10 Secrets Only Professional Closet Organizers Know

Canny placement and custom shelving are just two of their genius ideas

Organized closet with graphic wallpaper
Photo: Floto + Warner

Implement these pro strategies at home to transform your closets.

01 of 10

Hybrid Zones Are Trouble

Organized closet with graphic wallpaper
Floto + Warner

If there's empty space, leave it! Don't fill it with random items just because there's room. "The most important principle in closet organizing is to group like things together," says professional organizer Barbara Reich of Resourceful Consultants. "Shirts with shirts, pants with pants." That way, there's no question about where to find those items when you need them.

02 of 10

Shelves Are Flexible

Double master closet
Matthew Williams

If you have at least 12 inches of space between shelves, that's an opportunity to add an extra shelf for more storage. "Customize shelving to work for you and your things," says professional organizer Jeni Aron of Clutter Cowgirl, "not the other way around." If you have a lot of tall boots, move the shelves up, so they fit. If you have mostly folded clothing, push them down so the stacks don't become unwieldy and topple over.

03 of 10

Items Should Be Stored by Frequency of Use

Linen closet with canvas bins
Matthew Williams

If you only use the air mattress a few times a year, don't stash it front and center in the linen closet. Tuck such lesser-used items in the back or on a high shelf, so you don't have to maneuver around them when searching for frequently used pieces.

04 of 10

Categories Are Key

Clothes hanging on green clothes hangers
Jonny Valiant

"Hang clothes using simple systems that you can easily maintain. Group all tops together, all pants together, all dresses together, and color-code each category," says organizer Clea Shearer of The Home Edit. Aron suggests that you also break it up by season. "If there are six whole months when you're not wearing a heavy wool skirt, that piece can be placed with her winter sisters in another spot."

05 of 10

A Rug Can Give Your Space a Boutique-y Feel

Closet with patterned rug
William Abranowicz

A little pattern or texture (like a sheepskin rug) will instantly transform your storage space into a zone that you respect just as much as any other room in the house. And for those with a few extra bucks to burn, here's a fun idea: Reich suggests adding a chandelier. "These small decorative touches will force you to keep that space in check so you can continue to enjoy it not just for storage, but for the esthetic pleasure it offers," says Aron.

06 of 10

Uniformity Is Crucial

Closet with all green hangers
Jonny Valiant

"Matching hangers, shoe boxes, and containers will transform your closet visually and motivate you to maintain the space," says Shearer. She also suggests having extra hangers for new purchases or items that have just returned from the dry cleaner. This uniformity will eliminate visual clutter within the space, making it feel instantly neater, Reich says.

07 of 10

Closets Are Expandable

Jewelry and accessories on hooks
Floto + Warner

Feel free to move outside the confines of the closet walls. If you have a nearby nook or wall space, use it for added storage or set up a dressing area with a mirror and a small table. If there are items that won't fit in your closet or dresser, Reich suggests making use of under-the-bed storage.

08 of 10

Stations Maximize Utility

Twinset closet
Matthew Williams

Divide your closet into zones with a designated category for each: shoes here, accessories there, gym clothes there. "This forces your brain to quickly connect with where to find each item. And you'll know exactly where to return it when you're done," says Aron. Reich suggests using drawer and shelf dividers and closet rod organizers to arrange each zone.

09 of 10

Closets Are Like Houses

Closet with shoes, clothes, and top shelf organized neatly
Jonny Valiant

"Your 'main floor' of eye-level racks, rods, and shelves is where your everyday life occurs. So store clothing, shoes, and accessories here," says Aron. "The upper shelves all the way to the ceiling act as your 'attic,' where you should keep infrequently used pieces and mementos."

10 of 10

A Ladder Is Always a Good Idea

Jackets and step ladder hanging on wall
Björn Wallander

Aron suggests tucking a slim stepladder along the closet wall to put things away immediately—"rather than getting sidetracked on your way to retrieve the ladder from some far off corner of the house," she says. A stool with one or two steps should be all you need to access the highest corners of the space.

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