Budget home improvements can certainly help in this real estate market, particularly when you’re busting at the seems and need more storage space. Why not consider a closet organizer? If you are planning to sell, a well organized home will look better and sell faster. A small home improvement can go a long way for you.

Some homes have huge master bedroom closets that are larger than some bedrooms. But for the rest of us, closet space is at a premium. When my husband, Sam, and I first bought our home, an 1880s farmhouse, the entire house contained just two small closets and two tiny closets that had been fashioned out of part of a hall way. While the last 10 years brought a housing boom and then a housing crash, the vast majority of homes in the United States are older homes that could use more storage space.

As for our house, that was it. But back in the 1880s people didn’t own as many clothes as we have today and their storage needs were different. For the two of us, closet space was tight. With the addition of our two children, our closet needs grew exponentially. When we renovated our home three years ago, we built loads of closets and considered that to be enough storage space for the rest of our lives.

Three years later, we looked at our over-stuffed closets, wondering how we outgrew the closet space we built. We seem to always buy and store to meet our storage spaces. Before starting your project, you might want to get rid of the clutter around your home.

You might want to consider our eBook on helping you de-clutter your home: The Clutter Collector: How To Get Rid of Clutter Everywhere In Your House and Personal Finances

If you are selling your home, consider viewing some of our articles and videos on staging your home:

Home Staging Helps Sell Your Home For More Money

ThinkGlink.com Home Staging To Sell Your Home Video

ThinkGlink.com Staging Your Home Before Selling Video

At the time we asked two closet consultants to come in and design three closet solutions: One for Sam’s closet, one for my closet and one for our mudroom, which had become an overstuffed collection of children’s clothing and sports apparatus.

The two companies we consulted were national closet-organizing companies. They produced drawings for us in rapid time, gave us the outrageous and even more outrageous pricing for our new closets and promised we would love the difference. But boy, their closet organizers were expensive.

The biggest hurdle was pricing for our closets. We truly wanted a budget home improvement for our closets that would not bust the bank. The estimates we received for each of our closets ranged from $1,500 on the low side to $2,000 for white laminate, with the price escalating 40 to 80 percent for wood laminate.

One issue to consider when working with some of the national design companies is who will be responsible for the removal of any existing shelving in a closet. That added expense can be significant for some closet home improvements. If you are on a true budget, you might do the work yourself.

If your choice is not to go with a national or regional closet organizing company, you can check out the many closet organizing systems at various home improvement stores. On big box home improvement company carries several different types of closet organizing systems, which almost exactly mirrored the supposedly “custom” closet organizing we were purchasing from the national companies. Other companies offer wire shelving options that are easy to install and offer a wide variety of options. However, some wire closet shelving organizers might not work for people that would prefer to have traditional drawers in their closet. In any case either of these options can give a homeowner a closet on a budget and result in a great home improvement value, especially if you have to make due and stay in your current home for the foreseeable future.

The quality of the shelving you can find in some home improvement stores appears to be quite good and the pricing certainly beats the pricing offered by the companies that gave us bids. We saved about $5,000 by doing the closets ourselves over having a national closet organizer company install our closets.

Sam started his closet first. It took about a day to install, and it looked great. My closet was installed in a half day, and that included demolition of the existing closet and plastering any holes or rough spots, where would previous shelving had been glued to the wall. He spent another half day finishing the mudroom closet – a total of two days for the three closets, including demolition and any finish work to repair the walls before installation.

“What really gets me is that these closet organizing companies are selling you on the idea that you’re getting a custom closet, when all of the pieces are pretty standard,” Sam said. “What’s custom in their closet organizer is how long the rod is between the standard cabinets.”

The cabinetry Sam installed was easy enough to install with the most basic equipment. The hardest part was getting the boxes out of the car and carrying them upstairs. The heaviest box weighed about 100 pounds.

On the other hand, we didn’t need to go to the gym for our workout that day.

If you’re going to build out your closet, you’ll need to think through how to make the best use of space. You’ll have quite a number of decisions to make. But any home improvement or home repair project requires lots of decision making. Most importantly is the budget for the project. You shouldn’t start a home improvement project without a budget. Years ago I remember reading a story about a journalist that decided to replace a door knob in her San Francisco house, only to end up with a six month, $300,000 home renovation project. That certainly wasn’t planned well nor was it a budget home improvement project.

But it is amazing how a small home improvement or home repair project can make a big difference in your daily life.

For example, building out your closet can change the way you start and end your day. If you do it right, you can even save time in the morning because everything is well-organized.

Take a look at the many videos we have on home improvement projects:

How To Keep a Home Renovation on a Budget

How To Paint A Room In A House

Installing a closet organizing system also one of the few do-it-yourself projects that can easily end up looking professionally installed – while you save as much as 80 percent off the cost of having a professional closet company install a closet for you. So the payoff for your sweat equity is significant.

But if you’re going to build out your closet with a closet organizer, you’ll need to think through how to make the best use of space. Here are a few things that can make a big difference in how satisfied you are with the finished product:

  • Space. Most of us don’t have a closet larger than our living rooms. In fact, the average American thinks he or she doesn’t have nearly enough closet space. How can you maximize the space you have?

Whether you’re going to hire a closet organizing company or do it yourself, start by looking at the closet space you have. Is it a walk-in closet or does it hug the wall? Is it tall or short? Narrow or deep?

Matching the use to the size and shape will help make the most of a particular closet. Take careful measurements of the height, width and depth of each closet. Note the height, width and depth of doors, and if there are any obstructions, such as a pipe or column, that could interfere with your closet design.

  • What’s in your closet? Once you’ve opened up your closet, take a look at the types of things you keep in it.

You might want to consider our eBook on helping you de-clutter your home: The Clutter Collector: How To Get Rid of Clutter Everywhere In Your House and Personal Finances

In a bedroom, you might have long and short hanging items, shoes, tall boots, thick sweaters, underwear and socks, pajamas and black tie dresses. You might even store extra pillows and blankets. In a downstairs coat closet, you might find you’ve stored your children’s lunch boxes and school junk into a box on top of winter and summer gear.

One of the biggest problems we have with closets is we try to overstuff them – usually with items we don’t need in each season. For example, you might have ski equipment in your mudroom during the middle of spring and summer.

Try to separate out items that don’t need to be in a closet year-round with those that do. Look at the types of closing or items that you will need to store and measure them. Do you need to hang your pants straight down or can you fold them on a hanger so you can double-hang your closet to maximize hanging space?

  • How are you going to use your closet? Start by counting your shoes. Women typically have 10 to 20 pairs of shoes (or more!), while men often have either 6 or 12. Three pairs of women’s shoes will fit onto a shelf that’s 24 inches wide. If you have 20 pairs of shoes, you’ll need to have at least 7 shelves just for your shoes – or you might want to figure out another place to keep them.

Do you want drawers or baskets? Do you want to keep your jewelry in a shallow drawer or do you want it somewhere else? Do you need a place for your belts and purses? And, what about those tall boots. Figure out what you need to get to most often, then design a solution that makes these items accessible.

  • Look at sample closets. Most home improvement companies all have samples of closets that have been built out so you can actually see what each component looks like.

If your friends have built out their closets, invite yourself over for a tour. Ask them what they like and don’t like about their closets and how they would do it differently the next time. What you want to do is develop a design that work for the items you have and how you use them.

  • Draw it out. If you’re going to have a closet organizing company install a closet and make the home improvement or home repairs, most companies will send a design associate to go to your home, take the measurements and provide you with a closet design at no charge. If you’re going to do it yourself, take a look at the half a dozen or so standard components and start moving them around to create the kind of closet that will meet your needs.

If you’re having trouble visualizing how the closet will come out, take some construction paper and measure out the components to scale. The idea is that you build a model of your closet, so you can figure out how well it will work for you. Some of the manufacturer’s of closet components offer websites that can help you with your design.

  • Read the contract. If you’re going to hire a closet company, read the fine print on the contract before you sign it. Most national closet companies have a standard contract that provides for a full or limited warranty on closet pieces. Make sure you understand what the warranty covers and what you have to do to qualify for a replacement or refund.

  • Don’t pay everything upfront. Closet companies understand that savvy customers aren’t going to pay until they’re satisfied with the job. If you have to pay up front, choose a credit card that gives you six months interest free.

If your closet installer insists on payment in full before the job begins, consider looking for another closet company.

  • Prepare your closet. If you decide to build out your closet, you’ll have to dispose of your old closet system first. That can cause some damage to your walls. If you don’t want your new closet looking shabby from the get-go, take the time to patch, prime and paint
    before the installers get there. Otherwise, you may not be quite as thrilled with the result.