Tips for Adding a Hidden Space in a Small Closet

Transform a small closet quickly, easily, and inexpensively by installing a modular closet system. Such a system works its organizing magic just as well in hall or linen closets. The instructions here show how to organize a 6-foot-wide closet using wire shelves and rods. You will need a day or two to plan, purchase, and install wire rods and shelves for a small bedroom closet.

The standard closet arrangement, with a single hanging rod and a shelf or two above it, is extremely wasteful of space. If you plan a system carefully, you can double the amount of storage area available. They key is to tailor the space so that it will hold specific items of clothing, accessories, and other storage items.

Products to Buy

There are many competing storage systems before deciding. In most cases, you can buy complete systems that include shelves, rods, and the hardware needed to install them. They also come with a host of storage accessories, such as tie racks and shoe racks.

There are two main types of do-it-yourself systems: those made of ventilating coated-wire components and those made of solid particleboard components with a high-pressure plastic laminate. These instructions apply to coated-wire components.

Instead of buying the hanging rod separately from the shelves, it usually makes more sense to buy a shelf that incorporates a hanging rod. Avoid rods that will not allow you to slide the hangers from side to side.

It’s a good idea to have a few hooks but not too many or your closet will look messy. They usually work best on the back of a door; use a few for robes, pajamas, and other frequently used items.

Wire slide-out drawers can be handy for large items, such as sweaters, but for smaller items or things you don’t want to look at, such as socks and underwear, use a dresser or purchase a solid-wood drawer unit. Slide-out drawers may not be worth the cost. Simple and cheap shelving usually work just as well.

Install Wire Shelves and Rods

Recheck the closet measurements for precise accuracy if you want a dealer to cut the shelves for you. Go to a home center with your plan and decide on the products appropriate to your closet.

Be sure the dealer sells you everything required. You also need to have vertical poles that support the horizontal shelf/rods wherever you change the shelving or at least every 3 to 4 feet to prevent sagging. There are clips for attaching shelves to poles, and end brackets for attaching the forward end of a shelf to a side wall. You will need screws for the clips and anchors for attaching the screws in case you do not hit a stud.

Ask the dealer to cut some or all of the pieces. Or cut them yourself with a hacksaw. Manufacturer’s directions will tell you how to take into account the thicknesses of end brackets when measuring for cutting.

Use a level and a pencil to make faint lines in the back of the closet showing where the shelves will go. Use a stud finder to locate the studs. Cut a shelf, slip on the end bracket, and have a helper hold it in place while you check for level and attach. Set the level on top of the shelf and position a clip so that the screw will drive into a stud. Drive the screw, using a drill equipped with a screwdriver bit. If you need to install clips where there is no stud, use plastic wallboard anchors.

Attach the uprights as you go, checking that they are level from front to back as well as from side to side.

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