Customizing Your Closet: 7 Steps to Getting Organized

Customizing Your Closet: 7 Steps to Getting Organized

For Ian Stephens, president of Interior Home Solutions in Grants Pass, customizing closets involves more than wood, saw and screwdriver. "I believe that my company is very personal; it's about taking care of people and their needs." Different people have different closet needs; so every closet should be individualized to reflect the traits, habits and personality of its owner.

"So many builders just put a single rod in the closet," says LaMont Ray, owner of Medford's Closet Concepts. "That just doesn't work for most people." How a person uses a closet will determine whether it should be outfitted with drawers, shelves, single rods or double rods.

Many people shove all sorts of miscellaneous materials into their closets. If they don't know where to put it, it goes into the closet. The first step in getting your closet organized is to decide how your closet will be used. Take out all unnecessary items and put them in a storage area, such as a garage, basement or attic. For bedroom closets, Stephens suggests swapping out seasonal clothing. Winter clothing, such as heavy coats, scarves and boots, create unnecessary bulk in your closet during summer months. Items such as suitcases, athletic gear and boxes of memorabilia can also find a comfortable home in storage.

A closet should be designed for practicality and comfort. For clothing closets, Stephens says that determining your dressing habits will help with closet layout and design. "Make a closet functional to how you get dressed. When dressing, do you pick out a top first and then match it with your skirt or pants?" If so, then Stephens suggests double rods with shirts on a top rod and then pants on a second rod below it. Crafters who use a lot of beads will want more drawers; quilting craftspeople will want breathable shelves for their fabrics; and mechanics and garage fanatics will want pegs and racks for hanging odd-shaped tools.

Most closets contain wire, wood laminate or solid wood shelving. Ray points out that wire shelving is considerably cheaper than wood laminate or solid wood shelving, and is often used in less formal rooms. Also, keep the colors of your room in mind when deciding which materials to use. Wire shelving generally comes in white; wood laminate in white, cherry or maple; and solid wood in honey maple or red mahogany.

Now that you've determined your general closet habits and chosen your materials, you are ready to design. You may want to hire a professional to design a closet for you. Most closet designers have software programs that show prospective designs in three-dimensional layouts. Ray says, "I just go in with a piece of paper originally, get the measurements on the walls, and then I go on my software program and design the closet — that way, the person can see exactly what they're looking for."

"If you are taking out an old closet, you might want to consider painting the walls and sprucing up the area before installing the new closet," says Stephens. Also, make sure the area is clean and dry.

If you hired a professional closet designer, they will install everything for you. If you decided to go the independent route, make sure to take proper safety precautions.

Once you have everything installed, you are ready to put in your closet items. In clothing closets, Stephens recommends that right-handed individuals put more frequently worn clothing on the right side of the closet and left-handed individuals put more frequently worn clothing on the left side. If you are a seamstress, you may want your scissors, needles and thread in a central location. In a garage closet, your most commonly used tools should be in a drawer at waist height. Remember, easy accessibility is key.

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