There's no Closet Forum, so....Can We talk Walk In Closets?

beekeeperswifeFebruary 25, 2012

I'm getting to the point in the build that I should start thinking about my walk in closet. It's pretty generous in size but without proper planning we could end with little storage in there!

Just curious if you have walk in closet and have it "organized" if you'd like to share the pics/ideas.

As I'm looking online (Houzz) for ideas I realize that the closet is a lot like the kitchen...


drawers with organization


cool lighting

Don't see any cooking though (well, the occasional microwave and coffee pot show up)

I'm just looking to pick the brains of all the great kitchen layout gurus to see if there are any "rules" to follow like we know about in the kitchen as far as aisle widths, etc.

I hope this is fun as well as informative for everybody.



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The best rule I have is to have 2 of them! Mine is always nice and neat, and his ... well I just keep the door shut. :-)

More seriously though, I don't have advice re. aisle widths and things, but we do have organizers in both our closets. For mine I went with a lot of drawers, some narrow ones for different lingerie, hose, etc (nice to have undies separate from bras separate from hose separate from camisoles separate from socks, etc etc). And some narrower drawers for jewelry, and a few cubbies for purses and things. For his, I went with a combination of drawers and open cubby shelving. Single and double hanging in each; more single hanging in the woman's for your dresses, of course.

If I had it to do over again, I'd do more open cubby shelving and less drawers in his. He tends to be better with putting jeans and sweaters in open shelves; the drawers just become a big jumbled mess that I have to reorganize anyhow (seriously, how hard is it too keep socks in one drawer, underwear in another, tees in another, sweaters in the rest -- really hard if you are my husband, ha ha).

So that wasn't a lot of help, I realize. But I guess what I'm saying is to think about both what you will store and what kind of organizational habits you both have (neat-freak vs. toss-it-and-go, uber-organized vs. wanting to see everything at a glance, etc).

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 9:20PM
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A closet is more like a walk-in pantry. A dressing room with cabinets, fireplace, vanity table, etc., is very nice, but a storage closet is basically a storage closet and has the same parameters:

1. No windows. Natural light is great to see by but even worse for clothes than for food. Clothes are meant to last longer.

2. Consistent temperature. The HVAC can do a number in your closet, trapping heat or a/c. Having some way for the air to circulate, especially the a/c which can also be damp, is essential.

3. Humidity control. As stated above, damp isn't a friend for your clothes. Nor is bone dry. 50% humidity is ideal for textiles. Too much damp can weight the fabrics down and cause sagging, as well as promoting growth of mold and mildew. Too much dry and the fibers loose their suppleness. They feel scratchier and wear faster, and the little threads in the cloth can break.

4. Correct storage. Creases aren't good for most cloths. Hanging isn't good for some. A combination of hanging and shelf/drawer storage is ideal. Sweaters do best folded but not stacked. Pants are happier hanging from one end or other (depending on the construction), but can be draped over a rod (hanger or built in) without suffering too much. They do take up more space that way, however. Jackets must be hung, dresses and skirts should be hung unless they're made of a stretchy knit. Scarves and shawls should be draped over a rod or rolled on a tube to prevent creasing. Shoes that aren't worn very often should be in drawers or boxes to keep them from getting dusty and marred.

5. Space efficiency: Eye level is great for choosing clothes, but you can maximize your space better if you double hang and put tops as high as you can conveniently reach them, and either more tops, or skirts/shorts/doubled pants below. Long hanging storage is necessary for dresses and gowns, and best for suits. Suits can also be hung on double rails if the pants are doubled. Drawers/boxes of rarely worn shoes (ones that go with a particular dressy outfit and the like) can go on shelves above the hanging things. Keep a small step stool in the closet to make access easy. Handbags can go on open shelves, but it's nicer to have a door, also to keep out dust. A clear door can remind you to use them. Lazy susans can work as well in corners as in the kitchen. You can have all shelves for shoes and bags, or use a section for pants clips, tie hangers, scarf rolls, etc. Ties do best on tie hangers (bars with little rods for the ties). These only work if they're somewhere that won't be squished. Otherwise they're nightmarish. The inside of a cabinet door with the shelves set back is a good place. Belts work well on pegs, again, placed somewhere they won't get squished.

6. Smalls, undergarments, hosiery, gloves, soft hats, etc., are best in drawers, though work in baskets. It's nice to have a hamper or laundry chute right in the closet. Structured hats are best kept on forms in cabinets. Barring that extravagance, hatboxes are best. They can be stacked/shelved in hard to use corners. Don't forget the labels.

7. Daily wear. Include some storage for the stuff you constantly wear around the house. The hoodie you always put on when you get home. The old running shoes. Or a small wardrobe of sweats, little dresses, or whatever you wear when you're not "dressed". Make it really easy to access with room for house shoes and house sweaters/jackets, including hooks for that which you've taken off and intend to put back on. If you have it all easy to get at and organized these bits are less likely to decorate the rest of the house (if you have sloppy-lazies) and makes it easier to just pop into the closet and put off your good clothes. Also have a "current" spot for better garments that might have been worn slightly but will be worn again before cleaning. This can be a valet, small rack, or hooks, but should have hangers so they can be stored properly so as not to lose their shapes or get wrinkled.

8. Maintenance. I mentioned the hamper, but it's also nice to have a place to put dry cleaning, both going out and coming in, along with a pad to write down what you're sending to the cleaners and to check off as you put the fresh cleaning on proper hangers. Even better would be to have room for an ironing board right in the closet or dressing area, though I've never achieved that. :)

Sorry I don't have any pictures. I have or have had most of the above. My current closet came fitted, but it's not pretty. Just plywood. It works though.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 9:33PM
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plllog - You said Sweaters do best folded but not stacked. How do you do this? Maybe I am just tired, but I can't figure out what to do with the sweaters after they are folded that does not involve stacking.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 9:46PM
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Dekeoboe, the answer is that space efficiency isn't really best for sweaters. I'm talking about the kind that needs to be dried flat, not the fine gage machine knit tops that are fine on hangers, especially hangers with a little padding. The best way to store sweaters is neatly folded but not creased, the sides folded, rather than down the center, in a sweater bag (cloth, not plastic), and on a shelf or in a drawer. (Even better, folded with a folding cloth inside, but even I'm not crazy enough to do it, and I have no ladies' maid with nothing better to do.) Stored with nothing on top of it. Shallow shelves or drawers will hold quite a few if you have a well edited wardrobe.

I don't have that kind of room, and I live in a moderate climate so have a fairly limited number of sweaters. I do stack them, because my closet is big and there still isn't enough room, but I try to keep the heavy ones on the bottom. Inevitably they fall over when I'm looking for a particular one, and it's a mess, plus then they get squished. Not ideal. If I redo my closet I'll get some close together ROTS (roll out shelves) and put the sweaters in them without stacking, but I have better places to spend the money right now. The current configuration won't allow a retrofit.

Best is when each sweater, or possibly set stored together, gets its own space.

Reality is hoping to have enough storage that you don't have to store them away seasonally in an attic.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 11:04PM
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P.S., I suppose storing sweaters totally flat is the bestest possible, but I don't know anyone who does that. I imagine you could do a bunch of large squares of plywood skin covered with a few layers of triple washed unbleached linen (if you're going to do it, do it right), that slot into a rack about 1.5" apart. Just pull out the one you want to wear, and put it back when cleaned. That would be easier than sweater folding, which is a pain! But shallow ROTS and folded sweaters makes for more flexible storage. The thing is, if the sweater isn't perfectly flat, if it's just mostly flat, without the sleeves extended, or whatever, you might just as well fold it already and not pull at the bits that wear most, like the underarms.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 11:10PM
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What a wonderful crash course in closetology, Plllog. I've been dragging my feet about deciding how to configure storage in my new walk-in closet. I've never had one before and looking at all that space leaves me a bit befuddled. I took over the tiny, old master bath as my closet when we added the new, larger bath. DH got a new non-walk in with French doors.

I sort of knew most of what you just wrote, but couldn't quite sort it out. Now I can move forward in getting all of my clothes out of those big boxes! Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 11:13PM
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For information on the closet industry, go to It is an industry magazine that can help you find companies that supply components as well as companies that create closets.
Closets and garages are becoming more of a focal point for homeowners and there are fantastic options available!
More clients are requesting kitchen like components in their closets and it is fun to create a special place for clothing and other apparel using something besides wire shelving.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 12:32AM
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Not sure how much you want to invest. I wanted to do something in our closet and didn't want to put too much $$$ into it.

We bought a couple of the John Louis Deluxe systems from overstock - added drawers and shelves. It was very labor intensive, but not hard work. We got exactly what we wanted and I really love how it came out.

Something to think about...

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 8:11AM
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Bee, I wish I had a "do over" on my closet design, some of my decisions would be much different. My closet is only 10x7 and I share it with DH so I really had to make good use of limited space. I did a lot of internet searches and none were as helpful as the information plllog has just shared on this thread.

I did do a few things however that have worked out well for us. First I put in mid level drawers for the items we use year around like underwear ,socks etc. but I have most of my seasonal clothes in labeled canvas baskets on open shelves. I seasonally swap the baskets between the top shelf and the easy to reach shelves. The canvas baskets with clear plastic windows would also work well but they don't look as tidy . I used to keep those things in drawers in my old closet but I got tired of moving things around with each season. I still keep some of my heavier sweaters stacked and folded on open shelves but I struggle to keep the stacks of sweaters looking neat.

I saved wall space for a luggage rack that has an open suitcase on it and a canvas basket underneath with dry cleaning bags in it for the hanging clothes that get packed. We both travel for work and I try to make the packing and unpacking process as quick and easy as possible. I also hung a set of wall hooks right inside the closet with a clothes hamper beneath. My DH is NOT a neat person and our master closet is off the MB. If I didn't have a clothes hamper and wall hooks right where he drops his clothes they would be strewn everywhere.

I hope more people jump in and share their ideas. I would love to hear creative tips for a functional well organized master closet.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 8:31AM
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plllog--see? I knew there were people who knew their stuff here! Thanks so much! I guess I just have to start figuring it all out.

taggie, thanks for giving me some things to think about too.

breezy, I'm thinking of giving my ideas to my cabinetmaker and seeing what he can come up with. I'm sure he has done some bangin' closets that he has pictures of too. I'm not sure if he would be the type who can come up with the ideas of what to do but if I (I mean the GW community) can come up with a plan I'm sure he can do it!

This might be a fun way to get my mind off of ALL the things I am supposed to be doing since the movers are coming in less than 2 weeks! Yikes!

ayerg73, I'll check out that system I've seen systems on Costco too. But I know those can get pricey quickly.

powertool-thanks for the info too, I'll check it out.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 8:33AM
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Great thread. I share a 9' x 7' walk-in with DH. It has the basic organizers including drawers, cubby shelving, and double and tall hanging space but I just ordered some cool accessories: a slide-out tie rack, belt rack and valet poles, to make it a bit more functional. My current belt rack and DH's tie rack are attached to the inside of the tall hanging space, and are a pain to get to. I ordered the valet pole because I'm constantly hanging the next day's work outfit on the drawer pulls overnight.

Also, don't forget about the possibility of a wardrobe if the closet space is small. We use our walk-in closet basically for our work and special occasion wardrobes (we both have to suit up often for work) but we also share a large free standing wardrobe in the bedroom for sweaters and foldable tops, sweats, etc. I love the wardrobe, it's a beautiful piece of furniture, and a nice solution for a smaller than optimal closet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pull outs

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 9:22AM
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There is closet talk on the Organizing the Home forum, but you are probably better and quicker to get advice here. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 10:06AM
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For those on a budget, the new Martha systems at HD and the Allen & Roth at Lowes are quite nice, too. I would say Martha has more different accessories available but I personally prefer the look of the Lowes system. The nice things about these vs ones like the John Louis is that the towers are floor standing, not wall hung.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 10:35AM
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beekeeperswife Jason did our closets. I know you saw the pictures on my other thread. He will do a GREAT closet for you.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 11:24AM
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Maybe not in your case Bee, but I knows others will be reading this thread,for those who can DIY the Elfa systems in the Container Stores are equal to California Closets. We don't have a walk-in but we opened up two side by side closets. We had a sales rep from California closets come. She basically looked at what we had and the type of clothing that we have. For example, I did not need space for long formal evening attire. She had flash cards that had poles, cubbies etc and just spred them out and recommended the layout. When she gave us the price, we felt it was too high for just cubbies and poles.
We got a similar system from the Container Store and our carpenter and my husband did the install.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 12:07PM
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We just purchased an ELFA system for DH's closet (a sliding closet in our MB, which was shortened by ~1' during our MB bathroom reno). We caught the tail end of the Annual ELFA Sale. 30% off all ELFA components, accessories, and installation as well. Sale prices seemed pretty reasonable (compared to the Rubbermaid shelving parts we'd gotten at HD last fall for the guest bedroom closet). Not sure if we will use ELFA for the walk-in closet (that DH still needs to build), or if we will look into another system when the time comes, so this thread is a welcome one for me, too.

For those considering ELFA for future projects, their next Annual Sale begins 12/24/12 from what I was told.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 12:55PM
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OMG closets. Just hearing that word makes me want to hibernate. We have essentially a new build with the cheeziest cr#$%ist ickiest kind of barely-painted plywood and unreachable shelves and still: No doors . I am so defeated by it! Because life was overwhelming I had no time or willingness to think about it and just let someone do "whatever". Big big mistake. But now I imagine to do anything better will cost as much as new kitchen, since that's essentially what it is?! aaaghh... anyway, I'm looking forward to closetology at a later moment. Thanks, all, for such a treasure trove of info above.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 1:00PM
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Lots of really good light is necessary. Trying to differentiate between the navy blue pants and the black pants and then trying to find socks that match is hard without good lighting. I'm always having to bring my stuff out of the closet into the bedroom where the light is better to figure it out. I have a mix of hangers - padded ones for blouses, clipped ones for skirts, my Dh likes wooden ones for suit jackets and I like really strong ones for my jeans - and those are really hard to find these days. Costco often sells nice packages of hangers.

Think about what you are storing other than clothes - shoes, purses (I have a deeper shelf at the top for purses so as to keep those pesky straps under control and they are in cubbies that hold about 4 purses each), accessories such as scarves, belts.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 1:28PM
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We also just bought the Elfa system for our MBR. Much better storage for DH's stuff. I use the other closets and most of the drawers.

He even took a decent amount of stuff to Goodwill. Unfortunately, our Goodwill had a fire this week (sadly, intentionally set) and everything was lost. They will be closed for several months while they rebuild.

Here is the Elfa. It was also 30% off the install. It took two guys less than a hour which probably would've taken us all day. I also painted the closet since it probably had not been painted in at least a decade.

Highly recommend the Elfa if you have a Container Store near you. They have all ranges, from racks to more cabinetry type of looks.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 1:44PM
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I swear by elfa. It doesn't look as gorgeous as Beagles' closets, but it's all modular and there's not much wasted space because there's no cabinets with thick wood etc. the best part is that you can reorganize at any time. I love their drawers on roll out slides. Hope that helps. Ps- my closet is 7x7 so I had to maximize space!!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Thanks plllog. I figured you meant each sweater on its own shelf, but wasn't sure. I don't have enough space for that, but I do prefer more shelves so the stacks aren't very high.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 8:26PM
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