Deconstructed – Easy Closet Design with Hanging Shelves and Shoe Storage

Sometimes we want a little more structure in our closets without the total confinement of custom shelves and DIY organizer units. This very basic closet setup featured on Real Simple shows us how we can achieve a very clean, easy-to-maintain aesthetic by adding just a few organizing products. Let’s deconstruct it!

What You’ll Need:

How-To:

Similar to doing a new hairstyle, closet organization projects have the best results when completed in a freshly cleaned, purged closet. Once you have determined the items you would like to keep in the closet, dusted, and cleaned the floors, you can achieve the above pictured organized closet design by following these steps:

  1. Position your shoe rack in the corner. The two-tier wooden shoe rack listed above is designed to store six to eight pairs of shoes while the three-tier rack can store up to 12. Depending on the size of your closet, you may be able to fit more than one shoe rack if you have more shoes. In a standard, non walk-in closet, I most frequently position shoe racks against a wall or directly in the corner with the most frequently-worn shoes within easiest reach.
  2. Position your fabric hanging shelf on the left side of your closet rod. Within the shelf you can store small items like scarves, socks, tights, perhaps t-shirts. The addition of the fabric drawers makes the shelves ideal for storing intimate apparel or items you don’t need to access throughout the year like hats, gloves, and earmuffs. I recommend using the drawers to store items you can afford to have out of sight, but won’t forget their location and go out and purchase duplicates. On the open shelf, I recommend sticking to items you can neatly fold. Alternatively, you can also store items that do not require folding like a few small handbags and clutches or perhaps a few stackable hats. Whatever you decide to store on the open shelf, be sure you are able to keep it maintained neatly!
  3. Decide which clothing items you would like to keep on hangers, and transfer them over to the wood hangers. The closet in the photo only houses tops on its hangers. However, I’ve selected the full triangular wood hangers that allow you to also fold pants over the bottom rung. While these hangers are a little bulkier than some other styles like the popular velvet hangers, the hangers I’ve selected will give your closet a more upscale retail store aesthetic, and they feature notches that allow you to secure your tops with very thin straps. To achieve the color scheme pictured above, start by positioning your white tops on the left side, and gradually add tops of darker colors as you move rightward, keeping your color groups together. Beginning with your white tops on the left side will also help prevent color transfer onto your light-colored clothes. If you would like to include pants in your close, I would recommend putting them on hangers and keeping them together in a separate section further to the right and also organized by color. You can also check out my post on my quick, go-to color-coordinating closet organizing strategy.
  4. Lastly, place your small hamper adjacent to your shoe rack on the right side of the closet. I recommend keeping the hamper in a position within the closet that will allow fresh air circulation if possible. Place your wire cube bin on the left side of the top shelf to create easy storage for lint rollers, fabric sprays, and other clothing and closet supplies.
  5. Step back and admire your work. We did it!

Once again, the following supplies can be found at Amazon and delivered conveniently to your home. Thank you for supporting me by purchasing through my affiliate links:

Stay tuned as we deconstruct more organized spaces in the home!

Basic Closet Organization Strategy

One of the first questions I ask my clients who request closet organization help is: what is your morning routine? Next question: are you often late for work? The automatic follow-up that is: can you find your clothes easily in the morning?
If you struggle in these area, have no shame. You’re in good company. The following is a fairly simple approach to getting your clothes closet in order. One of the fantastic aspects of this basic system is it’s easy to learn and maintain. You can make it as complex and detailed as you’d like. I would advise adding more detail to the way you organize your closet ONLY if doing so would help you. It is entirely possible to get caught up in the act of organizing and get lost in the details.
Ideal Step 1: Purge your closet. Right now we are nearing the end of summer. The next couple weeks provide an excellent opportunity for you to assess spring and summer clothes you will look forward to replacing next year. If you are a person who likes to shop off season or during clearance sales, perfect! Get rid of some stuff before you go buy something new. Seriously. Do not allow yourself to go shopping for clearance items until you have purged.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I will proceed to the more realistic first step for those of us who may be trying to quickly throw our closet together either a) to avoid going insane because we can’t take it anymore or b) because we simply don’t have time to do a thorough purge over the next couple weeks because [insert legitimate reason]. No judgment whatsoever. Okay. Let’s start organizing!
Step 1: Bring all of your hanging clothes (within one closet) into view. You can leave it on the racks as long as you can see it all. Divide your closet based on intended purpose/frequency of use. For many of us, that means hanging all work clothes on one half of the closet and all non-work clothes on the other half. If you have special occasion items, separate them into their own category, preferably at one of the far ends of the closet (in the corner, following your work clothes would be a great place, assuming you dress up or wear a uniform for work).
Step 2: Once you’ve gotten all clothes on hangers and separated into their categories inside the closet [you should have 2 major categories per closet, no more than 3], sort all clothes within Category 1 [let’s call it Work Clothes] by type. This means you would hang all tops at the front of the Work Clothes section, followed by skirts, then pants, then dresses, then suits. Feel free to vary the order of clothing types for greater ease of access or enhanced visual effect–yes, your closet will also look pretty when you’re done. Or you may simply follow the order listed. I typically order clothing as described. Sometimes I vary when working within someone else’s closet.
 
Step 3: After grouping clothing according to type, work within each group, and sort all clothing according to color from lightest to darkest (or darkest to lightest with stripes and prints at the beginning of each color segment [i.e. pink butterfly shirt at the beginning of the pinks, which are located directly in front of the reds because pink is lighter than red, but in the same color family]).
Step 4: This may be more of a bonus step for some, but a necessity when I do my own closet. If you’ve made it this far, you’re doing well. Let’s kick things up a notch by…sorting all clothing (within each type) by weight and sleeve length. This means within Tops: tops with thin straps first, then sleeveless, then cap sleeves, then short sleeves, then 3/4-length, then long sleeves, finally sweaters. Skirts: short skirts, knee-length, calf-length (if you’re into that), ending with long skirts. The idea is to essentially keep lighter weight, cooler clothing to the front of each group and to progress to longer sleeves (or skirt length or pant legs).
This way, you can look at your closet and easily pull out your green beaded camisole without hesitation. Breath of fresh air, right? Ahhh….
 
Step 5: Repeat Steps 1 through 3 [optionally 4] on the next category of clothing in your closet [If you divided your closet into Work and Play clothes, you would simply proceed on to the Casual side, sort and group all casual clothing accordingly]
This system has served me so well. I hope you also enjoy implementing it! It make getting back on track much easier when things go awry…as they sometimes do in the world of staying organized…

Portable Closets: Solutions for Rooms That Have Minimal or No Closet Space

For rooms that don’t have closet storage, a portable unit is often a simple solution that also delivers aesthetics. The following products are mostly priced under $50 and can be purchased at Amazon by clicking on the image [image are Amazon Affiliate links; Amazon pays me a small percentage for purchases made through my links. The purchase price remains the same.].

 

Two hanging rods and nine shelves:

Heavy-duty doors for concealed storage with two bottom drawers:

Five hanging racks with two shelves [Exposed Storage]

B&W Eiffel Tower Decorative Cover w/ four shelves and one rack

 

Modular storage with rack

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Definitive Guide to Buying Closet Organizing Supplies

After seeing how helpful the moving supplies guide has been, I decided to begin work on my second “Definitive Guide.” Below are some of the most commonly prescribed closet organizing tools I recommend to clients. [Note: the following links are Amazon Affiliate links. As an affiliate, Amazon compensates me with a small percentage of each sale that is made through the links listed below].

Shelf dividers can save a great deal of frustration when storing folded clothing on shelf space. Dividers are available in a variety of materials. It is important to measure the thickness of your closet shelf before purchasing to ensure the divider will attach. If your shelves are too thick for dividers, there are other options (such as fabric cubes and baskets) for keeping folded clothing and linens organized on shelves.

Wire Shelf Dividers

“Platinum” Shelf Dividers

Unbreakable Acrylic Shelf Dividers

Baskets – I am a fan of keeping folded clothing and linens contained, but visible. One of my favorite hacks is to place a stack folded items into a basket or fabric cube HORIZONTALLY, which allows you to see all the folded edges when looking into the basket. Then place the basket onto the shelf on its side. Doing so grants total visibility of the stack of clothes you wish to keep folded. Baskets may be used in their traditional manner (with the opening facing the top) for items you wish to store on a shelf, but don’t require visibility.

 

Java – Set of 3

Seville Classics Hand-Woven – Set of 2

Fabric Storage Cubes – Alternative to basket storage; also useful in various other areas in the home. Low-cost and efficient way to organize items on shelves, including folded clothing.

 

 

Shoes & Boots – Virtually every U.S. household has multiple pairs of shoes. Depending on the climate, some also have boots. Most of us in the NYC area have both. Here are a few tools that will help you store them neatly and keep them off the floor.
10-Tier Space-Saving Shoe Rack

3-Tier Shoe Rack

Over-the-Door Shoe Rack – 36 Pair!

Hanging Boot Storage

Boot Shaper Inserts

 

 

 

Linen Storage – Many of us change linens with the seasons. There are several items that can help you store heavy blanks and large comforters when they are not in use.

Linen Storage Bag

Vacuum Storage Bags – I should not that I very much prefer the vacuum bags that require vacuum suction versus the bags that require folding and manual removal of excess air. When using a vacuum storage back, I typically vacuum out the air until the fabrics transform into a solid rectangular block.

 

 

 

Hangers – 99% of households have closets with a hanging rod. The type of clothes hanger you choose can actually help save space and improve the aesthetics of your closet.

Velvet Hanger – These are thin, strong, and available in a variety of colors; perfect for color-coding the clothing categories within your closet. I mean. If you’re into that.