How do you know for sure that a weekend cleanup isn't enough, that your closet needs a renovation?
The key to a closet renovation is to maximize the space available. Yes, you can call in the construction crews and turn a spare bedroom into a colossal closet that would make a real estate agent drool. For most folks, that's not practical.
Better to make the most out of what you have.
Make your renovated closet reflect your habits, needs and wardrobe. Lots of hats? Buy lots of hooks. Have items you use frequently at arm's length. Things you don't use as often or seasonal items can be boxed on high shelves or placed at the back of the closet. See-through containers will make items easy to spot and difficult to forget. Remember, you have a lot of stuff, and careful planning will mean everything will have a place.
"Make sure you use every nook and cranny," Soto says. "If you see the back wall, you're not utilizing the space correctly."
Try to run two rods across the back, the lower about 3 1/2 feet off the ground, the other above it. Closets with 9-foot ceilings could even accommodate a third rod (yes, a well-planned closet includes a stepladder). Allow at least a foot between the rods and the back wall to make access to your clothing easier.
Don't underestimate those plastic-coated wire shelving systems. Soto said she was renting a small apartment not long ago that didn't give her much closet space. She bought a shelving system from Rubbermaid. "It was great. So easy to install," she says. "It turns a really small space into a really cool dressing room for a few dollars." One drawback: Clothes hangers can get hung up on the shelves.
You see people all the time who look like they got dressed in the dark. Invest in lighting, preferably fluorescent (direct light coming in through a window can fade clothes; incandescent bulbs can get hot and become a hazard). One of those battery-powered touch lights is another option. Also, keep the light source between you and your clothes; having it behind you puts your clothes in shadows as you're making your daily wardrobe choice.
You need a mirror. Attach one to the back of the closet door if there's not one nearby in the bedroom. If you've got space to burn, consider a chair or some sort of sitting area in the closet. A chair in the bedroom – or the side of the bed – works just as well, though. Stackable storage bins are good for seasonal items, and shoe and sweater organizers are handy (see-though varieties will save you from having to dig through them all, looking for that one pair of shoes).
You don't need …
Hat boxes, tie and/or belt organizers. They take up too much room; go with hooks instead.
Soto speaks highly of the velvet-covered Huggable Hangers, which prevent clothes from slipping off. Also worth looking into are the Rakku shoe wheel ($65, rakkudesigns.com/shoe-wheel.asp) and those plastic storage bags that compact tightly when air is removed (prices vary, spacebags.com).
Wood or tile is preferable; a carpeted floor can hold moisture and is more difficult to clean.
Keep the door open to prevent an onset of mustiness. Don't store items in plastic boxes because the clothing can't breathe. Use cardboard or canvas containers and keep the lids ajar.