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You Can Plan the Perfect Closets

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For many homeowners, closets are an afterthought. Sure, when you buy a home, you check the available closet space. But once you're there, especially after years of homeownership, you may find that your closet has become more of a jungle than a storage space. If you find yourself rummaging through overstuffed drawers and crammed hangers just to get dressed every day, it may be time for a closet makeover. Believe it or not, you can plan the perfect closet with as much or as little space as you have. And if you're blessed with a walk-in closet space, you'll be amazed by what you can do with a little planning. Of course, you'll also want the help of a TrustDALE certified custom closet expert. After all, there's no replacement for the experience and expertise of a professional. So stop digging through piles of socks, shirts, and undergarments, and start planning the perfect closet!

First Steps: The Big Declutter

The perfect closet is a closet that holds all your belongings and makes it easy to find what you need when you need it. But before you can start planning your new closet, you need to understand what you own and what you plan to keep in your closet. The first step is the big declutter. You need to look through your closet's current contents and determine what you have, what you can get rid of, and what is worth valuable real estate in your new closet. How much room you have to work with will affect this calculation. But don't make the mistake of keeping useless items just because you think you have space. Wasted space is wasted space, whether or not you can afford it. If you have more space than you need to store your clothing, there are plenty of better ways to use it than storing things you don't need.

You Can Plan the Perfect Closets [infographic]

Depending on how much time you have, there are two methods of determining what to keep and what to toss. (And by toss we mean donate when possible. If clothing is in decent condition, there's no reason to send it to the landfill.)

The Slow Method

The slow method takes a few months to a year, so only do this if you are thinking long-term. To start, take all of your hanging clothing out of your closet, then put everything back in hanging backward. In other words, the hanger should lift off the bar away from you, toward the inside of the closet. It makes it awkward to remove the clothing, but that's the point. Once you've worn an item, the next time you put it away, replace it facing the right direction, so it is easy to remove. After you've done this for a few months, take a look at your closet. There will likely be items that are still hanging backward. Those are items that you have had no occasion to use or wear in months. With rare exceptions—like formalwear or seasonal clothes—you can get rid of those items and never miss them. So bid those clothes goodbye, donate what you can, and breathe a sigh of relief as you behold the newfound roominess of your closet.

The Quick Method

The quick method of closet decluttering takes just a few hours, and it may feel cathartic. But be prepared to make a mess in the process and follow up with some trips to the tailor, cleaner, and donation center.

If you want to declutter your closet all in one go, it will take some big moves. First, empty your closet. Take out every single item. Some people may try to go through their clothing and thin out a few things they no longer need, but we're going for a complete in just a few hours. To avoid a huge mess, put your clothing and belongings into loose piles as you take them out. Prepare some bins and boxes for smaller items you take out of drawers, and designate a catch-all basket for things that don't belong in your closet at all, like coins, receipts, papers, and rubber bands. At this point, you will probably be amazed by just how much stuff you crammed into your space.

With the closet empty, it's time to clean. Wipe down shelves, clothing rods, and inside drawers. The last thing to clean is the floor, either with a vacuum or a mop. Make sure to get baseboards and molding, too. Once your closet is put back together, it may be hard to reach them again.

Now it's time to put things back, and this is where you reap the benefit of completely emptying your closet. Instead of thinking of this as an opportunity to throw things out, think of it as an opportunity to shop in your closet. Focus on what you plan to keep instead of what you plan to toss. Pick up an item and consider whether it deserves precious real estate in your closet. If it does, put it in the keep pile. If not, put it in a pile to donate or toss, depending on its condition.

If you aren't sure whether to keep a piece of clothing, ask yourself: Do I love it? Do I wear it? Does it project the image I want to project? Only keep clothing for which you can answer "yes" to all three.

Planning the Perfect Closet

Once you have a keep pile and you know what you need to store, you can begin planning the perfect closet. First, measure your closet space. Take notes and write down measurements for the entire closet as well as for each inner section. With these guides, you can start to make choices about how you will remake your perfect closet.

The Do-It-Yourself Closet

Do-it-yourself closets cover a lot of ground. On the low-cost end, you could add a few well thought out and inexpensive bins or a set of drawers to your closet and carefully reorganize your belongings. On the high-priced end, you could purchase a customized closet system. Whichever route you choose, there are some tips to keep in mind.

First, make sure that you are using all of your space. Most garments that hang don't require all of the space from your floor to your ceiling. Double up on hanging rods, placing items you wear more often on the rods that are easiest for you to reach—the lower rod for shorter people and the upper rod for taller folk who don't want to bend. Only a few items need full-length hanging space, like formal dresses or long coats. Make smart use of your corners by installing rods high up for full-length garments.

Keep a top shelf all the way around the perimeter of your walk-in closet or along the length of a reach-in closet. The top shelf is for items you rarely use, like Halloween costumes, seasonal clothes, or those extra fancy shoes you only wear once a year.

For a walk-in closet, install shelves and hanging rods close to the entrance to give you a little breathing room when you walk in. Save drawers and closed storage for further back.

If you have the room, consider an island. If your walk-in closet has a lot of room in the middle, there's no reason not to use it. An island gives you extra storage space, plus a handy surface for folding clothes or placing items while you are getting dressed.

Another useful item to keep in a walk-in closet is a hideaway hamper. These inconspicuous hampers look like a cabinet drawer and tilt open to store your dirties out of sight and out of smell.

There are plenty of nifty storage gadgets to choose from, such as rotating tie racks and pull-out belt hangers. Some are more useful than others, and only you can decide what's really worth it for your closet. However, avoid overdoing it. A simple, clean closet is usually best.

Professional Closet Design

For really high-quality closets, there's no replacement for professional services. With a TrustDALE certified custom closets builder, you can design and build the closets of your dreams. These aren't just closets; they are spaces you will love. Professionals like Artisan Custom Closets can design, build, and install beautiful, fully customized closets, pantries, storage units, and more. So when you're ready for a high-quality closet overhaul, contact the pros on TrustDALE.com.