We’ve all had a messy closet at some point in our lives. It is all too easy to lose sight of your color-coordinated system. Not to mention the random assortment of hangers that accumulate and ruin the aesthetic of an armoire (did you really need that plastic hanger from Nordstrom Rack?). Blame it on Marie Kondo – I wanted a closet system. I had a big vision and a modest budget, but I believed that beautiful closets should be for everyone, not just the upper crust. What follows are suggestions for preparation and a review of the suppliers that I considered – a good, better, best. May this inspire you to beautify your closet too!

Getting Started

This process can’t begin without narrowing down the items in your wardrobe. See our blog, Tidying Up for more on decluttering your space. After your clothes are in order, use the list below to prepare for the design process.

  • Closet measurements (to include ceiling height)
  • Shoe count
    • Heels
    • Flats
    • Tall boots
  • Depth and number of drawers needed
  • Width of necessary long hanging space
  • Width of necessary short hanging space

Next, consider the following.

  • Budget – How much do you have to spend? Don’t forget the cost of installation.
  • Desired look – Does it need to make a statement or simply function well? If there is an opening without a door, consider the design elements of adjacent spaces.
  • Necessity for future modifications – Do you foresee changes in your life… a new partner, a greater need for storage, a desire to change the styling? This question is crucial because your wardrobe doesn’t stay the same over the years unless you’re a cartoon character.

Consider Your Options

Closet sorted, measurements in hand, and wish list created, it’s time to shop. There are plenty of providers. I left off the larger closet retailers because of my smaller budget.


IKEA is the Hotel California of home décor – you can check in any time you like, but you can never leave. The maze of affordable wares sets you on an endless quest in a warehouse with no cell reception, and your only hope for escape is to follow the sweet smell of cinnamon rolls to the finish line.

Good News:

In terms of closet systems, there is a wide variety of quality options at different price points. You could even integrate their cabinet line in a project like this.

Bad News:

If you want to make additions later, the system you installed may no longer be available, presenting new challenges.

Making appointments can be particularly difficult, and inventory availability can be problematic (heaven help you if you need to order something online).


If you’re committed to the conquest of puzzling the design pieces and don’t mind instructions via stick figures, IKEA will get the job done for a decent price.

The Container Store

The Container Store has been selling Elfa products since 1978. Their incredibly knowledgeable and helpful consultants proudly demonstrate the company’s 50+ years of experience.

Good News:

Scheduling an appointment online is effortless, and the in-store design process only took an hour.

There are myriad options to personalize and upgrade the look of your system.

The Container Store offers beautiful, higher-end systems.

When the time comes to install, they have instructional videos and online support.

You can easily add to the system as your needs change and budget permits.

Bad News:

If you miss the annual Elfa sale (typically the first of the year through mid-February), you’ll pay substantially more.

The system is of superior quality to IKEA, but the look isn’t all that glamorous without wood accents.


The Elfa sale creates considerable value. Because the system has been part of the Container Store’s continual offering, you can count on being able to modify your closet components for years to come – just make sure you do it in January.

Modular Closets

In 2015 Modular Closets created a cost-effective, modular plug-and-play alternative to closet design. There are hundreds of fantastic reviews that note the quality of the system and the ease of working with customer service when issues arise.

Good News:

You have the option between pre-selected packages and full customization.

Once you express interest, you are assigned a designer within a business day. Your designer efficiently works with you to create a system to fit your needs and budget within minutes.

They offer the option to customize drawer handles, hanging bars, door fronts, shoe racks, drawers, and shelves. All of which can be added in the future.

The system can be further personalized in the future by replacing the standard handles with others of your choosing.

The white system is timeless and can be slightly upgraded by selecting the shaker-style door front. Or you can select the grey finish for a look to rival other exclusive brands.

The modular design lends to the ease of installation, and there is a collection of videos to coincide with the instructions.

Bad News:

No storefront means better pricing but results in an inability to evaluate the system and its quality in person.


Modular Closets provides the least expensive, highest quality system of the mid-range cost options. The regular sales promotions help justify the purchase, and their designers make a confusing process effortless. More, the system can change and adapt as you do.