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Can’t Find Anything To Wear? How a Smart Closet Design Can Help

How a well-planned closet remodel and renovation can solve wardrobe problems and save money

Soon after Timisha Porcher moved into her Maryland home, she went on a mission to remodel the master bedroom’s closet. The closet’s bright orange paint job was the least of the problems. Most of her clothes were stacked in the master bathtub because the closet’s rods and shelves were loose or missing. 


She spent $400 and two weekends installing everything. “The finished, empty closet was gorgeous,” says Porcher.


Despite her thorough measuring and planning, however, Porcher neglected to take a ruler to the most important part of the closet—her clothes. “The hanging clothes are too long and they cover the drawers of the closet’s existing built-in dresser,” she says. “I can’t believe I missed that.” As a result, the dresser remains empty. 


When it comes to remodeling a closet, the little details can matter even more than the quality of the finishes, says Eric Marshall, a certified closet designer and board member of the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals (ACSP) who also owns DEA Kitchens and Closets in Phoenix, Arizona. That’s why Marshall tries to start every project with a meeting inside the client’s closet. “I don’t want clients to clean up for me,” Marshall says. “I like to see the problems so I can fix them.”


With an eye toward key technical and planning details, Marshall and other designers and DIYers outline their best advice for what to consider when remodeling a closet.

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Every closet renovation should start with these key tools 


Porcher, a.k.a. ToolBox Diva, a DIY blogger, approached her closest project like a pro: with a graph paper notebook, tape measure and pen. She took meticulous measurements of the actual closet—floor to ceiling, wall to wall—to ensure she’d use every inch, then drafted the new closet from scratch on four sheets of graph paper, with every square on a page representing six inches. After mapping out every nook and cranny, she bought a white, coated-metal adjustable closet system to fit the space perfectly. 


She says the first step in a closet renovation starts with this outline of the closet’s measurements. Then, take a complete inventory—including length and width measurements of your hanging and folded clothing. 


To ballpark the amount of horizontal hanging space needed in a closet, Marshall recommends multiplying the number of pieces by the following measurements:


Suits: 2.5 inches

Dresses: 2 inches 

Folded pants/skirts: 1.5 inches

Blouses: 1.25 inches 


For example, eight men’s suits require 20 inches (8 suits x 2.5”=20 inches) of space on a hanging rod. 


Vertical hanging space is equally important when planning the layout of a hanging system and shelving. Start the design with one hanging rod that leaves a 70-inch clearance for dresses, which are typically 60-plus inches long. Shirts and jackets—typically 36 inches for women and 38 inches for men—hang on rods with 42 inches of clearance. An additional rod can be installed underneath for folded pants and skirts, which require 28 inches of hanging space. If the closet’s ceilings are 10 feet or higher, Marshall recommends a pneumatic pull-down rod, which can triple the amount of hanging space.

Clothing Time

In 1930, American women owned an average of nine outfits. Today the number is closer to 30.

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