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11 Foolproof Tips to Stop Fighting Over Your Closet

So, the ‘big move’ is just weeks away. And whether you’re moving in with your significant other or are planning to ‘tie the knot’ for the first time, you’ve heard the complaints from your BFF’s about sharing closet space with their ‘plus ones.’ And those gripes sound like this…

  • He’s such a SLOB! I swear he doesn’t even know what a hanger is. Why he drops all his clothes on the floor, I’ll never know? Or….


  • I’m convinced she’s never met a pair of shoes she DIDN’T like! Before getting married I had no idea what mules, sling-backs and mid-highs were. Now I’m becoming an EXPERT, like it or not. I hope she leaves a sliver of space for my shirts and jeans.

And as you’re getting ready to move in you have SO many worries about living with your partner for the first time. You’re hoping battles over closet storage and mundane tasks liking taking out the garbage won’t blow up the bliss you enjoy right now.

However, as you’re getting ready for your impending move-in the lack of storage has you sweating bullets. Looking at how jamb-packed your closet is already and adding ‘his stuff’ to the mix you don’t see how it’s going to work. How will you ‘pack in’ all your things into the tiny reach in or walk in closets in your modest-sized starter home or hip downtown loft?

When the day finally arrives and you’re trying to put things away will you mutter that famous line….

“Houston, we have a problem!”

Or will you want to shout out one my Dad’s sayings (which certainly applies to closet organizing) which is …

“You can’t fit 10 lbs. of s*** (and I can’t spell this out loud because this is a ‘family friendly’ blog) into a 5 lb. bag.”

And as an owner of a closet design and installation business I’m going to level with you. If you want to stop fights (at least over closets) before they start, you need a game plan for your storage.

You need foolproof closet storage tips so you’ll have a chance of living in harmony with your partner.

And this is EXACTLY what this article is about. Read 11 ideas which (if implemented) will allow fights over closets to be your BFF’s problem and not yours. Let’s dig in.

Tip #1 to stop fighting over your closet – Declutter BEFORE you move in

If you’re like most people 80% of what’s in your closet you never wear (or is out of style or doesn’t fit right). And since (even in your most optimistic moments) you realize (Your Stuff) + (Your Partner’s Stuff) WILL NOT fit into your combined ultra-small closets, you’ll need to come to one important conclusion. And that conclusion is…

You need to purge, before you merge… your stuff!

If decluttering (and thinning out your closet) is as hard to do as watching a Presidential debate with your conservative Father, then you need to get real and get help. However, you may not know where turn. Here’s two perfect options.

  • Option #1 to help you declutter – You’re ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ BFF – If you don’t want to spend any money getting decluttering advice, bring in your brutally honest friend and (actually) listen when she says, “Girlfriend, that outfit HAS GOT TO GO!”


  • Option #2 to help you declutter – Don’t hire a CPA to count your clothes, do hire a CPO (Certified Professional Organizer) to pair down your clothes. A short session with a professional organizer (and neutral person to talk sense into you) is just the medicine you need to get a closet storage game plan.

get a professional organizer credit | Innovate Home Org | #CustomStorage #ClosetOrganization #StorageSolutions

Image Source: NAPO

Tip #2 to stop fighting over your closet – Use the oldest trick in the book. Add more closet rods.

The single biggest problem with most closets is they only have one lonely storage rod at the top. This single rod leaves dead space at the top and bottom (and if you don’t believe me, look in your closet RIGHT NOW).

What’s cool is there’s a simple – and not expensive – way to double your hanging space. This trick (which is the staple of all closet designers in Columbus – or in any town for that matter) is to double stack your rods (note – the ‘very fancy’ closet industry language term is double hanging). With double hanging (‘er one rod on top another) you’ll get 2 times the blouses, shirts and pants in the same vertical space.

double hang sections Columbus ohio custom closet | Innovate Home Org | #CustomCloset #StorageOptions #CustomStorage #ClosetOrganization

That’s a quick win you need.

Tip #3 to stop fighting over your closet – Keep your partners ‘inner slob’ behind closed doors  

Is your partner an unadulterated slob who thinks folding something neatly is an ancient Chinese secret? I’ve seen your pain in many ‘blown-apart’ closets I’ve measured for new closet organization systems over the years.

closet doors to hide mess Dublin ohio | Innovate Home Org | #CustomStorage #ClosetDoors #DublinOhio #ColumbusClosets

And while you can ‘attempt’ to teach your partner the FAB-U-LOUS folding techniques you learned from Marie Kondo, if I’m a bettin’ man, getting him to do it will be quite another thing!

But I’m here to tell you a smarter strategy which doesn’t require you to (attempt to) retrain ALL his bad habits at once. This strategy is to HIDE his or her messiness behind closed doors.

Instead of open shelving and messy hangers, bury those messy piles of clothes behind doors. Yes – it’s a sneaky trick, but it works… and soothes your O.C.D.  

Tip #4 to stop fighting over your closet – Recognize ‘thin is in’ … at least when it comes to maxing your space  

No, I’m not suggesting anorexia is the way to an organized closet (or a better life). Hey, I eat waaaay too much Graeter’s chocolate chip ice cream to promote that nonsense. Where I am suggesting a ‘skinny strategy’ (at least in the closet) is a smart strategy when choosing hangers.

Fat, ugly, plastic hangers look tacky. They take up too much room. And big, bulky wood hangers for his suits chew up space you don’t have.

The better alternative is lovely thin, velvet hangers.

Velvet hangers for more room credit | Innovate Home Org | #CustomCloset #Organization #CustomStorage #ClosetOrganization

Images Source: Makespace

They’re sturdy, and when you use JUST THIS ONE TYPE OF HANGER, you’ll not only save closet space, but your closet will look neater as well. Once you use a few velvet hangers and you’ll be ‘hang-kering’ for more (sorry about that, my mind is a sometimes a jumbled mess of bad puns!).

Tip #5 to stop fighting over your closet – Know ‘sharing IS NOT caring.’ You need to take sides. You need to be OK with getting ‘less than’ your ‘fair share!’  

I’ll admit this tip is not the ultimate relationship advice. However, when it comes to closet space, I’ll tell you the more you share (or co-mingle) your space, the harder it’ll be for you to get along.

To find your ‘inner closet Zen,’ you need your own space. So, if you’re the OCD partner, at least your side can look neat. Insist on ‘taking sides.’

And as a side note, don’t expect closet space to be a 50/50 split. This is never reality. And as a guy whose been married for over 36 years (and yes, I was married at age 11 just in case you jumped to the incorrect conclusion I’m old), I’ve learned to do just fine with my 30% (and not complain about it either).

not sharing equal sides his her closet columbus ohio | Innovate Home Org #ClosetOrganization #CustomStorage #ClosetStorage

And if you don’t believe me – think about the words of (marriage counselor) Kenny Rogers who once said about unequal closet space….

“You need to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em” (OK, sorry about another bad closet pun).

Tip #6 to stop fighting over your closet – Think outside the closet box

Sometimes, if we’re being real, you’ll come to the conclusion no matter what you do (or how creative a closet designer you hire), your closets are just too doggone small (and minimalism and ‘capsule wardrobes’ only take you so far).

And when this happen, you’ll come to the conclusion it’s time to ‘think outside the closet.’ Which means you MUST find space outside the confines of your small walk in closet, or teeny-tiny reach in closets. But where can you find space outside your ‘closet box?’ Here’s 3 practical ideas:

  • Idea 1 – Under the bed storage – I’ll grant you ‘under the bed’ storage is a hassle, but wake up and smell the roses, and know a man or woman’s gotta do what they’ve gotta do.


  • Idea 2 – Add a closet wardrobe in your bedroom – What’s cool is wardrobes can be custom-fit around your space and made to your specific needs. They’re super-smart for a hip urban loft in Short North or Downtown Columbus, or a tiny starter home in Clintonville.

wardrobe closet victorian village columbus ohio | Innovate Home Org | #CustomStorage #Wardobe #Shelving #OrganizationSystems

  • Idea 3 – Use your walls – Use creative shelves in your bedroom and celebrate those purses and Jimmy Choo’s on your walls. 

IKEA shelves with shoes and purse collection credit | Innovate Home Org | Ikea #IKEAStoage #CustomCloset #OrganizationSystems

Image Source: adellaandco

Tip #7 to stop fighting over your closet – Even though you may not be ready to ‘get hitched,’ this idea may get you hooked  

If you have no idea where you’ll find place for his 65,00 ball caps or your collection of #HoneyIBoughtOutTheStore necklaces, a smart idea is to use a ‘behind the in-swing door’ hook board to find a little extra space.

hookboard in a small walk in closet | Innovate Home Org | #CustomStorage #HookBoard #SmallCloset

Tip #8 to stop fighting over your closet – Use your volume.

You may have visions of blowing a hole in your walls and taking space from an adjoining room to grow your closet. And while this is an idea, it’s seldom practical or cost-effective.

A much smarter idea is to ‘go up’ to find cost-effective storage.

And if you look up in your closet today (or in the example below from a poorly designed new home closet), you’ll see what I mean. Top closet shelves are ALMOST ALWAYS set too low (leaving a space from the top shelf to the ceiling of 24-30.” This creates a dead gap at the top. Get smart and add a shelf at the top (or use double hanging sections suggested in tip #2).

Dead space at the top of your closet rod too low | Innovate Home Org | #CustomStorage #MaximizingSpace #StorageSolutions

Use your volume. It’s the smartest (and lightest on your wallet) way to gain space.   

Tip #9 to stop fighting over your closet – Stop hanging up all your clothes!

OK, this tip your Mother would qualify as C-R-A-Z-Y!

And I (even after all these years of being – supposedly- an adult) can still hear Mom’s words ringing in my ears, “Michael Anthony Foti (yes, when Mom was mad our middle name was a must), hang up your clothes!”

However, Mom (bless-her-heart) didn’t realize 2 facts professional closet designers know like the back (and the front) of their hand.  

 Fact #1 – Hanging up clothes takes a lot of space.

 Fact #2 – You can get 2 to 2.5 more storage folded in a drawer than hanging on rods.

Jewelry drawers in a pataskala custom closet | #JewleryTrays #CustomStorage #Organization

You see drawers not only look stylish, but they give you more space than your hanging rods today. Now, isn’t that cool?

Tip #10 to stop fighting over your closet – Don’t make a cramped closet worse by blowing money on ‘modular’ systems which aren’t designed around you or your space

When you’re dealing with a problem is your knee-jerk reaction to throw money at it RIGHT NOW to get it fixed ASAP?

If so, you need this tip.

While getting a brand-spankin’ new closet sounds like THE ANSWER to your closet storage dreams (and as a guy who designs and sells closets, I’d love to put one up for you today), I’ll tell you buying the first closet system you see on line, or in the store, can make a bad situation worse. If you’re confused why I (especially as a guy who sells closet systems) would say this, hear me out.

Modular closets (‘er premanufactured systems) aren’t designed for your clothes or the size (and weird heights and angles) of your closet. This leads to ‘closet solutions’ which end up being ‘closet problems.’ And while inexpensive store bought closets can be a ‘good find,’ they can also be a disaster (and if you don’t believe me read this article about the pros and cons of the IKEA Pax closets).

Here’s what I’ll tell you. Before you buy the first ‘solution’ you find online, do your homework. Get a 3D design from a closet professional. Get recommendations from someone who does closets for a living before assuming (and you know what assuming does!) the first solution you can throw money at is the best solution.

3D custom closet design clintonville ohio | Innovate Home Org | #Designs #CustomDesign #StorageOptions

Tip #11 to stop fighting over your closet – Pledge to have a ‘net zero’ closet. Don’t allow things to get out of hand.

Although you may use all the best storage tips initially (when you move in), closet storage problems eventually creep up on you (after too many trips to the mall). You’ll wake up one day and realize….

Our closet is a disaster!

And this is where you need the discipline of what I call a ‘Net Zero Closet.’ Not sure what a net zero closet is? Well I’m about to tell you.

A net zero closet is where you and your partner pledge and take a solemn oath (is this taking you back to your scouting days?) to do the following….

Add nothing new to your closet!

I bet you’re saying WTF right now! OK, I’m not telling you to stop buying anything new. However, what I’m saying is you shouldn’t add any more items to your closet.

When you buy something, you MUST donate something. After all, buying without equal purging is the fuel which clutters your closet.

Commit to the ‘net zero closet’ (i.e. having a ‘non-growing’ number of things). It’s the only strategy (and discipline) which keeps things neat (and not forcing you back to square one and decluttering…. once again).

How can me and my team help you next?

I understand closets (like relationships) are more complex than they seem at first. And just like life wasn’t made to ‘do alone,’ I’ll argue it’s smarter (and more space, and cost-effective) to get design help with your closet before you and your partner (as closet novices) take it on alone.

And this is where me and my team would be honored to help.

If you live in Columbus Ohio and want input and a Free 3D closet design (either in person or through a virtual closet design appointment) call us at 614-545-6888.

If you don’t live in Columbus, no problem. I’ll work to refer you to one of my ‘buds in the closet biz’ or our industry association – The Association of Closet and Storage Professionals.

Thanks for reading (and putting up with my humor).

Here’s to your relationship and your organized ‘net zero closet!’



If you’d like more information on closet organization, a wardrobe closet in Columbus and interior design (with a little wackiness thrown in along the way) follow me on LinkedIn @MikeFotiLinkedIn (and you might even ‘like’ me better on LinkedIn because you’ll get more of the ‘buttoned-up’ business guy version of me there!).

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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