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This is one of those things where it’s not an exaggeration to use the phrase life changing.  Are you one of those people who appreciates coming home from a trip to a clean house?  I am. So, this is like that feeling – everyday. Seriously. When my new kitchen was finished, I said it was life changing and I meant it.  It changed our day to day lives.  The same is true of your closet.   Whether you have a small one (like me) or a large one, proper closet organization can really change your day to day life.

A while ago, a shelf in my closet broke.  It was an upper, hard to reach shelf where I stored folded clothes.  At that time, my husband repaired the situation by installing a new shelf and I continued using the closet.  A few months back, another shelf in the closet broke.  It fell off the wall.  This time it was a shelf that not only housed folded clothes, it was also the ‘long-hang’ part of my closet.  Meaning, all of my long hanging items (i.e. dresses) were on this shelf.  The plastic pieces that screwed into the wall simply broke.   They were probably about 30 years old.

master closet before

I moved all of my dresses into the guest room.   And then this happened.

guest closet

Apparently, the message is that that my clothes are just too heavy.  Really, I think the plastic Closetmaid components that were installed in my house upon construction became brittle and reached their end of life.  So, I took this opportunity to start over.   I did some research and decided on the Elfa system.  I really liked the idea of maximizing the space with a custom design.  There’s a really good post here that compares Closetmaid, Rubbermaid, and Elfa. It is an excellent resource for how they compare to each other in options and pricing.   That research also turned up another really good post that explains why all the existing Closetmaid shelving in my other closets are so dirty and sticky and impossible to clean.  [It’s the PVC coating vs epoxy coating on the Rubbermaid and Elfa systems.]

It was pretty easy to plan. I measured the four walls of my closet and filled out a form on the Container Store’s website.   I called and spoke with a specialist who helped me design the new layout.  He emailed me my design plan which has the layout measurements and a mock up view so you can visualize what the finished product will look like.  He came up with the design and then I modified it. For example, originally there was very little space for long-hang items, but I modified that since I have more dresses than he planned for.  I also made the decision to remove the door, which opened inward.  (Poor design! A closet door should open out!)

I originally chose solid shelving but, because of my dimensions, I had to go with ventilated shelving with wood fascia.  I do like the fact that the Elfa system comes with plastic liners to top the shelves so nothing falls through. I love love love having drawers in the closet, the valet bar that pulls out above the long hang section, and the angled solid shelves – I am using them for shoes.

The Elfa system works on metal hanging standards.  Once you mount the top metal bar to the walls, everything else hangs off of those.   My husband did the install by himself on a weekend. My closet is 4.6 ft x 4.8 ft and it took him about 5 hours to install.   All of the components shipped separately so we waited a week or so to make sure we had everything.  At the end of install day, we realized some pieces were missing and a couple of the hanging rods were cut to the wrong length, so I still had to wait a few more days for additional pieces to be shipped.

Here’s a picture of the hanging standards in white.  I gave the walls a fresh coat of white paint so everything would blend in easily. (The system also comes in other finishes.)

Of course, I took this opportunity to sort clothes and get rid of things which you can do even if you aren’t getting a new closet system.  I switched out all of those wood hangers I got a few years back for space saving, felt covered hangers.   This really makes a big difference in the number of items you can fit on your hanging rods and it’s something you can do right now!

Elfa closet

I actually have empty space in the closet now whereas the old closet was packed and I was starting to move clothing into closets in the other bedrooms.  Especially after several weeks of clothing in different rooms,  it is a great feeling to have everything organized and looking great in a space that is utilized everyday!


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Do NOT underestimate the power of an organized, clean closet.  It can work some mental magic.   It just feels so good to know there is no mess behind closed doors.

This is a shared office space for two, but until recently, I’ve been the one who uses the space the most.  I updated this room a few years back. It went from looking like this:

to looking like this:

I’ve recently started a new hobby, machine embroidery, requiring  storage for new supplies. Ultimately, to help with storage, I want to install a set of built-in shelves on each side of the window.   But I was able to make a quick update to the office closet to help with storing our supplies right now! This update only took two hours total so you can do this on a weekend and have plenty of time left over to sit back and feel accomplished. Here’s what it looked like before:

I measured the closet space to determine the length of shelves needed. At Home Depot, I purchased one 12 foot melamine board and had it cut in store into two 44 inch pieces.   I bought four 12 inch metal brackets to hold the shelves.  The brackets are rated to hold up to 250 lbs, so they are strong and sturdy.  At home, we used a stud finder to locate the studs behind the closet wall and marked them with a pen.   Then we just used the drill to screw the brackets into place, using a level to make sure everything lined up.   The shelf installation literally took about 30 minutes.   Painting two coats of white paint took the rest of the time.

Now the closet functions much better for us, as an easy to access space to store our hobby and craft supplies.

Don’t wait! If you have a closet that isn’t performing as it should, make a quick update to make it work better for you!

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