I used to think that having a bigger closet would solve all my organizational problems. After all, if the problem is that your closet’s too small and crammed full, having more space should fix it, right? That isn’t always true. Now that I’ve had extra wide closets, walk-in closets, and even spent a little time in a boutique-style closet, I’ve realized that there’s a lot more to a well-organized, usable closet than simple linear space. The good news is, there are ways to upgrade a sub-par closet, no matter the size it happens to be.
Lighting for the Entire Closet
The biggest complaint most people have is that they can’t find anything in their closet. This can be caused by overcrowding or bad organization, but good lighting is also crucial. Having lighting in your closet isn’t a given, and closets that do have lighting built in tend to only have a single pull-chain bulb. But if the wiring is there, or you’re willing to put it there, you can change your overhead lighting to something more attractive and effective. A recessed light is the most unobtrusive option, but not the only one. The bigger your closet, the more options you have – from decorative flush-mount lights to more daring pendants (or even a small chandelier!) That said, the bigger your space, the more lighting you’ll need to illuminate it.
Targeted Lighting Through Closet Rods
A single overhead light covers a lot of ground, but is easily blocked by extra shelves and even the very things you’re storing. If you need something more targeted to see lower in your closet, or want to be able to tell the difference between four shades of black before you’re at the office, a lighted closet bar can help. These work just like a regular closet bar, but come with a built-in strand of lights on the underside. Why? Well, this way the lights shine directly onto your clothes and below. If you have a two-tier hanging system, this is especially useful for the bottom rack where your overhead light fails to reach. You can also use under cabinet lighting to similar effect, if you’re more of a shelf person than a hanger one.
Drawers and Shelves
The quickest way to make your closet easier to peruse is to organize it – and I don’t just mean sorting your shirts by color. Because of how closet bars work, you’ll almost always have wasted space above and below your clothes – particularly shirts and pants. While custom shelves will maximize your organization with your existing wardrobe in mind, they can be pricey and don’t work for rental situations. Instead, consider placing a small dresser, night stand, or other shelving unit beneath your clothes. Instead of leaving the space empty (or piled with stuff), you can store things you normally can’t hang in your closet, like delicates, socks, and shoes. This translates to more room in your actual bedroom for other furniture, like a desk or even more storage.
Coat Hooks for Accessories
For your most-used accessories, skip both the closet rod and the dresser and opt for wall-mounted storage. Putting accessories in a drawer is a great way to forget about them. Trying to store awkward shapes on your closet rod may bury them between shirts and pants. Or worse, the hangers will drop them on your floor every time you rifle through your clothes. Individual coat hooks or a wall-mounted coat rack will take up some wall space, but will place important bags, hats, and scarves in view and keep them neatly arranged and accessible. Some of these hangers have to be drilled into the wall, but others can be hung on the door frame or installed with a strong but removable adhesive. Weight is a factor for no-hole options, though, so make sure your hooks can support what you need without ruining the wall in the process.
Get Rid of the Closet Door
Of course, changing how you store your clothes is great, but a small closet is still a small closet. While you can’t change the size and shape without remodeling, you can remove the biggest space offender in the room: the door. Interior doors are easy to take off and put back on again. If you have somewhere to store them in the meantime, you can even change your mind without consequence. Removing a swing or accordion-style door will let you access everything in your closet unimpeded. Don’t like the open closet look? Barn style doors slide horizontally, so they’ll keep your closet hidden without taking up extra floor space. Installing a curtain rod and hanging curtains in front of your closet has a similar effect, with a less polished finish but a much lower price tag
No matter how hopeless your built-in closet feels, there are plenty of ways to better store and find your clothes. Many expensive renovations have budget-friendly options, allowing you to customize the space for your particular wardrobe at any price point.