Closet Design Basics

This summer I visited friends in St. Paul, Minnesota and toured a beautifully restored mansion built by James J. Hill and his wife. The 36,000 square foot, over-the-top home features intricately carved mahogany details, crystal chandeliers, a three-story pipe organ and grand everything. Even the closets and storage were amazing and very organized, especially considering that the house was completed in 1891.

Like any interior, a well-designed closet improves lives and reduces stress. Remodeling, adding an addition, or hiring a closet system company is what everyone dreams of because you can never have enough closet space! It feels so good to have everything in your closet organized by category and easy to navigate.

When remodeling a closet, the first step is to measure the linear feet of clothes, shoes and folded items to be stored. Purging what you don’t use is best, but use the original linear footage so you have room to eventually fill in gaps with new items.

Below are a few basics to help with space planning:

  • Almost anything on a hanger (shirts, jackets, dresses) needs a minimum depth of 24″.
  • 68″ is the average length for coats and dresses and they should be hung on a single bar.
  • Shirts, skirts and jackets require 36″ to 45″ of vertical space. They can be put on a double hung system to save space. The average height for double hanging rods is 84″. A shelf can be put above double rods at 85.5″. (Mount top rod at no lower than 81″, the lower at 36″.) Storage on walls above 96″ is very difficult to access.
  • Pants/jeans require up to 50″ of vertical space if hung straight but only 25″ if folded over.
  • Folded sweaters/shirts require 9″ to 15″ of linear space each.
  • Invest in new “lay-flat” hangers if space is limited.
  • Once you have more than a dozen shoes, you really use up space!  Space women’s shoe shelves 6-7″ apart, with 7-9 linear inches of shelf space per pair.
  • Add a pocket door to allow 100% access to storage.

Use this graphic as a guideline:

There are a lot of tips to help you DIY, or you can hire organizers or professional space planners. Once you reorganize or remodel your closet you’ll be happy you did!