How to Get the Closet of Your Dreams

Most of us have them and appreciate them, but many of us would rather that our closets … stay in the closet. But there is hope for disorganized, messy spaces. From premade closet organizing systems to custom configurations, there’s a solution that can work for you.

The most common type of bedroom closet is the wall closet, also called a reach-in. When you open the closet door or doors, the whole closet is accessible. Since the opening needs to be wide, there are several variations in doors. Sliders are common, as are bifold doors. You can also have a double door (two doors open outward into the room) as shown.

The minimum depth for a wall closet is 24 inches within the interior walls, not from the face of the doors. This gives clothing on hangers a couple of inches in the front and back when the hanging rod is centered in the space. The width for a closet with two or more doors should be at least 60 inches; a closet with a single door can be narrower.

Good wall closets include:

  • Spaces for long and short hanging items
  • Several open shelves of varying heights
  • A bank of drawers (optional)
  • A spot for shoes
  • Places to hang ties and belts, and to stow handkerchiefs and scarfs

One frequently overlooked storage area is the linen closet. But a well-organized space for sheets and towels comes in handy on a daily basis.

The ideal depth of a linen closet is 16 to 20 inches deep, like the one shown here. This will keep your linens easier to see. If your closet is deeper, simply make the shelves shallower.

Walk-in closets have long been favored for their spacious accommodation of extensive wardrobes. If clothes will hang on both sides, ideally the width should be 7 feet. This will allow a 3-foot path down the center of the closet for moving around. Resist the temptation to line the back wall with rods, which tends to take away from space, because the rods have to overlap in the corners.

closet designHigher-end custom-designed closets, as seen here, can be beautifully detailed. Though these systems can be costly, they can free up bedroom space by eliminating the need for a large dresser or chest.


  • Small linen closets: A few hundred dollars, depending on materials
  • Modest-size wall closets: Under $1,000 or even $500 if you choose less-expensive materials
  • Walk-in closets: At least $750
  • Higher-quality and custom closets: Several thousand dollars, easily

Many businesses specialize in designing custom closets, and they can usually provide estimates quickly. Policies vary on whether a visit to the home is required before the company designs anything, and whether there is a charge for the visit.

Do-it-yourselfers can probably tackle a small closet in a single weekend. More complex configurations might take several days. For custom-designed closets, a pro will need to measure your space and design the system, but the actual installation should take only a day or two.