How to Solve 15 Common Walk in Closet Storage Problems Which Make You want to SCREAM!!!
If you HATE, HATE, HATE your master walk in closet you’re not alone. If you’re experiencing any or all of the following problems, you’re by NO MEANS unique when your closet makes you want to SCREAM!
- Problem #1 – Your clothes are jamb-packed, yet you still have ‘dead space’ above (and below) your hanging clothes you can’t use efficiently.
- Problem #2 – You can’t find anything, and you certainly can’t store everything you’d like in your closet.
- Problem #3 – Your shoes are hidden in a jumbled mess on the floor.
- Problem #4 – You’re stuck putting your stinky, dirty clothes in your ugly, broken, yellow plastic hamper where you get to ‘experience’ them every day.
- Problem #5 – Your closet corners today are where your clothes ‘come to die.’ With your hanging clothes bunched up against more hanging clothes in the corners, you have no idea what’s stored in those deep crevasses.
I know from years working with Columbus Ohio homeowners, identifying closet problems is simple. However, the real question is how the heck can you get rid of these problems WITHOUT taking out a second mortgage or telling the kids they’d better be ready to fund their own education?
In this article my goal is to not only to identify the 15 common closet storage problems, but most importantly give you practical closet strategies to fix them. So, let’s dig into the top closet problems and solutions.
Problem #1) Dead corners – where hanging clothes, and more hanging clothes collide in your closet corners
This is the stupidest closet mistake EVER (and you can say that in your favorite Valley-girl accent), yet it’s repeated over and over and over again. Sorry to be redundant – but production – and even custom – builders leave you with this ‘dead corner’ problem consistently.
When you put hanging clothes against hanging clothes you create a ‘dead corner’ where you can’t see what’s in the back. The good news is this problem is simpler to solve than you think. Here’s what you need to do…
On the wall perpendicular to the hanging clothes, add a small section (12” wide minimum) of shelving. This will allow you to see all your hanging clothes in the corners, and use the shelving for sweaters, folded jeans, or shoes.
Problem #2) Your shoes are buried under hanging clothes
Most closets have no designated space for shoes. And when in this situation, shoes are tossed on the floor. They’re difficult to see under hanging clothes above them.
Since shoes are not only essential, but also a major fashion statement they should be ‘treated’ (and planned for) in a custom walk-in closet.
When I’m working with clients, I often look to add shoe shelving when you walk into the closet. The reason for this is you put on (and take off) your shoes first and last. In addition, shoes shelves can either be 12” or 14” deep and don’t ‘stick out’ like hanging clothes. This makes a closet feel more open (and not as crowded) when you walk in.
Problem #3) Your clothes are ‘packed in,’ yet you still have ‘dead space’ at the top!
If you only have one closet rod, and there’s 24” to 30” between your closet rod and top shelf to the ceiling, you’re experiencing a common (yet unbelievably frustrating) closet problem. You have unused (yet desperately needed) ‘closet volume,” but the top shelf of the closet is set too low to use it.
This ‘dead top space’ problem is solved by moving the top shelf either 12” from the top of the ceiling (this is what I recommend for an 8’ high closet) or 18” from the ceiling (this is what I recommend for a 9’ high closet). Doing this will allow you to include ‘double-hanging’ (where there’s 2 closet rods in the same vertical space) to maximize hanging – yet still have space above for lesser used clothes, and storage and shoe boxes.
Problem #4) Folded clothes, and your spouse’s ‘big-ol’-shoes,’ hang off the edge of shelves and look sloppy
Most wire shelving ‘systems’ (and I use the term ‘system’ lightly here) or painted builder-grade particle board shelves are 12” deep. The problem with this shelving depth is bulkier sweaters, sweatshirts, and shoes for people with large feet hang over the edge. And when your storage hangs over the shelf your closet looks sloppy.
The simple solution to sloppy looking storage shelves is to use deeper shelves. For bulky sweaters, sweatshirts, and big-sized shoes either 14” or 16” deep shelving is required.
Problem #5) Your ties, belts and scarves invariably end up on the closet floor and are hard to find
If you’re using the old ‘hang the ties, belts and scarves’ over a random hanger storage strategy, you KNOW how frustrating (and time- consuming) it can be finding the one you’re looking for as you’re running late and getting ready for an important meeting.
Well – I’m here to tell you the good news that this DOES NOT need to be your problem. With a simple investment in a sliding tie, belt, or scarf rack you’ll find exactly what you need ‘lickety-split.’ No more bending over and looking on the floor wondering if what you’re looking for has dropped to the ground AGAIN!
Problem #6) You have no place for socks, underwear, or your work out gear, except in your overstuffed bedroom dresser drawers
If you’re NOT on the same schedule as your spouse (or partner) you may have felt their wrath after waking them up early in the morning getting ready after turning on the bedroom lights and rummaging through your bedroom dresser drawers. This IS NOT a good situation for either of you.
Well – here’s a smart idea to not only create a glamourous closet, but also one where you partner DOESN’T WANT to bite your head off because you woke them up again. This idea is to include drawers in your new master walk in closet design.
With drawers you can get ‘fully ready’ in your closet (because you’ll have a place to store underwear, panty hose, running shorts without turning on the bedroom lights and making noise). In addition, you can get 2 to 3 times more clothes in a closet drawer than hanging them AND your closet will look more stylish at the same time. Now that’s a trifecta of benefits you shouldn’t leave home without (even American Express would agree).
Problem #7) You ‘get to’ experience the sights and smells of your beat-up plastic laundry hamper
There’s nothing glorious about an open clothes basket. It stinks and looks bad. Other than that – it’s beautiful (sarcasm intended).
If you hate your hamper and are looking for a smart solution for this needed (yet despised) element of your closet, consider a fold down hamper. It not only looks stylish (because the clothes are behind a closed door), but it keeps the ‘lid’ (practically) on the ‘fragrant aroma’ of your work out clothes.
Problem #8) You can’t see for the life of you what’s in the closet (and your color blindness isn’t helping)
If your closet is dark with a single light bulb to illuminate everything, you know selecting clothes (and choosing colors) is not easy.
Improving walk in closet lighting can make your space more pleasurable. You can choose from cost-effective, motion activated, rechargeable LED lights or upgrade with lighting built into closet sections or spotlights wired into the ceiling. And if you have a lot of room, a fun chandelier over a closet island is cool.
Problem #9) Your closet window is not only limiting your privacy, but it’s also limiting storage options.
While a window (and natural lighting) can make a closet feel more inviting, it’s also a double-edged sword because windows reduce the amount of wall storage and (if you’re not careful) will result in you ‘putting on a show’ for neighbors (if your blinds aren’t as private as you thought).
And while eliminating the window and reframing and siding the outside of the home is an option – it’s often not practical or cost-effective. So, given this challenge the question is how you can use the area around the window more effectively? Here’s 2 ideas.
- Idea #1 – Install a bench seat under the window – When you have a window where there’s 20” or more between the bottom of the window trim and the floor – it’s a perfect place for a closet bench seat (with open shoe storage – or a drawer underneath).
- Idea #2 – Use the sides of the window for shelving – Since hanging clothes around a window sticks out so far, shelving is a smart way to use the wall area around a window.
Problem #10) Your closet is very narrow
If your closet feels like a never-ending narrow corridor and you don’t have a clue how to use one of the walls (because there’s not enough space for hanging clothes or standard-sized shelving), this can be the key to unlocking more storage in a narrow closet.
Well, I’m here to tell you there’s a few things you can do to get more out of unused walls in a narrow closet.
One idea is to use hook boards. They’re excellent for robes, ball caps or jewelry.
Another idea is to use a decorative wall organization unit. These units only come out 4” from the wall and add a high-end luxury style since they’re even adorned with faux leather pieces, and you can store shoes, jewelry or handbags on them.
And a third idea is to install 6” deep shelves and store your shoes sidesways (like you see on the display shelves in Dick’s Sporting Goods).
For more narrow closet ideas read, 7 Powerful Tips to Squeeze More Space and Beauty into a Narrow Walk in Closet.
Problem #11) Your closet isn’t adjustable and doesn’t work well because you’re ‘vertically challenged’
If you struggle to reach your top closet rod or shelf because you WERE NOT blessed with height (even though your parents kept assuring you, you would ‘sprout up’ any day now), you know a standard height closet can be a problem for those, (like you) who are V.C. (‘er vertically challenged).
However, the good news is this doesn’t have to be your problem.
First, insist on a closet system which is adjustable. Adjustable closet shelves and rods can move to fit your stature.
And second consider pull down rods so your clothes in upper sections come to you.
Problem #12) Your closet is crowded and messy
If you hate coming into your closet because it’s a disaster, you can take solace knowing misery loves company – and SOOOOO many closets ARE NOT a temple to the OCD people of the world.
And although you’re not alone having a messy closet, it doesn’t make it any simpler to use. Here’s 3 simple tricks to ‘notch up’ your closet organization game.
- 1) Get rid of clothes you don’t wear – I know this is simpler said than done. And if you can’t bear to do it alone call a professional closet organizer.
- 2) Use the same hangers (preferably thinner velvet hangers) – The thick plastic hangers from the Dollar Store and flimsy metal hangers from the dry cleaners don’t do your closet organization goals any favors. I’m a big fan of thin, yet sturdy – velvet hangers.
- 3) Get plastic separators for your shelving stacks – Plastic separators keep your stacks from resembling the ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa.’
Problem #13) You don’t want your formal clothes getting dusty
The reality of most closets is they’re completely open. And an open closet (where hanging clothes, shoes and boxes are visible) is cost-effective and makes clothes easy to see. However, the negative is dust gathers even on your most expensive items.
So, if you’re looking to protect your wedding dress or Indian saris from dust, add closet doors. If you’re wondering if they’ll add cost, that – unfortunately, would be correct. However, you’ll get an elegant closet which protects your valuable garments.
Image Source: Patty Miller Boutique Closets
Problem #14) You don’t have any place to store and display purses, clutches and handbags
If you have a purse collection to die for – yet they’re difficult to find because they’re stuffed in bags and boxes, investing in a new closet is the perfect time to give them the attention they deserve. Whether you use simple adjustable shelving or add custom cubbies, your purses can take center stage in a new custom closet design – and become infinitely easier to find.
Problem #15) You have sloped ceilings, outlets, and switches which makes it impossible to buy an ‘off-the-shelf’ closet organizer system.
If only your closet wasn’t so odd. Your ceilings slope up and down. You have switches in the darndest locations (you can’t for the life you understand what the previous owners were thinking). And then your window is adding a complexity to your closet design which is blowing your mind. The challenge becomes how can you work around (AND WORK WITH) the oddities which are your closet?
If this is your reality I’d recommend reading, How to Organize Your Odd Shaped Closet Which Has Outlets, Switches, Windows and Access Panels In All the Wrong Places!
Custom closets – with weird obstructions – can be a puzzle you need ‘upper-level’ closet organizer strategies to overcome. Get advice before buying (or contracting with anyone unexperienced) to do the work, especially if your closet is downright wacky.
So, are you ready to tackle your disorganized walk-in closet? Do you need design assistance or ideas to tame your specific problems?
I know figuring out the solutions to your myriad (yes – that’s a fancy word I threw it to make you think I’m smart…is it working?) of closet problems can seem overwhelming. However, you’ll be glad to know there’s resources to help you.
For example, if you live in Columbus Ohio – my closet organization business (Innovate Home Org) would be delighted to help you solve your closet problems and provide a Free 3D Closet Design. Call 614-545-6888.
On the other hand, if you live outside Central Ohio (which is undoubtedly most of you) comment below where you live, and I’ll see if I can find a referral for you through one of my closet design friends across the country.
Thanks for reading – and putting up with my wacky humor.
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Hi Cathryn – thanks for reading my post. I don’t know anyone personally in Albuquerque but I did include a link to my professional closet association membership tab so you can find someone close to you – thanks for reading my post! Mike https://www.closets.org/directory.html#!directory/map