How to Organize the Walk-In Closet You Can’t Wait to Show Off

Dina Cheney
Written by Dina Cheney
Updated December 15, 2021
A woman in a walk-in closet selecting her outfit
Photo: photology1971 / Adobe Stock

Whip your closet into shape with these 12 simple strategies

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Whether you’ve moved into a new home with a walk-in closet or remodeled your closet to gain more room, you finally have the space of your dreams—sort of. At least, you would if all your clothing and accessories were in some kind of order. Read on for organization tips to maximize the function and design of your walk-in closet. 

1. Edit Your Current Wardrobe

The secret to achieving an organized closet is minimizing the amount of stuff, especially if you have a small bedroom you want to keep orderly. To pare down your possessions, put out five large bins—one each for donating, selling, throwing away, keeping elsewhere, and storing in your closet. Then, take everything out of your closet and sort the pieces into piles by item type, like jeans or sneakers.

 Now, honestly assess what you have. If you haven’t worn something in more than a year, it’s in poor condition, or it doesn’t fit, place it in the sale, donation, or throw-away bin. If you have more than you need of one item (like five plain black T-shirts), consider offloading them as well.

When you encounter an item that you hardly ever wear, assign it to the “keep elsewhere” bin and place it in a garment bag in the attic or guest room or in a plastic tub under your bed.

2. Run the Numbers

By taking inventory of your current wardrobe, you’ll be able to figure out your storage needs. Start by making a list and sorting your items by type. Under each subcategory, like underwear, note how many you own. 

 If you have several pairs of knee-high boots, you’ll see that you need shelves to accommodate them. Similarly, if you own 20 handbags, you’ll want to plan for sufficient cubbies, shelves, or bins.

 Next, measure the dimensions of your closet. Include key factors like sloping rooflines or windows. Finally, come up with a budget for your project.

3. Plan Out Your Storage System

Depending on your budget, decide whether you’ll DIY a closet system, purchase one from a closet or big box store, or hire a closet designer or interior designer with a closet specialty.

Then, start to conceptualize the organization system, aiming to use even the top, bottom, and corners of the closet space. Plan to use corner and high shelves for items like bags, and low shelves or drawers for shoes and socks.

Opt for double rods to increase your hanging space, with pants on the top and shirts on the bottom. If you’re including cabinets, consider no doors or clear doors so you can view what you have.

If you have enough square footage, leave room for a center island, a three-way full-body mirror, a seat (for putting on pants, socks, shoes, or makeup), a hamper, and a foldable step stool for accessing items on the highest shelves.

4. Buy and Install a Closet System

If you’re purchasing a closet system, you’ll need to choose between a wall- or a floor-mounted format.

  • A wall-mounted system is attached to the wall directly or via a rail. This type of system is economical and quick to install, and it features coated wire baskets and racks and particleboard or wood shelves.

  • A floor-mounted system is attached to the wall and features floor supports. Although it’s pricier and more time-consuming to install than a wall-mounted system, it should include wood or particleboard panels covered with melamine.

5. Include Inserts and Organizers

A woman organising socks in a drawer
Photo: lenblr / Adobe Stock

Now that you’ve installed your closet organization system, start to fill it with additional storage pieces. For the most attractive-looking closet, buy matching hangers. Use closet dividers to evenly stack sweaters and tops on shelves. You’ll also want to use bin and drawer dividers and trays for storing socks and underwear.

For jewelry, hats, belts, and ties, buy hooks, stands, racks, or even a wall-mounted pegboard to keep all of your accessories organized. Don’t forget to consider using a coat rack and over-the-door organizers for shoes and purses. 

6. Install Closet Lighting

Without illumination, you won’t be able to easily grab accessories or put together an outfit. If your closet isn’t wired for lighting, opt for wireless lighting, like battery-operated motion-sensing LED strip lights or a touch light. For between $100 and $185, you can hire an electrician to add another light switch or outlet. 

Try a chandelier or pendant lights for a design statement ideal for a closet with high ceilings. If you’d rather choose a practical, unobtrusive strategy, plan to use recessed or track lighting.

7. Paint or Paper the Closet Walls

Pick a paint color, like white or cream, that will let your clothing and accessories shine. Or have some fun and go bold with a bright hue or patterned wallpaper. If you paint, think about using a satin finish, which will hide scuffs and streaks better than semi-gloss paint.

8. Put Everything Away Based on Frequency of Use

When placing everything back in your closet, store items you need less often in less accessible locations, like high-up shelves. Arrange clothing and accessories first by type (like sweaters) and then by color. 

9. Label Boxes and Bins

After storing your clothing pieces in boxes and bins, label them before placing it on your shelves. Not only will this make it easier for you to find items, especially if you store them at the top of your closet, but labeling will also help you maintain your organization system over time. 

10. Decorate To Fit Your Personality

Now that the organization is complete, it’s time to have some fun with your closet design to make it pop. If your space features a window, adorn it with an attractive window treatment. Infuse color and personality with a rug, plant, and decor art. 

11. Aim for Freshness

Air out and deodorize your closet to maintain your clothes and make your space more inviting. Open the window or use a fan, AC unit, or dehumidifier. To repel moths and make your closet smell inviting, add cedar or pine closet liners, lavender sachets, or eucalyptus sprigs.

12. Maintain Your Closet

Every month or so, reassess your inventory and get rid of items you think you’ll no longer use. That way, you’ll keep your space lean, mean, and serene.

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