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How to Design a Closet

Updated December 16, 2020

Holly H.

By Holly H.

If you have trouble finding items in your closet as you're getting ready, you probably need a closet makeover. Whether you need to organize a walk-in closet for the master bedroom or a reach-in closet for a child’s room, there are projects and products to help you create your own DIY closet design.

Measure the Space

Step-by-step directions for measuring your closet space.

Use a tape measure, pencil and notepad to accurately record the dimensions of the closet.

  1. Measure the height from the floor to the ceiling.
  2. Measure the length of usable wall space. For reach-in closets, measure the back wall. For walk-in closets, measure the back and side walls.
  3. Measure the depth of the space.

These three measurements are critical in determining the depth of shelves, the amount of shelving and hardware needed and the options that are available.

Need to Know

Make sure to note windows and doors, including how the doors open. Also mark utilities, access panels and studs.

Choose Your Style

A blue bedroom with a closet with a wire organization system.

Your new closet design can be accomplished with a variety of solutions. The simplest way is to purchase a kit. With a closet kit, you can choose either wood or wire in a variety of options. For a custom DIY closet makeover, you can purchase the separate parts and design the entire closet yourself.

  • Custom units are available by the linear foot.
  • Prepackaged kits are available by the wall size (5-foot-by-8-foot is the most common).
  • Add-ons (drawers, extra shelves, tie and belt racks, hampers, etc.) offer specialized storage as needed.

Wire Closet Organizers

Wire shelving and closet components are less expensive, easy to install and can work with many closet measurements. A smooth, powder-coated finish protects surfaces and clothing from damage. Look for continuous sliding rods, which allow your hangers to move uninterrupted across the entire bar. For a typical 4-foot-by-8-foot closet, you’ll need the following:

  • Horizontal shelving rails
  • Vertical shelving uprights and brackets
  • Shelves
  • Closet rods
  • End caps and rod supports
  • Corner pieces
  • Fasteners and hardware

Wood Closet Organizers

Wood closet shelving and organizers are sturdy, cost-effective and attractive. These kits include closet rods, drawers and other accessories. The installation is slightly more advanced compared to wire systems. For a typical 4-foot-by-8-foot closet, you’ll need the following:

  • Tower or corner units
  • Shelves
  • Closet rods
  • Drawers
  • Fasteners and hardware

Closet Organizing Ideas

A diagram showing common shelf heights in a wire closet organization system.

Now that you have your measurements, it's time to create a DIY closet design. Be sure to consider the following:

Hanging Rods

Double-hang rods (for skirts, shirts, slacks, blouses, etc.) double your storage space. The top rod is typically placed about 84 inches above the floor, and the bottom rod is usually put around 42 inches above the floor.

Single-hang rods (for dresses, coats, robes, etc.) are commonly placed 70 inches above the floor.


If you have high ceilings, install one shelf at 85-1/2 inches that runs the entire perimeter of your closet, maximizing your storage space. In the rest of the closet, shorter shelf lengths at various heights allow more storage space. Place at least 12 inches apart vertically for stacked clothes.

Baskets, Cubbies and Drawers

Use baskets for sweaters, cubbies for shoes and purses and drawers for storing socks and belts. Many closet kits are adjustable so you can mix it up for your convenience.

Refer to the chart to plan your closet’s storage efficiently:

A chart estimating standard dimensions for different articles of clothing.
Good to Know

Want to get the most space from a corner? For wire shelving, consider using a corner piece with a continuous hanger rod for easy sliding. For wood systems, run a rod to one wall. Then place a tower or shelves about 24 inches from the adjacent wall. If you want a shelf above, use corner brackets to connect them.

More Ways to Organize

A green closet with a white wood organizational system, filled with clothing and shoes.

Once you choose and install your closet organization system, think about how you’ll maximize your storage and organization space. Here are some tips to get started:

Shoe Storage Ideas

A shoe rack with shoes on the top tier, the bottom tier and underneath.

Your closet system may have built-in shoe storage (see image above). If not – or if you need more shoe space — consider freestanding shoe racks and organizers to keep your footwear out of the way and easily accessible. Shoe racks range from simple shelves for a few pairs of shoes to tower-style organizers and shelves that hold 20 or 30 pairs. You can also find shoe cabinets that hide footwear behind closed doors.

Garment Racks

A double-rod clothes rack holding two blouses and a pair of pants with shelves holding accessories.

A heavy-duty clothes rack makes a nice addition to closet organization, whether you need additional storage or added convenience. Models with double rods make great use of vertical space, allowing you to expand your closet, plan outfits or stage several days’ worth of clothing for a trip. Shelves add more storage space or let you match an outfit’s accessories. Clothes racks can be useful for laundry was well, whether you need a place for items to air dry or — if the rack has wheels — an easy way to move clothes from the laundry room to a closet.

Baby Closet Organization

Adjustable closet systems are great choices for baby closets or closets in a child’s room. Use a top rod to store out-of-season clothes and a lower rod to keep frequently used items at eye level. Add stackable storage cubes to make use of the space between the clothes and the floor, and use storage bins and totes to contain small items like shoes, toys and games. As your child grows, reconfigure the space to fit larger clothes, and use the storage cubes and bins elsewhere.

Install Your Custom Closet

A bedroom with white walls, dark hardwood floors and an open closet with a wood organizer kit.

Gather your materials and begin your install. Depending on the type of wall in your closet, it may require special hardware for anchoring shelves to the walls:

  • Drywall or paneling may require wall anchors for support.
  • Concrete/masonry requires a masonry bit to drill 1/4-inch-by-1-inch holes plus #8 1-inch screws.
  • Solid wood doesn't require anchors; use #8 1-inch screws.

You may decide not to build your shelves from scratch and, instead, transform your closet by installing a wood closet organizer kit. Many kits today look just as beautiful as custom-built models and can accommodate any combination of hanging clothes, storage bins and baskets. Some even include drawers.

For more ideas and inspiration:

Watch the Video: Install Wire Shelving

Watch the Video: Install a Wood Closet Organizer


Give Your Closet the Accent Wall Treatment

Red patterned wallpaper inside a closet with wire rack storage shelves.

Hang wallpaper for a fresh take on a closet and to create an eye-catching backdrop for your things. Choose a neutral shade for a subdued look or a colorful pattern that pops. To make installation quicker, use peel-and-stick wallpaper like Casey from "DIY Playbook" did for a guest room closet. It now comes in a variety of designs and colors that are just as pretty as traditional wallpaper.

For more ideas and inspiration:

Watch the Video: How to Hang Wallpaper

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