The world's dumbest closet dimensions

alabamanicoleMarch 11, 2010

I just purchased a new house -- new to me, anyway, it's an old 60's basement rancher. Well designed overall, but the closet in the master bedroom is the dumbest closet ever -- it's 3' wide by 5' deep.

There's no room to expand the closet in any direction, so it is what it is. There's no light in the closet either. (Maybe someday I'll add one.) Painting the inside of the closet white has helped a lot with visibility.

So far I have only come up with one idea to make the closet more functional. I was thinking of building nice, deep 15" shelves along the back wall and then in front of that adding two closet poles. There is a closet in the hall nearby for coats and the few long clothing items I have. The shelves behind the clothes could be used for off-season storage and infrequently used items.

Anyone have any other ideas? I'll be constructing the closet this weekend and other than making it bigger, I'm open to any ideas.

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I have this closet!!

(not the first picture on this thread; scroll down to the pair of pictures (two views of the same space, one without clothes, and one with.)

I have thought, actually, that it would be better to have 9" shelves along the long wall, and then a single rod across the back.

And fold lots of stuff, or put it into plastic bins to serve as drawers.

I have clothes in front of the drawers on the end wall (many more now than in the photo), and it's really a pain to use the shelves for anything. Yes, even for stuff I seldom use.

I haven't invested that much energy in making it work, but other people in my building have done the California Closets along the long wall.

Perhaps even w/ the hangers against the long wall, only at the very end. Maybe two rods along the long wall, and then a "stickinig-straight-out" sort of rod on the end wall to hang the few long things we all get. Like this one.

Here is a link that might be useful: My deep closet pics

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 2:42PM
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I thought about running the rod the long way, but that leaves only 12" of person space to look at clothes, and it would also block the 24" door down to a 6" opening. (Which fortunately already swings out.) Part of a rail wouldn't be much better than just having one along the closet short way.

I don't have many clothes -- I don't even own a dresser -- and I am in the habit of hanging everything up except sweaters and underwear. Digging through piles of folded clothes in the morning pre-coffee just ends up being a constant clean-up and ironing job. So for me, the more available rod the better. There won't be any "stuff" in the closet except clothes and shoes. I suppose I'll have to buy a small chest of drawers for undies.

If I didn't need the closet for clothes, I think your idea of 9" deep shelves on both sides would be cozy with an 18" walkway, but the best use of space.

I am wondering now if I should buy some adjustable shelves instead of making the sturdier ones I planned to with plywood and 1x3 rails along the wall. When I've had adjustable shelves I've never bothered to adjust them, but...

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 3:47PM
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Would this work? Build the 15 inch shelves in the back, then on one side wall or the other, hang 5 foot long rods front to back, one over the other. You wouldn't have use of the back 15 inches of the poles, but it would be easier to mount the poles to the back wall.

I would use the ClosetMaid hang track system for the back wall shelving to give you the versatility you want.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 4:21PM
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I don't have those configurations - mine is 42' wide and 27' deep. But what worked for me is double rods. We put the top rod higher than normal and added another rod below for my shirts and knit tops. We also have a short rod that screws onto the inside of the door. (My closet door is only two feet wide.)
I can get a LOT of clothes in this closet.

Hope you find a solution that works for you. It's no fun when you can't find your clothes in a hurry.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 5:34PM
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Perhaps a few thousand words will help with the visualization. Am I missing any options?

First, I lied. The closet isn't 3' x 5'-- it's 55 1/2" deep and 35" wide.

I just don't see any way to get any bang for the buck going long ways with the rod. In this scenario, I can barely get in to see the clothes, it'll be darker, and I only have 78.5" of linear shelf space (at 12" deep), all at about 86" off the ground. Plus I only gain 6" of linear rod space:

Going with the width of the closet, I have 5 shelves that are 15" deep and 35" wide (175" of linear shelf space), plus an optional 18"x35" top shelf although it might be more trouble than good:

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 8:52AM
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Oh, NOW I see. I think your design looks great.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 9:04AM
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What if you put the top and bottom rods deep in the back of the closet, and then put shallow shelves against the long wall of the closet, to form a little hallway back to the clothes? (to get a tall section, put a divider a little bit from the right wall, and have a single rod there.

Put 12" or 9" or 6" shelves on the left wall, and 3" shelves, or even little cubbies, or peg board, or hang cloth shoe pockets to cover the entire right wall. (they can hold shoes, or jewelry, or scarves, or underwear, or extension cords, or all KINDS of stuff--even T-shirts can roll up to go in shoe pockets. (The ideal might be to have that right-hand wall have several different kinds of storage--peg board for part, shoe pockets for others, shallow shelves for a section or two.

If you have shelves closely spaced, you might find it easier to deal with folded sweaters on shelves, if they can only stack 2 high (3 or 4 high for T-shirts, sweatshirts).

And you might be really amazed to realize how much stuff you can actually store on 9" shelves (12" sometimes strikes me as huge, and some bookcases are shallower--and that would still leave you 23" or 24" to walk in. Many times it's all a matter of how you fold it, or which container you get to put it in.

Because I am telling you, it will be a royal pain to store stuff in the back of the closet. Do you *need* a place to put Christmas ornaments, or the Christmas tree? Do you have that much stuff that you'll only access once a year, or once every 5 years or so, that you *need* this place to put it?

whereas shallower shelves on the left wall will give you a place to put stuff you'll grab often and easily. Board games, books, extra kitchen utensils.
(just space those shelves relatively closely). You could really keep other rooms from seeming cluttered, bcs stuff would be SO accessible on that wall.

You could create a compartment at the bottom to hold wrapping paper.

Run around your house looking at stuff you might put in there, and measure it.

If you gave up on the shelves completely, you could turn that into a mini dressing room, actually, w/ a stool in front of the clothes.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 3:13PM
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Tally, you crack me up talking about books and utensils in the closet. I admit I'm pretty OCD and if I had to go into my bedroom to get something to cook with I'd go absolutely stark raving mad. Just clothes in the clothes closet. :)

The back shelves I was thinking for summer stuff in the winter and vice versa, but it really is more than I need for that purpose. I agree that those back shelves would not be much help for day-to-day storage.

Right now there is already a clothes pole back there, and it's DARK at the end of that tunnel, and I don't even have anything in it yet. I'm not sure I have that much clothes that will fit in 9" of shelf unless they are really rolled up. My other concern with this version is that it reduces the amount of visible clothing on that rod and stuff will end up jammed behind the shelves.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 6:11PM
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Make your wall storage shorter, so it ends shortly before the clothes area ? Instead of a 27"-wide shelf, go for 18". And/or shift it a bit toward the door. If you felt you needed to compensate, go higher.

Or go for shallower shelves, just the depth you have in your sketch.

Or, double depth--half 9", the other half 6"?

I think you might be surprised how valuable 6" can be.
Seriously, experiment a little bit. Fold up T-shirts (hint--turn them sideways, and aim for shoebox-going-the-long-way dimensions) and see what you think.

Also undies-- look into getting bins to set on the shelves to turn the shelf *into* a lingerie dresser (undies and socks, etc.

These fabric ones are 9", so they'd need deeper shelves, but if you purchased *more shelves* so you can space them very closely, you could fit a lot, and it wouldn't matter that you hadn't used all the space
$35 for 6.

8.5" or so, but not as cheap (again, turn sideways)

These kinds of basket are EASY to find, and cheap, usually; this particular one is too big for your use, but smaller ones are often at the dollar store & similar places.

And seriously, get a light! Just take a deep breath, and call an electrician. It shouldn't be more than $300, and may be more like $200, or $150, esp if you don't want a wall switch but are willing to live with a pull chain. You have to have one in there, w/ a space that big. At the very least, get a stick-up light, or go a step up and hang a trouble light in there, and plug it in when you need it (where's the nearest outlet?)

Get a bid, at least--then you'll know how hard and how expensive.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 7:01PM
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Heck, photo boxes sitting sideways would be cheap, easy to standardize on, and could hold a lot.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 7:02PM
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Unfortunately, I have already purchased at least one set of braces for the electrician's kids. ;) I have a quote for that light -- it would be a mighty expensive little light. I will add a light in there eventually -- when I rewire that half of the house.

I have to spend some quality time in the local big box home improvement stores tomorrow anyway, so maybe I'll get some more ideas. IKEA is probably a better choice for storage solutions, but we don't have one here.

At the moment, I'm really not feeling the skinny shelves (they are 9" deep on the last drawing); I just don't have much that will fit into that space. I also have some concerns about the safety of blocking the doorway with a sharp corner of a shelf.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 10:36PM
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Alabama, we have a similar closet in the attic but with the rod close to the front and shelves behind. You are right - it is a total hassle getting to the stuff on the shelves.

Just throwing out a totally contrarian idea - is this closet on an inside wall? If so, could you go in from the other side to create a second closet or built in shelves?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 10:45PM
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"Just throwing out a totally contrarian idea - is this closet on an inside wall? If so, could you go in from the other side to create a second closet or built in shelves?"

Not contrary at all, IMO. That was the first idea I considered - just go ahead and make the closet into a small reach-in closet. But... the other side would open into the hallway instead of the bedroom, so I'd completely lose the space as "master closet." It could make for a deep broom/cleaning closet, which would be an asset. But I'd also have to move the doorbell and thermostat, which would make it into a much bigger and more expensive project than I feel like undertaking 5 days before I move in.

There is a spacious coat closet in the hall nearby and some built-in 14" deep cabinetry for linens which isn't big enough for comforters but is more than I need for sheets and towels. Plus it's just me in a 3 bedroom house (plus finished basement) and I don't keep much stuff around. I'm not shy for storage space anywhere else, but I do want a functional closet in the master bedroom. Stumbling all over the house trying to get dressed at 4:30am is not my idea of efficient. I am NOT a morning person and I have to make it easy on myself. :)

Okay, here's a radical idea. What if instead of shelves behind, I had another clothing rod? I do primarily need hanging space, and I can rotate winter/summer that can't be hung up into one of the other closets. Then the back rod would be for the funeral suit, long dresses, off-season, etc. that I planned to put in the hall closet or on the shelves. Also a pain to get to, but still very infrequently used. I'm not sure it's progress.

Maybe what I really need is 4 closet rods on a thing that rotates vertically... so you push the rod(s) in front down and they rotate to the back and up, and the rod(s) at the top and back move to the front. I could build it if I could just find heavy duty 4' lazy susans I could mount vertically and bolt swiveling closet poles to...

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 11:38PM
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Rotating rods - Very funny. But two sets of rods would work - stationary rods.

I forgot to tell you, Alabama, that you can buy lights that work on batteries - they stick to the wall. So you can have your light without calling an electrician.

With, four rods that are stationary, you can just lay everything on the bed at the end of the season and switch. that will force you to reconsider clothes that don't fit, don't flatter, etc.

Our second closet in the attic that I mentioned because it is similar to yours, is where we store out of season clothes. The rod is set slightly back so there is room for a short rod along the side. If you have anything longer (I don't) you could hang those garments on the short rod and put the double rods across the back twice. If you do the short rod, use a chain fastened to the ceiling (cup hook) and hooked to the rod as extra security. We learned the hard way.

One benefit for you is that your clothes for both seasons will be in the same room. I have to go up and down the stairs to switch out my closets.

PS - I hang most of my knits on those new velour covered hangers or padded hangers. Undies go in plastic boxes in my dresser just because I like having them lined up instead of sliding around.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 9:08AM
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My suggestion is similar to the rotation - put stuff on wheels.

I have a storage locker where I do this. It's five wide, 8 feet deep, and I have both long sides lined with stationary furniture that holds... stuff. In the middle, have a unit (two actually) that rolls out. So when I don't need to be in there, all the space is utilized, but when I roll out the centre unit, there's lots of room for me to get at the two sides, plus I have excellent access to the centre unit.

Since you have a visibility issue in the closet, it might even be an option to put everything on wheels. Then you can pull out all the racks to rotate winter to the back, summer to the front, for purging, organizing, ironing, or just figuring out what to wear.

I think there are several places you can buy rolling garment racks, like probably Ikea, or you could make your own. I've seen some that mix hanging with shelf or drawer space.

You can also put any piece of furniture that you think would work for you on wheels, and if you do that you can buy really high quality casters that make the rolling a pleasure. Wheels can't always be directly attached to the piece, so in the locker I have some stuff on custom-built dollies for each piece, making sure the piece is securely held to the dolly with cleats that prevent it slipping off when it's pushed.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 3:34PM
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Interesting idea, Karin. I got this mental image of the closet rods going in long ways and pulling the whole thing out. That would be pretty sweet. Alas, the bedroom itself is only 11x12 and needs to house a king sized bed, so floor space is at a premium, too. I hate it when reality interferes with a good idea.

I don't think the garment racks stacked in front of each other would work well in this closet. They'd have to turn sideways to get out the door, significantly diminishing the possible width of the rack in order to make the turn.

I know it's an engineer geek thing, but if anyone wants the rotating closet I woke up this morning with schematics in my head. It's very doable... if you have someone to machine parts for you.

After going over to the house and staring at the closet some more, I decided to go with the original idea of two rods in front of the shelves. I started to do a hybrid and do ONE rod in back plus shelves, but bringing the clothes rods that far forward leaves nowhere for the small items like belts and lint rollers and gloves and such -- a token amount of wall space will be sufficient to handle those but I do need a *little* space there.

It'll be fairly painless to build, and if it doesn't work out, well, I'll redo it later.

Thanks for the ideas!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 9:03PM
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Replace those skinny shelves w/ a wall of hooks?
For bathrobes, jackets & coats, etc.?

You could even install short rods sticking out from the wall (like an extra-long Shaker peg; I once saw, in a snazzy hardware store, nice metal ones intended to hold just about 4 coats at a dr's office or something), intended to be a hanging rod for long items, like gowns, goats, dresses, etc.

Good luck w/ the setup you've chosen. It could work if whatever goes in the back is stuff you really never want to access. Heirloom stuff, or something.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 12:14PM
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here's what I mean about those against-the-wall rods

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 2:37PM
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If you are renting I would not spring for the electrician to install a light in the closet.

Go to some store like Lowes or Home Depot and pick up a couple of the stick up LED battery operated round lights. Just be sure to turn it off when you exit the closet.

I have a really long (lengthwise) closet that I stuck one of those in. It has shallow shelves at one end, and I put my printer and its paper there, in the closet, and also the paper shredder. I have an extension cord to power these two
pieces of office equipment which occasionally need some attention.

But the light is very handy and a quick fix.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 1:02AM
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In her first sentence, she says she has purchased the home.

But the stick-up lights might be a useful stopgap, since she feels that the expense is more than she wants to deal with.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 9:08PM
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