9 Essential Design Tips for a Fabulous Closet

Jenna Jonaitis
Written by Jenna Jonaitis
Updated November 25, 2021
walk in closet clothes
Photo: ColleenMichaels / Adobe Stock

The perfect outfit starts with the perfect closet

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Stepping into your closet and seeing all of your clothing and accessories at once—from your shirts to your shoes—can help you stay organized and even grow your personal style. No matter your closet size, you can design the space to maximize storage and feel like a movie star. And by following a few closet design tips, you can transform your space into a dream closet that’s as luxurious as it is functional.

1. Utilize Every Inch

Closets often contain wasted space at the top, bottom, or corners. Measure your closet layout dimensions, then draft a design that accounts for every nook and cranny. 

Double Hang Your Rods

Put up two rods, one above the other, to add more hanging space. Consider including short and full-length hanging spaces to divide up items from shirts to long dresses.  

Add High Shelves

Build in upper shelves at the very top of your closet to store items you don't use every day, such as handbags and purses. 

Include Low Shelves or Drawers

Place angled shelves underneath your hung clothes for shoes or put in drawers for items like socks and scarves.

Add an Island if You Have Space

Include drawers in your island design for extra storage space. The countertop can be a spot for folding clothes or displaying jewelry.

Build Corner Shelves

Once you design the rest of your functional elements, see if you have room for corner shelves for items like handbags and bins of socks. 

Create a Spot for Your Hamper

Whether it’s a tilt-out hamper with a removable bin to carry to the laundry room or a cozy spot on the floor, be sure you make room for a laundry basket.

2. Customize Your Closet Components

Even if you choose a pre-designed DIY closet system, you can create a custom closet design based on what you need most. Think about the items you have in your closet before designing your setup. Do you have several pairs of tall boots? Make sure you have shelves to accommodate the height. Do you own a lot of handbags or just a couple? Are you a jewelry fanatic, or have a few favorites you rotate?

Take inventory of your closet items and decide what each group needs. The best closet designs have enough storage space for what you currently have with a little room for growth.

3. Plan Your Lighting

big wardrobe with lights in closet
Photo: Mariakray / Adobe Stock

Ample closet lighting not only boosts the vibe of your space but allows you to find items more easily and see how they look in the mirror. Recessed can lights or battery-operated LED lighting brightens a closet without taking up headspace. Aim for a color temperature of 3000K to 3500K. Any brighter is too harsh for closet space, and any softer won't allow you to see your items adequately.

If you have high ceilings, consider an extra light fixture to add style, such as a chandelier. Consider putting in under-cabinet lighting to illuminate your clothing, shoes, and accessories.

4. Put Everything on Display

Seeing all of your clothing with ease allows you to make selections that best fit your day. Instead of installing solid cabinet doors, consider no doors or clear display cabinets. Put your shoes, boots, and sandals on visible, angled shelves. 

If you want to organize items in baskets, such as scarves or wristlets, consider clear bins. Hang your jewelry or ties up if you have the room. The exception? You may wish to hide items such as bins of socks, baseball caps, or gloves that are harder to keep looking tidy. 

5. Add Inserts and Organizers

woman organizing drawer divider
Photo: KOTO / Adobe Stock

While shelves and rods are important, the finer points of organization keep your system working day after day. Aim to give every item a home and let your favorite accessories stand on their own. Here are some storage and display ideas to complete your setup: 

  • Drawer dividers and trays for socks, underwear, and other small items

  • Organizer bins for drawers or shelves

  • Dividers for bins with smaller items

  • Hat stands or wall hooks

  • Shaper inserts for purses and boots

  • Jewelry or tie stands and organizers, or shallow drawers with divider trays

  • Belt and tie racks

6. Pick a Place to Sit

Whether you’re slipping on your socks or sipping coffee, add a spot to perch if there’s space. Consider a built-in bench, a comfy stool, or a vanity chair for putting on makeup. Having a place to rest makes your closet feel extra luxurious, and you can even choose one with additional storage built-in.

7. Include a Mirror

From a three-way full-body mirror to create a personal dressing room to a small wall mirror for a quick check before you leave, there are a million ways to add this touch. Choose a mirror that fits your needs, depending on your square footage and whether you have a vanity in your closet. You might want to opt for a mirror that slides in and out, saving you room. 

8. Choose Coordinating Hangers

large closet with matching hangers
Photo: KOTO / Adobe Stock

Thin, matching hangers save a ton of space on your racks, and you should opt for a style that supports your clothing. If you have sports jackets, you’ll want a hanger that can carry the weight. If you have blouses, look for a velvet style that’ll prevent them from sliding off. With a backdrop of matching hangers, you can easily spot and sort your clothing. 

9. Incorporate Your Personal Style

Throw down a rug, include an indoor or faux plant, paint your closet walls a fun color, or hang a piece of art. Since your closet is tucked away, you can be bolder in your style. No matter what, choose decor pieces that make you feel glamorous and refreshed. 

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