As we’ve discussed previously, closet space wasn’t quite a priority back in historic days. Hence, tiny (but gorgeous) closets are common in old homes, especially in the Alexandria, Virginia area. These small reach-ins aren’t hopeless, though; you just have to pick your battles.
In a perfect world, hanging your clothing is ideal. It’s easier for you to see everything and aids in preventing wrinkles—but the size of your reach-in can dictate otherwise. A custom closet system will obviously help you make better use of the space, but as you assess your clothing collection and consider what type of storage features you’ll need in your new layout, the big dilemma is always: “to hang or to fold?” What things absolutely require a hanging rod, and what can be relegated to the shelves? Here’s my take on it:
Should I Hang?
When you’re deciding which items will need hanging space, start with clothing that definitely requires a hanger.
Consider the Fabric
There are certain fabrics (silk, for instance) that are too slippery to fold well or that wrinkle too easily. Beading is another material that deserves hang time, and not just because it tends to be fragile: if beaded items are folded next to other beaded items, it’s really easy to wind up with snags in your clothing. Finally, take a look at your work wear and dresses.These items tend to be challenging to fold neatly and should also be hung.
The other thing to figure out is what your daily go-to items are. You’ll want easy access to things you put on frequently, and hanging makes them as convenient to grab as possible. Plus, if you fold your favorite pieces, having to refold them every day or two can be a disaster for your drawer organization. Skip the extra work and just hang them. This step obviously boils down to your personal preferences. Jeans are an excellent example: Do you wear them all the time? If so, hang them. Only wear them occasionally? Fold them and put them away instead.
Should I Fold?
Remember that the items you decide to fold will be going on open shelving in your custom closet, so they’ll get some prime display time. And even though keeping shelves tidy can seem intimidating, you truly don’t need 10 years of retail training to achieve a wow-worthy effect, as long as you put a little thought into your layout ahead of time.
Will This Look Messy Folded?
I’ve found that items like jeans, sweatshirts, sweaters, and basic t-shirts are shelving favorites. They hold a fold easily and lend themselves well to stacking multiples, which is much more space-efficient than a hanging rod—an especially important consideration if you live in Alexandria. Just be careful not to overdo it. Items made of silky fabric never stack well. They’re too lightweight and end up looking disheveled after the tiniest nudge.
Don’t Always Be So Square
Because most of us were probably taught to fold clothing into an even square/rectangular fold, this seems like the only option. But not everything needs to be folded that way. If you don’t have space for more hanging rods and are looking for creative ways to get the most out of shelves, try half-folding items, like you see in retail stores. Sweaters and cardigans work particularly well for this, achieving a nice visual effect while efficiently using shelf space.
Of course, the benefit of a custom design is that, if you have items that are especially bulky or need to be folded in a particular way, we can make sure your shelves are sized to fit them. We’ve got a lot of experience working with limited space.
A Custom Design for the Perfect Balance
It’s easy to stress if you feel like you don’t have enough hanging space, but shelves are just as valuable as hanging rods A shelf system can absolutely work, as long as you keep things neat and make wise choices about what to fold. If you’re working within the limitations of one of those beautiful (but tiny!) Alexandria closets, get in touch with us for a free design consultation to learn more about how we can create a reach-in system that’s as one-of-a-kind as your closet.
Lead Image Credit: Flickr user Reading Tom (CC BY 2.0)