An Expert Explains The Best Way To Organize Your Closet

Closets are often overlooked rooms in the house. After all, few see closet depth as a dealbreaker when the rest of the home seems to fit their needs. In most cases, people tend to make theirs work for them. In older homes, small walk-ins, often measuring about 3 feet by 3 feet, are standard, according to Project Perfect Home. But newly built homes may see larger closets measuring 6.5 to 7.5 feet deep. Or even 12-by-12-foot options that include an island. These larger closets allow for more custom organization, which is essential for individuals and families alike, according to Kirsten Fisher, a certified professional organizer and founder of Imagine Home Organization.

"The standard closet consisting of one rod and one shelf doesn't work. There should be several components to the ideal primary closet — short hang, long hang (if required), shoe storage, shelving, and drawers," said Fisher in an exclusive interview with House Digest. The proper storage and organizational systems will make retrieving items and getting ready a much simpler process. Even without a large walk-in closet, you can organize your clothing, accessories, and shoes in the most beneficial way.

Arrange your short-hang and long-hang items

For starters, reclassify and organize your clothes by short and long hangs. "For most people, short hang will make up the bulk of their storage needs," Fisher explains. "They will have tank tops, shirts, blouses, skirts, and pants if they fold them over a hanger (my recommended hang method). Maximize space by using double hang, with tops on the higher rod and pants and skirts on the lower." Keeping these items together will also allow you to see what you have and choose clothes easier.

The other option for hanging is the long hang. "Long hang may or may not be required, depending on your clothing needs, but this space may be used for dresses or long coats," she continued. "Because long hang takes up the most amount of space in your closet, try to maintain only the amount you need for long things and fill any other designated long hang space with shoe storage or drawers."

Store shoes the right way

Organizing shoes can be difficult because of the off and irregular shapes from pair to pair. "Many people put shoes on the floor, which can clutter the closet and make it difficult to find what you need," Fisher notes. "Implement designated shoe storage to improve the function of your space. This may be stacking shoe shelves for the floor, boxing shoes on the higher shelves, or placing them in an over-the-door shoe storage bag."

Additionally, keep the type of kicks you're storing in mind when creating some extra space. Flat shoes, like sandals and sneakers, can easily slide into over-the-door storage bags, but heels and boots might need special options. Meanwhile, boots can be laid flat or stored using boot hooks, explains Store Space, while heels are a great style to line shoe shelves. And leather or expensive shoes that may be delicate to maintain may be best stored in a box to avoid scratches.

Use shelves properly

Not everything in your closet should hang, which is where shelves come in handy. "Shelving is a key component to a successful closet because it allows for placement of folded clothes, jewelry, hats, purses, sunglasses, scarves, and other items that might otherwise clutter the closet," Fisher explains. When deciding which clothes to fold versus hang, know that T-shirts, heavy knitwear, casual pants, and items with embellished items are good candidates for folding (via One Good Thing by Jillee). These are items you can store on any closet shelf.

However, Fisher warns, "If your only options are the shelves over your rods, you will need to limit the things you fold and use hanging options. Luckily, there are useful hanging solutions for scarves, jewelry, and, of course, any piece of clothing can be hung." Look for special hangers with divided sections to store clothes, as well as hanging jewelry organizers to keep necklaces from tangling or losing earrings.

Know what you don't need

Many closet storage solutions are tempting and look like a good option for organization purposes. But Fisher warns certain options might be more hurtful than helpful. "I recommend focusing on those shelves for bags and purses and not investing in a fabric hanging shelf unit." These are a series of fabric boxes that can hang from a closet rod, which many people use as an easy and inexpensive place to store folded items.

However, Fisher isn't the biggest fan. "I have removed many of these storage 'solutions' from closets I organize. They are too slippery for most clothes and sag over time, causing things to fall out of the front. Better to hang items or reconfigure your closet with real drawers or added shelving." While these may seem like a quick solution, in the long run, they can be more of a hassle and unbeneficial.

Discover dresser and drawer options

Outside of the closet, many people use dressers as a storage option. Fisher has an unconventional suggestion to aid in organizing efforts. "While many people use a dresser for undergarments and folded clothes — and often they are required if your closet is small — it is ideal to have your clothing in one place. If you must use a dresser, situate it close to your closet for convenience." A dresser in the closet isn't always feasible due to size, but if you have the space, Fisher believes this can help make the process of getting ready and closet arrangement much easier.

When it comes to utilizing every inch of your closet, Fisher suggests the following: "If you have unused space in your closet, add a drawer unit. I see many people try to implement this tip with plastic, stackable options. However, they aren't successful because they are too narrow, too difficult to open, and generally fall apart after a short time." Instead, invest in more durable options meant to last. Try brands like Elfa that specialize in organization solutions and have options that can fit most closets.