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Planning and creating custom closets in your home is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself as a homeowner.
Organization is key to reducing stress levels, and having an organized closet is a huge step to meeting that goal!
Where do you start when you want to plan to have a custom closet installed in your home? Should you choose professionally installed closets or a DIY installation?
Custom closets aren’t limited to bedrooms — but that will be the focus here. (There are a number of space-saving, task-based closets that can be built in places that you may not have thought about before.)
Let’s start with how much stuff you have stuffed in your closet right now.
How To Design Your New Custom Closet
Following are 3 steps to help you decide what you want your custom closet to look like and whether you should hire a professional or do it yourself:
#1 – Completely Empty Your Closet
It doesn’t matter what type of custom closet you have in mind, the main thing you need to do first is to organize the items that will go inside it.
The rules of cleaning out any disorganized room or closet is to take everything out and divide things into 3 piles:
- Keep it / repair it.
- Donate it / give it away.
- Trash it / recycle it.
Here’s a really good suggestion I read regarding the clothes that you will keep in your closet… you should divide them into the 4 seasons (spring, summer, winter, fall) and only store the current season’s clothing inside your closet.
If that sounds like too much work, then you could divide your clothes into 2 seasons like I do (winter and summer).
#2 – Decide What Stays & What Goes
You might consider having a 3rd party assist you in making the tough choices — like they do on TV shows like Hoarders. They are trained in this. They know how to ask the difficult questions and help you make difficult decisions on what to keep and what to let go.
Let’s face it… some people are pack rats. They have a tough time letting go of anything with the smallest amount of value to them. That’s okay… to a certain extent.
But if you’re going to the trouble and expense to have a custom closet installed in your home, then you definitely need to spend some quality time with what is stored inside.
Maybe you don’t want to do one of the 3 things I mentioned above. You could very well store a few of the “keep” items in a different area of the home, as long as you plan to use them!
#3 – Plan The Details Of Your Custom Closet
There are many variables to consider in closet dimensions — so pick and choose the following questions that suit your situation.
You should ask yourself these questions:
- Do you want a place to sit in your closet?
- Would you like a mirror in your closet?
- Is ironing something you would need to do in your closet as a convenience?
- Is a TV or radio in your plan?
- Do you want to have a window in your dressing room or closet? Keep the windowsill higher than 3′ 6″ for obvious reasons. If you’d like some daylight in your closet, I would suggest a skylight or transom-type window.
- Do you need a secure place to store jewelry, watches, and valuables? Think “safe”.
- How would you like to store your purses & handbags? On a hook or on a shelf?
- What type of lighting do you prefer?
- What type of material do you want the closet system to be made of?
- Do you want a cedar-lined closet?
I’m sure you can think of a few more questions on your own.
Also, read the 7 ideas for improving any closet, where they discuss:
- Using every square inch of your closet space
- Knowing your wardrobe and your habits as they relate to your clothing
- Visibility (Visibility is key when you’re on the run. Think about the multitude of materials that allow you to see what you’re reaching for — like wire baskets and glass doors.)
- Flooring options
- Air flow
- The pros and cons of cedar
The only thing I would add to that list is “electrical outlets” — because you might want a place to plug in the vacuum cleaner to clean the floors, window blinds, and between the window sills. Or, you might want to use one of those plug-in room deodorizers. You never know what you might want an outlet for at some point in the future!
Okay, now you should have one big list of all the features you want inside your new closet.
See how much it costs to build a custom closet.
Before You Hire A Professional Closet Installer…
After you’ve decided what to keep and what to get rid of, it’s time to pick up the phone and call a custom closet company if you think you need a better system than the DIY closet kits.
There are a lot of very important questions to ask them before you have a company come into your very own personal space and build a custom closet system for you.
Here are the questions to ask the closet company:
- How long have you been in business? Are you a franchisee?
- What warranty do you offer? Does it apply only to me, or future owners of my home?
- What colors do you have available for the melamine (laminate) material?
- Is the melamine thermal-fused or cold processed? Thermal-fused melamine wears much better.
- Is the particleboard furniture grade, or industrial grade? Industrial grade holds the screws better and is thicker.
- Is there any plastic used in the hardware? Metal parts are preferred.
- What is the standard shelf depth you use? Builders’ standard is 11.5 inches, but having deeper shelves such as 14” or 16” is greatly preferred for holding larger sweaters and even suitcases.
- How are your drawer units constructed? How is the drawer handle hardware fastened? Are full extension glides included? Full extension glides provide the best support for your drawers and are a really good idea to put in, even if it is an upgrade. Construction of drawers can be a big differentiator in quality.
- Do you offer oval clothing rods? Just like an egg’s oval shape provides strength, chrome oval-shaped clothing rods are stronger than rounded ones. Metal rods are usually a better choice than wooden ones.
- Does your installation include tearing out the old closet? Will you do wall repairs and touch-up painting?
- What accessories do you offer, and how much are they? Is there an alternative to these accessories? You will see accessories like valet rods, shoe fences, sliding belt racks, sliding tie racks, jewelry trays, acrylic shelf dividers, hampers, pull-out ironing boards, pull-down upper clothing rods, and many others. They are all great, but you need to watch how they might add up. My favorite accessory is a valet rod, which gives you a place to stage clothing for packing or put up the dry cleaning when you get it home.
Before You Install Custom Closets Yourself…
If you’re handy, then you can definitely save some money and do it yourself!
These are some of the best DIY closet tips & tutorials I’ve seen:
- How To Design A Custom Closet
- Closet Capacity Calculator
- Simple (But Handy!) Closet Organizers
- How To Design A Small Closet Redo Yourself
- 4 Of The Most Popular DIY Closet Organizers
- The Best Closet System To Install Yourself
- Custom Closet Organizer Design Tool
- How To Organize Your Walk-In Closet With Wood Shelves
- 5 Steps To Reorganize Your Closet Every Season
- Home Depot’s Closet Design Center
I started as a home-stalker… visiting brand new homes under construction in the neighborhoods near my house. That inspired me to write about home building and home renovation projects — chronicling homes during different phases of construction from a consumer's point-of-view. Basically, the tips you'll find in my articles are a collection of checklists for what I think should (and should not) go into building or remodeling a quality home.