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The 10 Commandments of Closet Organizing Success

Is your closet SO messy you think you need a dose of divine intervention to tame the clutter?

Your clothes are packed in as tight as Buckeye fans enjoying another victory over the team up North at “The Shoe.”

Your shoes are a disheveled mix buried under hanging clothes – lurking in the dark depths of your closet.

Your sweaters resemble the ‘leaning tower of Pisa.’ They’re stacked at the top of your closet in near impossible-to-retrieve piles on flimsy wire shelves.  

You’d like to add ‘the closet’ to the daily list of frustrations expressed by the woman in this iconic “Take me Away Calgon” commercial from the 70’s who complained about ‘the traffic, the boss, the baby and the dog.’ Unfortunately, I’m old enough to remember this commercial. How about you?

Solving your closet woes will take more than a soothing bubble bath with retro-Calgon or new-age bath bombs from Lush (although there’s nothing wrong with a bubble bath). Solving your closet woes will take a plan. Solving your closet woes can, however, be simplified. You need to follow The 10 commandments. No, not the biblical 10 commandments. The 10 commandments of closet organizing success.

Just like a bubble bath, let yourself be immersed in these commandments to end closet frustration once and for all. You’ll start to capture your vision of an organized closet. It will become reality – if you follow these commandments.

Commandment #1 – Thou shall not let thy clothes get wrinkled to death in overstuffed closet rods

Too much hanging on too few closet rods.

This is a harsh reality at the center of poorly designed closets. By simply doubling the numbers of rods in the same vertical space you’ll get a “DoubleMint Twins” special in your closet. Double the space (in the same area), double your pleasure.

Double Hanging Rods for More Space | Innovate Home Org | #HangingSpace #DoubleHaning #OverstuffedCloset

Another strategy most people don’t think to use for a better organized closet is to fold clothes, not hang them. When I learned the trick on how to fold clothes that stand ‘on edge’ (I learned this one from the organizing rock-star Marie Kondo), I now get 20 running shirts in one drawer – much less space used than if they were hanging.

For a better closet hanging experience choose to either (a) increase the number of rods or (b) add a stack of drawers to put your folded clothes. Your clothes (if they could talk) will thank you.

Commandment #2 – Thou shall not make Kim Kardashian your closet idol

Worshipping false closet ‘idols’ (and I’m sorry to say reality TV fans, Kim Kardashian would fit into this category) can lead you down the path to an overly costly closet which may not fit your needs. Yes – it’s fun to drool over images of Kim’s closets on Pinterest and Instagram, but raised shoe shelves and chandeliers reminiscent of a Saks Fifth Avenue, likely aren’t your reality, girlfriend!

Kim K Closet

When designing your closet think if you care more about fashion or function.

For most, function needs to trump (politicos out there, this is not a political reference) fashion. When you’re looking at designs – feel free to drool on Pinterest. However, before you work with a closet designer, figure out if practicality is more important than the frills, and design accordingly.

Commandment #3 – Thou shall not commit ‘closet adultery’ and cheat over onto your partners side  

Don’t you hate when your husband, wife or partner’s clothes start to ‘cheat over’ onto your side. They keep buying and buying and buying stuff and never getting rid of anything. You’re feeling squeezed out! You’re in a ‘closet war.’ You’re battling to keep your closet turf.

There is a simple way to create ‘boundaries’ in your closet and ward off being being the next ‘contestant’ on Cops due to closet arguments. In the middle of your closet add drawers. They will not only help you to have a more useable space, but will serve as the dividing ‘Mason Dixon’ line. If you need more ideas to stamp out ‘closet adultery and your partner cheating into your space, read Storage Wars – 7 Tips to Win the Battle of the His and Hers Closet.

Commandment #4 – Thou shall not allow ‘closet gaps’

The biggest problem with closets is not the lack of space (yes – you’re not reading this correctly), it’s the structural dead space. You may be wondering, what do I mean by dead space? Look in your closet today (especially if you have a single rod at the top). In most cases with this ‘no-design-design’ closet, you’ll see a 2’ space above the top shelf (with about a 1’ of unused space). In addition, below your pants and shirts you’ll see dead space underneath these shorter hanging clothes.

Closet Storage Gaps | Innovate Home Org | #ClosetGaps #StorageSpace #ColumbusClosets

Efficient closet design will eliminate gaps. This can be done by moving the top shelf up, adding double hanging space – (discussed in Commandment 1). Do you have closet gaps which need to be filled?

Commandment #5 – Thou shall not buy an item without donating an item

Even if you get your closet organized it can quickly digress into a home version of an overstuffed Build-A-Bear if you continue to buy new without thinning out old items you’re not wearing (or putting up the white flag and donating items which no longer fit).

Don’t let this happen to you. Get into the discipline of donating or discarding an item every time you buy a new piece of clothing. With this discipline, closet clutter will not be a problem.

Commandment #6 – Thou shall see a 3D design before you buy

It may be tempting to buy from (made up company here) Carla’s Cut-Rate Closet Company because she offers a whopping 40% discount (are you really falling for this made up discount?). However, why should you buy from her if you can’t make heads or tails of the 2D drawings she shares with you? It doesn’t make sense even if it sounds like Carla’s closet designer (Betty Lou Big-Bargain) knows what she’s doing.

Betty Lou (and Carla) may be as sweet as punch, but why spend a lot of money on a custom closet when you can’t really see what you’re getting?

Insist on seeing a 3D closet design like the one pictured below. Don’t feel pressured by cheap prices and designs you don’t understand. You’re going to live with this closet for a long time.  

3D Closet Design | Innovate Home Org | #ClosetDesign #3DDesign #DublinClosets

Commandment #7 – Thou shall insist on a closet which flexes with your changing needs

Styles change. Your wardrobe changes with them.

Did you ever think you’d have as many tall boots as you own today? Do you think today’s ‘cold shoulder’ tops will last as long as shoulder pads from the 80’s?

If you have an inflexible painted wood or wire closet which can’t adjust to today’s taller boots, or you want to move your shelves lower to get to your favorite sweaters (because you’re ‘vertically-challenged’ -OK – who are we kidding – you’re short), you know how much a pain in the back (literally) an inflexible closet design can be. They can be as fixed and immovable as your Dad back in the day when you had a curfew.  

Use closet systems which have holes on the sides and shelving and rods which can be moved up and down. They will not only help you (as an adult) – but if you have young kids – the closets can change as they grow.

Adjustable Closet System | Innovate Home Org | #AdjustableCloset #ClosetSystem #WalkInCloset #DreamCloset

Commandment #8 – Thou shall not let your shoes be buried in the shoe graveyard (‘er your closet floor)

Where are those d*** shoes you say in your most pleasing church voice (‘er not)? Finding shoes underneath piles of hanging clothes when you’re running late in the morning and have to get the kids onto the bus is stressful. Here’s some key points you need to know to tame your shoe frustration.

  • Shoes do not belong on the floor of your closet.


  • Shoes belong on shelves where they can be seen.


  • Shoes belong close to the door because you put them on last and take them off first.

Is your shoe storage either a pathetic plastic hanging bag on the back of the door, or non-existent? Give your shoes the respect they deserve. Put them up on shelves. It will save you time. It will spare you anxiety.

Shoe Storage for Closet | Innovate Home Org | #ClosetStorage #ShoeStorage #ColumbusOhio

Commandment #9 – Thou shall not be fooled by cheap imitation or packaging gimmicks

One of the games I’m noticing in the grocery store today are packaging gimmicks. For example, the big name-brand Starbucks decaf K-cup box has the same size box size as the lesser known brand. However, Starbucks only puts 10 cups in the box and the other brands put in 12. That’s 17% less cups – and they sell them at a higher price. It’s today’s new packaging slight-of-hand. It’s also happening in other products and industries.

You may be asking, what do Starbucks K-cups have to do with closet organization. Good question.

In the closet industry the biggest ‘slight of hand’ marketing trick is the 12” deep shelf. You see the 12” deep shelf and cheaper to produce because manufacturers can cut 4 pieces out of a 4’ wide board (it’s efficient for manufacturing). The problem is 12” deep shelving won’t ‘live’ well for you. With 12” shelves your sweaters will hang off the edge. Your husband’s ‘big-dog’ shoes will also. Your closet won’t look as neat.

Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations. Insist on the closet industry standard 14” deep shelving. Yes – it’s more expensive than 12” shelving. However, if you’re going to get a custom closet, don’t you want it done right?

Commandment #10 – Thou shall not forget to accessorize

It’s funny as a Dad of a 15-year-old daughter (yes, my daughter Jade is more precious than gold to me) to watch how she plans her outfit for the next school dance. She’s planning a MINIMUM of one month before (when my son went to homecoming he was making his ‘fashion’ decisions a day – if we were lucky – before the dance). Jade will be thinking through what shoes, jewelry and purse she is pairing with the dress. To me, it’s exhausting!

Jade is focused on getting the details and accessories right.

A closet system should be no different. First, you’ll need to think through the basics. How much and what type of hanging space, where do you want shelves, should you have drawers to get ‘fully ready’ in the closet?  A better closet system will evolve beyond the basics of shelves, rods and drawers. Look at fun and functional accessories like jewelry drawer boxes, valet rods, mirrors, mini-ironing boards which pop out of drawers. If you desire a dream closet, then (almost) no accessory should be left behind.

Jewelry Drawer Box in Closet | Innovate Home Org | #JewelryDrawer #JewelryStorage #ClosetColumbus


I hope these 10 commandments provide you with a roadmap for a more organized closet system. These commandments are written to give you functional, practical, real advice to see and solve closet design problems. In addition, they are written to offer inspiration and help you see (in 3D, if possible) how a closet design will end your anxiety of a messy closet space. And why shouldn’t you enjoy your closet? You’re in it – whether you like it or not – 2 times a day minimum.

If closet design blows your mind – don’t fear – we’re here to help.

How can I (or my team) help you with closet organization solutions?


If you’d like to learn how a closet design can improve your home and get a Free 3D design contact Innovate Home Org in Columbus at 614-545-6888 or in Cleveland at 216-658-1290.

If you’re a Twitter fan connect with me @Mike_Foti or my companies @InnovateHomeOrg or @InnovateBuild for information on home organization and interior design – and possibly a bit of bad humor thrown in along the way.

Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Home Org, a division of Innovate Building Solutions. You can learn more about Mike here.

Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Home Org, a division of Innovate Building Solutions. You can learn more about Mike here.

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