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All About Closets

The closet space you use in your home is a central part of how you organize your life. No matter how much space you have—from small cubbies to extra rooms converted into walk-in closets—strategically using what’s available is the best way to maximize your storage.

Interior Closet Remodel. iStock

The closet space you use in your home is a central part of how you organize your life. No matter how much space you have—from small cubbies to extra rooms converted into walk-in closets—strategically using what’s available is the best way to maximize your storage. Whether you choose to install organization systems or renovate to build a new closet, you have plenty of options for effectively using your space at home.

Clothing Closets 101

There are primarily two types of closets: reach-in and walk-in. Your home may have both types; perhaps your hall closets are reach-in while your master closet is a walk-in. What’s the difference? Here’s a brief explanation of both types.

Reach-in Closets

A reach-in closet is a storage space that’s typically a minimum of 4 feet wide with a depth of 24 to 30 inches. They sometimes have double doors, or, when space is limited, sliding doors or a bi-fold door.

Walk-in Closets

Walk-in closet sizes vary greatly but they’re typically at least 4 feet wide by 4 feet deep, providing enough space for both shelving and hanging rods. Of course, the more room you have, the more storage features—and clothing—your closet can accommodate.

Key Elements

Both reach-in and walk-in closets may be outfitted with one or more of the following:

  • Hanging Rods
  • Shelves
  • Hooks
  • Drawers

5 Closet Considerations

Whether building a closet yourself or hiring a contractor, here are five things to consider beforehand.

#1: Stud Placement

When installing rods and shelves, it’s important to locate the studs and use them to determine your screw placement. Studs are usually placed either 16 or 24 inches apart. However, it’s always best to use a stud finder. Once you’ve determined where your studs are, use a level to draw a vertical line so you can accurately visualize the stud’s location.

#2: Humidity and Airflow

Watch for humidity and lack of airflow, which can lead to mold and mildew in your closets. You can help maintain airflow by ensuring that the door is not completely flush with the flooring or carpet. If you live in a particularly humid area and don’t have air conditioning, you might invest in a portable closet dehumidifier to protect your clothing.

#3: Measure Clothing

To ensure that your closet will accommodate your wardrobe, measure your clothing, horizontally, vertically, and depth-wise. The maximum length of your clothing, for example, is crucial to determining the placement of your hanging rods, so your clothes don’t puddle on the closet floor. Also think about the size of your shoes and boots in order to place shelves at the right points.

#4: Weigh Your Lighting Options

Installing new lighting will likely require the help of a licensed electrician. The larger the closet, the bigger the fixture you’ll want. For a smaller scale renovation, explore wireless options to avoid the hassle and expense of installing new electrical wiring.

#5: Consider Finishes

A closet may seem like a space created for function, but there’s plenty of room for style. When picking your finishes, consider the mood you want to set, particularly in a walk-in closet. Dark wood and gold hardware impart a sophisticated look, while a punch of color from wallpaper makes your closet more whimsical. Think about how each detail you include, from drawer hardware to paint color, contributes to the overall look.

DIY Closet Projects

Looking for some closet inspiration? Consider one of these four projects that range from 10-minute fixes to complete weekend warrior projects.

Add Automatic Lighting

If you’re tired of rooting around in the dark, consider adding automatic lighting to your closet. There are plenty of affordable options for wireless lighting, so you don’t have to worry about bringing in a new electrical line. Instead, look for a high-quality stick-on light with a motion sensor so you’ll get instant clarity the moment you open your closet door.

Incorporate Built-in Storage

Go to any hardware store and you’ll find an abundance of closet storage options. For most, a hammer, electric drill, and a stud finder will be the tools to have on hand. Just do yourself a favor and measure your space before you go shopping.

Widen an Existing Closet

Sometimes all you need is an extra foot or two of space, which can make a big difference when it comes to increasing your storage space.

Materials, Tools, and Equipment

At a minimum, you’ll need the following materials to either install an organization system or expand your current closet space.

Organization System

To mount an organization system kit, you’ll need:

  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • Steel square
  • Wood screws
  • Long tape measurer

If you plan to build a system yourself, you’ll also likely need:

  • Electric saw
  • Wood
  • Sandpaper (to smooth out the cuts)
  • Sawhorses (for when you’re making your cuts)
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves

Expansion Project

An expansion project requires more materials and planning. You will likely need:

  • Drywall
  • Drywall screws
  • Drywall tape and mud
  • Drywall mud pan
  • Drywall sander
  • Joint/putty knife
  • Hammer
  • 3.5” framing nails
  • 2x4 studs (to be spaced 16” to 24” apart)
  • Electric saw
  • Sawhorses
  • Molding
  • Eye and hand protection

You may also be adding or changing your closet’s door(s) and hardware. Factory-built doors can be purchased at most hardware or building supply stores, and custom doors can typically be ordered there as well. Aim to purchase hardware that matches the home’s existing interior door hardware.

When to Hire a Pro

You should strongly consider hiring a professional if you’re making more than simple cosmetic changes. Also consider hiring a professional if you want your closet expertly customized to suit your needs. Often a pro can offer solutions to your storage problems you may never have considered.