Closet Transformations

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Your dream closet may include a whirlpool bath and min-fridge, but in real life most of us are limited by our available space and budget. Whether your closet is a step-in, walk-in or the size of a small bedroom, taking some time to design the space can help make some of your closet dreams a reality.

The thought and design process will also help you maximize your space and keep everything organized, which is the ultimate goal of most closet makeovers. Here are some inspiring tips and ideas to help you get started.

To create an inviting closet, begin with the basics: floors, doors and lighting. If you plan on getting dressed in your closet, think about a floor that will be comfortable for bare feet. A carpet is warm but it may be difficult to vacuum and keep clean, so many designers recommend a wood or tile floor with a throw rug.

Good lighting in a closet is more than just an aesthetic choice; a well-lit closet makes it easier to find things and stay organized. Here’s where you can go all out and indulge your closet fantasies with a small chandelier, interesting pendant lights or classic sconces. You may also want to consider adding a motion detector that will switch your lights on automatically. If your closet isn’t wired for a light, check out battery-powered stick-up lights at your local home improvement store.

If your closet is equipped with a traditional hinged door that swings outward, you may want to consider changing it to improve traffic flow and free up more space in your room. Sliding, pocket and folding doors come in a variety of styles and are a popular alternative to hinged doors. Fabric panels or curtains are another door alternative that can add color and pattern to your room.

Once you’ve taken care of your basic closet space, it’s time to step back and take inventory of what you will be storing. Organization experts consider this step to be essential and recommend that it should be completed before you begin to look at closet storage systems. Go through your clothing, shoes and accessories and decide what to keep and what to donate or throw out. If it’s been some time since you’ve overhauled your closet, you may want some help with this step of the process. The National Association of Professional Organizers is a nonprofit organization that provides an online search tool at to help you find a qualified professional organizer in your area.

After you’ve cleaned out and inventoried your clothing, you should have a much better idea about what you need to store. You can use this information to guide your storage design. For example, if you have dresses, suits or pants that you want to hang, you’ll need to set aside enough vertical space. If buying new shoes is your guilty pleasure, you’ll need plenty of room for shoe racks or cubbies.

There’s a wide range of closet storage systems available. At the less-expensive end of the spectrum are powder coated wire racks and shelves that can be cut to fit your closet dimensions. This type of storage system is relatively easy to install and can even be a DIY project. At the other end of the storage spectrum in terms of price are custom-made wooden or metal components that are designed for your space and installed by an expert. Besides racks for hanging clothes and shelves for sweaters and other folded clothing, many custom storage systems come with useful add-on features such as jewelry trays, belt hooks, rotating shoe racks or a built-in dresser or vanity.

To maximize storage in your closet without creating a feeling of clutter, try to make use of the full height of the space. High shelves can be used to store out-of-season and less frequently used items. If possible, move out-of-season clothing to another closet or to a separate area of your closet where you don’t need to look at it every day.

Once your closet storage is taken care of, you can think about taking your design to the next level by adding some high-end touches such as crown molding, a metallic wall treatment or a 180-degree full-length mirror. If you have space, a marble-topped island with drawers adds extra storage and provides a place to display designer handbags or other collectibles. A tufted ottoman or bench is a practical addition that provides a place to sit while you put on your shoes.
Finally, one of the most streamlined ways to add a luxury look is to invest in matching hangers and to organize your clothing by color. Your clothes will hang straighter and you’ll be far more tempted to leave your closet doors open. ■

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