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Design for Small Closet

Question: I have an older home. The  closets are old. Ceiling to floor is 95 inches high. Width wall to wall it is 59 inches long. What do you suggest?

Answer: When designing a closet, it is best to find out some facts about the user such as:

  • Are you male or female?
  • Are you tall or short?
  • Do you prefer to hang clothes up or put clothes into drawers?
  • How many shoes do you have and wear?

The answers to these questions make a design personal and allow a designer to customize it to your needs.

Without knowing anything about you, I can still design a basic closet for the “average” person.

 Most people need 3 things in a closet:

1. a place to hang shirts and

2. a place to hang pants, and long items. For women, we need more long hanging space usually because we have skirts and dresses.

3. shoe storage. The average person owns about 30 pair of shoes. So you need space for shoe racks or other methods or store shoes.

A 5-foot wide closet is exactly what I have so I know it is possible. The trick is to have as few clothing items and shoes as possible. There is no room for excess. Weed out your clothing twice a year. If you don’t love what you have – give it away. If it doesn’t fit – give it away. If it’s stained – fix it or toss it.

Here is how I designed my closet and it would work for you as well:

1. Begin with a Shelf & hanging rod placed at 68″ from the floor that goes from wall to wall. If you are tall, hang it higher because your clothes are longer.
This is where you will hang your slacks, jeans, shorts, and short skirts.

2. Hang a rod (with or without a shelf) at 40″ from the floor, but it should only go 3.5 or 4 feet across, depending on how much long hanging space you need. On this rod you will hang shirts, and other tops.

TIP: Putting your bottoms on the top bar and your tops on the bottom bar allows your better viewing of the bottom bar. If you put tops on top, it can be hard to see what is on the bottom bar.

3. In the long hanging area you can hang dresses, long skirts, long coats, etc.

4. For shoe storage: I recommend a shoe bag on the inside of the door to hold your smaller shoes (flats, sandals). Men may not be able to use these bags very well because their shoes tend to be larger.

For sneakers, loafers, and other bigger shoes, use your floor space. You can also put shoes into shoe boxes and store them on the top shelf.

This is a quick sketch of what this configuration looks like this:

Green bar =  72″ high bar for pants and long hanging clothes

Yellow bar =  42″ high bar for tops

Red S = shoes


















Good luck designing your closet. If you need help with it, there are several stores and websites that can help you design a custom closet including Rubbermaid. This is a link to Rubbermaid’s closet design wizard to help you through the process.


Allison Carter likes fun and funky organizing. She is a creative, right brainer and thinks it is more fun to organize if you love how your space looks. So she utilitzes color, shape, pattern and texture to keep herself and her stuff organized. Check out her web site at The Professional Organizer!

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One Response to Design for Small Closet

  1. Danielle October 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    I consider a 5ft closet to be pretty large. Our house is 1400 square feet and our closets are only about 3 feet wide. What kind of solutions do you recommend for a closet that small?

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