Walk-In Closet (Phase 1)

Growing up I was always interested in organization. Closets, bins, notebooks, racks, lists, folders, you name it, if it served an organizational function, I thought I needed it. If 9 year old me would have known that the Container Store would be a "thing" in the future, little Courtney's head would likely have explored. I have since made a career of this insensate organization as an event planner for the past 7 years. John even likes to joke that he's never known anyone to enjoy paperwork as much as I do.

My interest in organization is most certainly an inherited trait passed down from my grandmothers. Both were master organizers! My paternal grandmother, Betty, kept meticulous notes on just about everything; birth dates, Sunday school classes, bills. She even labeled her shoe boxes with the date and occasion they were originally purchased and worn.

Elsie and Betty enjoying dinner on my parents patio at Borden Place.

And my maternal grandmother, Elsie, was the wife of the city tax assessor and together they owned and operated a general store, which, though I never experienced it, image was meticulously inventoried.

Every summer, I looked forward to her visits from Florida, where she would pull everything from my closet, and start over. To this day, that's how I tackle every mess. Pull everything out, look at what I have, and start over fresh.  I like to think that, perhaps, their attention to detail was passed down to me and I'm now using it on Content.

Even more, having been raised in a pre-Civil war home, closets and storage was always at a premium. And though each of our bedrooms had a decent sized closet (compared to some old houses with none), I shared a house with two sisters and we had stuff, everywhere!

My parents house.

Side note: My sisters and I still, to this day, have tons of stuff at my parents house. None of us ever fully moved out.  Just last night, my sister Lindsey was over digging out her prized Beanie Baby collection. Yah, I know, can you believe it, those things are actually worth something now...

Our storage issues hit a fevered pitch in the mid 90s when we were all teenagers. I'm pretty sure my mother's refusal to clean up our clothes was not defiance, but defeat. With that, I'm very sorry Mom, but what did you expect with a pack rat husband and three daughters?

With all that said, you can imagine my dismay when we purchased Content. and realized the closet situation was lack luster. General storage is not the problem, however, as Content has huge, bunker sized basement. But what about the day-to-day? Where would John hang his prized collection of brightly colored flannel button-down shirts?

Half wall: Closet side.

Half wall: Headboard side. 

As I've mentioned in a previous post, one of our first layout decisions was to divide the master bedroom with a half wall, which would anchor a new walk-in closet. Then, I started naming my demands.
  • Ample hanging space for short and long items.
  • Bright lighting, no dark corners.
  • Plenty of shoe storage.
  • Drawers for hiding unmentionables.
  • Large shelves for bulk items.
  • An stowable ironing board.
  • A laundry chute to the basement.
  • A vanity area for hair and makeup products, out of the bathroom.
I know what you're thinking. Why didn't I just have the whole thing brushed in gold leaf, right? Back off, a girl can dream!

Seriously though, none of this was any surprise to John. He knew our new closet was important and had to serve many different functions, so he got to work on the design right away.

Closet designing, bottom two sketches.

Double hanging bar.

Leveling out the hanging bars.

A note from John on the built-ins:

Knowing Courtney's obsession with the clean lines, I knew the closet pieces would eventually be painted white. I chose my materials based on this, and constructed the built-ins using birch ply. Not only is birch light in color, it also has a smooth surface lending itself to easy painting. The face frame and edging are made of poplar because poplar is also an easy, workable wood that takes paint well.

John in his workshop constructing the main built-in.


The closet will be one large built-in, with five drawers for each of us, and two large open shelved above. To the right of the main built-in will be a double hanging bar, and to the left a higher, single bar. In addition, there will be a separate shoe built-in, that also has an permanent iron and ironing board cabinet.

We also made the bold decision to not incorporate a door into the closet design. We felt a door would close off the rooms flow and wanted the new space to feel organic. This decision could go one of two ways. Either it forces us to be super tidy OT your bound to see several weeks worth of laundry on the floor during your next visit. I guess only time will tell...

See the plug in the cabinet. That's where the ironing board will be!

That's the start of the closet. I still need to figure out baskets or bins, and the actual organization within the closet. Because visitors will be able to see the whole space- I need your suggesions!

Let's keep the conversation going!

  • Any walk-in closet tips?
  • How do you organize your closet for all seasons?
  • Should I do metal bins or natural wicker baskets?
  • Would you recommend draw dividers? 

I'd love to hear from you, please comment below.