The closet, it’s the most valuable and most underutilized real estate in most homes. As a designer, there is something about the closet that tells me more about the homeowner than any other room in the home. Most homes are staged to express only what the homeowner wants you to know, but closets give their secrets away. I live in an apartment and that alone tells you that my space is limited. With a husband and two children in a two bedroom NYC apartment I simply cannot afford to waste space. So I’ve trained myself to utilize my space very productively.

I am amazed, and to be honest, annoyed at people who constantly complain about space. Why? Because when I walk into their homes the first thing I see are closets that are not properly utilized.  When one is seriously looking for space one must consider redoing all the closets in the home. The closet is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The contractor grade closet that most people get when they move into a new home is never going to function properly. Why? Because we all have different needs and space requirements for our assortment of stuff. I am not suggesting that everyone should have Closet Maid redo their closets, but I am suggesting that everyone should rip out that single dingy shelf and rod and do the closet over. It’s not major construction, and depending on your schedule, redoing all the closets in your home could be a two weekend project. The hardest one to install is usually the first.

Get started by taking count of how many closets you have and study them. Designate a purpose for each closet and be honest with yourself and dispose of what you do not need. The purpose of a closet is to organize what you use and store what you love. The closet is not for accumulating junk you have not seen or used in the last five to ten years. Disposing of personal belongings may be difficult so have a friend/buddy next to you for emotional support if needed.                      

Redo one closet at a time. Ripping them all out at once will only discourage you. Make sure to measure all your closets at the same time (measure width, depth and height). By measuring them all at once you will have a good idea of your new storage capacity before heading to The Home Depot. I know going to the Home Depot can be overwhelming but do not fear! Your friendly Home Depot associate will show you all the options available, as well as cut boards and clip wire mesh to your desired size. However, each closet does have a unique purpose so give some thought to what you need from each before you run out and buy any supplies.

The Master Bedroom closet, whether large or small, should be designed to be shared by two. If your closet has tall ceilings, smile, for the taller the closet the more you can store. If for some unexplainable reason your closet has a wall dividing side by side closets, which I have seen many times, consider removing the wall and replacing it with doors that give you better access to the space. Depending on your lifestyle, you should consider incorporating shelves, drawers and hanging space for different types of clothing such as shirts, pants, dresses and suites.

A Baby’s Room closet is easy. First, consider removing the door. By removing the door I am not suggesting you to dispose of it. Instead I am suggesting you store it for future use when the child gets older. The removal of the door, or doors, will make life a bit easier for the new mom. It will also allow you to add extra footage to the room by designing the closet as part of the room when the baby is small and needs a lot of stuff. If you go this route, consider adding color to the walls of the closet as well. Please don’t leave dingy walls closet walls exposed.

A Child’s Room closet should be designed according to both the child’s age and the size of the room. Children generally have more belongings then we do. So there is a greater need for storage of toys, books, and gadgets. I suggest a combination of shelving and clear plastic bins for easy access.

The Linen closet should always be filled with shelves from top to bottom. If the ceiling is higher than the door, make sure that the top shelves are smaller in depth than the lower ones for easy access.

The Coat closet should be for storing usable coats, not for storing forgotten ones. Also take advantage of the storage space all the way to the ceiling by adding shelves. A coat closet should always have two shelves at the top for storing hats, gloves, scarves, ear muffs and anything else that is seasonal.

When your closets are organized life is beautiful. You know where all your things are and you are able to get to them within minutes. I know for a fact that when closets are organized people actually like to show them off to friends.  Just do me a favor, before embarking on such a journey please paint your closets and give them a shade of color. I guarantee that a splash of color behind your clothes and shoes will bring a smile to your face every time you open it!

Marlene Pratt is the co-founder of Casa Latina, an interior designer and on-air television host on both English and Spanish-language television. Follow Marlene on Twitter at @CasaLatinaToday and Like her FB page

Follow us on
Like us at