Closets are as unique as the individuals who use them, but there are some similarities in all perfect closets. Whether the space is large or small, organization is the key. Start by taking a detailed look at the clothing and accessories you keep in your closet. Hanging clothes need a rod, accessories like shoes and hats need shelf space, and items like scarves, ties and belts require some type of rack or box. Determine how much space you need to give over to each of these categories.

Break the hanging space into subcategories. For example, women need a full-length section for longer dresses, skirts, and gowns, where men might be fine with a half-length space to accommodate dress shirts, jackets, and slacks. Consider what other items of clothing you like to keep in your closet. Do you hang or fold t-shirts? Do you need space for sweaters, or do you keep them in a dresser drawer? Do you, in fact, want your entire dresser in the closet?

Another important factor to consider is whether you share your closet. If a couple is sharing a master closet, they need to ascertain how to allocate the space. Generally speaking, women have more clothes and accessories than men, but this is not always the case.

Once you have a handle on this aspect, measure your closet, obtaining figures for height, depth and width. Think about the layout you want. Do you have an empty wall that can be utilized? Sketch out on a sheet of graphing paper how you might like to divide up your space, including room for everything on your “wish list”. This includes rods, shoe racks, shelving, tie racks, belt racks, etc.

Give some thought to the look you want your perfect closet to have. Do you want a contemporary look with white wire racks and shelves? Do you like a traditional rod? Maybe you would prefer built-in shelves of wood or laminate instead of wire. Do you prefer an open stainless steel shoe rack, (about $20) or a closed-in one with a tilt-out front (about $40)? Or maybe you like to keep your shoes in their boxes on a shelf.

Let’s discuss some of the many options that can contribute to the perfection of your closet. Drawers or pull-out wire bins are convenient for folded items such as shirts, jeans, sweaters, and socks. Shoe rails make it easy to find the shoes you desire, and allow them to air between wearings. Hanging space is essential—the main question is how much do you need, and whether you choose a single or double rod, which allows you to hang twice as much in the same space. Another option is to install storage such as drawers, shelves, or bins under the rod.

Built in, tilt-style hampers are an excellent choice for a closet. Some customers install more than one, for on-the-go laundry sorting. Racks for belts and ties are handy, and keep these items straight and uncurled. Scarves can be folded and stored in baskets on the shelves, along with socks, underwear, and gloves and other small items.

If you are a hat-wearer, invest in a set of actual hat-boxes ($49) to preserve your beauties from being crushed or destroyed. Hand-bags and totes can be hung on hooks, although it isn’t good for the handles. It’s recommended that they be stored on shelves, side-by-side, not stacked or thrown in.

Now that you have some idea of the direction you’re heading, it’s time to go shopping. Local stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s carry a nice variety of closet equipment, or you can look on-line at any number of businesses which carry both ready-made and custom-built closet paraphernalia. A third option is to hire a local contractor, especially if you are making major changes or have little skill as a handy-man.

Your closet can be utilitarian and streamlined, or it can be just as elegant as any room in your home with crown moldings and beautiful finishes. Wood cabinets and drawers come in many finishes from light oak to chocolate. Laminates are less expensive and are available in the usual white as well as wood tones. Cabinet doors can have glass fronts, just as kitchen cabinets do, to help you locate items quickly. Wire baskets are either chrome or white. Woven baskets come in many natural shades, as well as colors such as blue, yellow, white and red. They make a nice presentation, and are portable and versatile, although it is suggested that baskets be lined with muslin or other fabric to avoid snagging. They come in a wide price range depending on size and quality, from $4 at Wal-Mart on up.

It’s difficult to give a price range for a perfect closet re-do, since there are many variables. To buy and install your own closet system from a do-it-yourself home retailer, expect to spend at least $250. For a custom designed, built-in closet by a closet professional, you will definitely spend much more, depending on where you live (Manhattan versus Pascagoula), the materials you choose, how much space you have, etc.

Is it worth it? If it makes your life easier, mornings calmer, and keeps you from tearing your hair out, then yes it is. A well-designed closet is a plus for home buyers when you sell, and adds to the value of your home or condo, too.

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