What Are Your Master Closet Must-Haves?

November 11, 2014

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The staircase railing is coming along and we hope to have lots of pictures of that for Thursday’s post, but today I wanted to give you an idea of where we’re headed project-wise in the coming weeks. We are very eager to get started on our master bedroom, but feel like we need to get a plan in order to tackle the closet first! In fact, it has been hard to get truly settled in this house with our closet the way it is.


It’s not a horrible closet. It’s a good size–bigger than a reach in, but maybe small compared to other walk-in closets. The picture above is making it look wider because it is two photos together, fyi. There’s no closet island happening in here. Ha! We don’t even have a ton of clothes (read: we wear the same thing over and over but feel the need to keep clothes we got in college) or fancy shoes, but our closet has no organization built in–just a few rods. It has been a struggle keeping it tidy and being able to find pants and socks and underwear and tights! I put a few baskets in place a few months ago and end up having to empty them all once a week to find what I am looking for. And right now our pants are folded on a shelf that’s covered by hanging tops. We’re ready to get this in shape and I, for one, and hopeful an organized closet will transform our room into something that can stay organized and clean, too. So even though our closet is rarely seen by anyone that comes into our home (well, except for all of you) we feel like this is what has to happen next. And I’m excited about it!


We’re still in the brainstorming and design stage. We’re thinking we’d like drawers, shelves and rods. Pull out pant racks would be dreamy. A place for belts and all of Chris’s ties. Ideally, we’d love a place for shoes that’s not the floor. We have mostly casual shoes, and I am not sure how they would look on shoe shelves or ledges. Weird? Out of place?


I’d love to know, what are your master closet must-haves?

Inspiration photos found here and here.


What do you think?

  1. Sarah says:

    Hello! I’m fairly new to your blog and was going back through some of the archives. I was wondering if there was an update on your Master Closet? Thanks!

  2. Tara S says:

    We JUST renovated our master bedroom for the sole purpose of building closets that were more functional. The existing closet was long and narrow and drove me crazy. I’m not a fan of sliding doors and just couldnt organize well. Fast forward a few months (we have 2 kids, both work full time so things always take longer than we think), we have two new build-in his and her closets. They are amazing and completely life changing. The whole renovation was about $5000 because we installed new hardwood floors ourselves, hired contractors to build the closets, picked beautiful 5 panel wood doors for the closets. Its definitely felt weird to spend that much money on “us” and not the kids but now that its done I dont regret it one bit.

    Ok to give you some details of how I organized the closets. The full service closet organizers were out of our price range and were not ideal for our size room. So we went with a semi-homemade solution that came our perfect. I used a combination of the BESTA and KALLAX units at Ikea and installed our own bars and wood shelves on top of the bars. I would be happy to provide you with more details if you think this could be helpful to you. I drew everything out on paper and came up with several options to figure out which was the BEST solution. Oh organization makes me so happy!! GOOD LUCK!!!

  3. Brenda says:

    That looks like a fun project! First off… and I bet you know this… but it would make it much easier if you pared down your clothes to what you both actually use. :) Just eliminating the extra unworn clothes will help a ton, with a few exceptions for sentimental pieces.

    I’m about to dive in to do my walk-in closet in our new addition and I’m excited about it. Our budget for the project is very low, so while I considered some of the ready-made closet kits at Home Depot and similar places, our budget just won’t allow for them. Some of those have built-in drawers for around $70 per drawer! I can’t do that right now so I’m going to use a tall free-standing dresser inside the closet instead. We placed an electrical plug strategically so I can put a small lamp on top of the dresser for additional light.

    I plan to have a low rod for shirts and skirts with shelves above it, and another taller rod for dresses. We also plan to put in shelving about the dresser. I’m going to put my full-length mirror inside the closet since it seems like a logical place to put it.

    Oh, and one of our favorite things we are planning: we installed an electrical/USB plug where shelving is going to be. That’s going to be our charging station area for mp3 players, cameras, and cell phones.

    • Julia says:

      Ahh!! I want an usb plug so bad. What an upgrade! I do think a dresser in the closet would be such a wise and easy upgrade. If we can’t find exactly what we want, that is a great route to go!

  4. Syl says:

    Unless you have an actual dressing room, I think “pretty” is a waste of money. First and foremost, a closet has to keep clothes organised! I tend to dislike bedroom furniture, so apart from the bed, night tables and a standing mirror I didn’t want any furniture to clutter my room. I decided to use the space under the eave (it’s an attic bedroom) but even though I had some 16 feet in length to play with, I barely had the end wall height to accommodate a rod for shirts/pants! I wanted drawers alongside the rod space but with a tiny budget I had to think long and hard.

    I ended up using the Algot system from Ikea, with freestanding units, fine mesh pull out baskets and short stretches of rods between the units. The baskets really work more like drawers since they slide forward for easy access, keep the clothes contained and the fine mesh version of the Algot baskets don’t mark the clothes like open mesh can.

    I’ve had closets with open shelving in the past but always found them a real pain as things get jumbled as you pull clothes in and out. With shallow baskets my clothes stay organised and because there is so many of them I have been able to really separate my clothes logically into dedicated baskets. I’ve also had closet furniture with deep drawers and they were a mess too… I crammed too many things in there and it got jumbled every time I took something out.

    I hang only shirts, skirts, dress pants and heavy sweaters as they are too bulky when folded. The baskets I’ve organised as follows:

    – underwear (just tossed in) & socks (balled up)
    – pantyhose
    – lingerie sets
    – night wear
    – tshirts (one each for light and darks)
    – turtlenecks
    – lightweight sweaters (one each for light and darks)
    – scarves (folded/rolled) (one each for thin and thick – I have a lot of scarves) (I would store ties that way too, folded in half, then rolled and put flat in the drawer so they don’t distort)
    – jeans and casual pants
    – gym wear

    Because of the lack of height I have to store the few dresses I own in the guest room closet, but it doesn’t bother me…. There’s still plenty space left for guests’ clothes and all my dresses are in one spot.

    I’m lucky I have enough space for all my clothes in there, but because the Algot system is so customisable I could easily change things around if I stored my clothes according to season. I’m now building sliding doors to keep the clothes out of sight, but even in its present exposed state it still looks tidy.

    I don’t have a laundry basket ’cause my laundry room is right next door so the basket is there, as is the ironing board. I wear slippers in the house so my sandals/shoes/boots are all in pretty storage units in the downstairs hallway where I put them on / take them off. Purses also live there. Coats are in the hallway coat closet. Costume jewelry is stored in the bathroom in a funky medecine cabinet I re-purposed and they few “good” pieces I have are in a jewelry box on the bottom shelf of my night table.

    All that to say you really need to look at what you own, how much of each, how you like to store it and what else you want in your closet. If you know how many running feet of rod space (short and tall) and how much (roughly) will be folded then you can make the correct decisions for your situation. A friend of mine likes to hang most everything (even tshirts) and luckily her ceiling is high enough that she was able to put 3 rods in her closet and just a small dresser in her bedroom for underwear, etc. Treat your closet space as prime real estate, use it all the way to the ceiling and if you’re short on space then it’s time to think outside the box and figure out if you can store the lesser used items somewhere else. I found it best to keep the storage generic (loose hangers instead of pant racks), adjustable/removable drawer/basket dividers (if you need them) etc. Make sure everything has a dedicated spot and is easily accessible so you don’t create a mess every time you pull something out.

    • Julia says:

      wow! Thank you for such a thought out comment. So much to consider. We used an Ikea wardrobe in one of our first apartments and really loved it. Maybe it will make another appearance!

  5. Lauren says:

    I don’t even know if I should answer this question, as our current “master” bedroom is a miniscule size with two miniscule closets. But the best thing for us, and they key to effectively using any closet in my house is storage of different sizes. I’ve got a small wire storage system that allows me to separate skirts from dresses and from shirts. I use bins to wrangle swimsuits, scarves, and other weird-sized things. And if you do designated shoe storage, I would think about the size of your shoes- I own a whopping 3 pairs of heels- mostly assorted flats. :) And if I had the space, I’d eliminate dressers in my room (except maybe one smaller one) and put them in my closet…. oh it’s nice to dream!

  6. Nik says:

    Depending on dimensions of the closet, I’d be all over the Pax system from Ikea. We installed a couple of their 8 foot tall, 24 inch deep units in the closet-less downstairs bedrooms of our midcentury Levitt home, and it made a world of difference. Before this there was an alcove in each room with a clothes rod and a few shelves. Now? Organization nirvana….

  7. Jimena says:

    What about the mudroom/laundary/ pantry?? I was sure that was next :(
    My closet is super small but it is mostly organized. No way I could do with the pull out pants rack. Love my drawers and open shelves but I still have to figure out hats, ties, scarfsand accesories!

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s coming too. This winter. We are hesitant to do any demo right now because we’d really like to enjoy the holidays. Our closet should be a lower key reno…hopefully!

  8. Wendy says:

    I’m no help – my “master” closet is a 3′ wide reach in in my quaint and charming older house. The things I miss most from my old walk in closet are a tall stack of open shelves for sweaters, hats, etc., and some shallow drawers for socks and so on. I also had the really high shelf that isn’t practical for anything you use regularly but was great for storing blankets and such. When I had the option, I hung almost everything anyway – now it’s mostly in a dresser in the room itself. I’m not really a shoe person, so shoe storage was never an issue.

  9. Stephanie says:

    Master closet “dream” items: a washer and dryer or a shoot/door to the laundry room! But in reality, lots of places to put stuff. whether it be drawers or cubbies or a tie rack…just anything that keeps it organized!

    • Julia says:

      Why don’t people have laundry shoots anymore?! I swear in Pittsburg growing up, everyone had one. And I longed for one. Now, I barely hear them mentioned. Our laundry room is on the same level as our master–so it wouldn’t really make sense to have a shoot–but a washer and dryer in the closet would be nothing short of dreamy.

  10. Meagan Briggs says:

    I like different levels of rods but also cubby space for sweaters and accessories. I STILL can’t seem to find the best way to organize Ryan’s ties. It may forever drive me nuts, but I am always on the look out to improve their organization. When both spouses are sharing a closet, you gotta have some rules about keeping it organized. When we have separate closets, Ryan can do whatever he wants with his.

  11. Rebecca W says:

    Definitely show storage. I have fancy heels and everyday flats right next to my tennis shoes. I don’t think it would look off if things are on different rows. Something I never would have thought of (but was there when we moved in) is a bar with hooks or belts, scarves, jewelry, etc so they hang nicely.

  12. Lacey says:

    Our house had semi-custom closet systems that sat on the carpet. When we needed to replace the carpet, we had to have the whole closet taken out… much work! Just a heads up in case you ever plan on replacing the carpet.

  13. Rachel says:

    We recently had my closet (really a tiny room that I converted into my closet/husband’s sample storage) done professionally. The last six years we had various hanging racks in here, but it functions so much better now than before. We still have lots of hanging space (more actually, since it is doubled up), but what surprised me was the shelf storage. I’ve never been one to fold a lot of clothes, but it’s nice to have a space for pjs, running clothes, tank tops, etc. I even have a couple of extra shelves I haven’t even used yet!!!! One thing we changed about their plan was instead of another hanging section we added three drawers (one for jewelry, two for unmentionables) and an open basket for purses, boots, etc.

    I was skeptical of using a closet professional, but it ended up being totally worth the money. It looks well put together and functions better than I could have figured out on my own. I don’t think you have to go with a professional product though. The big box stores carry similar products ya’ll are much more handy than I am!

  14. Stacy T says:

    Must have drawers, laundry hamper, and ironing board pullout

  15. Evelina says:

    I think drawers are a must. More specifically, shallow drawers so that you can easily see and grab what you need. Also, rods at different heights for dresses.

  16. Mjbythebay says:

    Just a comment about pull out pants racks…when we designed our closet at Container Store using the Elfa system, the designer pointed out that with their gliding pant rail, you have a set number of rods to hang exactly 10 pairs of pants, while on hangers, you have more flexibility and my husband can hang all his dress pants and jeans in the same space (~15 hangers).

  17. We have an odd-shaped master closet… it’s long and narrow and runs all the way along one side of our bedroom behind the wall. We desperately need some kind of organization system in there because of the narrowness. There are rods hanging on one of the long sides right now, but it would be nice to maximize the space better with some shelving. We don’t have tons of clothes either, but are hoping to store other things in the closet (like winter bedding and coats) since there is a lot of extra space. Would you use yours primarily for clothes and shoes? Do you have dressers outside of the closet as well?

    • Julia says:

      We don’t have any dressers outside of the closet–so this is it and everything. However, we do have a place for linens and coats elsewhere.

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