to what you have available. Where are you coming up short? Could you move some off-season things into another closet? Are your pared-down needs still going to be unrealistic for the space you have?
Level 1: The Quick Fix
At this point, you may find that your closet needs only a little tweaking. Here are a few adjustments to try:
- Modular inserts can add levels of shelving. These laminate components are sold at discount stores such as Target or Bed Bath & Beyond, and you can quickly assemble them using only a screwdriver. There are long, stackable "shoe shelves," as well as vertical shelves and cubes that can take full advantage of wasted space.
- Use the back of the door (and the front, if you can!). There is a large selection of "overdoor" products that install easily, often without tools.
- Install a lower clothing rod for additional short-hanging space. Many closets are limited to the standard builders' "1R1S" (one rod, one shelf), and people typically have much more short-hanging clothing than long.
Related: Home Office Organizing: Where Do You Start?
Level 2: Do-It-Yourself Renovation
This next level involves some heavier DIY skills, but is still extremely affordable and realistic for most people. Bring your assessments and measurements of the closet itself into a store location where they sell do-it-yourself systems. Target, Lowes, Home Depot, and the Container Store are great places to start, with systems like ClosetMaid, Elfa, and Rubbermaid as choices. Use their design tools online and in-store assistance to design your own closet and install the components yourself in a weekend. Buy adjustable systems instead of fixed shelves, so the closet can change with your needs.
Level 3: Get Professional Help
If your closet seems impossible, get free estimates from two or three professional closet companies. After a first visit of measuring, plan to have all decision-makers present for the next meeting to make a quick judgment on the designs they present; it will take several weeks, typically, to cut the parts for your design and schedule the installers. You can spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand - just like buying a car, the money adds up in the "upgrades," such as drawer glides and belt racks. Best strategy? Ask LOTS of questions!
Related: What's Happening in Your Bedroom?
What level of intervention does your closet need? Share in the comments!
- By Lorie Marrero
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