Custom closet design isn’t as easy as it looks. Getting organized and designing the right closet for your needs are two time-consuming tasks best left to the vision and precision of professional custom closet designers. First, itemizing your belongings, assessing your storage needs, and realizing what you want to make space for influences the overall design of a welcoming and well-organized closet. And this takes time. The next step is taking action and incorporating practical, efficient solutions that fit your storage and access needs. Here are six guidelines to follow as you begin building your dream closet that will make the process smooth and the end result flawless.
Take a wardrobe inventory.
You may think this is a simple task, but think again. This is a critical piece of the custom closet puzzle that shouldn’t be underestimated. Evaluate your wardrobe carefully and take inventory of everything you that you’d like housed in your new custom closet—what can be folded and what needs to be hung. Do you have more blouses than dresses? Do you own any large winter jackets? Whether to include more double hangs or single hangs hinges on your clothing. Dress shirts, knee-length skirts, and slacks belong on double hangs, while dresses and long coats normally require single hangs. Tally everything up accurately to see how much single-hang space you will need. If you don’t have many dresses, long coats, or floor-length dresses, you can use all double-hang sections to maximize your storage space. Helpful hint: Men’s closet spaces normally don’t require many, if any, single-hang sections unless they own hunting gear or long formal coats, whereas women need more sing-hangs because of their dress collection.
Get dimensions—of your clothes!
One aspect of custom closet design that you might not initially consider is the width of your clothes, both hanging and folded. As always, you want to make sure you’re getting the best possible storage solution for your personal wardrobe. The depth of your closet cabinets and panels range from 14 inches to 24 inches. Most clothing items that are hung, including dress shirts and blouses, jackets and coats, will fit inside a 22-inch-deep area. Anything with less depth won’t always fit your clothing, which means your clothes will protrude or the hangers will be crammed at an angle against the wall. Here are a few general clothing dimensions you should be aware of when planning:
- Folded sweaters and shirts require 9 to 15 inches of linear space each.
- Coats require up to 68 inches of vertical space.
- Pants and jeans require up to 50 inches of vertical space (about half of that when folded).
- Skirts require up to 45 inches of vertical space.
Find four solutions for your four corners:
Figuring out what to do with corners is complicated, but if designed properly, they appear visually seamless and create a more functional storage space. A good rule to follow here is never hang clothes perpendicularly from each other. When the two rows of clothes meet in the corner, you can only hang from one side, meaning you lose 24 inches of valuable storage space! A better idea is to have one side hang clothes while the other offers shelves.
Add an island.
Islands are the dream addition to any walk-in closet. But the spacing has to be right. A 36-inch walkway on each side of the island is optimal, which translates to a 12-foot-by-12-foot closet space. This is what we always recommend to our clients. There is a caveat: You can get away with 30-inch or 24-inch walkways if you’re willing to sacrifice clearance space. This means you need at least a 10-foot-by-10-foot space. Remember, the more clearance space for islands with pullout drawers, the better. Islands are meant to add an air of luxury; you forego that if you’re cramped!
If the shoe fits…
When you work with professionals on a custom closet, it’s never “if” a shoe fits. Working with closet and organization experts means precision down to the tightest measurement. Therefore, if you’re including a shoe rack, it’s our job to make sure shelves and cubbies are big enough to comfortably store your shoe collection. For instance, a pair of women’s shoes generally measures anywhere from 7 to 8 inches wide, while a men’s pair is 9 to 10 inches wide. There should be enough linear space to house the pairs you own. Our rule of thumb is to allow 7 to 10 inches of space per pair. If you own boots, adjust the height of shelves and cubbies accordingly. Ankle-high boots normally start at 3 inches high, while mid-calf and knee-high boots range from 9 to 17 inches high.
Make accessories accessible.
Don’t forget about your accessories! Creating an organized space means finding a permanent home for your accessories, such as bags, purses, belts, ties, and jewelry. Belt and tie racks can be compact and mounted to any dead space you may have along walls. Adding special rack to hang your bags —that’s front and center—can also help a woman pull together an outfit faster. Including a jewelry tray in one of your drawers is also a great option for valuables. You can also put trays in your island or in a drawer in or near a vanity.
The most important thing to remember when designing your custom closet is precision. Be precise with what you want. Be precise with assessing your storage needs, and be precise with taking a clothing inventory. Having all your ducks in a row will ultimately make the design process easier and more enjoyable—and the end result will be the closet of your dreams. It will not only looks great, feels spacious, and remain organized, it will be extremely functional and last you a lifetime.