Space in houses has always been, and continues to be at a premium. Traditionally, clothing was stored in stand-alone tall cabinets called wardrobes, or armoires. This fine piece of furniture contained drawers and a tall hanging space. These days, it is standard practice for homes to have built-in closets in bedrooms. So much so, that some building codes define a room as a bedroom if it has one or more closets.
The typical closet is fitted with one hanging rod located 64 inches above the floor, with one shelf above it; useful, but not the most efficient for maximizing storage space. The shelf is too high for convenient access, and the single hanging rod ensures that long items often drag the floor, with shorter shirts leaving space unused under them.
To start with, the average closet can be vastly improved by replacing the single hanging rod with shorter rods at two or three different heights from the floor. They can be located so as to accommodate clothing items of particular lengths, such as shirts, jackets, gowns and slacks.
Some of the spaces can be below others, for example, the rod for hanging suits and jackets can be blow the rod for hanging shirts. Another advantage of this arrangement is that a shorter rod is able to support more weight without sagging than a longer one will.
How much vertical space do different types of clothing need? Refer to the following rules of thumb-
-Suits and jackets: 38 inches of hanging space
-Shirts: 42 inches
-Trousers: 50-54 inches
-Slacks (folded over a hanger): 20 inches
-Coats: 50 inches
-Dresses: 45 inches
-Evening gowns: 68-70 inches
Closet Shelving Systems
A must when reworking closet storage is to get shoes up off the floor, not only do they make it hard to close sliding closet doors, they also collect dust, make cleaning the floor difficult, and there is always too many shoes and not enough space.
Installing shelves low to the floor, cabinets with shoe sized cubbyholes, or shoe racks, or a hanging pocket type shoe storage system will go a long way towards getting things organized and neat looking.
Shelving can also be added between the shorter hanging rods stacked vertically. These can neatly hold and store just about anything you have in your closet now in a messy jumble, like sweaters, linens, hats, scarves, handbags, etc. The more shelves you can fit in, the easier it is to organize and separate different types of items.
Shelves can be installed in many ways. You can buy readymade wooden or metal shelving or build them yourself. Modular bin type storage systems are available in various designs and materials as well. These are easily assembled and installed. Plastic modular storage uses transparent material you can see through to keep track of what is stored where.
An alternative to shelving is to use low chests of drawers placed on the floor. Make sure they are not too deep to fit inside the closet, though. You can even use the sides of taller drawer cabinets as supports for hanging rods.
If you prefer, you can buy a complete closet storage system specially designed for maximizing storage space. These come ready to assemble into one unit which will fit into your existing closet.
All kinds of ingenious solutions are incorporated into these systems, for example wall-hung grids, peg-boards, sliding racks and rotating dollies. While they are a bit more expensive that a do it yourself approach, if you have limited time and want to get organized, this is the way to go.
Space Saving Tips
– Get rid of your old wire clothes hangers and replace them with the new hangers specially made for specific clothing items. For example, hanging racks which hold as many as 6 pairs of trousers on one hanger.
– Replace sliding closet doors with folding or hinged doors, so that you can see the entire closet at once. This will also allow the use of the back surface of the closet door for storage pegs, hanging tie racks or hats.
– Modular storage bins can be especially useful in a child’s bedroom; they can help encourage neatness
– Consider using under bed storage for storing blankets and other linens rather than closets