Everyone wants an organized closet. But how do you achieve that? We are all so busy. Who has the time to spend organizing their closet? Well, you may be surprised to know that organizing your closet can actually save you time in the long run. And it’s not hard to do. All you need is a basic closet organizer system to get started.

Sorting is the first step to an organized closet.

An organized closet has a purpose. That means if your messy closet is a mixed bag of household items, try to separate the contents of your closets by purpose. For example, your bedroom closet needs to contain your clothes, shoes, etc. You wouldn’t want to mix in pantry items. Those need to go into kitchen storage. Neither should you keep your household drill or other tools in the bedroom closet. You need to find another space in your basement or garage for that.

An organized closet includes storage specifically geared towards the items it needs to contain.

Closet organizer systems can be large and cover all four walls of a walk-in closet. They can also be relatively simple for a small reach-in closet. However, no matter what size or complexity, all closet systems are made up of a few basic components that are then arranged to suit the needs of the owner. All you need to do to achieve an organized closet is determine which components best suit your needs and in what quantity. This is the basic premise of all good closet design. Once the system is installed, all your possessions will have a specific “home.” Then it will be relatively simple and automatic to keep everything in its place. And this, in turn, saves you time when getting ready or looking for things because you always know where it is.

Hanging Space for Your Closet

If this is a clothes closet, you must include hanging space. Closet hanging systems include any closet organizers with a clothes rod for hanging clothes on hangers. In an organized closet, the clothes rods are installed at different heights depending on the length of your garments. Typical configurations include double-hang, triple-hang, medium-hang, long-hang, and low-hang.

  • Double-hang is great for maximizing your hanging space for shirts, blouses, folded pants, and other short garments.
  • Long-hang is for overcoats, dresses, formal, coats, robes, and other garments needing length.
  • Medium-hang is used for suits, long skirts, pants hung from the waistband or cuff, blazers, and other medium-length clothing.
  • Half and Half is another configuration that holds the same length garments as double hang with the option of more shelves rather than an upper rod. This is often preferred in children’s closets.
  • Triple-hang is used mainly in baby closets. The short length of the clothing allows the stacking of three rods to maximize space.
Wall of clothes showing double hang and medium hang closet sections.
This closet uses primarily double-hang and medium-hang closet sections to achieve organization.

The key to the organized closet is knowing what you have and then installing the correct closet organizers for those clothes. To get started, group your clothing by length. Then measure the width of each group while on hangers. Use this number to determine how much linear space each group requires. Try to use all the same type of hangers in your closet. This will ensure consistency and your space needs won’t change after you do a load of laundry and rehang the garments.

Shelves for Shoes and More

No one can have enough shelves in their home. This is because shelves are the backbone of all storage. After hanging, shelves should be your next “go-to” in a clothes closet. Use them for sweaters, jeans — whatever you don’t mind folding in addition to hats, handbags, and shoes.

Closet shelves for shoes, hats, and purses.
Closet shelves for shoes, hats, and purses.

When planning your shelving, keep in mind that you need 7 to 8-inches of shelving for each pair of women’s shoes and 9 to 10-inches for each pair of men’s shoes. Any clothing that you may want to store on shelves can typically be folded to 12-inches in width. You can then stack these folded items in piles to save space, but don’t let the stacks get higher than 12-inches or they will tend to topple over, and you’ll have a mess. You need to take a look at what you have and plan your shelving needs in advance since a single bulky sweater may be the only thing you can fit into that particular stack.

Baskets or Drawers

The organized closet will have either baskets or drawers or possibly both. This is because no matter what type of closet it is, there are always some small items that are too tiny to be hung. Place them alone on a shelf and they tend to get lost in the back. These things need to go in a drawer or basket.

Baskets and drawers perform similar functions in the closet. They both corral and store multiple small items. Some baskets are even mounted on slides, making them function even more like drawers. Which you go with is a matter of personal choice and budget since drawers cost quite a bit more than baskets.

Walk-in closet with baskets and drawers
This closet uses both baskets and drawers to hold and organize small items — a great strategy for organization.

No matter which you choose, try to group like items for each basket or drawer. For example, most people have a sock drawer. Plan on a separate basket/drawer for your perfumes and makeup. Either that or use a basket within a drawer system. That way the basket of makeup items can be removed from the larger drawer with the socks and brought over to a mirror when you want to use it.

A Hamper for Dirty Clothes

Bedroom closets that are well-organized have some sort of hamper for dirty clothes. This is true even if you have a laundry chute elsewhere in the home. This is because there are always a few items that are dry clean only. If you don’t want your favorite cashmere sweater or other items to end up in a pile on the floor, they need someplace to go. A hamper is the best answer. Design a spot for a built-in hamper in your closet or just leave a space for a laundry basket under your long-hang to hold these items. It’s up to you. Anything is better than wading across a floor covered in dirty, smelly clothes.

Tilt hamper for a closet with a removable canvas hamper liner.
This closet has a tilt-out hamper with a canvas liner. When it’s time to go to the cleaners, just lift the canvas liner by its handles out of the wire basket and off you go.

What if I can’t make it all fit? Can I still get an organized closet?

Sometimes you can measure, count your shoes, plan your organizer components, and you still can’t come up with enough space in your closet. Unless you are able to somehow add another closet and gain some more space, you must purge. Take a look at the clothes you haven’t worn in the last year. Do they fit? Why haven’t you worn them? With the exception of evening clothes that might only be used for special occasions, get rid of the clothes you don’t wear at least once annually. Chances are you don’t really like those clothes anyway. Otherwise, you’d wear them more often. The Goodwill, Cancer Federation, Amvets, or other similar organizations are happy to take your used clothing off your hands as long as it is in good condition. Why not consider a donation?

Remember this cardinal rule. If everything has a place to go, then everything will tend to stay in its place. This is the key secret to staying organized.

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