Real Estate

Into the closet

California Closets local franchise owner Joseph Marengi demonstrates one of the custom California Closets installations in the showroom apartment at Greenbridge in Chapel Hill.
California Closets local franchise owner Joseph Marengi demonstrates one of the custom California Closets installations in the showroom apartment at Greenbridge in Chapel Hill. HARRY LYNCH -

Does your bedroom closet need a makeover? Check out the following tips from area professionals in organization.

Getting Started

Before making any changes, take stock of what you own and get rid of what you don’t need.

“Most of us wear 20 percent of our clothing 80 percent of the time,” says Perri Kersh, owner of Neat Freak Professional Organizing in Chapel Hill. “We have closets stuffed with ‘just in case’ clothes, or ‘when I weigh that amount again’ clothes, or ‘I spent a lot of money on that’ clothes.

“Think of your closet as expensive real estate. Only fill it with things you value, items you love and things that make you look and feel fantastic.”

Carefully measure your closet’s vertical and horizontal space as well as the space your clothes will need. When measuring your clothes, measure starting from the top of the hanger since hanger depths can differ.

The Basics

On average, women need 18 inches of horizontal space for hanging long clothes, such as dresses and long skirts, and 6 to 8 feet for hanging short clothing, such as blouses, skirts and folded-over slacks. Men need about 5 to 6 feet of short hanging space and no long.

But every person is different, says Joe Marengi, owner of California Closets in Raleigh. The key to planning your closet space is to figure out what you wear and how you like it stored. Some people don’t like a crease in their pants so they need more long hanging space. Others prefer to fold their pants over a hanger to gain more closet space.

To maximize space, add a double hang closet rod to the horizontal rod in your closet. This doubles the space by allowing you to hang shirts on the top rod and pants below on the hanging rod. In a 3-foot horizontal section of your closet, you can achieve the 6 feet of short hanging space you need.

Typically, you’ll want about 40 inches of hanging depth minimum for short hanging. Depending on how your clothes measure, your top rod could be installed about 86 inches above the floor and your bottom rod about 42 inches.

Shelving to hold shoes and folded clothes should be 12 to 14 inches deep and at least 2 feet wide, allowing for two stacks of clothes side by side. Shelving that is not deep enough can leave clothes hanging off the edge, creating a messy look to the closet.

Forget about space that forces you to bend over to reach items. Make your shelving reachable instead by placing your closet rods low enough for your clothes to hang just above the floor. Then hang shelves over the rods.


Adjustability is a key consideration, Marengi says. Not only is it good for resale, but it’s also good for changing lifestyles. With adjustable rods, triple hanging space that works well for baby clothes can be adjusted to double hanging space as a child grows older.

For your accessories, jewelry, socks and other items, consider adding drawers.

Got unused wall space? Think about installing hanging hooks for belts, purses and such items.

Current Trend

Many of Kersh’s clients want their closets to feel like a room. Marengi notes as well that while it’s important to make a closet functional, it’s also important to make it aesthetically pleasing.

Use finishes such as maple wood grains and stainless accents for a more custom, high-end look and feel.

Keep your closet neat with built-in drawers and hampers.

Install good overhead lighting to eliminate dark corners that feel less usable. Before placing a shelf over your closet door to maximize space, determine whether it will block your light.

Super Tip

“If you wanted to really make your closet look, well, I guess like the cherry on the sundae, make all your hangers look the same,” Marengi advises.

Kersh agrees: “Having a closet full of mismatched dry cleaner hangers can quickly create a mess.”

She suggests buying Slimline hangers, which are covered with a velvety fabric that prevents clothes from slipping off. The hangers — available at stores like Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Costco — offer a uniform look and easily slide on closet rods.

Staying OrganizedOnce you’ve remade your closet, you want to keep it organized.

Kersh suggests setting aside a Saturday morning every few months to re-evaluate your clothes, switch around seasonal items and re-hang items based on style or color.

Marengi advises removing something for every item you bring into your closet.

“Some people think, ‘I’m going to wear this shoe when I paint, I’m going to wear this shoe when I’m gardening,’ ” he says. “The next thing you know they’ve got 20 shoes for gardening and 20 shoes for painting. You’ve got to get rid of some things.”