The toughest part about moving around the world (besides the whole moving around the world bit) is the packing. The dismantling of existing organizational systems and ways of doing things, only to have to re-mantle it all again on the other side. On the positive side, you get to start fresh. You get to view a space like a clean slate and create a new home.

One of the many amazing things about Mr. Dressed is his understanding of my need for a space to call my own. In every home we’ve lived in, I’ve commandeered a spare bedroom to turn into a boudoir-meets-sewing room. And though our last house was more alcove-meets-closet, without a lot of room to breathe, the best feature of our new home in NC is a beautiful spare room that I have free reign to design my Dream Closet how I please.

A lot of readers have asked for a closet tour in the past – a glimpse into my vintage microcosm. I thought what better way to introduce you to my wardrobe than to go through this crazy process of designing a closet together!

The Space

I realize not everyone has a spare bedroom to play with, but the principles of closet design and organization are the same: take stock of what you have, measure the space you have to design around, and then find storage and organizational solutions that will work with both.

Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed AestheticDesign-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic

O ur current house has a spare bedroom towards the back of the house, with a lot of natural light. I set to work measuring the space so that I could start planning out what my future boudoir would look like. One of my favorite tools for space planning is actually Powerpoint. I realize there is a lot of fancy architectural software out there, but this gal is busy, and prefers to use what she knows.

Once you have your measurements, you just have to create a floorpan to “scale” in powerpoint. Basically I created a rectangle assuming each 1ft (12″) distance in reality was 2cm in Powerpoint World. So, if you’re undertaking the task yourself and you measure one wall to be 14 feet (168″) – this would mean drawing a line in powerpoint and setting the length at 28cm ((2cm * 168″)/12″ = 28cm). And you would then do that for each wall.

Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic

N ext, you will need measurements from the furniture  items meant to go into the closet. But, before you can do this…you need to assess What You Have to determine What You Need. It’s a basic case of supply and demand…

The Stuff

It’s probably best in these situations not to be coy: I have a lot of stuff. The movers boggled at the state of my closet and I am sure that it will be one of those stories they tell to new clients for years. The “Oh, you think YOU have a lot of stuff. We once packed up this one girl…” kind of stories. But, I’m okay with that. Because, well, I have a lot of stuff and the first step is acceptance.

In addition to clothing-type stuff, I have a few additional boudoir pieces I’ve grown rather attached to. One is an AMAZING red velvet sofa that I got from when Mr. Dressed and I first started dating: Red and velvet and lush, and it looks absolutely beautiful when there isn’t a pile of clothing flung across it. The second is my vanity – although someday I hope to upgrade to a true-vintage piece, I love the curly legs of this vintage-inspired piece and she suits my aesthetic perfectly. We recently thrifted this amazing chair, which went so perfectly with the red velvet sofa I knew it was fate.

Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic

Okay, so firstly I needed to make some decisions about the space and what would work in it. Because we are currently renting our home (we need to learn neighborhoods in our new city before even thinking about buying), I knew that a built-in solution was not going to work for this closet design. Plus, having closet solutions that are easy to dismantle are critical – particularly solutions that won’t damage existing walls. So, this meant hunting down great free-standing racks and shelves.

I ended up going with these great PORTIS clothing racks from IKEA – reasonably priced, with a bit of a vintage flair. Plus, you’ll notice it has a pretty sturdy base. This is something to keep an eye out for when looking for clothing racks – the flimsier the base, the far more likely that rack is to come a tumbling down. Plus, these racks had hooks on the side (which are just calling out for a handbag…).

Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic
Photo via IKEA
Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic
Photo via Amazon

I also wanted to make use of the great vertical space in the room – so I purchased this double-decker rack. After reading countless reviews, this one seemed to be a great balance between price and quality, with a really simple installation. It also is adjustable, which means that after we eventually move, I can make it fit into any new space with relative ease.

The number of racks you will need is going to depend on the amount of stuff you have – and the kind of wiggle room you need on the rack. For my vintage, I prefer things not to be obscenely crammed in, particularly for my poofy prom dresses. If you are also something of an organizational madwoman, you may also want to categorize in order to find things you need quickly. I plan to have my vintage separated from my vintage inspired, and within those two categories, separate racks for day and evening. This means I can go directly to the rack in question in the morning before work, or to another if I’m having a dinner out with Mr. Dressed.

Once you have the racks, all that’s left is to put them together. For this, you just need a beer, a power drill, and a willing husband….

Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed AestheticDesign-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic

Another really exciting feature about this room is that it has two small walk in closets (yes, I have closets within a closet). Mere mortals may have seen this as spare storage space, but this gal’s eyes lit up at the possibilities: and my Shoe Rooms were born. I personally have kept most of my shoes in their original boxes – which keep the shoes in pristine condition and have the added bonus of being easily stackable. So, thankfully, I won’t need any additional shelving in my mini-closets once the shoes start to file in….

Finn generously agreed to check out Shoe Room #1, which will house the fancy shoes, and Shoe Room #2 will be home to daytime heels and flats. What can I say? This gal loves her categories….

Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic

Storage Solutions

Following on from clothing racks, the next most important thing is finding ideal storage solutions. Because we now have a good sense of all of our stuff, it’s about finding places to put said stuff. Personally, I prefer to hang most of my clothing. So, I just needed a few shelves to put tanks and t’s on, and a single, sad shelf on which to put my short stack of pants.

For storage solutions, I find that IKEA is your friend. Everything is reasonably priced and somewhat modular, so you can have it suit your needs. I  went with the KALLAX shelf, which gave me storage for folded clothing, but I could also buy drawers to hold odds and ends and shelf dividers to hold smaller clutch bags.

A few additional pieces include: a tallboy, which is my jewelry storage solution, a small set of drawers for pajamas, and a vertical mirror (essentially when getting ready).

Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic

Once I had sorted out all of the solutions, then I got to play with layout. Back to Powerpoint I gleefully skipped (seriously, I would do everything in Powerpoint if I could). I went through about 8,000 iterations before I came up with this plan, which has (thus far) worked out quite nicely. There’s room to see everything without any wasted space.

Design-a-Closet: Part I - The Dressed Aesthetic

No matter the size of your space, the most important thing is ensuring your closet is organized in a way where you can see what you own! If it’s tucked away, you’ll forget you have it and it’ll never get worn. Plus, having beautiful things on display will simply make you happy. You may not wear that 1950’s Emma Domb prom dress every day, but how lovely it is when she greets you each morning…

Next installment of Design A Closet is to start bringing in The Goods – stay tuned for some of my favorite organizational strategies when hanging your clothes, accessories and handbags.

For now, I need to start unpacking!




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The Dressed Aesthetic