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Best Use of Closet Space

So are your closets overflowing? Does it take you forever to find anything? Do you have clothes in a heap at the bottom? Are they packed in so tightly it is impossible to pull something out?

Well, help is on the way. To boil it down to the basics: you need to weed out what you don't need, get your closet organized and leave some room for new fashions. You don't need a professional unless you're just too busy or too lazy. You'll have to make some decisions, however, and this is hard to do for a lot of people.

Before you discard anything, you need to look at the situation as a whole. So take the time to go through the entire closet. Take out what doesn't fit. Take out what doesn't belong. Bring to the pile anything you want to go in it that wasn't in it before.

Decide whether the contents should just be seasonal or whether you want everything in it all at once. If you live where there are huge seasonal changes, that would be a good option. Here in Southern California we don't get much change, so my closet has pretty much everything in it for every season.

OK, now you're ready to decide whether you want permanent or temporary organizers. If you're renting, the free standing, movable closet organizers will be best. If you're a homeowner, you might want something permanent. If you'll settling for permanent fixtures, you'll find them in wood, plastic, wire or wood composites.

Now decide if your shelves should be moveable or permanent. Choose a "layout" for the shelves that will accommodate enough space for the different storage methods you are using: hanging clothes, folded clothes, shoes, hats, etc. It might be a good idea to count the number of items in each category.

According to what you have, you'll need rods, shelves, boxes, hangers. Draw out a simple plan and compare it with your budget. Allow 20% extra for surprises. Remember, you'll always be in a state of buying new clothes, so you want to plan for them as well.

So now we're at the question: How much space should you allow for each segment in the closet? Well, that depends on your size and the amount of clothes you plan to put in, but here are some general guidelines:

Women's Clothing

  • Dresses (50 inches)
  • Suits (40 inches)
  • Blouses (34 inches)
  • Long dresses (68 inches)
  • Coats (53 inches)
  • Skirts (38 inches)
  • Robes (53 inches)

Men's Clothing

  • Suits (40 inches)
  • Slacks (cuff-hung) (44 inches)
  • Clacks (double hung) (30 inches)
  • Shirts (36 inches)
  • Topcoats (52 inches)

Don't cram them in so tight they become wrinkled. Give them space to breathe.

Lastly, you'll have to decide where you want the shelves. You can put them below the hanging items, above them or beside them. Your height, or the height of the person using the closet, will determine that. Strive to make it as easy as possible to store and retrieve items.

Place the shelves relatively close to each other. You don't want to have huge stacks of clothes in a pile on each shelf in order to utilize the vertical height more effectively. This is not only detrimental to your clothes, but it gives the appearance of a disorganized closet.

When you start placing your clothes in the closet, it helps to color coordinate the placement. I place all of my black shirts together, all of my red shirts together, all of the brown ones together and so on. That's because I usually select clothes by their color. When they are grouped by color, it makes it very easy to find what I'm looking for in a matter of a few seconds.