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Closets need good bones, shouldn't have skeletons

| Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

Bedroom closet-organizing systems are a major part of the $1 billion organizing business. You can go DIY in adjustable wire or wood systems or hire a firm to custom-design and professionally install rods, shelving and drawers.

“An unorganized closet is like a refrigerator with no shelves,” says Ginny Snook Scott, a vice president at California Closets. “The appliance industry created spaces for cold cuts, dairy products and vegetables. Everything stays organized and in its place. We needed that for closets, too.”

Professional organizers are often hired to help with the job. “If your closet is organized, it starts the day on a positive note,” says Pierrette Ashcroft, a Washington professional organizer. “It's worth the time and investment.”

What's new?

Online design. Many closet-organizing companies offer an online tool that lets you lay out your ideal closet on a computer and click once to order everything you need.

More choices. Manufacturers have added upgraded materials and moldings, and accessory organizers for specific items such as jewelry, boots and sunglasses.

Care tips

• Don't forget the floor. Closet floors should be cleaned regularly like the floors in any room. Carpeting tends to collect more dust; tile or wood is easier to care for in a closet.

• Paint. Don't forget to paint the closet walls when repainting a bedroom. Consider going with a different, maybe bolder, color.

• Upgrade lighting. Make sure your bulbs are bright enough to let you see into the back shelves. If you have no lighting, install a battery-powered tap light.

Low, medium, high

We asked Lisa Engel, ClosetMaid's vice president of product development, to put together a guide to the company's different DIY closet offerings. For each category, consumers can create customized components or buy a closet-organizer kit, where everything is in one box for their particular closet size and needs.

ClosetMaid Shelf Track: The vinyl-coated wire shelving is adjustable. The system can be reconfigured as needs change. It can be bought as open stock or as an organizer kit. Available in nickel or white. Kits for 4-foot to 10-foot closets range from $98 to $198; individual pieces retail for $5 to $71. Home Depot and www.closetmaid.com.

ClosetMaid Selectives: This customizable white laminate line can be mounted to the wall or the floor. Design details include five-panel doors and drawer fronts and satin nickel hardware. Doors are made with European-style concealed hinges, and drawers have full-extension glides for full drawer access. Available in 12-, 16- or 25-inch-wide closet kits or individual components. Starter kits are $97 to $117 and individual pieces are $13 to $95. www.homedepot.com.

ClosetMaid Impressions: This flexible and modular system is available in a dark cherry finish. It integrates decorative molding with furniture-like details, including nine-panel drawer fronts, full-extension drawer glides and a corner shelf. Kits range from $125 to $160 and individual components from $9 to $90. www.homedepot.com.

Shop smart

• Before you head to the store, take everything out of your closet and evaluate whether you still wear it. Make piles to keep, donate, consign or toss.

• After sorting, count what you have left in each category, such as pants, shoes, etc. Then measure your closets carefully. You'll need this information in determining what organizing parts to buy.

• Consider the flexibility and adjustability of your system, especially if you plan to move, are renting or have a small child whose closet needs will change.

Jura Koncius is a staff wrier for The Washington Post.

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