Before & After: Closet Makeover

Divide and conquer an overstuffed bedroom closet with affordable solutions that maximize storage and space.

Before the Transformation

To tackle a crowded closet, begin by completely emptying it, creating piles of items to keep, repair, donate, or toss. Further break down the "keep" pile into clothes of the same type so you can see what kinds of storage you need. Don't buy organizing products until you know exactly what you need.

Door Do-Over

Classic sliding closet doors are notorious space wasters since they block the center of the closet. Remove and replace them with drapes hung on a rod.

The Long and Short

A typical closet comes with a shelf and a rod. Carpenter Eric Stromer from TLC's Clean Sweep suggests installing a "T" divider to upgrade the closet's efficiency. This will separate it into two compartments -- one for long items and one with two rods for shorter items (hang double rods at least 36 inches apart).

Hang Time

Hanging canvas units create eye-level shelf space for folded T-shirts and jeans. Keep shoes you wear most often here as well.

Color Coded

Choose one style of hanger for your closet but color-code them by type of clothing. Group according to how you dress. "Aim to have your closet no more than 75 percent full," says Donna Smallin, author of The One-Minute Organizer. "It's easier to find things, and they don't get all wrinkled." You'll have space for new purchases, too.

Resting Spot

A pretty hook next to your closet provides a place for dry cleaning or the next day's clothes.

Get Hooked

Over-the-rod S-hooks hold purses and totes face-forward for easy selection.

Bright Idea

Closet not hardwired? Shed some light in its corners with this battery-powered peel-and-stick fixture.

Basket Case

If you lack space for a dresser in your bedroom, keep panties, socks, and hosiery in a dedicated basket or tote, which slips easily on and off any closet shelf.

Clear Solution

Store dressy and out-of-season shoes high in clear drawers. You can easily spot and retrieve any pair, even if it's on the bottom row.

Shelf Help

Bookend-like acrylic shelf dividers keep folded items from migrating and allow you to stack items higher.

Tag It

Demarcate hanging spaces with plastic garment dividers like those in clothing stores, advises Vicki Norris, author of Restoring Order to Your Home. Clearly defined space makes it easier to stick to your organizing system.

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