Reach-In Closet Ideas that Transform a Standard Wall Closet
11 Ways to Increase Style & Functionality of a Simple Reach-In Closet
What is a reach-in closet?
A reach-in closet is a type of wall closet, meaning it is built into the wall. Unlike the larger, more opulent walk-in closet, a reach-in is only about 24 inches deep. This depth allows for a closet rod to be hung parallel to the closet opening and for standard adult-size clothes hangers to swing freely on that rod. Unlike a walk-in closet which is basically a small room and can have storage on four walls, storage for a reach-in closet will be mainly arranged along the back wall. Most homes built within the last century come with several reach-in closets located throughout the home. In the real estate business, the reach-in closet is generally considered to be a “standard” closet, whereas a walk-in is featured as an upgrade.
Although a reach-in closet is the “standard,” it can be outfitted with luxurious features and closet organizers that elevate its function to the level of a walk-in. This means it does not have to remain the way the builder left it — usually with a single rod and wire shelf. A reach in closet can be lavishly appointed. Built-in drawers, cabinets, hampers, sliding racks, multiple shelves, hooks and rods can increase the appearance and storage capacity of this type of closet to the point where you may not even what to cover it with a door.
Ideas and Customizations for Your Reach-In Wall Closet:
Double Hang Rods: Installing your clothes rods one over the other will instantly double the amount of hanging space you have. With the exception of long evening gowns and trench coats, most clothing doesn't require the full height of the closet. Why not put all the wasted space underneath your shirts and folded pants to work with a second rod? Install the double rods at 42 inches and 84 inches from the floor. The shelf above the lower rod can be used for shoes or other small accessories.
Drawers: Closet drawers will expand the functionality of your reach-in closet and allow for the storage of small accessories and underwear inside the closet. This is both a practical and economical choice well worth the upfront cost of the drawers because it can replace the need for other furniture in the bedroom. The drawers can even have specialty inserts for delicate lingerie or jewelry, furthering pampering the owner with both luxurious touches and greater functionality.
Cabinets: Nothing adds elegance to a reach-in closet like glass cabinet doors. Having cabinet doors over your closet shelving elevates the entire closet to the level of furniture. Shelving can be covered with a door to screen the contents and present a neater, more polished appearance. Any type of cabinet door will work, but glass doors work especially well if you also intend to install a closet lighting system, since the light will glow gracefully behind the glass. If you are worried about covering a mess with the doors, use frosted glass in the panes instead of clear glass.
Closet Lighting: Ditch the overhead lightbulb with the pull chain. Once you try a LED closet lighting system for your reach-in closet, you'll never go back. These are low voltage lighting systems that run off a transformer do not require the services of an electrician. Switches are in the form of a remote control like the one for your TV. Anyone who is handy with tools can install this type of lighting. Tape or puck lights are installed underneath shelves to illuminate the clothing below. In the case of shoe shelves, they may be installed along the vertical closet panels instead. This will cast even light with few shadows. It is much more effective than a single light bulb suspended from the ceiling. A lighting system like this is especially helpful if you have many dark clothes or shoes in similar colors. It can shed light on that collection of suits or dresses, making sure that you select the charcoal gray suit you wanted, and not the black or navy one by mistake.
Color: Try adding a punch of your favorite color to your closet with a brightly painted accent wall at the back of your closet, or wallpaper with a bold pattern. This is an inexpensive customization mainly requiring your time rather than money. It works best if your closet organization system — the drawers, shelves and hanging areas — are white in color. If you decide to try this, make sure you paint or paper before your closet organizers are installed, as it will be much easier than doing it later. Don't be shy or reserved when selecting your color or pattern. Much of it will be obscured when you hang your clothing. Bright colors and simple bold wallpaper patterns work best in reach-in closets.
Built-In Hampers: Built-in hampers are consistently listed by custom closet customers as one of their favorite organization features. Many hem and haw over the prospect of a built-in hamper, adding this accessory only at the urging of their designer, but are surprised to find how much they love this option after they get one. It's one of those things that you may not think you need at first, but after you've had one it becomes one of those things that you cannot live without.
Shelves: It is my humble opinion that no one can ever have enough shelves. They are great for storing folded knits like sweaters and t-shirts, handbags, shoes and just about anything that doesn't need to hang. How many you will need depends on your particular wardrobe. Some people find it necessary to devote an entire reach-in closet to shelves and shoe storage. For others, 3-4 shelves above a hanging rod will suffice. No one, however, finds that the single wire shelf that comes with most standard reach-in closets is sufficient. If in doubt, add more shelves. You will always find a use for them.
Shoe Storage: There are several efficient ways to tackle shoe storage, not the least of which is shelves as shown in the picture above. The best solution will depend on what else you need to store in the space and how many shoes you have. Shoe cubbies (shelves with vertical risers to create cubes), shoe racks, and slanted shoe shelves with fences are also used for footwear storage. Any of these solutions will be better than a disorganized pile of shoes at the bottom of your closet.
The slanted shoe shelves are basically the same as regular shelves, except that they are installed with the back of the shelf slightly higher than the front. They are used in situations where the shoe shelves will be above eye level. The slant keeps the shoes visible from below, while the shoe fence along the front lip of the shelf keeps the shoes from sliding off the shelf. Of the three options mentioned here, they will hold the greatest number of shoes per linear foot. Allow nine to ten inches per pair for men's shoes and seven-eight inches for each pair of women's shoes. A standard 18-inch-wide x 14-inch-deep closet shelf will hold two pairs of shoes for either a man or a woman. The 24-inch-wide shelf will hold three pairs of women's shoes or two pairs of men's shoes plus one solo men's shoe (not recommended). You might also get one pair of men's shoes and two pairs of women's shoes on a 24-inch shelf depending on shoe size. A standard 30-inch-wide shelving section will comfortably accommodate three pairs of men's shoes or four pairs of women's shoes. A 36-inch shelf holds four pairs of men's shoes and five women's shoes. We don't recommend shelving sections wider than 36-inches without a vertical support between the spans, because the shelves will bow.
Shoe cubbies are basically shelves with a vertical support between every pair of shoes. This keeps the pairs of shoes separate from one another, so they don't touch, but reduces the number of shoes per linear foot, because the vertical dividers require about 3/4-inches for each divider.
Pull-out sliding shoe racks are also very convenient, but only hold 6 to 15 pairs of shoes depending on the rack.
Pull-Out Racks: Belts, ties, scarves and even slacks can slide forward when you need them and retract when not in use. Sometimes, it's the little touches like this that make all the difference in creating an environment where you feel pampered and spoiled. Indulge yourself with pull-out racks for your closet. Not only is it a great way to organize wardrobe essentials without taking up a lot of space in the closet, they add an element of convenience and luxury to the space that makes getting dressed just a little more pleasurable than without them.
Valet Pole: A simple, yet effective way of staging your clothes for the next day. This inexpensive closet accessory is a must have. If you are in a rush to get ready in the mornings or concerned about waking a sleeping partner, this little closet accessory will go a long way towards making your life easier. I find that anything that makes an otherwise hectic schedule a little easier is well worth it. This is better than a hook because it is designed to hold multiple hangers and retracts when not in use. You can stage your next day's outfit on the valet pole so it is ready to just grab-and-go in the morning, simplifying the daily routine.
Mirrors: If you have mirrored doors on your reach-in closet then you can skip this. However, many people have some other type of door on their closet that does not accept a mirror, such as bifold, louvered or even pocket doors. There is a specialty mirror designed specifically for this circumstance. A pivoting slide-out mirror adds a full-length mirror to the interior of a reach-in closet. It is mounted on brackets and stores parallel to the hangers when not in use but pulls out and pivots when needed. Having a full-length mirror like this in the closet is both practical and opulent at the same time. The closet is the best location for a full-length mirror because it allows the owner to check their appearance in the same place where their clothing options are stored.
Take the plunge and transform your reach-in closet