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Working With Sloped Ceilings in the Closet

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Working With Sloped Ceilings in Your Closet

Closet Design Tips for Slanted and Angled Ceilings

Some closet spaces are more challenging than others. The bonus room over the garage, a converted attic, the cupboard under the stairs and other traditionally underutilized spaces are favorite areas to squeeze in a new closet in homes that lack existing storage. The problem with these spaces is that they often have angled or sloped ceilings and/or walls that make them difficult to work with. DIY store bought closet organizers usually won't fit the space without substantial modification using a table saw or miter saw. Many closet companies shy away from tackling closets with sloped ceilings. These spaces are not easy to work with. That is usually the main reason they have been left underutilized in the first place. The main difficulty with angled ceilings is that no two are the same. Stock solutions simply won't work. Rooms with sloped ceilings or slanted walls can be transformed into functional storage, however. Although it's never a one-size-fits-all situation, there are a few rules of thumb when working with a slanted ceiling closet.

Methods for Adding Storage to Sloped Ceiling Closets:

  1. 1. Stagger the Heights of Your Closet Organizers to Match the Slope of the Ceiling

    Although standard wall-to-wall span of closet organization usually won't fit without some adjustment and modification, you can stagger the heights of different sections. This will ensure that you maximize the storage potential of every available inch of the space, rather than just adding a bit of storage to the largest section of wall. As a rule of thumb, a closet rod for a hanging section of clothing can be as low as 40-1/2 inches from the floor (space from the bottom of the rod to the floor). This means you are looking for a minimum 42 inch wall height in order to install closet components — the height of the rod and brackets needs to be added to the 40-1/2 inches. This will be high enough so that most adult size shirts and shorter skirts can be hung without dragging on the floor. If the closet is for a child, you can probably go a bit lower.

    slanted ceiling closet
    Slanted ceiling closet with hanging and shelving sections at different heights to accommodate varying spaces.
    sloped ceiling pantry closet design
    Pantry under the stairs uses different heights of storage shelves, following the ceiling's slope.

    shelves for slanted ceiling closet
    Shelves and hanging rods for this slanted ceiling closet get higher as the ceiling gets higher.


  2. 2. Start Your Closet and Storage Sections Below the Angle

    Attic rooms with sloped ceilings often include a knee wall on two sides — A knee wall is a short wall, approximately three feet in height, used to support the rafters in timber roof construction. For those who have a relatively high knee wall (at least 42 inches), you can install closet sections with clothing rods and other storage against this wall. These small walls sometimes have an attic door built into them. If you have this situation, hanging areas are a good choice to use in front of the attic door because the rods will not block access to the door. If your wall is shorter than 42 inches in height, the space along the wall may be able to be used for shelving. Shoe shelves often work very well placed low to the floor. If you truly need hanging space along that short wall (less than 42 inch height), you will need to use one of the other methods described below to add your storage.

    sloped ceiling closet design
    Custom low storage is installed below the point where the sloped ceiling meets the knee wall in this attic closet. The lowest point is located below the window. It ends up being the perfect height to build a small closet desk.

    bedroom with sloped ceiling on three sides
    Custom low storage is arranged at different heights below the angled ceiling.


  3. 3. Allow More Depth to Your Closet Sections & Build Away from the Wall

    If your ceiling continues to slope on down until it is impossibly close to the floor with almost no vertical wall space at all, you may need to build your closet sections farther out. A standard reach-in closet section is 22-24 inches deep. This is enough to accommodate a standard 18 inch wide hanger, allowing enough room for it to move freely in the space. If the closet is any shallower than that, you will run into problems hanging your clothes. The depth of the closet where the hanger is positioned needs to allow for this 22-24 inch depth. That means the base/floor of your closet will be more than 24 inches from the bottom of the sloped ceiling/wall in order to accommodate the angle. Just how far depends on the steepness of your closet ceiling. Use the leftover space above the rod for shelves. There is no minimum depth for shelves.

    slanted ceiling closet
    Note how the closet structure is installed away from the bottom of the wall to ensure 24 inch minimum depth for the hanger.

    pull-out shelf with slides
    The hanging section of this slanted ceiling closet is arranged low so that it allows for 24 inches depth. Doors were installed over some of the shelving sections to provide a high end cabinet look.


  4. 4. Hang Closet Rods From a Cleat Attached to the Ceiling

    Special brackets which can be mounted directly to the ceiling are a simpler and less expensive way to add closet storage for spaces with sloped ceilings. Available for use with oval closet rods, use this method when you need hanging space, but the height of the wall doesn't allow for the installation of traditional closet storage components. A bracket should be used every 36 inches to support the rod. This approach will work very well for most attic rooms with sloped ceilings. There are a few slanted ceilings that are too steep to let the hanger swing freely when the rod is mounted in this way — but if you can manage it for your space, you will be rewarded with a lot of extra closet storage for a fraction of the cost of the other methods.

    cleat with bracket and clothes for slanted ceiling closet
    Closet rod hung from a cleat attached directly to the sloped ceiling of the closet.

    sloped ceiling clothes bracket
    Bracket

Attic rooms and other spaces with sloped ceilings are more difficult to work with than standard closets. Frequently, however, they are often the only available places to add needed storage in a home. These sloped ceiling spaces can be made into functional storage when the right techniques are applied. If you need help, there are professional closet designers willing to take on the challenge of sloped ceiling closet design. Some will even even welcome the challenge of solving storage problems related to your problem spaces.