How to Create More Usable Closet Space

Maximize Storage in Your Closets

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Extra storage is always a plus, whether you are selling your home or staying put, but if you are indeed planning to sell, maximizing your storage space is essential. Extra storage space helps attract home buyers--and lets you stay organized while the home is still yours.

Adding storage can be expensive, so unless you're ready to part with the dollars your first step should be to revamp your existing closets. You can do it, and for less money than you might think. Let's get started.


Do you need to keep all that stuff? Are you as guilty as anyone out there of hanging onto things like paperwork, everything from old magazines to fifteen-year-old canceled checks?

So before you decide how much storage you need, decide what you can throw away, sell, or donate. And look on the bright side--if you pitch it now you won't have to pack and move it later.

Evaluate Bedroom Closets

Are there single rods running from end to end in each closet, with a single shelf above each rod? That arrangement is typical in the traditional smallish closets we see in extra bedrooms, and sometimes even in walk-in closets.

How about your clothes, are they packed so tightly that you can't find what you're looking for? Are the top shelves filled with things you haven't seen for years?

Start emptying the closets, one at a time, putting items in three piles:

  1. Things to keep - that will stay in the closet
  2. Things to dispose of - trash, donate, sell
  3. Things that are stored in the wrong place - put in a plastic bin to tote to other areas

Every Budget, Every Need

Look at the items that will go back into the closet. Is the pile mostly clothes, or odds and ends? Do you have tons of shoes? Sweaters? Belts and ties? Lots more short items than full-length clothing? There are organizational helpers available for every storage need and every budget:

  • Turn the top, catch-all shelf into a series of shelves that stretch to the ceiling. That will keep items separated and allow you to retrieve things easily, without pulling a stack of boxes down on your head.
  • Increase space for short items by installing double-decker rods in a portion of each closet. Closetmaid makes economical closet organizer solutions to fit into any size closet.
  • Go a bit farther and install special modules in a portion of the closet--with slots and shelves for shoes, cubbies or drawers for clothes that should be folded, and built-ins for other special items.
  • Do-it-Yourselfers can try this wooden closet organizer project. If you're not into DIY, look for wooden closet organizer components at your local home building store.
  • Walk-in closets offer all sorts of organizational possibilities. Closetmaid and Rubbermaid both offer storage ideas on their Web sites. Schulte Storage is another good place to explore closet options.
  • It won't help to organize, but installing cedar panels or hanging cedar blocks in the closet helps repel insects and makes the closet smell great.

Other Closets

Inspect every closet in your home as if you are seeing it for the first time. What will a buyer think when she opens the doors? How can you improve your storage potential?

  • Use little totes and bins to help you keep small items under control in a bathroom or linen closet.
  • Stackable baskets are an excellent addition to a kitchen pantry and can be used to store all types of items, including food staples.
  • Is your garage large enough to add a series of closets along one wall? Or economical shelving? Storage helps turn a cluttered garage into a usable space that will hold a car!
  • How about the basement? If it's dry, can you add closets or shelves down there? Use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture levels if necessary.

Cleaning out your closets is the perfect pre-sale activity, even if you don't do too much to increase storage space. Just getting rid of unused clothes and other items is sometimes all it takes to make closets appear larger than they truly are. So get started and look at everything with a critical eye. If you haven't used it for two years, do you need to keep it?