Smart Closet Design Planning: Creating Your Dream Walk-In Closet

Elegant Closet design planning with island cabinet

Are you tired of cluttered closets overflowing with clothes and shoes? Do you dream of having an organized space to store all your outfits and accessories? With the help of a reliable kitchen and bath designer and some smart closet design planning, you can create the walk-in closet of your dreams!

Table of Contents

Luxury, spacious custom closet design

The Benefits of a Planned Smart Closet Design

A properly designed closet offers many advantages:

  • Increased storage space – Optimize every inch to hold more items neatly
  • Easy access to belongings – Quickly find what you need
  • Flexible storage options – Accommodate various heights, lengths, and depths
  • Greater organization – Design specific zones for each clothing type
  • Customization – Build a closet to fit your personal taste and storage requirements

As organization experts House Beautiful note, a hallmark of a well-designed closet is taking full advantage of vertical dimensions – installing storage from floor to ceiling.

Walk-In Closet vs Reach-In Closet

When embarking on closet design planning, one of the first decisions is whether you want a walk-in closet or a reach-in closet.

spacious walk-in closet design

Walk-In Closets

A walk-in closet is a separate room dedicated to clothing and accessory storage. Walk-in closets offer the most space and flexibility for organizing.

  • Pros: More overall storage capacity, fully customizable layouts
  • Cons: Require a dedicated room, more expensive to build out

Reach-In Closets

A reach-in closet has doors that open into a storage space integrated into a room. These take up less space but offer less storage than walk-ins.

  • Pros: Fit into existing rooms, less expensive, easier to install
  • Cons: Limited space and layout options

Elements to Include in Your Closet Design Plan

Carefully thinking through your closet design will ensure you make the most of the space. Key elements to consider are:

1. Closet Doors

Select doors that match your room’s aesthetic. Options include:

  • Folding doors – Doors divided into panels that fold compactly against each other when fully open. These allow wide entryways without swinging out and taking up floor space. However, folding doors do not seal tightly, leaving gaps that allow light and noise to transfer through.
  • Bypass doors – Similar to folding doors, bypass doors slide along a track past one another when opened. This style also prevents doors from obstructing room pathways with wide openings. Bypass doors stack more neatly when open though. Dual panels provide a tighter seal and improved insulation compared to folding options.
  • Hinged doors – The most common style – these doors attached to a frame swing open into or away from the closet space like standard room doors. Hinged doors fully seal the entrance and are simple to install. However, they do monopolize floor area when opened which could limit furniture placement options.
  • Pocket doors – These disappear entirely into wall pockets, leaving a wide-open entrance when retracted. Pocket doors maximize floor space since no swinging pathway clearance is needed. The hardware and installation make them one of the more expensive choices, however. There are fewer ready-made pocket door sizes too – often requiring customization.

L type closet design with brown cabinet drawers, and white sliding closet door

2. Drawers and Shelving

Incorporate drawers, shelves, racks, and cabinets customized to your needs. Consider:

  • Drawer dimensions and placement – Evaluate the heights and widths needed for folding and organizing clothes and accessories. Map out drawer configurations including vertical double stacks for shirts and folded items as well as wide, shallow drawers for larger accessories or jewelry storage.
  • Shelving height, depth, and weight capacity – Mix in open shelves for visible storage paired with your drawers. For shelves holding bulky sweaters, heavier shoes, and bags or collectibles, verify weight limits before loading up. Shelving reaching higher ceilings grants room for arranging storage bins. Shallow shelves better fit folded piles and lightweight shoes.
  • Hanging rod placement and length – Determine optimal rod heights for clothing lengths and your comfort-reaching items. Extend rods fully across walls with adequate room for moving hangers. Vertical doubling or adjustable height rods make the most of height.
  • Specialty storage like jewelry drawers – Incorporate unique storage solutions such as shallow, compartmentalized drawers to organize jewelry/accessories. Or, floor-level shoe cubbies, spinning belts and tie racks, or glass display shelves for prized possessions.

Home improvement site This Old House advises finding inspiration by evaluating the storage capacity and flow of boutique dressing rooms. 

3. Floor Plan and Dimensions

Map out where to place doors, shelves, cabinets, and racks to maximize your square footage.  Include:

  • Total dimensions including wall space, depth, and height
  • Layout of storage elements marked with sizes and placement
  • Pathways for accessing items and moving around

4. Lighting

Proper lighting ensures you can view outfits accurately and find items easily.

  • Overhead ceiling lights provide overall illumination
  • Shelving/drawer LED strip lights show the contents
  • Wall sconces by mirrors for outfit evaluation

5. Customization and Accessories

Personalize with options like:

  • Drawer organizers and dividers – Use adjustable dividers to create custom compartments matching your needs within each drawer. Or, opt for standalone organizers with multiple divided sections that can reconfigure as needs change.
  • Hanging shoe racks or shelf cubbies – Install wall-mounted racks or cubbies to neatly store shoes of every height, keeping them visible and accessible without occupying floor space.
  • Tie/belt/jewelry racks for easy access – Use specialty racks and hooks to arrange accessories conveniently near your clothing storage zones. Opt for mounted racks, wall hooks, over-the-door options, or even freestanding furniture pieces with built-in storage.
  • Full-length mirrors to view outfits – Strategically place full-length mirrors so you can evaluate complete ensembles. Position them near clothing storage zones, opposite windows, or where lighting is optimal so colors and fits are accurately represented.
  • Upholstered bench for trying shoes – A padded bench makes it easy to sit while putting on shoes during your daily dressing routine. It also provides temporary seating for guests visiting your closet. Select durable, cleanable upholstery.

Smart Ideas for Closet Organization and Storage

Optimizing your closet storage not only saves space but also keeps your items neatly accessible.

Use Vertical Wall Space

Install shelves/cabinets from floor to ceiling for maximum capacity. Leave some wall access for decoration or a full-length mirror.

Categorize Clothing by Season

Store off-season clothing elsewhere to free up coveted closet real estate.

Custom closet with different clothing type cabinets

Assign Zones for Each Clothing Type

Group like items together – have designated zones for:

  • Shirts, pants, and dresses – Stack folded shirts, blouses, pants, skirts, and dresses on shelves or in drawers. Consider sorting by style, sleeve type, or color. Hang delicate fabrics prone to wrinkling.
  • Outerwear like coats and jackets – Designate wall space for hanging heavier jackets, coats, and blazers. Installing a second hanging rod or adjustable height rods accommodates different lengths.
  • Scarves, ties, and belts – Contains these accessories in slide-out drawers or install specialty racks and hooks near the closet entry for grab-and-go convenience.
  • Sweaters and sweatshirts – Fold bulkier knits vertically on shelves to save space. Add dividers or cubes to separate by color or sleeve type.
  • Shoes and accessories – Shoe racks lining the floor or wall provide an ideal home. Have trays or cases to corral small items like sunglasses, gloves, or jewelry.

Incorporate Specialty Storage Solutions

Unique storage elements like:

  • Belt racks – Vertical mounts with loops cleanly store belts of any length. Consider drawers for shorter belts.
  • Drawers with dividers for small items – Use adjustable dividers to create custom compartments for organizing socks, undergarments, and accessories.
  • Pull-out tie racks – Sliding racks conveniently store dozens of ties while optimizing vertical space. Good for scarves too.
  • Spinning towers for folded clothes – Rotating vertical poles with shelves store piles of shirts, sweaters, and more. Easily thumb through to find items.
  • Glass-door display cases for collectibles – Lighted cabinets with glass fronts neatly show off watches, jewelry, glasses, and other prized possessions.

Add Custom Touches

Personalize your closet with monogramming on:

  • Monogrammed drawers – Add flair with your initials or name elegantly etched onto drawer fronts.
  • Personalized shelves – Display your name or favorite quote on shelf edges or glass inserts.
  • Custom cabinets – Design cabinets complement your decor with unique sizes, finishes, or hardware.
  • Embellished hanging rods – Crystal, leather, or gold accented rods lend a touch of style.
  • Meaningful wall decor – Showcase treasured photos, art, or inspiring messages on accent walls.

Bright white design of custom closet

Closet Design Inspiration: Floor Plans and Layout Examples

If you’re struggling to envision your perfect closet layout, below are some sample floor plans illustrating various design concepts:

A spacious walk-in includes a central island for folded garment storage. Hanging rods run along three walls, maximizing hanging capacity. Shoe storage cubbies and accessory drawers line the side wall.

A reach-in closet maximizes a smaller footprint by installing hanging rods and shelves from floor to ceiling on every wall. The customizable shelving accommodates various garment and shoe heights.

A professionally designed closet features curved cabinets for a unique look. The island provides drawers, cubbies, and open space for bags/shoes. Backlit glass shelves display collectibles.

If these sample layouts spark ideas for your dream closet, explore online floor plan libraries showing various customizable options. Or, work with a professional closet designer to create fully customized plans tailored to your space and storage requirements.


What are some hallmarks of a well-designed, “smart” closet?

A smart closet is all about taking advantage of every inch of available space as efficiently as possible. This means installing floor-to-ceiling shelves, adjustable height rods to accommodate different clothing lengths, and specialized storage solutions like slide-out ties and belt racks. Shoe cubbies that don’t sacrifice valuable floor real estate are clever too. The most functional closets incorporate customized drawers and compartments to neatly arrange items by category.

What should I think about when starting to plan my dream closet layout?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to design your dream closet from scratch. Having a general checklist helps stay on track. Start by measuring your total dimensions including height. Map out any windows, vents, or existing built-ins that will affect your floor plan options. Consider traffic flow – make sure doors and aisles allow moving through easily. Determine what you’ll need to store, any problem areas in your current closet, and organizational wish list items. This gives you a good starting point for selecting storage components like shelves, cabinets, and rods to maximize each zone.

How much does a professionally designed closet cost compared to DIY?

Hiring a professional closet designer does involve a bigger upfront investment, with most full-service design firms charging around $4,000 or more depending on closet size and customization level. However, pro designers have the experience to creatively address challenges, source components at trade discounts, and ensure your storage resolves real-life needs – potentially saving costly do-overs. If opting for DIY on a budget, have a well-defined plan for your specific storage requirements before starting. Be realistic about the installation time and complexity to avoid frustration.

What creative storage ideas can I add to make my closet stand out?

Some favorite clever touches professionals use to amplify closet storage and style include adjustable drawer organizers, rotating belts and tie racks, and copying key elements of boutique dress shop displays like minimalist glassware displays or built-in uplighting. Don’t be afraid to incorporate furniture-like treatments with crown molding or ottomans if space allows. Mixing materials, finishes, and facades keeps things interesting while still staying organized.

How can I get ideas and inspiration for designing my dream closet?

Online design sites like Pinterest offer endless inspiration for closet storage solutions. Architectural digests, home organization blogs, and interior design magazines spotlight gorgeous celebrity closets and designer spaces flaunting cutting-edge options. Retail sites reveal product possibilities and spatial planning tips too. If possible, check out closets in the latest model homes for sale featuring emerging trends. Lastly, don’t underestimate classic principles of symmetry and clean lines when planning. This foundation allows even the most novel customizations to feel cohesive.

Conclusion: Plan Your Ideal Smart Closet

A well-designed closet not only stores more but also makes your daily routine easier. By planning your layout, dimensions, storage elements, and custom details – you can create a closet that perfectly suits your needs and preferences. Map it out thoughtfully using the tips in this article to ensure you make the most of the available space. Soon you’ll be enjoying a clutter-free, organized closet that helps streamline your mornings and houses all your favorite outfits and accessories in style.

Picture of Engin Derecik
Engin Derecik

Business Owner at Onestop Kitchen and Bath. For more info, please visit LinkedIn.

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