Closet Clutter Control #1: Where’s My Other Sock?


Wouldn't you love to say you can find everything in your closet? Photo courtesy of California Closets
Wouldn’t you love to say you can find everything in your closet?

When it comes to closets, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

However, for most of us, the closets are our messy little secret. Things get lost in there too, not unlike the way umbrellas and a single sock of a pair wind up in the “Parallel Universe”.

As you probably know, there are several closet organizing systems available from companies such as “The Container Store” and “California Closets”.  Their designers/sales staff will be able to help you decide what you’ll need to buy and put together for installation, whether you do it yourself or otherwise.

Your prospective designer/sales person will also be able to make great suggestions on types of storage.  However, no designer will be able to intuit all your wants and needs to create a well-organized and highly efficient closet without your input.

Inner-space. An internal conversation with yourself (out-loud conversations are at your own risk) about the nature of your storage requirements will prove very useful, if you know which questions to ponder first.

Here’s a checklist to help you get prepared:

  • You may think that the problem is you don’t have enough storage/closet space, but you won’t know if that’s really true until you ruthlessly edit what’s in there.  Ask yourself, “Do I really like this?  Need it? Use it? Does its use level justify the space it takes?  What can be thrown out or recycled?  A good rule of thumb is that if you haven’t worn it in year, it can probably go.
  • Measure the closet space completely.  You’ll want not only width and depth, but clearance for existing shelves.  Backs of doors and interior wall space can be usable storage surfaces too.
  • Now is the time to consider if every item currently in the closet might not more logically belong in another space.  Planning storage isn’t so much about finding a space for everything, as it is about making the things you use most frequently readily accessible.  This means if you only go fishing once a year, the rod and tackle box don’t have to be in the same closet with your best business suits.  It also means that out- of-season clothes can be stacked on higher shelves in that closet.
  • Add up the space you need.  Measure the short hanging items as a group then the long hanging items.  There should be at least 2″ of space between hangers to prevent wrinkling and mustiness.  This will give you the lineal number of feet you’ll need for your design.  Double hanging the short items is a great space saver.  The hanging rods should be about 42 and 82 inches from the floor.  Measure the vertical space you need by measuring your longest garment, plus the hanger neck plus 4 inches.  There might be room for storage above the long garments, or a shoe rack underneath, or both.

What about your preferences?

  • Do you want to hang your blouses and/or shirts or keep them folded from the laundry and stacked?
  • Do you have a prefer hanging trousers vertically from the cuff, or folding them in half over a hanger?
  • Do you fold your jeans or hang them?
  • Do you want your shoes in individual cubbies, on floor racks or shoe bags?
  • How do you want to store the accessories such as neckties, scarves, necklaces and handbags? Do you want them to hang, or be folded on shelves?

Remember this: If you’re not comfortable with a specific storage arrangement, it’s less likely you’ll put things back in their designated spaces.

Here’s how to figure out the approximate amount much shelf space you need.  Make a list of each item that you want shelf space for, count the items and take measurements here too.

For example:

  • A folded sweater is app. 14 inches deep by 10 inches wide.
  • A folded shirt is app. 14″ deep and 8″ wide
  • A handbag is app. 3″deep and 11″ wide
  • Pairs of shoes: Men’s are 12″long/9″ wide; women’s are 10″ long/7″ wide

Get familiar. Go on-line and browse The Container Store for starters to find out what’s available in the storage/container world.  They have all manner of baskets, hangers, shelves on sliders, etc. to solve some of the “where I’m I going to put this?” questions.   The final step is to double check all your measurements, and draw a rough diagram to scale of necessary space requirements.  A good scale to use 1/2 inch equals a foot.

When you have a clear idea of what you will need (given the space you have) for a well designed and organized closet, you’ll be better prepared to work effectively with a closet system designer, or brave it alone.

Next time: 

Closet Clutter Control #2: Managing Your Hang-ups


Related Posts

(Closet Clutter Control Two Part Series)

Closet Clutter Control #2: Managing Your Hang-ups

Article Photo:  License: (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Large Article Photo:



This is one of several articles I wrote for publication on It’s presented here as a foundation for further topic discussion, updates and commentaries…