Real Life Closet Makeover: Melanie & Steven’s Skinniest Closet in the World

updated Jul 17, 2020
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(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)
  • Closet size: 4.125 ft² plus a garment rack
  • How many people use this closet? 2
  • How long have you lived in your home? We moved into this apartment about 8 months ago. It’s gone smoothly for the most part, but I’m definitely messier than Steven.
  • Your closet in 2 words: Cramped and cluttered

Can Melanie and Steven’s closet even be called a closet? It’s really a teeny tiny sliver of a space that can barely handle one person’s clothes — let alone a second person’s wardrobe. The couple supplements the actual closet with a freestanding garment rack that lives in their Brooklyn bedroom, where the vast majority of their clothes and shoes are kept. Needless to say, mess isn’t easily contained when there’s no cavernous walk-in you can hide behind a shut door.

This is Melanie and Steven’s first apartment together. Although they are very happy, the lack of storage space is tough, especially because, while Steven is very neat, Melanie’s nickname growing up was “Hurricane Melanie.” The only saving grace is that the walls are sturdy and they don’t have to share the space with any roommates. They also have nine-foot ceilings. Overall, it feels like a game of Tetris where they’re constantly trying to make everything fit. It’s just too much stuff for such tiny apartment, and both Melanie and Steven look forward to not feeling stressed when they get dressed.

Tour the “Before” Closet

Makeover Plans

Steven and Melanie will go through all their clothes and get rid of things they no longer use or like. They definitely value experiences over things so they’d like their space to reflect that. They plan on replacing the ugly garment rack with a simple piece with cleaner lines. This is definitely a Mari Kondo move: they’ll fold things that do not absolutely require hanging. They also bought some space saver bags a few months back, so they’ll place seasonal items and spare linens in there and store them under the bed.

Closet Personality Profile: I’m a Conscientious Collector, which isn’t surprising, although I’ve only adopted this philosophy in the past couple of years. I used to be more of a classic consumer. But now I’d much rather have one quality item over four okay pieces.

Biggest Closet Sin: Nothing has its own designated home.

One Odd Item That Really Doesn’t Belong in There: The A/C unit. I also have a ton of photo/video gear in the hallway closet that doesn’t have a proper home. It often overflows into the bedroom.

Closet Goals: 1) Get rid of enough clothing so all hangers don’t have to touch each other; 2) Make the closet garment rack less messy and cluttered; and 3) Replace a wobbly “shelf” (really just a warped 2×4) in the closet that is constantly on the brink of falling if the items stored on it aren’t in perfect balance.

Shopping List

  • Style Selections White Shelf Brackets, Pine Sanded Plywood, Wood Screws and Drywall Anchors for Shelving: The new shelves will replace the wobbly shelves which are currently a hazard. They will be simple, but actually usable, unlike the current ones. I’d like to paint them or line them with contact paper down the road.
  • Baskets: For storing (and hiding!) clothing and accessories.
  • Garment Rack: Our current rack is bulky and lopsided. This new one is smaller and more streamlined which will look less obtrusive and force us to keep our belongings to a minimum.
  • Double Prong Hooks: I’ll mount these on the closet door and use them to hang tote bags and accessories.
  • Laundry Hamper: I bought this basket at a neighborhood weekend flea market, and we’ll use it for dirty clothes.
  • Hamper Liner: This laundry bag with live in our hamper and, come laundry day, we’ll pull it out and take it to the laundromat.