The Pros' Secrets to Optimal Closet Design & Functionality:
According to researchers at UCLA,
For more than 40,000 years, intellectually modern humans have peopled the planet, but never before has any society accumulated so many personal possessions. If you take a good hard look at your own home or closet, this probably doesn't surprise you. It is difficult to avoid having a lot of possessions cluttering our lives and many people may not even want to avoid it. It can be nice to own many things that reflect our various interests, however, no one really wants to become a messy horder. In order to keep our homes chaos free, we must maintain orderly storage options that can handle all of our "stuff." In most instances, that will be the closet. Rooms rarely come with pre-optimized closet storage. The typical set-up is a rod that goes all the way across the closet with a single shelf above. A lot of space is wasted with an arrangement like this.
Different room configurations and circumstances will dictate varying closet layouts, however, there are several universal truths in closet organization used by the pros. Whether your closet is large or small, the following tenets are key to obtaining optimal storage in your space:
- Start by removing the existing rod and shelf layout in your closet and put a fresh coat of paint on the walls.. To optimize the space, you will need to install new rods, shelves and closet organizers at different heights than the standard arrangement that came with the closet. Now is the best time to spackle all the holes and paint the inside of the closet before you begin the new closet design.
- Optimize vertical storage by building up. It seems like a simple idea, yet many people neglect to utilize any space above the six foot mark in their closets. (Out-of-sight, out-of-mind). The optimal closet height will depend on how high your ceilings are, but an average room will require a closet that is 84" high for a suspended installation or 88" high for a floor based installation due to the additional 4" toe kick. Double hang sections, where two rods are installed one above the other with enough space between them to accommodate the owner's shorter length garments, are the best way to go because they hold twice as many shirts and skirts as a single rod. Exact measurements may need to be modified slightly to suit the height and length of clothing for the individual homeowner, but the following are general guidelines for installing closet rods. To have an effective double hang section, the top rod should be hung at 81-1/4" and the lower rod at 39-1/4" from the bottom of the system. The bottom will either be the floor in a suspended system, or the top of the toe kick in a floor based system. Medium length clothing (dresses, trousers, jackets, suits) should be hung on a rod installed at 54 inches from the bottom with shelving or cabinets above it. Evening gowns will still need to be hung in a separate long hang section with a rod located 66" from the bottom, but only a couple of linear (horizontal) feet of long hang should be adequate. Most people simply don't have that many evening gowns.
- Leave substantial space between the top shelf and the ceiling. Unless your ideal closet includes design elements like crown moulding, don't build all the way to the ceiling. If you have any bulkier items like a boxed wedding dress, luggage or bulky seasonal blankets and comforters that need to be stored in the closet, the top of a closet system will function as a full width shelf for storing these larger items. It becomes unencumbered, usable space all the way across the closet and will hold items that the other shelves cannot handle.
Closet tips on using the space next to the ceiling
- For larger walk-ins, consider a closet penninsula rather than a center island. A closet island sits in the middle of the room, with at least 3 feet of empty floor space on all sides. It offers drawers or shelves below the countertop and a place for accessories on the top, but commands a lot of floor space in exchange for that storage. A closet penninsula, on the other hand, juts out from the wall and can be built up with additional rods, shelves and cabinets to match the height of the rest of the system, taking advantage of more vertical real estate for storage. Most closets will receive greater maximization of space with the penninsula rather than an island. The penninsula can also serve to divide the space between his and hers sections, or casual versus formal clothing.
Tips on selecting a closet penninsula versus an island
- Small closet but large bedroom? — Go with a supplemental wardrobe unit or armoire outside the closet. If space is limited, put the hanging in the closet proper and accommodate all of the shoes, all of the drawers, and everything that doesn't require a lot of depth in a wardrobe style armoire in the bedroom. It will take care of all folded clothing needs, shoes storage, all drawers, plus it only requires 14"-16" of floor space in the bedroom. Your hanging takes up 22"-24" of space and is best left within the closet proper. An arrangement like this will allow much more space inside the closet for the critical hanging space, allowing you to store many more clothes than you otherwise might have been able to keep in this area — a boon to those who love fashion but don't like to have to switch out their clothing from the closet every time the season changes.
- Use closet organizer accessories to add functionality and convenience. Organizers and accessories geared specifically for closet storage create an order to your belongings, making everything easier to access. There are many different organizers on the market at all different price points. The most common types of closet organizer accessories and their benefits are listed below.
TYPES OF CLOSET ORGANIZER ACCESSORIES:
- Storage boxes: Storage boxes are a good solution when you want to force two or more items to stay together, ensuring they won't be unintentionally separated within the larger closet in the closet. They are also convenient for organizing small items that might otherwise get lost, and for keeping dust off infrequently used shoes or folded clothing.
- Shelf dividers: Keep your shelves orderly with closet shelf dividers. Shelf dividers will maintain straight and orderly stackes of folded clothing on shelves. They are also a good way to keep items, like handbags that tend to flop over, neat and straight.
- Pull-outs and telescoping closet accessories: This is a large category of closet organizers and includes everything from pull-out baskets, shelves and mirrors to telescoping valet poles, tie organizers and belt racks. These types of organizers allow items to be stored away in a small, tight section of the closet, but be pulled forward when needed for increased convenience and visibility. The end result is that you have more accessible storage in your closet.
- Drawers and drawer organizers: Drawers are good for storing folded clothing and smaller items like lingerie, jewelry, accessories and more. They are more expensive overall than storage boxes, but in many ways they serve a similar function and purpose with greater convenience due to their pull-out nature. Whether they are implemented inside or outside the closet, most drawers can benefit from some type of drawer organizer. Drawer organizers include both dividers — which separate different areas of the drawer into smaller compartments (jewelry organizers are a special type of drawer divider) — and liners, which provide everything from insect control (cedar liners) to preventing contents from rolling around (velvet liners).
- Hooks: Hooks are a major convience in any closet. It's much quicker to place something on a hook than take the time to hang it. Often overlooked is the hooks potential to increase overall storage. Hooks can be used on the back of a door or other tight space where other racks won't fit. Although small, they can hold a lot and are available in many sizes. Single and multihook versions are available as well.
- Pull down closet rods: Many people have a lot of medium length garments — dresses, suits, trousers and jackets. The amount of hanging space for this length clothing can be doubled if you arrange your medium hang rods into a double hang configuration. The issue with this is that most people will be unable to access clothing hung on the top rod without a step ladder. This is inconvenient if the clothing is worn frequently. The solution is to use pull down closet rods. Available in either manual or electric models, pull down rods will temporarily lower the closet rod to a convenient height, and raise it back up again when you are done selecting your garment.
- Built-in hampers: Built-in hampers are nice because they hide away the dirty clothes until wash day. Integrating the hamper into the closet system not only looks better, but frees up floor space that would otherwise be occupied by a laundry basket or stand alone hamper unit. They are available with or without detachable liners that can be used as a laundry bag to carry dirty clothes to the washing mashing.
- Built-in ironing boards: A built-in ironing board is a convenience rather than a necessity. It allows the owner to quickly and easily take care of wrinkles where the clothes are stored, rather than taking the time to set up and take down a separate ironing board stored elsewhere. Although a luxury, we could all use a bit of pampering every once in a while.
- Shoe organizers: There are many types of shoe organizers. Options include everything from little shoe cubbies, shoe racks that may or may not be built into the closet, shoe fences designed to work with shoe shelves, over the door shoe storage where shoes are kept in cloth or plastic pockets, to the ultimate in shoe storage — the 360 Organizer® Shoe Spinner which is a rotating storage unit that holds between 85 and 200 pairs of shoes. All of the options organize your footwear so that matching pairs stay together and are easy to find. Each of the different types will hold a different number of shoes. Having a shoe organizer also makes putting away your shoes at the end of the day easier, ensuring that they end up being kept in the closet where they belong, rather than just kicked under the bed. The best type of shoe organizer for your needs will depend on how many shoes you own in addition to the style and type of shoe.
- Add LED closet lighting to help you find everything in a hurry. Custom closet lighting has taken the entire closet organization industry by storm in recent years. The new LED lighting options are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and in most cases, do not require the services of an electrician. In many cases, the work can be completed by a handy homeoner. Control use battery powered remotes so there are no switcheds to install. Custom lighting adds a level of drama & elegance to your closet, causing it to truly stand out — while simultaneously being friendly on the budget. There are various types of LED lighting products and most are known to work well for accent lighting, in-cabinet lighting or shelf lighting. Color temperature options from Warm to Cool are available to seamlessly integrate with many closet cabinetry colors. The LED products options continue to grow and thus provide homeowners with more options of adding light to areas that could not be achieved before. Today's closet LED lighting goes much further than what was available just a few years ago, with options including linear strip lighting, puck/task lighting and above cabinet lighting to name just some of the types available. It adds both functionality and beauty at very little cost and is beneficial for every type of closet.
Closet Works is Chicagolands' largest and most experienced provider of custom storage solutions. Since 1987, we have been helping homeowners by creating custom closets, pantries, bookcases and more to help create a better, less stressful lifestyle. Great ideas to "Organize Your Life" and examples of our closets and other custom organization systems can be found throughout our website. For more information on Closet Works call toll-free at 800-4-CLOSET (800-425-6738).