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Zillow.com: Clever Closet Tips from Professionals

ZillowBy Satinder Haer

Creating a well-organized, well-designed and functional closet can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have a custom closet to meet your exact needs. We chatted with organizational gurus and professionals in the custom closet industry to find the best tips and tricks to create dream closets.

Use these hacks to update your own cluttered closet.

Which closet storage solutions do you find the most useful?

Hands down baskets are most useful — they are aesthetically-pleasing, but depending on your organizational interests, things can be folded and color coded inside or just thrown in. To the outsider, it will still look like a beautifully organized closet either way. — Molly Graves of NEAT Method

Thin, space-saving hangers are a huge favorite of mine and something I highly recommend. They will double your hanging space! — Laura Wittmann of I’m an Organizing Junkie

I find a garment rod to be one of the most useful accessories in a closet because there are so many uses for it. A garment rod can act as a landing pad for men’s suits as soon as they get home from work rather than throwing them on a chair or the floor, a place to hang dry cleaning while you remove clothing from the bags and transfer onto their permanent hangers or to hang kids’ outfits for the next day. Another useful solution is drawer dividers, which can help you, for example, separate business socks from athletic socks. — Carolyn Musher of California Closets

Which closet feature should you prioritize?

It comes down to how you use the space. Do you prefer to fold your pants on a shelf, or hang them from a hanger? Personally, I like to fold my sweaters so I don’t get bumps in the shoulders from the hangers, hang my pants from the cuff so I don’t have fold marks and keep my shoes in cubbies. Double hanging space is fabulous for shorter items like blouses and skirts. — Rebecca West of Rebecca West Interiors

Shoes and accessories create the most visual clutter so I would begin with those. — Toni Hammersley of A Bowl Full of Lemons

This is completely dependent on the client. Some clients like to fold their shirts/blouses, some like to hang them. Some like flat shelves for shoe storage. Some prefer slanted shelves, boxes or cubbies, or a combination of methods to make the most sense. The idea is to have enough storage (and some extra if possible) to make a place for all the client’s needs in the space available and have it be organized, accessible and logically conceived. — David Cutler of the Closet Works, Inc.

How do you optimize space in a small, standard closet?

Consider your closet the space to keep the items that are most worn. Everything else can have an alternative solution (i.e., a dresser or under-bed storage). — Molly Graves of NEAT Method

Use every inch the best you can. Don’t waste any unused space — even the vertical. Having a closet organizer that is custom built is best, but if you can’t afford it, the next best thing is to purchase (or reuse) containers that fit nearly perfectly into each nook and cranny along with shelving and various rods. — Becky of Organizing Made Fun

You can optimize by repositioning wasted space into more accessible space. For example, lowering rods and then adding shelves or a second rod above it to make a simple rod and shelf closet into double hanging with shelves for shoes — at a minimum. — Deb Cantrell of DebCanDesign

When tackling closet reorganization, where do you begin?

First thing to do is take everything out and go through and get rid of the stuff you don’t need. You can’t organize clutter. Pull out any items that don’t belong in the closet. Be extremely picky and clear out anything that doesn’t fit, is dirty/stained, or is out of style. — Becky of Organizing Made Fun

Avoid pulling one thing out at a time. Instead, take everything out (or at least one whole section, like all your shirts). Then try each thing on and only put back what fits and makes you feel fabulous! If you try to remove one thing at a time, it’s as painful as pulling teeth. If you remove everything first, then you get to decide what to keep! It’s a game that’s positive and is about gaining wonderful things instead of having to let them go. — Rebecca West of Rebecca West Interiors

You always want to start by taking a true inventory of the contents first, so you know exactly what type of storage you need and how much (shelving vs. drawers vs. rod space). Be honest with yourself about how often you really use and wear the items. The best way to do this is to work with a friend, so that he or she can provide objectivity to your decisions. — Lorie Marrero of The Clutter Diet

How do you recommend organizing a closet?

The best possible way to organize a closet would be by color, type and season. Off-season items should be stored overhead or in a separate storage area to avoid taking up valuable real estate in your closet. Then organize by type — pants in one section, dresses in another and shirts in yet another. Within each item type section, organize by color. This makes your closet look more like a boutique but it also saves you time when assembling an outfit in the morning. Even better, having all the same hangers makes shopping your closet a better experience. — Carolyn Musher of California Closets

I recommend organizing your clothes in line with how you dress in the morning. For instance, I dress for the weather so having my clothes organized by type (tank tops, short sleeves, long sleeves, etc.) works for me, saving me so much time and stress. — Laura Wittmann of I’m an Organizing Junkie

Which closet storage solution do you find the least useful?

My personal pet peeve is “shoe cubbies.” These small compartments look nifty, but they rarely fit a pair of shoes well, especially if they are men’s shoes (you can only fit one men’s shoe in each cubby), and they end up creating much less efficient storage than if the shelf were just straight across without divisions. I prefer rows of open shelving, narrowly spaced, so that you can arrange your shoes in different ways as your needs change. — Lorie Marrero of The Clutter Diet

Deep shelves are the least helpful in any closet, including pantries. The deeper the shelf and the smaller the item is the worst. It’s inefficient, unless of course you make it a pull-out shelf for full access to the stuff in the back. — Deb Cantrell of DebCanDesign

Formulaic solutions are the least valuable in my opinion. You can’t truly maximize the space in any closet or storage area with an off-the-shelf product. You can improve on the shelf and rod but you can’t get the most out of the space and you certainly can’t address odd-sized or shaped spaces or other kinds of projects that a superior custom closet company can easily provide. — David Cutler of the Closet Works, Inc.

What’s your favorite closet organization hack?

Peg board hung on the closet wall. I have a large pegboard in my closet that I use to organize all of my accessories, belts, bags and more. It’s great. — Toni Hammersley of A Bowl Full of Lemons

We “file” all clothes in a drawer instead of stacking them. You can see everything you have and fit so much more. — Molly Graves of NEAT Method

My favorite closet organization hack is having a donation station, either in your closet or somewhere else designated in your home, so that you have a place for outgoing clothes to be donated. So often we make a decision not to keep something, but we don’t have a place to put that item to signify that decision, and it remains in circulation indefinitely with the rest of your clothing. — Lorie Marrero of The Clutter Diet

http://www.zillow.com/digs/guides/closets/organizing-cluttered-closet/

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