So you want to design walk-in closets. But where to start? Think about what you plan to put in the closet first. Your new closet should allow for easy storage of everything you have, plus room to grow. Next, carefully measure your space and layout the new closet. Don’t forget to allow for any obstacles like doors, windows and electrical service. You will also need to consider construction methods. This will be partially determined by the way your home is built.
Successfully Design Walk-In Closets with This Step-By-Step Plan
Measure the Empty Closet Space
Measure how much space you have to work with. You will want to measure the length of each wall and also the height of the closet. Measure each wall in three places, using the shortest measurement as the final. This is necessary because most homes do not have walls that are perfectly straight. Ditto for the height of the ceiling. Any obstacles such as windows, attic access, and electrical outlets should be noted in your measurements. You want to make sure these are still accessible after you finish your closet design.
Plan for the Clothes You Have +10%
The first thing to be done when you design a walk-in closet is figuring out what you want to keep in the new closet. This step is essential because you need to know how much storage space to allocate for each type of item. Clothes that will be hung on hangers should be grouped by length into three categories. Long-hang garments include long dresses/gowns, overcoats, robes, etc. Medium-hang clothes are most of your dresses, suits, and pants hung by the cuff. Double hang are your shorter items like shirts and pants that are hung folded over the hanger rod. They are called double hang because you will be able to get a double row of these items.
Also plan for the clothes you want to store folded on shelves like sweaters. Each folded stack of clothes can be 12-inches high without falling over. Do you want to keep your underwear inside the closet? Then you need another group for items that will go in drawers. When you have all your groups, measure how much linear feet each type of clothing needs. Add 10% to allow for new purchases. This will tell you how much of each type of storage is needed in your new closet. You can always refer to our closet design tips if you need clarification.
Footwear storage requirements vary greatly by individual. If you only have a dozen or so pairs of shoes, don’t worry. You can put them on shoe rack. If you have a lot of shoes, however, plan to keep them on shelves. Once again, you will need to measure the linear feet of your shoes to determine how much shelf space they will need. If you are planning to keep them in boxes, measure the width of one box and multiply by the number of shoes that you own to determine needed shelf space. As a general rule, men’s shoes will need 9-inches per pair. Women’s shoes only require 8-inches of shelf space per pair. Again, think about how many shoes you might purchase in the future.
Layout the Closet
Now that you know how much space you need and how much real estate you have to work with, it’s time to layout your closet. Use a computer with a closet design tool or a piece of graph paper for accuracy when you design walk-in closets. You’d hate for all that careful measuring to go to waste.
For most people, long-hang garments are not worn frequently and can go behind a door or other obscure location. The rod should be hung 62.5-inches above the floor with a shelf above it. The majority of the clothes in your wardrobe will be double hang. Depending on the dimensions, you will probably want to put the double hang garments against the longest wall of the closet. Medium-hang clothes can be combined with shelving with the rod placed 52.5-inches above the floor and under a couple of shelves. The short walls next to the door are a good place for shelving, as are awkward spaces under a window or other obstruction. If you have drawers, include them in the lower half of a bank of shelves. The top drawer should be no higher than your chest. Above it should be open shelves or covered shelves enclosed by a cabinet door.
Time to Build
Proper closet construction is essential in preventing closet collapse. There are two main ways to construct a closet. You can go floor-based where all components sit on the floor. These closets have a 3-inch base just like your lower kitchen cabinets. Alternately, you can suspend the closet system from a rail that is anchored to the studs. This type of closet doesn’t go all the way down to the floor. It ends about 40-inches above the floor or at the bottom of your double hang clothes rod. Installed properly, either method will hold a tremendous amount of weight without collapse. However, suspended closets are generally less expensive because they take less material to build. Most closets are constructed using a combination of these two methods where drawer and shelving units are floor-based, but hanging areas are suspended.
The important thing to consider is the construction of your home. Suspended closets work best with stick frame construction. Older homes with plaster and lath do not have studs to anchor the rail, so this method is not a possibility. High-rise apartments can also pose problems because they often use metal studs rather than wood, making them more difficult to secure the suspension rail. If you are unable to determine the construction of your home, floor-based, although more expensive, works everywhere. Suspended closets need a little more planning. If you think you could use a little help, please refer to our closet installation video.
Be Happy and Content with a Job Well Done!
If you measured correctly and planned the space needed for your wardrobe in advance of building your closet, everything should fit nicely. There’s a great deal of satisfaction to be had when you successfully design and construct your own closet from scratch. Furthermore, you can cater the style to your own individual needs and tastes. With a little elbow grease and some advanced planning, your finished closet is destined to be a space you can be proud of and one you are certain to enjoy for many years to come.