How to Design a Teen's Closet

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Don't be critical of your teen's closet  if it is messy. He or she needs a closet  that uses the principles of organizing.

The constant battle with your teenager to straighten up his or her room should give you pause to think: Perhaps he or she is just as much in the dark about organizing as you. Teenagers accumulate more and more items with each birthday and Christmas. Where is everything supposed to go? If you really want to see your teen's room net and tidy, you must provide the guiding hand. Your responsibility is to implement simple and easy routines and methods that your teenager can then follow without a lot of fuss and bother. The harder the routines and methods are, the less likely your teenager is to comply with your wishes.

In this article, we will talk about the guidelines you should follow when it comes to organizing a teen's closet, including separate rules for boys and girls. Let's get started with an attempt to see the problem from a teenager's perspective.


Put Yourself in Their Shoes

As you design your teen's closet space, be sure to contemplate the actual physical maneuvers and activities of the day-to-day workings of the system. Before making any final decisions, mentally place yourself in front of the closet: Imagine the paces, motions, and rituals a particular design will require. If the new system is harder to use than the present "system" of stashing and dropping, it isn't the solution you're looking for. Any desire to reach a higher level of organization requires establishing realistic goals. The most you should ask of yourself or your family is a willingness to compromise to achieve your goals, but don't make the organizational system impossible to use.

The use of additional shelves and baskets is good for storing many accessories. Now all those items are lifted off the floor, creating a neater look. The hanging space lost to the shelves and baskets is made up by installing two shorter rods and an extra shelf. The basket holding the socks is fine because its depth matches the depth of the socks it is holding -- meeting one of the principles of effective organizing. The sports equipment basket on the very bottom is a perfect example of conformity: The bulk of the helmet and basketball is suitably proportioned to the size and shape of the wire basket.


Yet, even this excellent design can be improved upon. For example, perhaps the depths of some of the wire baskets could be less. The stacks of clothing inside the larger baskets may grow into unmanageable heights that will be difficult to keep neat.

A Male Perspective

Also, as the years go by and your teen acquires more clothes, storing boy's books, videos, and tapes may become more impractical; the shelf space inside the closet may be better used in the future for sweaters or shoes. Typically a teenage boy's bedroom has bookcases and shelves. The books, videos, and tapes from his closet can be sensibly arranged on his bookcases and shelves. A teenager's bedroom certainly benefits, from the addition of more shelves, and numerous styles and sizes of shelves are readily available.

As your teenage son grows older and begins to acquire sportcoats and slacks, suits, and other "nicer" clothes, he'll soon outgrow the hanging space the present closet design provides. The down jackets and vests may eventually be moved to a family coat closet. If you and he prefer to keep his jackets and coats in the bedroom, a coat rack will hold his outer garments, freeing up space in the closet. The rack will also serve to hold jeans and schoolbags; better on the coat rack than on the floor or bed!


It's always a good idea to give a growing boy compartments, pockets, and pouches for all his paraphernalia. An over-the-door pouch system can't be beat for promoting instant neatness when placed on the bedroom or closet door.

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Use shelves and baskets to break one large area into several smaller ones.


A Young Woman's Closet

A little girl may be sugar and spice and everything nice, but when she reaches her teens, nice is not the word to describe the clutter of clothes, accessories, stuffed animals, earrings, perfumes, and letters. The advice for space management, assigned placement, shelves, and receptacles for personal possessions is just as applicable to teenage girls as teenage boys. The differences consist of supplying longer hanging areas of closet space for dresses and skirts; more space for sweaters, sweats, T-shirts, shoes, and purses; and a specific place for jewelry, hair ribbons, and barrettes.

Your teenage daughter may not be quite willing to lock away her collection of stuffed animals acquired over the years, but you may be tired of tending to them. Something as simple as a net or rope strung from one corner to another or a pole or chain secured to the ceiling may suddenly lift those furry adorables out from underfoot.


As a teenage girl develops her individual taste -- especially in jewelry -- the accessories she has today may or may not please her sense of style tomorrow. To handle the great quantities of accessories and jewelry, a drawer organizer and accessory board provide storage space and promote neatness. Inside the dresser drawer itself, try installing many small boxes. Each small box should contain only one piece of jewelry or a group of similar pieces. A good organizing method for these items is to keep each category of items separate and each color within each category separate. Put these small boxes on a piece of cardboard or inside a larger, shallow box (such as the top of a shoe box). This creates a layer that is easily removed so that the layer underneath is then accessible.

One of the greatest ways to provide shelving in a teenage girl's room -- especially as a display for a doll collection -- is to install a row of Lucite shelves along the upper perimeter of her bedroom. The shelves themselves are transparent and coordinate with any decor. The dolls are then placed in a location that is otherwise unused.

Any system for a teenager, boy or girl, should have the ability to change, because teenagers change from one year to the next in their interests, style, associations, and preferences. Keep this in mind and provide flexibility with as many portable, nonfixed, nonstructured items as you can. All things are possible with a bit of forethought and a view to long-range developments and short-term fads. Parents and their teenage children fight over many things. A clean closet doesn't have to be one of them!

©Publications International, Ltd.