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How to Design a Closet

Fast & Easy Closet Designing: Designer Closets will help you in establishing a design idea for your closet - a convenient and easy pattern to follow which is logical to use and convenient methods of storage of personal effects.

Floor Plan of the Closet

Step One:

This is the most important step... Measure the walls from Molding to corner and corner to molding and draw an accurate layout of your closet. Note the exact wall widths of each wall, identifying the 90-degree wall connections.

Often you will encounter a 135 Degree wall to wall corner. Most non-90-degree wall connections are usually 135 degrees.

Starting from the Left of the entrance of the closet, going clockwise, number the walls starting with "1" and progress to the last wall next to the door.

Next, mark all walls that will be "WALL END" - this is a wall that will not get any build-outs but will receive the ends of the build-out applications from adjoining walls.

In our example above, Wall 5 will be a WALL END wall. This wall will receive the rightmost panel of the build-outs on wall 4 and will be used for the depth of the panels from wall 4.

Next Measure the ceiling height and the height and width of the baseboards.

Step Two:

Now, identify all obstructions, whether on the floor, walls, ceiling, etc.,

Examples of Obstructions:

Floor Safe

Light Switches

Wall Plugs

Access Panels for adjoining Bath Fixtures

Electrical and Data Network Cable & Switch Panels

Attic Access

Bulkheads that interfere with the height of the ceiling.

Windows including Sill Plates & Moldings

Note the Width of the Window

Note the Wall Width to the Left & Right of the window

Note Floor to Bottom of molding height

Note the Height of the Window

Any items remaining in the closet such as:


Chest of Drawers



Step Three:

From the floor plan and the additional obstruction data, draw each wall elevation with all the obstructions.

The obstructions should be marked with the "Off Floor" height, Left Offset, Right Offset and Width, and height.

The accurate placement of all obstructions is crucial to the design of your Designer Closet.

As you progress with the placing of the elements that "Dress" each wall, the obstructions will need to be avoided when placing the elements that make up your Designer Closet.

Once you have all obstructions marked, then place any elements that are not fixed but required in the room and need to build out the closet around from the example list above such as safes.

Step Four:

Now comes the Grouping of the key elements in your closets. The highest Preferences are given to daily used items in the closet and progressively importance is given to other uses of elements from the closet.

A. Daily Essential Items - "A Must Use Item List"


Neck Ties

Watch and Eye Wear

Jewelry or Ornaments



B. Business Wear Items

Business or Professional Wear Items

Business Footwear

C. Leisure Wear Items






D. Occasional Wear Items


Medium & Long Wear Clothing

Holiday & Day Trip Wear

E. Long-Term Storage & Use Items

Travel Accessories and Toiletries

Travel Baggage

Travel Documents

The highest priority grouping should be within a few feet from the entrance, and progressively distant as the progressive priorities.

Step Five:

Choose the elements of your closet wisely. The following is a list of standard designer closet elements.

  1. Double Half Hang - a vertically stacked hanging of "Half" hang clothes. This will consist of T-Shirts, Shirts, Tops, Blouses, Skirts, Shorts, Trousers when half-hung on a hanger, and other items that fit within the height of approximately 38 to 40 inches in height. The depth of the Double Half Hang unit is traditionally 12 inches deep unless Doors are applied to the unit.

  2. Man's Double Hang - a vertically stacked hanging of "Half" hang clothes, but the upper half is 42 Inches tall and is bigger to accommodate taller items such as suit jackets. The lower half, therefore, is shorter and can be utilized for trousers when half-hung on a hanger. The depth of the Men's Double Half Hang unit is traditionally 12 inches deep unless Doors are applied to the unit.

  3. Medium Hang - Clothes that drape on the body from the shoulders to the knee or mid-calf. The height of the medium hang is 52 Inches. The depth of the Medium Hang unit is traditionally 12 inches deep unless Doors are applied to the unit.

  4. Long Hang - Clothes that drape on the body from the shoulders to the ankle. The height of the long hang is 63 inches. The depth of the Long Hang unit is traditionally 12 inches deep unless Doors are applied to the unit.

  5. Drawers - The acceptable designer closet's drawers height is 44 inches tall. This will accommodate a 4-inch toe-kick and 1. Four 10 Inch tall drawers, with 4 or 5 shelves above the drawers 2. Five 7-3/4 Inch tall drawers, with 4 or 5 shelves above the drawers 3. One 5-1/2 Inch top Jewelry Drawer and Four 8-1/2 Inch Regular Drawers, with 4 or 5 shelves above the drawers The depth of the Drawer unit is traditionally 16 inches deep giving drawers that are 14 inches deep, unless Doors are applied to the unit. 4 Drawers are available in widths of 24 and 30 inches. Deviations from this rule are possible, but the cost per inch increases below 24 inches, and the loading of the drawer diminishes past 30 inches of width.

  6. Shoe Towers - Shoes take between 6 and 8 inches per pair. Shoe units should be to a multiple of the width of your widest pairs. Normally 6 shelves of shoes and 3 to 4 shelves for Purses and other accessories such as hats etc. is available. The depth of the shoe tower should be a minimum of 12 inches but the men's shoes will require an additional 2 inches, so it is better to design a shoe unit that is 14 inches deep to accommodate uni-sex shoe collections.

  7. Shelving for Folded Clothes - Folded clothes require approximately 15+ inches of shelf depth. A Shelves Tower can accommodate 8 or 9 shelves at approximately 9 inches of height in between the shelves.

Step Six:

Height Choices

The normal heights of Closets are either 84 Inches tall for lower ceilings of around 8 feet, or 94 inches for ceilings that are 8 to 10 feet.

The height increase of 10 inches between the two traditionally acceptable heights is used as a top shelf, which serves as a storage of semi-long-term items in the closet.

Closets taller than 94 Inches tall are possible, and can easily go to 96 inches tall without much cost, as most materials are available that will accommodate this height without the requirement of special lengths of materials.

For Heights that are in excess of 96 Inches to say 108 inches tall are available from 9 feet material available but are not traditionally stocked and only ordered from the merchant on a "Need-Basis". The cost of the taller closets is difficult to justify as while the height offers more storage, it is at heights that are approaching dangerous if people with age, vertigo, and imbalance issues.

Depth Choices

Using a 12-inch closet, the hanging drapes outside the 12-inch closet by approximately 8-9 inches, depending on the padded shoulder of the garment. If such projection of clothing needs to be enclosed within the closet depth, or the use of doors is required, then the depth of the closet needs to be increased to 20 inches.

The normal depth of closets may be increased to 20-inch depth when the use of doors is required. This depth will reduce the storage capacities on 90-degree walls, as each wall will create a 20 x 20-inch corner that can be accessed only on one wall.

The traditional 12-inch cabinets will create a 12 x 12-in corner that can be accessed only on one wall, therefore the loss of the 256 sq. in. area (400 sq. in. - 144 sq. in.) which is 2.75 times the loss of space usage.

Step Seven:

Now we arrive at the placement of the elements to the walls.

  1. First, at each wall, not all widths will be useable, and the decision as to where to put a "BRIDGE UNIT" is required. A "Bridge Unit" is a space allowance at each corner of the closet where only one of the two walls can be dressed with elements. We normally allow 10 to 12-inch access to the element on the wall. This allowance is then dressed with a "Bridge" at the top so that continuity is maintained at the top shelf of the closet where stowage of long-term items can be accommodated.

  2. So if an "L Shaped" corner of the closet is to receive a 12-inch element on one wall (Say the longer arm of the "L"), then the shorter arm of the "L" will need a 10-12 inch spacing between the element on the long arm and the rightmost element on the short arm. This is where the Bridge Unit will be placed.

  3. The decision of the placement of the bridge units is crucial as the balance of the spacing may be too short on a short wall of the closet.

  4. Some walls will have two bridge units, so be careful to decide the locations carefully.

Step Eight:

The Width of each element is very important. There are certain rules as to what is too short, and too wide.

  1. Firstly anything shorter than say 12 inches must be considered carefully as too much material is utilized to create such a short element.

  2. Normal widths of hanging and shelving elements are normally limited to 36-inch widths.

  3. For exceptions to the 36-Inch Rule above, the structural strength of the material deteriorates exponentially and must not exceed 42 inches.

  4. For any element that has widths of greater than the generally acceptable width of 36 inches, the loading must be taken into consideration. The most likely extension to the 36-Inch Rule will be for Shoe Towers, where the loading is very minimal.

  5. Where elements need to get additional weight loading, and there is no other choice than to go beyond the logical limits, the use of a bull-nose brace is required to strengthen the shelving of the wider elements.

Step Nine:

Now that we have the basics covered, the plan, elevations, corners, and choices of elements in place, we can proceed to place the most used elements closer to the entrance, and the less used items to further locations from the door or behind the door.

Closet Design is based on the logical and systematic use of clothes, shoes, belongings, and fashion items.

The most used items should be clustered near the front of the closet, with the rarely used items to the deeper end or behind doors if opening inside.

The drawer units are most likely going to be your "GO TO" place on most trips and should be the focal part of your closet.

Therefore the Drawers are placed opposite the entrance of the closet. This is logically and aesthetically the ideal location for drawers as it shows well on entering the closet.

The long hang, medium hang, and shelving for long-term storage are placed the furthest into the closet, whereas the shoe units are almost always next to the door as these items are put on last on exiting the closet.

Step Ten:

Your new closet is nearing expert design recognition and now is the time that you need to call Designer Closets with your layout in hand to get it professionally reviewed, and created into a 3-Dimensional Video overview of your efforts.

Call Designer Closets at (407) 550-5588 and arrange for a professional Closet Designer to come over for a no-obligation accurate measurement of your closet and review your designs with you. The designer will take your design drawings and convert them to a 3D Design for review.


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