Customize Your Closets: DIY products, design tools and sorting smarts make organization easy

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If you’ve ever admired a
sleek, super-organized closet system in a model home and despaired over ever getting
control of the mess waiting back at your place, organized living is now within
reach. Our busy lifestyles and all the stuff that comes with them have created
a booming market for accessories and systems that can transform any closet into
a living dream of organization.

If you’ve ever admired a

sleek, super-organized closet system in a model home and despaired over ever getting

control of the mess waiting back at your place, organized living is now within

reach. Our busy lifestyles and all the stuff that comes with them have created

a booming market for accessories and systems that can transform any closet into

a living dream of organization.

While complex closet

upgrades may require the design and installation services of a pro, there are

several products made for affordable organizational success by the DIY set.

Sort through the following guidelines to create a closet solution that’ll keep

you and your gear organized year-round.

Start with a plan

An in-person or online visit

to an organization products retailer can be inspiring in its product variety,

but premature purchases can lead to a bigger closet catastrophe if you haven’t

figured out exactly what you need to store and how you need to store it.

Instead, start with a thorough cleaning of the closet in question, removing all

contents and weeding out what you no longer want or need as you sort the

keepers into different storage categories. Reviewing your newly ordered items,

you’ll get a better idea of how much space will be required for the storage of

everything from workday shoes to floor-length formalwear, and be able to plan

in the recommended 15 percent vacancy to accommodate new purchases.

As all the gear comes out

and you’re assessing the closet space to be remodeled, consider how it’ll be

used─does it need to be available for everyday access, seasonal storage

or both? Also think about who will be using the closet not only now but later. A

small child’s closet may call for a convertible system that’ll accommodate

their belongings as they grow, and application of Universal Design principles

for easy access by family members of all ages will lend longevity to your

closet organization investments. Finally, be honest about which of your prior

so-called storage techniques have been leading to closet-cluttering breakdowns,

and make note of previously unused zones which could add efficiency in the new

storage plan.

Create a neat system design

Now that you’ve done an

inventory of the closet’s contents and your organizational hopes and dreams, it’s

time to select the components that’ll successfully contain them all. Materials,

finishes, styles and clever details abound, making it possible to create

anything from basic storage to a closet furnished to match the look and feel of

the room in which it resides. The system you choose and the investment you make

will depend on your design priorities, the space you have to work with, and the

level of permanence appropriate for the years you plan to spend in your home.

Whatever the duration of your stay, remember that a great closet system can be

a positive selling point when it comes time to move on to new frontiers in home

storage space.

Armed with careful measurements

and a list of storage needs, you’re ready to configure your ideal closet. Quality

components can be found at many home improvement and design stores, and dedicated

retailers add ease and remove guesswork with online tools that help you design

your own closet system, generate the corresponding shopping list and make your

purchase in minutes. Check out the products and online helpers offered by such

specialists as Schulte,

EasyClosets, and

href="http://www.closetmaid.com/main.cfm">ClosetMaid to launch your new

storage endeavors. You’ll find smart double-rod clothes hanging systems, shelves

and drawers with moveable dividers, accessory storage and such add-ons as

fold-away mirrors and ironing boards.

Keep up appearances

As you design and shop,

check out all the options while keeping a realistic view of what features

you’ll actually use on a daily basis. Through the system you purchase and

install, you want to create a cleanup routine that’s easy to maintain and

storage space with enough brea

style='font-family:Arial'>thing room to keep your belongings in nice condition

and instantly within view. If the job’s done well, you’ll have a closet that

inspires confidence and quick finds rather than dread and endless searching once

the door has been opened. Implementing a “one item in, one item out” policy will

also help to keep clutter from creeping into your closet and make sorting simple

as time goes by.

Note:

style='font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Arial'>

style='font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Tom Kraeutler

style='font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Arial'> is the

href="http://journals.aol.com/tomsmoneypit/tom-kraeutlers-home-improvement-/?ncid=AOLCOMMre00CRSSextl0003">Home

Improvement Editor for AOL and host of

title="The Money Pit">The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home

improvement radio program. To find a

href="http://moneypit.where2getit.com/">local radio station, download the

show’s podcast or

sign-up for Tom’s free weekly

title="The Money Pit e-Newsletter">e-newsletter, visit the

href="http://www.moneypit.com/" title="The Money Pit">program’s website.

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