The trend is for closets that not only work better but look and feel better, too.

By Tammy Adamson-McMullen

If your spring cleaning list includes straightening or clearing out a few closets, why not take this a step further and redesign them, too? With the popularity of such TV shows as “Tidying Up” and “Bea Organized” as well as the abundance of closet organizers on the market, closets are enjoying a new status in the home. The trend is for closets that not only work better but look and feel better, too. Here are some steps to help you achieve it.

Step 1: Empty Out

The the first step toward your optimum closet is to empty it. Pull out everything and pile it in individual categories—clothes, shoes, outerwear, etc.—and then re-enter your closet for a careful inspection. Look all around, top to bottom, paying special attention to the lighting, wall color, flooring and organizational system.

Step 2: Add Light

Insufficient light is one of the biggest problems in closeted spaces. Check to see if your lights are sufficient to illuminate every nook and cranny of the closet. If not, consider adding lighting—maybe recessed can lights?—or switch to a track lighting system to reach into darkened areas. You might even install a crystal chandelier, which will further reflect the light. (Sure, no one may see this touch of extravagance but you. But you’re worth it, right?) Try to achieve consistent lighting from one end of the closet to the next, which not only will help you find the items you need but, according to lighting experts, also has a relaxing effect on mood.

If you have an electrical outlet in the closet and some extra space, you might also add a small table lamp to one of the shelves or a floor lamp to a dark corner. Lamps can make a closet feel homey—especially nice if the closet also doubles as a dressing area. Regardless of the light source, use daylight or full-spectrum bulbs to achieve “true color” as much as possible. This will help you when selecting clothes to wear and, once again, reduces anxiety.

Step 3: Change the Wall Color

The color of your closet walls also can affect the light in the space. Are your walls dark, dingy or flat in sheen?  If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then it’s time for a new paint color. As a reminder, dark and flat sheens absorb light; lighter and glossier sheens reflect light. So in a confined closet space, lighter and glossier (eggshell or satin) is the way to go.

That being said, you don’t necessarily have to choose white. Since it’s important for colors to flow from room to room, consider painting your closets in a pale contrasting or complementary color from the adjoining rooms. Or select from trending home colors, which include soft pinks and pinky beiges, sunny yellow, aqua blues and greens, and barely-there grays.

Last but not least, don’t forget the ceiling! There’s a tendency, especially in new construction, to paint closets in the same color from top to bottom. But you can choose a different color for the ceiling to draw the eye upward—thus making the room appear larger—and to add some panache. If your closet is spacious with a high ceiling, the color can go deeper in hue.

Step 4: Lighten Up the Floor

Closet floors generally benefit from lighter colors, too. Light woods are great closet choices because they make spaces feel airy. They also are in step with flooring trends in the rest of the home. Additionally, wood or resilient planks can create an even greater illusion of space according to the way they are installed. A horizontal installation will make a narrow closet appear wider; a vertical installation will make a short closet appear longer. Larger closets can accommodate darker flooring, but it’s a good idea to balance the darker color with white shelving units or a bright ceiling color.

If you don’t have the budget to replace your floors, you can still brighten up a closet by adding an area rug in a lighter hue. An area rug can help a small closet appear larger, and a large closet, less cavernous. Area rugs likewise make a closet more inviting. If you have enough room in a clothes closet, add an ottoman to visually “ground” the area rug and to give you a place to sit as you dress.

Carpeted closets also can benefit from an area rug. If the carpet is multi-colored or patterned, choose an area rug in a solid color. If the carpet is a solid color, then go for some color and pattern! Regardless, try to keep stored items off the carpet so that you can vacuum the entire space to keep it as dust-free as possible.

Step 5: Organize

Now it’s time to go back to the piles of items you created in Step 1. But don’t return them to the closet just yet; instead, take honest stock of the inventory as well as your closet space. You may need to eliminate some items from the piles. Or maybe you’ll need to add storage to the closet. A closet design company can help you plan and install an organizational system that meets your needs. But if your budget doesn’t allow for this luxury, you can find bins, cubbies, hanging rods, baskets and other storage items online and in many home stores.

Whenever possible, try to choose closet organizers that are similar in style, material and color. And add storage items judicially, choosing only those items that help you maximize your closet space, simplify your daily routines and make your closet more visually appealing.

Happy storing!