Sep 062007

Dana writes:

okay, so our new, fab house is almost complete and we’re moving in around the first weekend in October (give or take – more likely give- a week).

My closet is/will be a smallish walk-in shared with my hero. Hero has a fair amount of clothing and is one of those types who prefer not to have the hangers all smashed in together, smushing his duds.

What I am getting around to – oh so slowly – is a plea for assistance and resources for free closet planning. I know we’ll need to maximize our layout to make it work and we have high ceilings, so we can do an extra high layer of hanging stuff to make it possible to keep even the “off season” in the closet year-round…. Ideas, oh smart and hip readers of Bex super blog?


Things you might like to know when giving advice on this – the shape is square with one angled corner where the entry is – and that is a “no door” arched opening. the closet is wedged into one corner of the bathroom – I rise much earlier than the rest of the fam, so I will be able to get up, enter bath, close door to bedroom and stay there until I am ready for the day. You may not need to know that, but the idea excites me….

Thinking about Dana’s request for closet maximization and free closet planning info has run me right into a familiar dilemma: I think I need to write something resembling the many magazine and newspaper articles I have read over the years, and yet that seems so predictable. This is, after all, a blog. If we can’t exchange unexpected or off-beat ideas here, what’s the point?

So here’s more of my own thinking concerning closet organization:

resembles-my-previous-closet.jpgIn a previous home, my hero built a closet organizer something like this in a standard, American 70’s style, double sliding-door type closet (Black & Decker online plan for this one). The slick feature? Behind the shelves: a secret compartment!

my-closet.jpgBeth wondered about sweater storage, now that all my social, business, and casual clothes will be in my closet. Ideally one’s closet would feature shelves. Mine has one, so here’s my plan: I am going to fold my better sweaters, put them in shirt boxes, and stack the boxes on the one existing shelf. A stack of boxes is much tidier than a stack of sweaters!

Since Dana will be able to go into the closet and stay there until she’s ready to leave, she will want everything in there. In the picture of my closet you may be able to see that I have one of those plastic pocket things secured (by T-pins) to the back wall. It houses my unmentionables. Alternatively, my daughter stores hers on a shelf in her closet, in pretty picture boxes.

One final thought: recently I’ve been taking a fresh look at some other areas of my house and come to a conclusion. Rather than go out and buy furniture or storage equipment or simply plan a project on paper, first I am going to find a way to take my ideas for a test drive. If I want to store books along a certain wall, I may put them in boxes and move them there before buying a bookshelf; if I think I want to tear out a wall in the kitchen, I had better see if I can live without that storage first.

So, Dana, perhaps rather than starting with your new empty closet, you could measure your things the way you’d like to store them:

  1. How many feet of full-height hanging?
  2. How many feet of double height hanging?
  3. How many stacks on shelves?
  4. How do you like to store your shoes? Many people recommend boxed.
  5. What else do you need in there? Accessories, unmentionables, a chair?

I hope that’s helpful. And readers, please, give us your best closet planning tips.


  10 Responses to “Alternatives for Closet Planning”

  1. If she’s looking to store accessories, and you don’t have a fancy accessories drawer, what I do is the following

    Necklaces – I put them on those little plastic hooks you buy in stores. Works like a charm, everything is tangle free. The trick is to alternate between big beaded necklaces and the thin delicate tangly ones.

    Earrings – For $5 or less, buy a plastic boxed container for beads at any craft store, or even the ones they use for fishing lures… stick your earrings in pairs, in each of the boxes 🙂 That’s how I store all of mine.

    Bracelets – same deal, use the hooks, or you can go cuter, and buy glass containers and put the bigger beaded bracelets and necklaces in there, and fish them out when you need them

    Rings – I just use a little bowl for this.. but for your sterling silver, keep them in plastic bags to avoid tarnishing via oxidation

    What else am I missing? I use a pencil cup holder for my makeup pencils and brushes…

    And my shoes go on a shelf, one facing in front so I can see what it looks like, and the other facing with the heel out, so I can see how high the heel is.

  2. Fabulous ideas! But what else would we expect from someone whose first name is Fabulously?

    I did like my shoes on a shelf, when I had the space to do that. Now that I’ve heard how you set them on there, no doubt I would do that as well. Very practical!

  3. I loved my Elfa shelving… but I know it’s expensive. Now that I *know* more about how easy it would be to build shelves, etc., I’d probably try to undertake building my own custom shelves with a little help from Lowe’s or Home Depot.

    But that Elfa shelving SURE is neat-o.

  4. I’m glad you brought that up, Jess, because when I googled Elfa (which I had never heard of), I found the container store elfa site has lots of cool stuff that might be helpful to Dana. Thanks!

  5. ah, my lovelies – thank you for taking the time to think about what I ought to do and to give your advice.

    I won’t actually be able to stay in my closet until I am ready, but it’s a small walk in with an opening (no door) that resides within our masterbath, so I will enter the bath/closet, close door b/c hero gets to sleep late and go from my sink to closet and back however many times I like w/o bothering anyone, etc. I am considering (very seriously) putting up 5 hooks on the wall (I have in mind biggish hooks like for coats or robes where I could assemble 5 week day outfits in advance…. maybe even putting the jewelry/accessories on the hook as well (behind the clothes so it isn’t easily dropped and so it goes on the body last, etc)… Is that insane?

    My dilemma is that 90% of my possessions and wardrobe are currently in storage, so I really don’t know what hanging space needs are specifically – the answer may be that I will have to give up the idea of having the closet organization installed prior to moving in and should opt for bringing all my clothes into the house and doing a big wardrobe planning project and cull – THEN measuring my needs, etc – planning the closet around my wardrobe rather than starting from the space dimensions and rules of thumb?

  6. Okay, I get it. I don’t think the pre-assembling the outfits is insane.

    I was just thinking that your stuff being in storage could be a benefit. You could take the opportunity to plan your closet according to your ideal wardrobe, rather than your existing one.

    So you could measure the space you have and divide it up by percentages of how much you wear each type of item, building in some margin. Then, as you bring your clothes in, you could move your stuff in starting with your staples, culling as you go along. It would be kinda like what I’m working on in my closet, but instead of labeling specific items, you’d just be breaking up the space by category (some things do take up more space).

    Personally, I’d like to do my entire house, my entire LIFE, that way: figure out what I need, where I need it, put it there, maintaining some flexibility, and get rid of everything else.

    Just another thought. 🙂

  7. I have been playing with the free tool at – and I think their default plan is pretty good.

    I am toying with the idea of segmenting the closet into “his” and “hers” before I start – I am really thinking I will propose we do that – he has less need for longer hanging and I have more clothes in general – I will run the ideas they put together past my hero and see what he thinks.

    they have you put in your walls clockwise – my dimensions are (back wall) 79 inches, 57.5 inches, then skip to “front wall” which is 52inches, leading to left side of 85 inches. You can put in your ceiling height in the wall views, if you would like to try it out using my closet as a sample, our ceiling is 120.

    They don’t show the segments joining along the top shelf unless you specify it – I would.

  8. oh, and I played with the Container store planner, too and they are doing a free design for me with estimate – we’ll see what they come up with that might be different.

    thanks for the tips, pals!

  9. Wow, my closet is small and running out of space, but after reading this post I’m seeing that there are a lot of things I could do to fix this.

    I’ve just installed the Elfa system in my laundry and it’s WONDERFUL! Not a big install, it’s true, but still seriously funky.

  10. […] 5 Comments Rebecca @ The Space Between My Peers, had a great post on closet […]

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