When you buy an existing home, you don’t get to make sure things meet your specifications. There is no choosing the perfect closet, the lovely fixtures, or the dream bedroom. You get what’s on the market and then look for time to roll up your sleeves and make that place fit your needs as best you can.

We bought a split foyer home, which is most definitely my least favourite architectural layout ever. However, it was the only thing on the market in our price range so I sucked it up and dealt with the situation. This particular style is actually everything I hate most about split foyers – the cut up tiny little rooms and no space to move around and absolutely no storage.

That’s OK. I am a rather stubborn person. Can you tell I’m a May baby? Yup. So I’m determined to make this house work for me and overcome the foolish architect! Since this is the twelfth home I’ve lived in since I got married fifteen and a half years ago? I know I can make just about anything work for me.

The problem, of course, has come down to money. Isn’t it always? So our building comes slow, but it’s worth it. It gives us time to plan. Probably too much.

We have four bedrooms in this home and every single one needs closet makeovers. Ours was the only one where the closet system installed was not falling apart, however it was also badly laid out.

We have one of those faux walk in closets. You know the type. It’s really the size of a standard reach in closet, just the builder makes it just deep enough you have to step into it to reach anything. This allows them to advertise it as a "walk in" and charge more, even though it’s not really.

So what our builder did was install two wire shelves you could hang clothes from. Instead of going along the back of the wall and across the length of the closet, they chose to go on the two sides running deep.

It’s roughly the same amount of space and what I like about this method is it allows for a "his" and "her" side. That means his clothes don’t encroach upon mine. Now you might find it funny that this bothers me, but he and I are totally different in hanging styles.

Here’s where you get to find out how OCD I am. All my hangers are white with the same hook on each side for blouses/skirts. All my clothes must hang facing the same direction. I prefer to put sets together (like that matching jacket and skirt), but otherwise my clothes are separated by type. As if this was not enough, I also tend to try to set my clothes up by length so that roughly the longer stuff is on one side and the shorter stuff is on the other.

My husband has a mish mash of hangers and just puts his clothes in. Long sleeved shirts intermixed with short sleeve shirts intermixed with a destroyed stretched out hanger for his belts. You get the idea. (I’ve bought him numerous tie and belt holders, he won’t use them opting for the aforementioned visual nightmare hanger.) My style works for me, his style works for him. With a "his" and "her" side? I don’t have to look at his side. Or worry that his backwards hanging shirt is going to make me crazy next to my evening gown.

I warned you. I know. I have issues. It’s why you love me!

Here is his side as seen through the door of our closet. No, I don’t know why he has one random shirt hanging off a coat hanger going like that. Please don’t ask. It’s the type of thing that makes me crazy!

Here’s my side where you can that I have obviously too much crammed into this tiny space:

What we ended up doing was buying a new system from the hardware store. This is the sort where you have the rail along the back wall and shelves. You can place them along the rail where ever you want. This allowed for us to double rod our closet which took us from six feet total hanging space to eleven!

My husband cut the metal shelving and the rods after measuring everything. Our closet is actually 37 inches deep. I know, it’s America. Not only do we use funky measurement numbers instead of nice base 10 metric… but we then can’t even stick with even multiples of the funky measurements! What can I say?

Now the fun part is that I wasn’t expecting the makeover so I got home from an outing with my mother to find my husband cutting away. I wanted to do the dance of joy! Unfortunately he was on the last cut and I had a closet full of stuff.

I conscripted two kids (the third was helping his father) and within minutes everything was thrown on the bed, the stuff on the shelves were moved out and we’d also taken the shelves to the living room. Go us!

Some drilling and banging and grumbling over the non-flush walls later and we were in business. I spent that time googling to find the average height for double-hung rods. (For anyone who wants to know 40 inches!)

Then began the real work. You think cutting metal and whatnot is hard? HA! No it’s putting everything back in! We did take the opportunity to do a little bit of weeding out as well so now Goodwill can benefit from our closet makeover!

So you ready?

Here’s his side where he went for full double hung rods giving him six feet of hanging space:

He has chosen to put his shirts up high and his pants down low. Before we could barely fit his pants so they lay folded in a basket on the floor of the closet. This will be much better for him!

And my side? I went for the bottom to only go two feet long because I needed someplace to hang dresses. It’s fine because I now have five feet of hanging space instead of three! I’m hoping to also be able to hang my pants which have before now gone into dresser drawers. (I have not gotten that far yet.) So far I have blouses and sweaters and shirts all up high and of course my dresses in the long section. My skirts are below where I will probably also put pants. Here’s the two photos (including a basket that will be used for laundry but is currently holding our extra hangers while we try to figure out what else we can hang):

Like my guitar? I love it.

On my shelf under my shirts I have two baskets. One for my pashminas and scarves and the other for my belts. They don’t quite fit all my items well, but there’s room for bigger baskets so I might go shopping later.

While we were at all of this, my husband removed the closet door. We hate having three doors in our bedroom. None of the doors are in good locations so the swing takes up awful spaces. We lose valuable bedroom wall real estate for things like dressers and beds due to the doors. Our hope is to do some sort of slider like from Ikea or some such. For now we have a cheapo version which is the tension rod we used in our last house to wall off two bedrooms to cool with a window unit while our AC was broken and the landlady was refusing to fix it. (That was a fun July in VA with 100 degree heat, let me tell you.) We cut up an old costume of my husbands that we no longer wanted (and yay it got taken out of the floor of the closet!) and hung the fabric over the rod. It’s not beautiful, but it’s very functional.

So there you have it! Our one evening closet makeover!

The interesting note is that the way the rods hang, then hang a little further back on the wire shelves. So we actually have our clothes hanging further in towards those walls then before, buying us a little more space in the closet. We have the big back wall which we do want to add more things to, we just haven’t fully decided what we want to do with said space. We can hang more rails to put drawers or shelves from, but we’re not sure if that’s actually what we want to do or not. If you have ideas, please let me know!

I hope you enjoyed our closet makeover! Since we haven’t figured out the back wall, that’s why I said this is Stage 1. Hopefully we’ll figure out Stage 2 soon and be able to post about it!

Future closet make-overs are: Boys’ room, 3rd bedroom (currently inhabited by our beautiful Thai daughter), and the office closet (aka the fourth bedroom).

–Lady O