Closet Organizers

Monday, 28 July 2008

Shelves, rods, hooks and storage bins: a closet organizer is the best way to maximize the space you have, whether it's cubby-sized or a walk-in. There are a variety of different options to choose from, but the cost can add up fast. We find out more about choosing a good closet organizing system.


The Basics

  • Closet organizers come in many different shapes and sizes. You can find them at your local hardware or home improvement store, online or by hiring a closet organization company that offers custom systems with installation.

    • For the handy and frugal do-it-yourselfer, you can choose an entire closet system in a kit that you assemble and install yourself. Individual components are also available to add on to existing systems or if you just want a few components to try and tidy things up.

    • Companies with design consultants come to your home, assess your closet nightmare and recommend a system – usually more detailed (and attractive) than DIY kits – that will give you the best storage options. These systems are much more sophisticated and expensive and come with professional installation.

  • What you choose comes down to how much help you want with design and installation, and of course, price. You can pay anywhere from a hundred to several thousand dollars to get your closet in order. If you’re on a budget, consider buying a base kit that you can add onto later.

  • The first thing to do is measure your space very carefully.

  • There is different material to choose from:

    • Wire racks are vinyl-coated steel. They are easy to install and relatively inexpensive. However, they leave grid marks on your clothes (not permanent) and things may fall through. You can add a board to the shelf or draw to help prevent this.

    • Wood systems are the most expensive, but also the most versatile and sturdy. Your closet will have a more permanent, furniture-like feel with drawers and cubbie holes. High quality wood closet systems use cedar, which protects clothes from moths and other pests.

    • Melamine can be used instead of wood for a more affordable choice with a sturdy, wood-like feel.

    • Canvas is lightweight and available in different colours. It’s easy to install and inexpensive, but there is a weight limit.

  • Choose components to maximize the space for what you have:

    • The hanging bar component should allow hangers to slide easily. Two levels of hanging bars lets you get a lot out of your space, but make sure there’s an area to hanging dresses and longer items.

    • Shelves are good for sweaters and other folded items. Dividers can help keep folded stacks from tipping.

    • Cubbies are useful for shoes, belts, bags and scarves.

    • Storage bins can help contain large or small items that are hard to control.

    • Drawers are a great addition to or replacement for a dresser.

    • Hooks are handy for the inside doors. Great for robes, PJs, or belts.

    • Specialized hangers or spaces can accommodate tricky items like ties, belts, and dresses.

Other Considerations

  • You can also consider buying a DIY kit and then hiring someone to install it for you.

  • Here are some tips for getting the most out of your newly-organized closest:

    • Use wooden or acrylic hangers instead of thin wire ones, which get tangled up.

    • Place attractive baskets or clear bins you can label on the top shelf for bags, belts, scarves and shoes.

    • Shelf dividers will keep stacks of sweaters from toppling over.

    • Sort and hang by colour and type of garment.

    • Display shoes by putting one forward and one facing backward so you can see the heel size.

    • Don’t overcrowd and hang more than one garment on one hanger.

    • Keep purging – use the one-in-one-out rule; for every piece you buy toss something old to keep your closet from getting overcrowded. Keep a giveaway basket on the floor.


  • Vaughan (DIY): $90
  • Rubbermaid (DIY): $200
  • IKEA’s Stolman (DIY, or installed for extra charge): $219-550 (ours was $360)
  • Stor-X (custom, professionally-installed): $350-1000 (ours was $850)

Installation Test

To get an idea on how easily these units went up, we timed the installation process of each:

  • Vaughan had literally no assembly; an easy breezy 15 minutes

  • Rubbermaid was 30 minutes; pretty simple

  • IKEA took 3 frustrating hours!

  • Stor-X took only 20 minutes (but remember, the installer does this for a living!)

Organization Test

  • IKEA’s difficult assembly left us a little frazzled for fitting in everything we needed.

  • Rubbermaid was more of a basic shelving storage with a bit of hanging space, which would be fine for a kids closet.

  • We thought highly of the Vaughan as a low-cost, easy-to-install solution.

  • There was no question that if you want the most you can get out of your storage system, the professionally installed Stor-X does a spectacular job.


For a quick and easy, budget-friendly solution, the Vaughan closet system is our top pick. But if you’ve got some major items to contain and need a sturdy system, we really think the professionally-installed Stor-X solution is the way to go.


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