Revising a Rental Walk-In Closet

One of my favorite things about my new-to-me apartment is the huge walk-in closet. But the interior was pretty basic, just a single row of cheap wire shelving placed along all 3 sides. The first thing I did was convert one side to a “linen cabinet” by removing the shelf and installing a bookcase. This weekend, I finally tackled the other two sides, removing the rest of the shelving then installing double clothing rods and a tall shelf to take full advantage of the high ceilings. I took my initial inspiration from a project over on iheart organizing when she added a cool organization system to her boys’ closet: Inspiration Post. Then I revised and adjusted until I had a system that would fit my closet and my needs.

Thanks to my habit of moving and/or redecorating every few years, I’ve learned what kind of things to keep and store even if they don’t always seem like I’ll need them yet. Thanks to that, I had about half of the parts I needed already, and only had to purchase the bookcase and 2 miniature tension rods.

The other key piece of this project is that since I’m renting, I need to be able to completely remove the new system (preferably in a manner that allows me to re-use it at the next rental) and re-install the original shelving. Because of this, I decided to use heavy-duty adjustable tension rods instead of custom-length wooden dowels for the clothing rods – helped along by the fact that I already had those tension rods hanging around in my storage closet, just waiting for a new purpose in life. I also wanted to minimize the amount of new holes drilled in the wall, which meant no fancy closet rod brackets. In the end I only needed 5 screws for the whole project – 1 to “secure” the bookcase to the wall (primarily in case of earthquakes) and 2 for each of the large clothing rods, as I decided to be a paranoid soul and use closet pole mounts for a little extra security against the weight that would be hanging on them.

And now without further rambling, the project!!

On move-in weekend, I originally added a cabinet to the lower half of the closet, but due to the height and the doors it was quite annoying to get clothes in and out of it. The placement of the original shelving made it a target for randomly tossed items, leading to a mess above the clothing and contributing to the overall dis-organized look of the closet


With the closet emptied, there are just 2 shelves to remove in order to clear the way to a better space:


The original installers used some pretty heavy-duty anchors for the shelves, luckily these will all end up covered in the final product:


Installing the large clothing rods – I set both of them slightly higher than usual to take full advantage of the high ceilings, and allow for a bit of extra space below the lower clothing. I’ve found that a few extra inches of clear floor below really helps add to the feeling of “neatness” in a space. Plastic closet pole mount brackets were added for both of these clothing rods – final placement was 10 inches out from the back wall for the center point of both, with the top rod 10 inches below the ceiling and the lower rod 40 inches below that. It allows for plenty of clear space while still being reachable:


Once the large clothing rods were in place I added a tall, narrow IKEA Billy bookcase, placed so that my IKEA Raskog rolling cart will slide right in between the bookcase and wall when the time comes. Shelves were split between narrow sections for smaller “drawer” bins, and taller sections for stacking larger items like jeans, sweaters, and bags. Initially I only installed one small tension rod in the narrow section, but you’ll see in the final that I ended up adding a second (they came in a 2-pack anyway) so that I can hang both slacks and scarves in the small space:


And finally, I sorted, purged, and re-organized all my clothing as I put everything back in the freshly revised space. The Raskog cart (full of nail polish 😀 ) slipped perfectly into it’s planned spot, and on the other side of the bookcase there was just enough room to store my suitcases and travel bags in what would have otherwise been a hard-to-reach dead zone. Small organizer boxes (IKEA again!) make excellent drawer replacements, and the giant over-sized laundry hamper was replaced with a small bin which fit neatly into the bottom of the bookcase. Pretty 3M Command hooks and a padded storage ottoman complete the space, providing a way to hang in-between clothes and a place to sit down or set things down when needed.

Revising a Rental Walk-in