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These Super-Luxe Closets Are Full of Ideas for Decluttering Your Own Space

You don’t need a walk-in the size of a studio apartment to get organized.

Photo by Stylish Productions.

Closet #1

Photograph of closet #1 by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Architect Jim Rill and interior designer Marika Meyer built this luxe closet for a client in Chevy Chase, out of a space that used to be an outdoor deck. Cabinetmaker Danish Builders designed the built-ins and double islands. “She treated it almost like a getaway,” says Rill of the homeowner. “We had to convince her not to do a refrigerator up there with wine in it.”

Closet #2

Photographs of closet #2 by Stylish Productions.

Interior designer Elizabeth Reich of Jenkins Baer Associates created this moody space for a couple in Baltimore, using their existing closet, plus a small room next door that lacked purpose. She incorporated a vintage ottoman, picture lighting, and an eggplant area rug for a cozy aesthetic.

Tips & Tricks

If you don’t have the space (or budget) for a closet as dreamy as these, you can still deploy some of the same organizing strategies that architect Jim Rill and interior designer Elizabeth Reich use for their clients.

1. Take a thorough inventory

Before you start reconfiguring existing shelving and rods (or go on a shopping spree at the Container Store), make sure you really understand the kind of stuff you have. What needs to hang? What can stay folded? Can anything be relocated from the closet into a dresser? And, maybe most important, what can be donated?

2. Think vertically

If square-footage is in short supply, take storage up to the ceiling. Items that aren’t used every day can go up high. “We’re doing one right now that has a [built-in] ladder so you can get to the higher shelves,” says Rill.

3. Arrange by Color

“I try to organize by color for ease in finding what I’m looking for,” says Reich. “It will save you time daily.”

4. Divide and conquer

For clothing and accessories in drawers, Reich recommends dividers to keep everything in its place. If you don’t want to buy dividers, she suggests shoeboxes: “Anything will work as long as it is shorter than the drawer height.”

5. Consider the lighting

If you’re lucky enough to have a walk-in, Rill recommends swap-ping one of the recessed cans for a pendant, which will illuminate items from all sides rather than just from overhead.

6. Try a tray

Loose jewelry and other knickknacks instantly appear neater if they’re contained, says Reich: “A tray makes them look organized.”

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.