Put an End to Closet Clutter

Decorating, Home, Home & Family
on July 13, 2003

A well-designed closet system easily doubles storage space, whether its a bedroom closet, a linen closet, or a hall closet for coats and boots. Many typical clothes closets have one pole and one shelfnot exactly the most efficient use of the space. A better choice is a coated-wire shelving system with either permanent or adjustable shelves that range in widths of 12, 16, and 20 inches.

Permanent shelving systems are installed with wall support brackets and clips; those with adjustable shelves hang on vertical wall standards so they can be moved and reconfigured when storage needs change. Both types of systems are designed for do-it-yourselfers, so installing them has never been easier, even for the not-so-handy homeowner.

The systems are sold as individual pieces and as pre-packaged kits to fit standard-size closets. For example, a typical 6-foot-wide closet system costs about $50; for an 8-foot-wide closet, its around $100. An assortment of accessories made of wire or canvas for storing specialty items range from $5 to $20. These include shoe racks, hooks for belts and scarves, and various sizes of hanging baskets and organizers for sweaters or purses.

Measure the closet and make a rough sketch with the dimensions to find a kit that will fit your closet, or plan a custom layout using the individual components. Go to a home center or hardware store, where the systems are sold, and pick up a closet system brochure or project planner. Most manufacturers provide a graph paper planner with suggestions for various designs to fit different-size closets and provide installation instructions and guidelines. Ask a salesperson for help if you have questions.

You also can design your closet on the Internet using online tools at websites such as www.closetmaid.com/AP, www.millspride.com, or www.leerowan.com. Find their closet design directions and type in your dimensions. The visualization tool creates a design layout maximizing the space and generates a shopping list of all the components needed. Print it out and youre ready to go.

Preparing for installation is the most time-intensive part of the project. Empty the closet and find a place to store your belongings while you decide what to keep, what to pitch, and what to donate to a charity. When the closet is empty, remove the old shelving and rod with a prybar and hammer, then patch any holes in the wall with wallboard compound. While the closet is empty, clean the floor, dust the walls, and give the walls and ceiling a coat of paint, if needed.

Follow the manufacturers directions for installing the system. Youll need a measuring tape, pencil, studfinder, drill, hammer, screwdriver, level, and hacksaw to cut the shelving, if required. The project takes a few hours, but every time you open the closet door, youll see it was time well spent.