A Complete Guide to an Amazing Kid Closet Organization Overhaul

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We recently moved into a new house and each of the kid’s closets needed some TLC. The closets are the standard small closet with bifold doors.

I was also very done with continuously having clothing all over the room and the floor. I wanted to spend the time to find a system that really worked.

What I found was that we were not making the best use of the space in their closet and could improve their closets immensely.

So here is our kid closet organization overhaul on everything from how we designed their closets, what we bought and how much it all costed to how we organized their clothing.

Kid Closet Organization Goals:

The best way to start organizing is to determine what your needs are so you can ensure you have a spot for everything.

So, in each closet I want a place to hang up:

  • in season shirts and dresses
  • out of season shirts and dresses
  • jackets and fancy clothing

I also want a place to store:

  • shorts and pants
  • pajamas
  • sports clothing (i.e. dance or soccer clothing)
  • underwear and socks
  • laundry

Additionally, I wanted the design and organization we picked to encourage independent dressing.

Our littlest is 2 years old and our oldest is 4. When our older child started dressing herself in the morning, she still needed help getting her clothing in the morning. If we could design it so they can easily reach all their clothing, then they could do that task all by themselves.

Why consider a built-in?

While you can use a closet with the standard bar across the top, you are not making the best use of the space. Adding built-ins is the best way to organize a closet and it doesn’t have to be expensive either!

The addition of a built-in can double if not triple the amount of clothing you can store in a closet.

If I could find an inexpensive (around the same price as a dresser) and easy to install built-in, then we wouldn’t need dressers and could free up space in their rooms.

The thing is cheap dressers don’t last. The bottoms eventually fall out of the slots or the tracks don’t work well. I was so sick of spending money on cheap furniture that I would have to replace often because then I was spending more in the long run.

The Current Closets in our Kid’s Bedrooms

Here is the current closet in our 2-year old’s bedroom.

Kid Closet Organization

It has one bar to hang clothing on and one shelf. It is completely functional but there is so much space that isn’t utilized. I could leave it, but I really wanted to be able to increase the amount of clothing I could keep in the closet. Additionally, the bottom seems to be a space that just collects mess.

Here is the current closet in our 4-year old’s bedroom.

Kid Closet Organization

It is completely unusable if you want to hang any clothing. I think this closet was used just for storage by the last owner. So, no matter what, we had to rip out the current shelves and redo it.

Our Kid Closet Organization Overhaul:

Here are the steps we did to overhaul our kid’s closets. Everything from demolishing the original design to painting and putting in built-ins for optimal organization. Lastly, I walk you through their closets to show you what organization system works for us.

Step 1: Shop around to find the perfect built-ins

Start my measuring your closet.

The two closets are 60 inches by 22 inches.

A really helpful tool is to put the measurements of your closet into the Closetmaid design tool. It will give you design options based on the measurements. For our measurements, here are the 8 designs we could consider:

Kid Closet Organization

The one we liked the best was this one because I felt it would give us the perfect amount of drawers, hanging space and shelves for a kid closet.

Kid Closet Organization

However, the estimated price for buying all of this from Closetmaid is $895.35. That was out of our budget. You can get a very similar design for less than half that price, here is what we decided to buy instead.

The Built-in Tower and Drawers:

The two essential pieces you need to buy to make a great built-in system for a kid closet are the main tower and the drawers.

Kid Closet Organization

For each closet we bought:

  • 1 ClosetMaid Style+ 72 in-113 in. W White Narrow Wood Closet System ($139)
  • 4 ClosetMaid Style+ 10 in x 17 in. White Shaker Drawer Kit for 17 in. W Style+ Tower ($49.98 each so for all 4 it was $199.92)

This brought our total for each closet to $338.92. A lot better than the $895.53 for the whole system.

If you don’t want the shaker style drawer, you can go with the ClosetMaid Selectives instead of the Style +. The tower is $104 instead of $139 and each drawer is $44.98. The total cost for each closet would be $283.92. As long as you like the other style, you can save an additional $55.

For a dresser, I am looking at spending at least $150 for a cheap one and to get a nice one, you can spend anywhere from $300-1000. So for me this was a win.

Kid Closet Organization

Consider buying hardwood dowels:

The tower comes with metal rods but I really wanted hardwood rods. We decided to spend a little extra and buy hardwood dowels instead. Completely optional but I like the look better. They are easy to install and feel very sturdy. At the store, we picked up:

  • 3 Hardwood Round Dowel 1-1/4 in. x 1-1/4 in. x 48 in. ($5.38 each)
  • 6 Wood Pole Sockets 1-3/8 in. 2-pack ($3.28 each)

We used 3 hardwood round dowels for both closets ($16.14 total) since we needed 1.5 to make the hang rods. For one closet, you would only have to buy 2 dowels. If you measure the space before going to home depot, then you could have them cut it for you before going home.

To attach the dowels to the built-in tower and the wall, you will need the wood pole sockets. We needed 3 for each closet ($9.84 per closet).

Additional Organization Accessories:

To keep items organized in the new built-in, we bought a few extra items to help with organization.

Corner Laundry Basket: In the design, we put two hanging rods on one side of the built-in tower and only one hanging rod on the other side. This was so we made sure we had space for longer items like dresses as they grew. However, that meant we had a lot of free floor space on the side with only one hanging rod. We had these awesome corner laundry baskets that fit perfectly into the closet. I highly recommend adding one to your closet if you can. I can’t find the ones we bought but here is a very similar corner laundry basket.

Baskets: I bought 4 baskets for each closet to use on the shelves in the top section of the tower. Once they are older, we can just fold the clothing and leave it in the shelves. However, since they are so small, it is easier to use baskets. Baskets are also great when you want to keep items together. For example all of the dance gear. You also store small sports bags in the shelves in the top part of the bult-in tower.

I grabbed some fabric baskets at target, but you could really get fabric baskets anywhere just pick a design you like and check the size dimensions.

Drawer dividers: We grabbed a few dividers so that we could keep clothing in drawers more organized. I would say that for most of the drawers you don’t need one. I would only use one for an underwear and sock drawer. Divide the drawer down the middle and make one side socks and the other side underwear.

Total Cost per Closet:

In total our project for each closet costed $354.14 to build the organization system. If you add in the organization accessories (~$50), then the total price for each closet would be $414.14.

Step 2: Take everything out of the closets

Now that you have decided on a design and purchase the items you need, it is time to start prepping the closet.

We started by emptying the closets and putting all of the clothing in laundry baskets.

We then moved to un-installing the current shelves. Removing the shelf and bar in the first closet was easy. Removing the wire shelves in the other closet was a lot more work. Overall, this took us an hour. If you just have the bar and shelf, then you will be done in 20 minutes.

Kid Closet Organization

Repair any holes in the wall:

Taking out the wire shelves in one of the closets left the wall with lots of aesthetic damage. It was easy to fix though. Depending on how many holes you have in the wall, you can decide to skip this step.

To fix the holes, we took some joint compound (buy the smallest size) and put it on using a joint compound knife.

Kid Closet Organization

Take a glob of the joint compound on the joint compound knife and fill the hole. Use the joint compound knife to smooth the surface. Don’t worry about getting it perfect because you will sand it once it is dry. Once dried (~10 hours), sand until smooth with a 220-grit sanding sponge.

Kid Closet Organization

Step 3: Paint if you want to

Since taking the shelves out left us with so much repair, we decided we needed to paint the walls and the easiest time to do that would be now before we added a built-in.

The paint color we picked to paint the closets was Ultra Pure White by Behr in Eggshell in the Marquee Line. Since the space is small, white would reflect light making the space feel brighter and bigger.

We always find ourselves doing multiple projects at once and so of course, overhauling the organization system in the closets, resulted in us also painting their closets.

We wanted to paint the oak trim white and paint our oak doors white eventually so why not right now?

Step 4: Put together the built-ins

Start by building the tower based on the directions it comes with. After it is built, secure it in place by attaching it to the back wall as the directions indicate. Make sure you put it in the center of the closet as the design recommend. This way you will be able to open the drawers and they won’t hit the closet doors.

Kid Closet Organization

The next step is to install the hanging rods. We used the dowels and pole sockets. Decide where you want to put the rods. We placed them at the top of the tower and lower rod at approximately half the tower’s height. You can use the directions the tower came with to pick the heights and how to center the rods.

Once you attach the sockets to the tower, you can use a level on the bar to determine where the other socket should go on the wall. Once the two sockets are screwed in place, insert the bar and you are done.

Kid Closet Organization

The next step is to build the drawers using the directions that came with them. They are really easy to build. The bottom board is very sturdy, which was a huge plus for me.

Kid Closet Organization

Once you have put together the drawers, you screw the brackets into the tower and into the sides of the drawers. After that, you can slide the drawers in. It really is easy to put together. I put most of it together myself and my husband helped me with about 20% of it. It goes faster with two people and took about 2 hours to put together both closets.

Step 5: Organize the clothing

Now that you have your kid closet organization system complete, it is time to fill the closet with clothing.

In most of the pictures, I have the door off since we are painting them white. This also allowed me to get better pictures of what we keep in the closet to explain our organization system. To see the closet with the doors on and painted, go to the very end of the post!

After 3 years, do I still like it?

When I picked the style, I picked it because I felt there was a spot for everything. I also wanted their everyday items accessible for them to get themselves.

After having used these for now 3 years, I still think that is true.

It is a very versatile system that grows with the child’s needs from diapers and onesies to big kid clothing. Additionally, after 3 years, the drawers still work like new.

I can’t recommend this system enough; it has really worked so well for us.

Here, I will walk you through how I have organized the closets.

Top Left Hang Rod:

We use this space to hang up clothing that isn’t in season. For instance, we are about to leave summer, so all the fall and winter shirts and dresses are on this rod. As the season changes, we will start to move these down and move the summer and spring items up.

It also means on those random days that we do need warmer clothing, I can grab an item easily.

Kid Closet Organization

Top Right Hang Rod:

The top right space is used to hang items like jackets that aren’t being used right now. We also keep fancy clothing there such as nice dresses. It holds items that need to be hung but we don’t need at the moment or don’t wear often. Additionally, I also use it to hang items that are a little too big but will fit very soon.

Kid Closet Organization

Bottom Left Hang Rod:

This is the section where I hang shirts and dresses that my child currently wears daily. The bottom rod is at a height where she can easily see the clothing, pick an item, and take it off a hanger. Even our two-year-old can do this. I use kid hangers, but I have checked and adult hanger would also work. Here is a picture of both a kid hanger and an adult hanger in the closet with the door closed.  If you are looking to buy kid hangers, grab them online here because they are so much cheaper than in the store.

Kid Closet Organization

Drawers and Baskets:

The drawers hold all of the items that are not hung but are used on a daily basis. For us that is:

  • Sock and Underwear Drawer
  • Shorts and Skirts Drawer
  • Pajama Drawer
  • Leggings and Jeans Drawer

Kid Closet Organization

I use the shelves and baskets for anything else. Depending on the age, we have used this space for a number of things such as:

  • Cozy Socks and Tights
  • Diapers and Wipes
  • Sports items (example: dance basket, soccer basket, swimsuit basket)
  • Off Season Jeans and Clothing
  • Really any items that don’t have a spot

Kid Closet Organization

For our two-year-old, we keep a stool in her closet that she can use to access her drawers. She loves being able to help get her outfit or pajamas out from her closet. Our four year old is tall enough to reach the top drawer so we keep everything she would wear on a daily basis in those four drawers or on the bottom hanging rod.

Kid Closet Organization

As they get older, I plan to use the space to the left of the tower on the floor (not the laundry side) for slippers and shoes. Right now, we try (big emphasis on try) to keep all shoes in our mudroom we just revamped to keep dirt at a minimum in the house.

Kid Closet Organization

Kid Closet Organization

Hopefully by sharing our kid closet organization overhaul, you will get some good ideas for your own home. Re-doing the kid’s closets with a built-in tower easily tripled the amount of clothing we could keep in the closet.

The added effective storage in the closet allowed us to not use dressers in the kid’s room freeing up space for other things like bookshelves and desks. Additionally, the updated organizational system in each closet costed roughly $400, which is close to what you would spend on a nice dresser.

Lastly, we picked our system so it could grow with the child by going with a simple basket/shelf/drawer system. We also made sure to leave one side of the closet with hanging space for long items such as dresses.

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Kid Closet Organization

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