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When I started looking to buy an apartment on my own, one of the things I felt most excited about (besides escaping my creepy, noisy neighbors) was the prospect of having ample closet space. My old place had nothing in the way of a linen, hall, or coat closet, forcing me and my roommate to cram all our towels, sheets, and puffy jackets in a rickety armoire from IKEA.
The apartment I ended up buying had a sizable amount of space for a coat closet (exciting!), but instead of being outfitted with shelves and hooks and rods, it was just an unadorned nook carved out of the hallway (sigh). The previous owner had placed a hutch in the space, which baffled me. Why waste such precious space by filling it with a piece of furniture that could be pushed against any wall?
So I moved the hutch and set about designing a coat/utility/linen closet, using a DIY system from Rubbermaid I bought for about $160. It turned out to be one of the smartest purchases I made: It completely transformed what I used to call “the nook” into serious, usable storage. As you can probably tell, it has also made me a closet-system evangelist — custom closets are incredible, but if you don’t have the budget, these off-the-shelf products can really make a difference in your home. Here are some to consider:
This is the system I used, and while I admit it’s more functional than beautiful (the rails and wire shelves look pretty builder-basic), you can’t beat the price or ease of installation. It just took a measuring tape, a drill, a level, and a big handful of screws to get going. I also liked how the rail telescoped and how easily I was able to move the shelves and brackets around— which I did multiple times until the setup seemed right. Did I mention that I didn’t even use all the pieces that came with my kit, so I gave them to my brother so he could add some extra storage to his own apartment? It doesn’t get better than two closets for the price of one.
While this is slightly more expensive than your classic IKEA arrangement, Modular Closets are still far cheaper than the classic pre-built storage spaces that ring up for a couple thousand dollars. This company allows you to design your own closet, but for those who aren’t quite raring to configure their own clothing storage situation, offers design services, too. Whether you’re in search of drawers, racks, shelves, or a mix of everything, you can pull together a setup that works for you through its website.
You can’t beat the variety of options from ClosetMaid, but the Impressions line is particularly nice because of its more upscale look and multiple finishes (white, cherry, chocolate, and walnut). One kit offers plenty of shelving, plus multiple telescoping rods, optional shoe storage, and stacks of drawers.
One of The Container Store’s signature products, Elfa is arguably the gold standard of closet systems and has been since 1999. Once just basic metal shelving, the brand has expanded into luxe finishes, including wood veneer and real wood. It’s also entirely customizable with shelves, baskets, shoe organizers, and shelves galore — which may sound overwhelming, but isn’t when you use the store’s free design service. The system is also famously easy to install and durable.
Honey-Can-Do is a home-organizing brand you can find at many retailers, with QVC being home to some of the best deals on the brand around. Case in point: this freestanding closet organizer. Whether you’re organizing your closet or adding a closet to a room lacking one, their closet organizing options are sure to get your space in tip-top shape with ease.
These pre-designed wire kits are also freestanding, so they can live inside or outside a closet, too. They usually run less than $150 and get mostly rave reviews from customers at Amazon and Walmart, which is where they’re sold.
This company’s DIY organizers are crafted from solid wood, making them durable and giving them an inherently upscale look, but at a more affordable price — they start at around $200 — than many competitors. You can get shelves and rails at different depths, and there is a wide array of configurations available.
While the Swedish brand’s infamous ALGOT system was discontinued, this is a worthy replacement. The components that makeup IKEA’s ELVARLI System include everything from baskets and shelves to drawers and frames. Combined, its parts can build an efficient closet system that’s a useful blend of a clothing rack and traditional closet shelving.
If you need some organizational inspiration, head right over Easy Track’s website, which has a gallery of helpful ideas for how to configure its modular kits. Although they come in standard sizes, you can easily trim them to fit your dimensions. For especially quick shipping, check out their Amazon storefront — you’ll also find you can find plenty of affordable add-ons like tie racks, belt racks, and pull-out hampers.
Sarah M. Vazquez also contributed to reporting.