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Even though our closets hold some of our most important possessions, we inevitably end up neglecting them. So we’re asking clever homeowners and renters to share their time-tested organizing methods that really (really!) work in our new series, Reclaim Your Closet.

In New York City, there’s no such thing as the perfect apartment. Maybe you’re in your dream neighborhood, but the floors are so slanted that your table wobbles. Or perhaps you have a terrace with enough space for a vegetable garden, but the nearest train is a 15-minute walk. Or maybe you’re like me, and the location and space were everything you’ve ever hoped for—plus a 6-foot-tall window in the shower—but there’s wasn’t a single closet to be found. 

When my two roommates and I first toured our former Williamsburg, Brooklyn, apartment, it was love at first sight. The bright morning light flooding through, the sky-high ceilings; it seemed to have it all. We were already picturing our lives there before realizing there weren’t any closets. You may be wondering: Is that even legal? And the answer is: I’m not sure. Just when we thought we had discovered at least a utility closet, we opened the door to find nothing more than the water heater. 

The thing about the three of us is that we love clothes. Both of my apartment-mates have worked in fashion, and we could open a store with our shared shoe collection alone. We knew that the only way this space would work was if we built something out. And like most 20-somethings, we wanted to keep it cheap. 

So we transformed the hallway adjacent to the entry area into what we affectionately called our “walk-in closet.” After drawing out some plans and juggling our options—we bounced around the idea of three Pax wardrobes, inspired by Jordan Ferney—we went with IKEA’s Mulig clothes bars. They were $5.99 each, and we only needed six (two for each roommate), meaning the whole project cost us $36. 

The best part about the Mulig racks is that they expand from 23 inches to 35 inches. We made the top racks a few inches longer than the bottom racks, which created a space for long dresses and winter coats to hang to the floor. To keep the racks secure in the wall, we used toggle anchors. We each had our own section, but sharing was allowed, too. 

To add even more storage, we later installed wood shelving above the racks, using the same system as our bookshelves, to hold extra shoes. Our T-shirts, loungewear, and other foldable pieces lived in our respective dressers, leaving this area for blouses, dresses, coats, and—on some days—epic impromptu fashion shows. Which really did make it the perfect apartment.

Closet Organization photo
MULIG Clothes Bar, Ikea ($7)