Creating Your Ultimate Custom Closet

You have decided that it’s time to get organized… Whether Custom Building a new home or re-organizing an existing space. It’s the start of a new year and you want to begin clutter free…

Start your initial checklist to ensure your home will be clutter-free:

Who are the end users?

  • Male, female, or a combination?
  • If sharing, do both users have the same amount of clothing? What’s on each persons “wish list”?
  • Are there any special requirements i.e. amount and type of shelving?


How much space do you have to work with?

  • Use a piece of graph paper to draw the space where each square represents 1 foot. Be sure to include all doorways and windows.
  • This will give you a better sense of how much wall space you are working with.
  • Will there be enough room for an island? Keep in mind you will need room to extend a drawer and still be able to stand behind it. I prefer a dresser because it will utilize less space.
  • Function: Think about how you live. Do you drop your clothes on the floor at the end of the day? Do you need a laundry basket? Would it be convenient to have the laundry inside your closet or close by?

* Note: the dimension from the wall to the outside of a hanger is approximately 20”.


When custom building a home for our clients, I ask them to measure what they currently have. How much wall space is utilized for:

  • Long hanging items such as dresses
  • Shorter hanging items like shirts and pants
  • Ties
  • Purses
  • Shoes, etc.
  • If there is room to incorporate a built-in dresser or island, take an inventory of your existing dresser – what items each drawers contain and the size.

When we built our Custom Home in Sherwood Park, Alberta, I did this exercise. Here are the steps I took:

  1. I measured what closet space we currently had in our existing home.
  2. I added extra hanging and dresser space to ensure our closet would satisfy our needs down the road.
  3. My husband needed little shelving; however, he had a lot of shirts and pants. When designing the closet, I was mindful of organizing the closet where his items were on one side and mine on the other. His side included shelving in the middle of two sets of double hanging rods. He didn’t require a lot of long hanging items, so we decided to have a 5’ length that we would share.
  4. I needed a lot more shelving for purses, scarves and shoes. My side of the closet incorporated two sets of double hanging and two walls of shelving.

[Tweet “Tip: shelving to the ceiling allows you to store items in baskets, less used items or seasonal items. #yeghomes”]

If you have room to add a built-in dresser:

  1. I took an inventory of what we already had in our existing dressers. I measured the drawers and wrote down what each drawer contained.
  2. To figure out how many drawers myself and my husband would need, I drew a dresser (rectangular stacked boxes) where each box was a drawer. I labeled the drawers “underwear,” “t-shirts,” “sweaters,” etc”.
  3. When I was satisfied that all the drawers (plus a few extra for down the road) would fulfil our needs, I drew the dresser in our closet (on graph paper) and worked the hanging items around it.

* Function and organization are the primary reasons for a closet. Be sure to allow space for items such as laundry bins.

* This is just an exercise. You will now have a rough layout to discuss with your Custom Home Builder or your Carpenter/Cabinet Maker. This will be valuable to ensure you are on the same page and more importantly, that you will be satisfied with the amount of storage.


  • Will you be matching your bathroom or kitchen cabinetry?
  • Similar décor to the rest of your home?
  • Dark and moody or light and bright? With our long Edmonton winters, light and bright has been the most popular.
  • Moldings?


Efficient, bright lighting is key, you will need a combination of lighting to ensure you are not leaving the house with one black and one navy shoe. While decorative lighting such as a chandeliers and illuminated glass-fronted cabinets will add to the wow factor, task lighting such as pot lights are equally important.


  • Preference – style, comfort, allergies, etc.
  • Are you continuing a product from an adjoining space?
  • If there are laundry facilities in your closet, perhaps a hard surface such as tile would be beneficial.

Extra Feature ideas for your Custom Closet:

  • Laundry facilities – stackable laundry in your closet or a door access to an adjoining laundry room
  • A hideaway ironing board in a concealing cabinet
  • Velvet lined, locking jewelry drawers
  • Tie, belt, or sunglass drawers
  • Adjustable shelving
  • Full length mirror
  • Bench for extra storage or seating
  • Coffee bar, beverage cooler, TV
  • Safe, security drawers
  • Sound system
  • Window

For inspiration, have a look at the new HGTV Dream Home 2017.
Your Custom Dream Closet will be so beautiful that you will never want to leave… My suggestion for a coffee bar and bench seating may come in handy!

Your closet starts and finishes your day… Imagine what an organized space would do to lift your spirit?

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