Plan a Closet Makeover

If you have plenty of clothes but can't find a thing to wear, you're a candidate for a storage update.

Follow these steps to get your belongings in order in no time.

Attic Bedroom
The mirrored doors behind the bed disguise a whole wall of closets.

Take inventory. Note everything you'd like to store in a particular closet, from hanging and folded clothing, shoes, and accessories to linens and miscellaneous items such as sporting equipment and luggage.

Clean and compile. Hold a garage sale for anything you don't or can't wear anymore or donate it to charity. (Throw out what's ripped, stained, and so on.) Sort your remaining belongings, grouping like things by article or color, and list what you have to store.

Remove barriers. Remove the existing clothes-hanging bars, which limit your ability to visualize available space and may not allow you to double-hang clothing. Measure the space from front to back, side to side, and floor to ceiling. Note the height and width of doors and door frames and the location of built-in shelves, fuse boxes, and other obstructions.

Sketch a system.

Large Custom Closet
Extra space? A 36-inch-high peninsula is useful for coordinating outfits or packing for a trip.

On grid paper, indicate where you want to put poles, shelves, and drawers. Consider visibility and accessibility as you maximize available space, and use the following dimensions as a guide:

For all hanging clothing, the width of the garments determines how far the pole should be installed from the closet's back wall. In most cases, this is 21 inches or less. Bulky coats need a few more inches.

Long hanging space for coats, dresses, gowns, long skirts, and pants (if hung by the waist or cuff) should be 66 to 69 inches. Anything more is wasted space.

Short hanging space is best for items such as shirts, blouses, jackets, suits, and pants folded over the hanger. For greater space efficiency, short hanging garments are often double-hung -- positioned in two rows, one above the other.

To design a double-hanging closet, allow 42 inches from the floor to the lower pole, then 36 to 42 inches (depending on your height) from the lower pole to the upper pole.

For children's closets, use adult double-hanging measurements, but plan for an additional shelf at 29 inches from the floor.

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