Brownstone Boys: How Our New Closet System Keeps Us Sane

Good-bye wire hangers!

Editor’s note: Welcome to the 51st installment of Brownstone Boys Reno, a reader renovation diary. We’re excited to publish their tale of buying and renovating a brownstone in Bed Stuy. See the first one here. They also blog at

Our brownstone has fairly typical dimensions of 19 feet wide by 40 feet deep. In our upper duplex we have a living/kitchen/dining floor and then a bedroom floor. We chose to build three good size bedrooms rather than have one that is only big enough for a desk or a single bed. The compromise we made is that we don’t have a walk-in closet in the master. Anyone familiar with Brooklyn or New York City area real estate could probably back us up when we say closets are a very touchy subject here, and sometime you just don’t have any.

brownstone boys

We love the wall hooks — perfect for scarves, umbrellas and towels

We built two closets side by side. They are shallow closets, just the minimum for hanging clothes, so they leave lots of space for bedrooms. This makes closet organization very important. To fit everything in, we really had to make the most of the space. With the right organization, we discovered, we could basically make our two reach-in closets feel like a walk-in with more than 12 feet of hanging space and room for shelves! We also have other closets that serve as overflow for clothes as well as other storage.

We are both people who need to feel organized to keep our heads clear, but we both have different philosophies on organizing a closet when it comes to hanging space vs. shelves for folding. We needed a little of each but it was also going to make a difference for us when it comes to how happy and organized we would feel about our closets. We looked at a few different closet systems that do some version of all of the above, but decided that one in particular was the right choice for us. One of the things we really liked is that they send out a professional closet organizer (Debbie!) for a consultation. We needed it!

brownstone boys

One happy boy thanks to the new closet design

Here’s some tips to getting it right.

1. Purge – Use this opportunity to get rid of anything you don’t want junking up your new organized closet. If we didn’t wear something in over a year we put it in the donation pile.

2. Plan it out – Think about how much hanging space you need, how much shelf space, do you want drawers, do you need shoe storage, are you a hat person like Jordan…etc. Debbie was amazing at helping us think about everything that we needed.

3. Visualize it – After Debbie took the measurements of our closets she popped them into a computer program so we could visualize the space in 3D and virtually try out different features.

brownstone boys

We love how the two closets mirror each other with shelving. Perfect for pants and hats

4. Lose the wire – If you send your laundry out for dry cleaning or laundering you probably get it back on wire hangers. Those ensconced themselves permanently in my closet. Wooden hangers are relatively inexpensive and go a long way in making you feel good about your closet space.

5. Keep it neat – Give yourself a fighting chance by thinking ahead to how you can keep your closet organized for the long term. Will you keep your folded sweaters neat on shelves or do you need drawers? Do you have enough hanging space so that you aren’t jamming in clothes?

We are feeling organized and happy about your new closets. We feel like we turned our shallow closets into a huge walk-in with the amount of space and organization we have. Do you have any great closet organizations tips? Comment below!

[Photos via Brownstone Boys]

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