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Inspired ideas for designing your dream closet

If it's been a while since you've taken on the dreaded task of organizing your closet, that may be because you know the problem is deeper than just getting rid of some dated dresses and a handful of sweaters that have seen better days.

Here in California, it can be even easier to put off keeping our closets organized because most of us don’t have separate seasonal wardrobes. There’s no marker in the weather when it’s time to change out our warm weather clothing for our cold weather gear, so it all just gets (and stays!) jumbled together!

Dream closet design with custom storage, specialty shelving and drawers, plenty of open space, and decorative elements like lighting and rugs
Image via Designer Unknown

No matter where you live, however, your procrastination may be stemming from something deeper. If your closet’s design itself is totally nonfunctional (like the standard-but-horrible wire shelves plus hanging rod) OR equally as valid if the space itself is simply dreary and unappealing, it just doesn’t seem worth it to take the time to declutter and reorganize.

At the same time, when it comes to committing to a closet redesign, I find that most people push it to the side as a ‘someday’ project. Sure, they’d love to have a dream closet but they feel like they should wait until the rest of their home is done.

While I would never push anyone into doing a project they’re not ready to do, I have to say that I think it’s a mistake to treat your closet as a less important space in your home just because you’re the only one who uses it. In fact, I would argue that because you use it several times a day every day, it’s one of the absolute most important spaces in your home to make functional and beautiful!

This might sound dramatic, but I promise you that my clients who have taken the leap to redesign their closets say it’s lifechanging. They didn’t fully realize what a negative effect their badly designed closet was having on them until they were able to get dressed in their beautiful new closet evey day!

When addressing a client’s closet in the context of a remodelling project, I almost always refer them to a closet company or someone who specializes in closet organization. Closet design is a very niche area in our industry so it’s important to get experts on the project who can get the job done right. That said, I work closely with the closet specialist to select materials and finishes that will go with everything else we're planning for the home. I also want to ensure the closet’s organization pieces are seamless with my other selections for the space such as flooring, lighting, and décor. My team and I also facilitate scheduling the closet company’s work to fit within the contractor’s schedule so there are no surprises or conflicts.

Whether you get help from a specialty closet company or not, here are some of my tips and recommendations for creating a closet that not only allows you to get dressed more easily every day but that's also a spot in your home you love to spend time in.

1. Purge First

First and foremost, address the items in your wardrobe you don’t love and consider letting them go. Not only will this create empty space in your closet, it also provides an accurate, up-to-date representation of what needs to be folded vs. hung, the items you wear frequently vs. less frequently, etc.

2. Match your storage to your wardrobe

No, I’m not talking about matching your closet’s color to your clothes (although bonus points if you do!). I’m talking about evaluating your clothing to determine how much space you need for each item type (pants, tops, short dresses and skirts, long dresses, etc.) to create the best closet system to meet your needs. Do you like to fold your t-shirts or hang them? How many sweaters do you have? Do you wear your jeans more often than you wear your dress pants? In my view, this is where a closet specialist’s expertise really comes into play.

3. Keep the things you use regularly at eye level

This is a critical organizational principle and I use it in every room of the home. You need to be able to see what you have and you don’t want to have to stoop down low or reach up high every single day to grab what you need.

4. Keep it clean

Making sure your clothing and accessories stay dust- and pest-free while still remaining readily accessible is so important when designing your dream closet so be sure to add closed storage like drawers and wardrobes with doors for less frequently used items.

5. Add hooks for planning outfits 

One trick I love is adding a few valet hooks to the closet where you can hang outfits you’ve planned in advance. Even better is having a shelf or counter close by for adding shoes and accessories.

Dream closet design with center island storage and decorative light fixture above.
Image via Pinterest

6. Lighting is crucial

Unfortunately, many closets are devoid of natural lighting, making it difficult to see the true colors in your clothing (I’m talking about that black shirt you thought matched those black pants until you went outside and saw they were two completely different shades of black!). Whenever possible, I like to add a skylight or another source of indirect natural lighting to the space if it’s missing. Like any other room in the home, I recommend layering the lighting with table lamps, wall sconces, and if there's room, a decorative ceiling light.

7. Create Space

As I mentioned in my first tip, you want to be able to create open space in your closet design. If the allotted space is too small, just decluttering may not be sufficient to give you the elbow room needed. In that case, you might want to consider expanding the closet into an adjoining space. I’ve done this many times for clients and it’s always worked out beautifully. It can take some creativity to reconfigure the spaces in a way that makes sense for the flow of the home and for how the homeowners want to use their spaces, and it’s obviously an investment but the results have been more than worthwhile.

8. Make it Beautiful

It may seem silly to think about decorating your closet, but you use it every day so why not make it a space you love when you open the door?!

A dream closet space decorated with black and white photographs, a richly textured rug, and a stone bench.
Image via Pinterest

Just as with any other space, you’ll want to choose a color palette that appeals to you. Be sure to take into account whatever lighting situation you’ll have, as this will greatly affect how the colors look in the space. Don’t forget that wallpaper is definitely an option here! More costly wallcoverings can even be a perfect option in a closet because it’s a smaller space with less wall area to cover.

Adding a runner or area rug, a chair, an ottoman, or even a loveseat, artwork, and style-statement lighting will make your closet look finished, intentional, and personal.

For one client, we used a closet company for the storage then we gave the space a light fixture, a custom pouf, a custom area rug, and even a niche for placing art and collectibles (she added framed photos of her and her sisters). She loved the end result so much, that when her two sisters visited, they all grabbed champagne, went into the closet, closed the door and visited for hours. It’s their new favorite spot in her home!


Whether you tackle it yourself or get a closet specialist to help, I hope these tips inspire you to take action sooner rather than later to make your closet a place you actually like being in. You need it. You want it. You deserve it. Make it happen for yourself!

Are you dreaming of your next design project? Let's chat!


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