What’s the most important room in your dream house? For a lot of women – and well-dressed men – it very well could be the giant walk-in closet! But unless you have money in your bank and space in your home to build a legendary closet like Mariah Carey, anyone with the last name "Kardashian," or former Filipino presidential wife Imelda Marcos (who had more than 3,000 pairs of shoes,) you may have to get a little creative. But don’t despair, because with some planning and design foresight, you can turn any changing area – big or small – into your dream closet.
Here are 50 tips to do create your dream closet right at home:
1. Don’t try to organize or remodel piecemeal inside the closet – take everything out and go through it all when you have plenty of time to dedicate to finishing the task.
2. If you haven’t used something in a year, it’s outdated, or ill fitting, consider donating it to someone who will get use and enjoyment out of it.
3. We all have that pair of jeans that’s too long or a shirt that would be our favorite if only it was a little smaller. If you’re not wearing things because of size but you truly like them, take them in to get tailored – or give them away.
4. There are plenty of closet systems to help you get organized and maximize space. They start from inexpensive do-it-yourself options (Ikea) to mid range (Home Depot and Lowe’s best wooden products) to gorgeous custom professional designs that will make your closet your favorite room in the house.
5. Most closets come with standard carpet on the floor. But consider installing nice hardwood floor for a classy look, and laying down a designer area rug for warmth in the winter. Hardwood is also a lot easier to clean and will make the area look bigger.
6. Paint the walls of the closet a bright or light color to open up the space and make it look bigger. Or, you can add a touch of personality with designer print wallpaper.
7. There’s no better way to transport your pragmatic closet to an elegant experience than by hanging a chandelier where your tired light fixture used to be. You can get one at the local thrift store, a home design store, or look for something fun and funky online.
8. Cedar wood closet backings, drawers, and cedar floors are great and keep the moths away, but the smell can be strong and make everything in that part of the house. So consider cedar hangars or wood rods instead of the full effect.
9. Natural light is fantastic in a closet, but often unobtainable unless you install a window. But adding a tubular skylight is a great way to brighten up the room from above. Just make sure the light is filtered so it’s not too hot or fades your clothes over time.
10. Just like any room, closets need airflow to keep from becoming prone to mold, mildew, insects, or just plain stagnant air. Plug in a small dehumidifier with fan and put it on a timer, so it turns on automatically a couple times a day to keep the air fresh and dry.
11. More than just one overhead fixture, install enhanced lighting. Mini directional lights, under closet LED’s, and even automatic fluorescent lights in dark drawers and shelves will illuminate everything and make your closet look twice as big.
12. Add a fun or glamorous doorknob, and try to match it to the knobs on drawers.
13. If you have enough space, break up the shelf spaces with framed photos, antiques, books, personal effects, and maybe even a vase with flowers.
14. If it’s big enough, a center island is a wonderful touch in a closet.
15. And a plush bench in the middle allows you to sit down and try on shoes. If your closet isn’t big enough, a circular padded footstool will serve the same purpose.
16. Of course you need a great mirror in your closet. Make sure you put it in a place where the lighting is sufficient (and flattering.) To save space, many closet systems now have retractable mirrors.
17. Why not listen to your favorite music while getting dressed in the morning? So mount a little iPod dock or music player - there’s nothing that will put you in a better mood than dancing and singing while you get ready!
18. If you don’t have the budget for a brand new closet system, consider putting an antique china cabinet into your existing closet. You can pick one up for cheap at the local consignment store and it has plenty of shelving on display behind glass, spacious drawers, and even space beneath for boxes or baskets.
19. Go higher with shelves. There’s no reason to stop with shelving at arm’s reach. Go all the way to the ceiling (with space for things on that top shelf of course) and keep a portable bookcase ladder in the closet.
20. Prioritize the space vertically by placing most-used clothing at eye level, and then other things or out-of-season clothes all the way on top shelves.
21. Drawers are great for storing sweaters, t-shirts, ties, etc., but the problem is that once they’re put away and closed, the contents are easy to forget. So install drawers with glass fronts so you can still see all of your clothes.
22. The best way to make sure your closet isn’t overcrowded is to clean it out twice a year, putting away seasonal clothes. You can keep them in sealing plastic bins and store them in the basement, attic, or under the bed. Likewise, don’t keep your boots and winter shoes cluttering up your closet in the summer. Go through them and store in plastic bins or nice baskets.
23. Make sure to utilize the space on the back of the closet door. Install shelving or plenty of hooks or caddies and hang items like purses, belts, ties, etc. there.
24. Most women dream of a closet so big that each pair of their designer shoes can be displayed on their own shelf, but for now you may have to settle for other storage options. Hanging caddies with see-through plastic compartments are a great way to store shoes anywhere but keep them visible. You can also fill those compartments with ties, belts, jewelry, etc.
25. And ladies – remember that the most efficient way to make your portion of the closet bigger is to give your husband or boyfriend less space, so kick him out into the closet in the hall or the spare bedroom. OR you can make sure his portion of the closet is well organized, too!
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