As a parent to twin 9-year old girls and as an organizer with my fair share of exposure to kids’ rooms (as in hundreds of kids’ rooms), kids’ closets are one of our most requested areas to (1) organize and (2) discuss how to organize. I've discussed my experience working in (and designing) custom kid’s closets with The Wall Street Journal. Closets are an area that for many seems to be too big of a beast to tackle for many reasons. With kids, it’s inevitable that systems will never be perfect. Not only are kids less interested in keeping up with the systems, but their needs/interests/clothing are constantly growing and evolving.
I have been in countless closets where clients are amazed (and embarrassed) at the items that they pulled out. Clothes that are multiple sizes too small, too big, or damaged. Shoes with a missing mate. Backpacks full of last year’s schoolwork.
You might ask yourself how all of the stuff got here in the first place. How it went from a simple clothing rod and shelf to total disarray. Life happens. Children acquire a lot of everything (clothes, shoes, books, art, hobbies, toys, etc.) and there is no way to keep it all in check without a solid system in place.
In order to create a system that will be successful for you and your family it is important to think about your needs, identify how you and your children use the space, and figure out what you want for it to look like.
There are a few questions that I always ask the client before getting started on a closet design or organizing project:
- What are the ages of your children? User accessibility is key, so if there are little ones who are expected to reach their clothing it is important to incorporate low clothing bars, drawers, and/or step stools to make items easier to reach. Also, chances are the clothes have not had a quick size-sweep in a while, so review everything to make sure that they are still the proper size for your child.Tip: store hand-me-down and seasonal clothing, store them in either the back of the closet or in clear bins on a shelf. Label the bin with a description and size of the contents (i.e. Spring/Summer Dresses, Size 7/8)
- What do your kids wear on a daily basis? Similar to adult closets, the most frequently used items should be most easily accessible. Seasonally-appropriate apparel, school uniforms, and easy-to-grab options should be categorized and within reach.
- Are clothes kept anywhere else in the house? Account for any clothes that may be stored under the bed or are away in seasonal storage during your review. You’ll want to make sure you get rid of any items that are outgrown or damaged and take inventory of what you are holding on to in order to make sure the closet is maximized based on your needs. For example, if you are building closet for your child and know that they they have a lot of pants and shorts, consider adding shelves or deep drawers to allow for folded items to be stored.
- Who puts away the laundry? Like I mentioned, user accessibility is key. While many systems start out great, oftentimes they fail because the user doesn’t know how to keep them up. Assign a spot for everything using labels and dividers (from the inside of drawers to the outside of shelves and even in between the hangers) so that when it’s time for someone to put away the clothing they know where it belongs rather than placing it wherever it fits.
- What else needs to be stored in the closet? When you are accounting for what will be stored inside of the closet make sure to think outside of just clothing and shoes. Does your child have accessories (i.e. hats, belts, ties) that need a dedicated area? Or are there hobbies that need to be kept in mind (i.e. dance bags, sports uniforms, etc.). Knowing what items need to fit inside the closet before loading it back in will make it easier to create dedicated areas for each category.
And a couple of things that I always keep in mind:
- Choose adjustable whenever possible. Shelves, racks, and drawers that can be easily adjusted in height and placement make it possible to adapt to the changing needs of your growing children.
- Keep a donation bin nearby. Any parent knows how quickly kids change sizes, so have a basket in available to toss in any outgrown clothing. Once a basket fills up take that as an indication to make a run to your local donation center.
- Add personality in the basics. From clothes hangers to drawer pulls, there are plenty of opportunities to tie in your child’s interests into their closet. Choose items in their favorite color or interest (i.e. football knobs or pink and purple patterned pins) to make your kids more interested and excited about their closet.
- Tie in the room’s aesthetic. Want to spruce up the overall look of your kid’s closet? Make the space an extension of your home’s aesthetic by tying in design elements that elevate the overall look. I’ve seen everything added from wallpaper and carpeting, custom window seat storage, and accessory storage that can make a child’s closet not only functional but also beautiful.