How To Create More Usable Closet Space

Maximize Storage in Your Closets

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Extra storage is always a plus. It seems that no matter your home size, soon every closet is filled to the brim. Maximizing your storage space will help you stay organized so that you actually know what you have stored in all your closets.

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

Declutter Your Stuff

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 15-year-old canceled checks?

Before you decide how much storage you need, decide what you can throw away, sell, or donate. And look on the bright side: Purging all the clutter first will make the following steps much easier.

Evaluate Closet Contents

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 in extra bedrooms, and sometimes even in walk-in closets. There are ways to maximize your closet's layout without spending a fortune.

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 by emptying the closets, one at a time, and put items in three piles:

  • Keep: These will go back into your closet.
  • Trash: These are items that you will either throw away, donate, or sell.
  • Move: Put anything that shouldn't be stored in your bedroom closet in a plastic bin to tote to other areas.

Revamp Your Closet Layout

Look at the items in the keep pile that will go back into the closet. Is the pile mostly hanging clothes, or is it odds and ends that would be better suited folded on a shelf? Do you have tons of shoes? Mostly sweaters? Lots of accessories like belts and ties? Knowing what you have will help determine how your closet should be configured. 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. Economical closet organizer solutions such as Closetmaid are made to fit into any size closet.
  • Go a bit further 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.

Organize Other Closets

Inspect every closet in your home as if you are seeing it for the first time. This will help you determine how you can 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 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 an often dreaded, but necessary activity. 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?