DIY Closets… are you up for it?

You don’t have to spend a fortune to have an attractive and functional closet … just some ideas, a few pointers on how to go about it if you are a complete novice and a little enthusiasm.  If you supply the enthusiasm, we can help you with the rest!

diy-toolsBefore you can build anything, whatever you are doing, you need a plan!  The very first tip is to NOT try and cram everything you have in your unruly closet at present back in!  Do an inventory of all your “stuff”, and be ruthless over what to keep and what to get rid of.  We all know people who regularly pay around $100 per month (and more) at a storage facility, just to keep their excess stuff.  I needed a storage unit last year for just a couple of months between houses, and was next to a guy who told me he had his unit for 8 years, just for the family’s excess “stuff”!  Make this project an opportunity to streamline this bit of your life … you’ll be glad you did!

When you are going through all your clothing and whatever you want to store, remember the old adage “if you haven’t used something for a year or so, then you don’t really need it!”  Exceptions are items of sentimental value and perhaps antiques which you would expect to increase in value.  That aside, all clothing, shoes and general “Stuff” are fair game!  If items of clothing are still serviceable, do donate them to a charity/thrift shop, as someone will be grateful for a clothing bargain, plus you can get a tax exemption for the value the shop feel the items would make.  Most stores have forms for this, so do ask for that form for your tax deduction for the forthcoming year.

Just make this aspect a wonderful opportunity to finally dump those awful 1970’s bell-bottom jeans, and those Dallas/Sue-Ellen shoulder-pad dresses too.

Dated Clothing
Closet DesignOnce you’ve arrived at the position that you are left with clothes and shoes you wear regularly or at least occasionally, then you need to plan out the space available to the best advantage.  This where our CCDS Free Closet Design System will help you tremendously!  It’s simple and fun to use and you will be able to make colorful visuals of possible designs for the space you have.  Check it out here …….

Remember that high and low hanging poles (also known as ‘double hanging’) is the best way to go to maximize hanging space, plus shelving, baskets and drawers will all help make the most of the space you have.  A properly planned closet will be attractive as well!  “Esthetically pleasing to the eye” as they say, which is a nice bonus!

You will also need some tools for the job.  Not many for a basic job, so beg, borrow; or even purchase (well-made tools are always a good investment) what you haven’t already got.  Here are some tools that will come in very handy for jobs like closet re-modelling, plus a myriad of other jobs along the way …

Battery Powered DrillBATTERY POWERED DRILL..  a good brand and reasonably powerful electric drill, plus a set of drill bits, will last you well and take care of a host of other things around the home.


HammerA HAMMER … or “hammerfore”, as a friend of mine called it.  When people questioned him “what’s a hammerfore”, he would reply “knocking in nails” J  Anyway … I digress …… but a hammer is always a handy thing to have around.


Spirit LevelA SPIRIT LEVEL…  you know; the thing with a little bubble that tells you that a shelf or a support is perfectly horizontal or vertical.  Even seasoned carpenters … a few at least, seem to forget this item … as witnessed when you come across a structure that is reminiscent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa! J   Make sure that’s not you and get one … they come in various lengths; a 2 foot long one should suffice.

SOME SCREWS & FITTINGS… specifically which ones will be determined by the structure you are planning, and also by the type of wall that your closet fitment will be secured to.

Tape MeasureA TAPE MEASURE… something you will need first, so you will have accurate measurements of the area to be remodeled.  A retractable 12 to 15 foot tape should be fine for most jobs of this nature, but 26 foot tapes are frequently used in the trade, and a necessity for larger areas.

COUPLE OF SCREW DRIVERS… regular and Phillips type (with the cross heads), which are easier to work with, especially when used with a power drill.  Add on a couple of other items … some pliers and a box-cutter type of knife are very useful, but make sure you get the type that have a blade lock … most on the market nowadays have some sort of method to prevent accidents.

OK … now you are properly kitted out and have “binned” or donated all the clothing and stuff you no longer want/need, and are ready to get some materials.

Watch for the up-coming post on where to go from here ….



The History of Closets….

… albeit a seriously abridged one!


Design of a closet produced using the CCDS Image Design Software

The word ‘Closet’ has been around quite a while, if you include some corruptions of it!  Mostly supposed to be from the Latin “Clausum” (for ‘closed’), and via the French ‘closet’ (pronounced .. “cloz-eh”), it has been a recognized word since the 17th Century.   Originally, a ‘Closet’ was a term for a small room, private in nature, which would be adjacent to the bedroom and where people could go to read or enjoy works of art in private.  Some of these rooms were quite large, and all were exclusively the domain of the wealthy.

A typical wardrobe

A typical wardrob

It seems that in Colonial times, the British slapped a special tax on private rooms as described above, and rooms dedicated to Storing clothes and “stuff” in general, mostly to bolster the coffers … a mindset that seemingly has survived in-tact with the British Govt. right up to the present day!  Perhaps not good to dwell on that aspect, though!

Stepping into the time machine to a more modern era, these rooms have morphed into areas used for general storage and clothing.   Given the space constraints in the UK, dedicated rooms for clothing were simply non-existent for the vast majority of population, and the “Wardrobe” came into being.


In the United States, built-in wall closets were uncommon, and where they did exist, they tended to be small and shallow.  Following World War II, deeper, more generously sized closets were introduced to new housing, which proved to be very attractive to buyers. It has been remarked that the closet could well have been one of several major factors in the migration to the suburbs in that era!

Figuratively, a closet has been a place where one hides things, as in the adage “having a skeleton in one’s closet”, which has become a figure of speech for having particularly sensitive secrets.   Psychologically, bedroom closets are also the center of many childhood fears.  Children fear during the night that a monster or any other disturbing creature hides inside the closet, and is destined to frighten the child. The “Bogeyman” is one prominent example, and there is a common theme present in certain films. In the original Poltergeist movie, the closet was where the ghosts hid. As well as this, the “monster in the closet” fear was developed with entertaining action in the animated film Monsters, Inc.

Nowadays closets abound, and have special names designating their function in the home … Utility Closet; Linen Closet; Coat Closet; Walk-in Closet for larger closets, and in a sort of homage to days gone by, the “Mud Room” has recently become popular in larger homes.

Some interesting mile-stones along the way are worth a look

The Dakota Building

1880s – Apartments for the Wealthy

Construction begins on the ‘Dakota’ building, a luxury building designed to lure wealthy New Yorkers from their town houses and convince them that apartment living was not solely the province of the middle and working classes.  Closets were small by today’s standards, but it was a start.

Doorman1930 – Big Closet Living

The opening of 740 Park Avenue takes Manhattan real estate to a new level, giving a small group of elite New Yorkers an early taste of big-closet living. The master bedroom closets reputedly had built-in electrical outlets, built-in shoe shelves, and every apartment contained a locking cedar closet.

1950 – Walk-in Closets

walkinWider and deeper floor plates gave architects more space to work with, and not just in luxury buildings.  Larger, and even walk-in closets became increasingly popular.  From this decade, buildings of the era did not force residents to depend solely on wardrobes.

1978 – Californa Closets

California ClosetsIn this year, an enterprising teenager and recent high school graduate Neil Balter started out building shelves in closets while working as a handyman and carpenter.  “I had the aha moment that this could be a business,” he has said.  He ultimately sold his interest in the company in 1990, and the rest is history to those of us in the business.  On a personal note, California Closets sponsored my Green Card application in the mid Nineties, which gave me my start in the Closet business in the United States!

2006 – Mariah Carey’s Closet

Mariah Carey's ClosetMariah Carey appeared with Barbara Walters on “20/20” in the sprawling closet of her TriBeCa triplex, helping to popularize the fantasy of the ‘boutique-closet’.

2008 – “Sex in the City” proposal

Saw the proposal America had been waiting for … Mr. Big’s, to Carrie Bradshaw … takes place in a walk-in closet, in the “Sex and the City” movie.

2009 – Fewer apartments – more closets

Closet designAn early blueprint for the Emerald Green development on West 38th Street, with one more apartment per floor, was abandoned in favor of a plan that allowed for fewer apartments with more and bigger closets.

2012 – Gramercy Park Closets

Gramercy Park

Zeckendorf Development hires the high-end closet design company ‘Clos-ette’ to outfit the model apartments at 18 Gramercy Park.  An early rendition is above.

There you have it!  You just have to look at Pinterest and Houzz to see what you can now have for your closet with a little inspiration and the bucks with which to indulge yourself!

So… what’s your closet looking like right now?



A conundrum for you!

QuestionI’m a Brit and you can count the number of closets in the UK pretty well on the fingers of both hands!  So… what’s a Brit doing talking about closets?

Well … I started in the custom cabinetry business many moons ago working for a UK company who manufactured Fitted Bedroom Furniture.  In the ‘States, built-in wardrobes is what it really was!  As you may have seen if you have ever visited Britain on vacation or business, a custom fitted closet is a pretty rare site in the UK.  In all the years that I worked in the business in England, I only ever did 2 custom closets, and both were for American families living and working in the UK.  And that’s probably 2 more than most custom cabinet designers in Britain have done too!
We Brits have so very little space compared to the norm in the ‘States, and finding space for a custom closet is not really “on the cards” for the vast majority of people.
The job as I knew it in England was to provide built-in wardrobes (kind of an old fashioned word nowadays) and storage space for clothing and all the essentials of daily living.  Then we had to make all the cabinetry an attractive feature in the bedroom!  This is the sort of thing that I mean …
Over bed layout

This type of design was termed an “Over-Bed” Layout, and was a very popular style of bedroom furniture when I was working in the business in England.  There were many variations on this theme, and an “over-bed layout” was a very practical way of providing additional storage,  (especially the top cupboards over the bed), and I found myself sketching this type of layout a great deal of the time!  Over bed layout sketch

Over bed layout

One very popular and attractive set-up was to build away from the wardrobe at a 90 degree angle, running into a set of two, four, even six drawers under a window forming a window seat, or onto a dressing table … (again, sounds to me like an old-fashioned phrase!).
Window Seat Design

vaseThe window seat option was always attractive, and the cabinets were often topped off with a padded seat.  To enable this to happen, the robe door nearest to the wall had to be cut to leave an inch or two clearance over the window seat, and this was termed a “stable door”, for obvious reasons.  The second door would be full length to gain proper access to the clothing inside.

Here are a few more designs to show can be achieved without having access to a regular closet.

Fitted Bedroom

Another fitted bedroom design

Fitted bedroom



Welcome to the new Blog here at design-the-closet.  We hope that you will return regularly to see what is current in Closet Design and other things!  With over 20 years plus experience in designing cabinetry of all varieties our CEO, Denys Appleby, should be your first stop if you need help with this.

Design-the-closet is our way of saying thank you to our patrons who have purchased our offline image design software at but also as a way of including the general public.  You don’t need to be a “designer” to design your own closet.  Anyone can do it, with a little help from CCDS!   We claim that ours is the simplest software to learn and can be achieved in your lunch hour!  But more importantly IT’S FREE.

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