NYC Renovation Chronicles

How I tricked out my humdrum closet

By Mayra David  | July 21, 2014 - 3:59PM

During the months-long renovation of our bedroom, we made do sleeping in our little office and living out of dressers and rolling racks parked in our living room. Now that we've finished the reno and moved into the bedroom, we have a new problem: a closet that won't hold clothes for the both of us. 

It's a pretty decent size—5 feet wide, 9.5 feet tall and 3.5 feet deep—​but it's set up in an inefficient way, with a single bar for hanging garments running along the width of the closet and one shelf above that's better for storing boxes and suitcases, rather than items you'd wear everyday.

Luckily, stores like The Container Store, IKEA, and Home Depot offer loads of ideas, like customizable shelves, shoe racks and other bedroom storage products to whip your closet space into shape. This is how I put together my closet, plus tips on how to get started yourself. 

Above, a mock-up of our closet from the in-store consultation at The Container Store

My strategy

We first went to IKEA, where we checked out their Pax line of portable wardrobes, which come in different sizes and configurations, and can be used with sliding doors or curtains. (Avoiding swinging doors is a big space-saver.) We bought two different Pax wardrobes, which altogether cost about $1,500 including tax and delivery.  

Then, we headed to The Container Store. I’ve always liked their closet ideas (Valet rod!) and I love that they do free in-store consultations on organizing your closet. You can also use their online planning tools, but I found it overwhelming to drag and drop all the endless possible configurations. If you consult them directly, you're under no obligation to buy, but their plans only use their elfa products, a modular, customizable storage system.

The process was surprisingly efficient and fun. It took only a few minutes for the salesperson to give us a mock-up of our closet layout using elfa products. (Be sure to bring accurate measurements to the store.) She showed us around, pointing out various solutions, then we spent about 20 minutes together, tweaking her somewhat generic design based on our actual belongings and needs.

In the end, the product list came to $1,421, plus about $300 for installation. For a sample of what it will look like, see the blueprints above and below. 

Above, a potential plan for the left wall of our closet 

Do it yourself

Before you empty your bank account on closet storage products, it's useful to figure out what you actually need to keep in your closet—and to strategize what storage options will work best to keep it all in order.

•    Thin out your clothes. Be brutal. Pack one big suitcase with your favorite pieces from different seasons, then get rid of anything that doesn't make it into the luggage.  It may help to find great clothing charities that inspire you to donate.

•    Take inventory. Count how many pairs and what type of shoes and garments (long, short, etc.) you have. This will help you decide what you'll need to buy, if anything, to keep everything organized.

•    If you have items you don’t need to access regularly (winter clothes, formal dresses or costumes), pack them up in boxes or luggage and tuck them into overhead storage or under the bed.

    •    Don’t forget accessories. Belts, scarves and bags can get “lost” or tattered in a tight closet and it’s worth carving out some space for them.


Whip your closet space into shape for under $20

10 Minutes with California Closets' Brenda MacLeish

NYC Renovation Chronicles

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.