How to Create an Organized Kids’ Closet
It’s One Room Challenge day again! If you’re just joining the fun, I am currently taking part in the One Room Challenge, hosted by Linda at Calling It Home. The challenge gives bloggers 6 weeks to complete a full on room makeover, with guest participants sharing their progress each Thursday.
I have decided to tackle my sons’ shared room, which we’re giving a “Let’s Go Adventuring!” makeover. So far we’ve talked about the plan, some cute bed options, and painting a fun stripe on the walls. Today I’m diving into how to create an organized kids’ closet!
How to Create an Organized Kids’ Closet
When we moved into our house, I quickly decided to declare war on all of the wire shelving. I didn’t like the way it looked, it didn’t maximize the closets’ potential, and it wasn’t my favorite for holding stuff, so we’ve been replacing the shelving one closet at a time.
The Cs’ closet when we moved in… with the dreaded wire shelving!
My go-to for simple shelving is IKEA’s ALGOT system… you may even say I’m a bit obsessed with it. The boys’ closet is actually the 5th (!) closet we’ve used it in between our two houses. (You can check it out in our old townhouse’s pantry, master closet, and craft room closet and in our new house’s pantry.)
[FYI… IKEA recently discontinued their ALGOT system and replaced it with BOAXEL, which is very similar.]
Since I’ve used the ALGOT system in so many posts, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how to measure for and select the pieces, so I wanted to break it down step by step to make it easy to understand.
How to Measure for an IKEA ALGOT Closet
In true IKEA fashion, they sell each piece of the ALGOT system separately when you buy it in the store. This is great because it gives you more options to create the exact closet you want, but it can also be a challenge because the possibilities are endless– how do you know which pieces to choose? Hopefully these steps will explain how to figure out exactly which pieces would be best.
Step 1- Measure your closet.
You will want to measure your closet’s width, height, and depth so you know exactly which size pieces to choose for your closet. So for example, my boys’ closet was 64″ wide x 96″ high x 24″ deep.
Step 2- Decide on your shelf depth.
The shelves for the ALGOT system come in 3 standard depths: 7 1/8″, 15″, and 22 7/8″.
(Note: When I talk about depth, I am referring to the distance between the back of the closet and the front of the closet where the door is. Be sure to pay close attention if you are choosing pieces on IKEA’s website because sometimes they call the “depth” the distance between the left side of the shelf and the right side of the shelf, which is what I am calling the “width.” Sometimes they don’t. Confusing, I know. Pay attention to the shape of the shelf they show you when you choose the different options, and you will be able to tell which side they are referring to.)
If I look at the measurements of my boys’ closet, I probably could have fit the deepest shelf, but just barely. I prefer to have more room so it’s easier to reach things in the back of the closet, so I have always used the shelves that are 15″ deep.
Step 3- Determine the width of your pieces.
(Remember: When I say “width,” I am referring to the distance between the left side and the right side of each piece.)
The ALGOT shelves (and most other pieces) generally come in 3 standard widths as well: 15 3/4″, 23 5/8″, and 31 1/2″. So to get the maximum storage out of your closet, you will need to figure out the combination of widths that comes closest to your closet’s width without going over, making sure to account for brackets. This sounds confusing, but it is actually fairly simple.
Let’s take my boys’ closet as an example. Their closet is 64″ wide, so first I thought of this combination:
23 5/8″ wide shelf + 23 5/8″ wide shelf + 15 3/4″ wide shelf = 63″
This one was close, but with three shelves, I would also need room for four brackets. I like to add an extra inch in width for each bracket just to be safe, so if I add that to my 63″ I get 67″, which is too wide for my closet.
Instead, then, I went with this combination:
15 3/4″ wide shelf + 23 5/8″ wide shelf + 15 3/4″ wide shelf = 55 1/8″
This combination may seem like I’m wasting a lot of space in my 64″ wide closet, but when I add 1″ for each of the four brackets, I end up with 59 1/8″, which leaves me just a little over two inches on each side, which is a comfortable distance.
Step 4- Determine how many uprights you will need.
The uprights are the pieces that are anchored to the wall. They allow you to place your shelves and other pieces at varying heights to get the exact combination that works for your needs. You will need an upright to attach the right and left sides of each shelf. If there are two shelves next to each other, they can share the upright in between them.
So in my example above where I am using three shelves, I will need four uprights. The uprights come in three heights: 22″, 33 1/8″, and 77 1/8″. I always use the 77 1/8″ because it gives me the most options for the height of my shelves and accessories.
Step 5- Determine how many brackets you will need.
The brackets are the pieces that attach your shelves and accessories to the wall uprights. They come in corresponding depth options to the shelves. So in my example, since I am using the shelves that are 15″ deep, I would choose the 15″ brackets as well.
Like the wall uprights, you will need a bracket on the left and right side of each of your shelves. If you have two shelves that are beside each other, they can share a bracket. So for my lower row of shelves that has 3 shelves, I would need 4 brackets.
My higher row of shelves, which also has three shelves, will need 4 brackets too, for a total of 8 brackets.
Step 6- Select any special accessories.
Once you have your main pieces chosen– wall uprights, brackets, and shelves in my case– you can choose any add ons you may want to use. For my boys’ closet, I obviously needed some clothes rails so I could hang their items, so I chose the rails that corresponded to the widths of their shelves. All in all I ended up with four clothes rails that were 15 3/4″ (since I had a total of four shelves that were 15 3/4″) and two clothes rails that were 23 5/8″ (since I had a total of two shelves that were 23 5/8″).
Whew! I am not math-brained all, so the first time I tried to figure out which pieces to use for our closet system, my head was spinning! Once I got the hang of how the pieces worked and realized there really were just a few options for width and a few for depth, it was a lot easier to wrap my head around it.
Because it might be helpful, here is a complete list of the pieces we used for our closet:
- 4- 77 1/8″ uprights
- 8- 15″ brackets
- 4- 15 3/4″ x 15″ shelves
- 2- 23 5/8″ x 15″ shelves
- 4- 15 3/4″ clothes rails
- 2- 23 5/8″ clothes rails
How I Organized My Boys’ Closet
The ALGOT system was the perfect starting point for my boys’ closet. It’s a small space and I had to fit clothes for two kiddos, so the two rows of clothes rails really helped. I have a tall 7 year old and a tiny 5 year old, so it worked out perfectly to put the 7 year old’s clothes on the top row and the 5 year old’s clothes on the bottom row so they both could reach.
Each boy had three types of clothes in the closet: dress shirts (which I hung on the leftmost clothes rail), sweaters and sweatshirts (which I hung on the middle clothes rail), and long sleeved t-shirts (which I hung on the rightmost clothes rail). Within each type of clothing, I organized the items by color so it would be easier to find the pieces that matched with the rest of their outfit. #matchingishard 🙂
I was able to fit in some bins for out-of-season clothes on the top shelf, stuck their shoes on the floor, and they had an organized and functional closet!
The rest of their clothes– t-shirts, pants, underwear, socks, and PJs– are stored in their shared dresser. I initially tried to hang their pants, but I think because they were smaller than adult-sized pants, they kept slipping off or sliding to one side of the hanger, so ultimately, keeping them in drawers was the best option for us.
Want to see the before and after? (My favorite part!)
I love that the space is so much more functional now! Having the Cs’ closet neat and organized is so helpful because they can always find the clothes they want, there is a place for everything, and it keeps the rest of the room from getting cluttered. I can’t wait to share the big reveal of the entire space with you in just a few weeks!
If you want to catch the progress on the boys’ room from the very beginning, you can do so in these posts:
Let’s Go Adventuring: Planning a Shared Boy Room
My Favorite Kids’ Beds- High/Low
How to Create an Organized Kids’ Closet (You’re here!)
Favorite Plaid Bedding Options
Let’s Go Adventuring: A Shared Boy Bedroom (Reveal!)
[Psssttt… Get our top 100 tips for organizing every room of the house here!]
Thanks for following along! Have a wonderful week!
Thank you so much for the step-by-step instructions! The closet looks great. 🙂
I love how it looks! Ikea is definitely go to place for shelves. Thank you for your tutorial. My cosets are still on the to-do list…
So glad it was helpful for you, Nadia! Have a wonderful weekend!
Thank you so much for that detailed tutorial, Abby! I hope to purchase this closet system just as soon as we get to working on closets. It seems so daunting, but your details really help (and I love your diagrams). It’s so amazing how a neat and organized closet makes me happy! 🙂
Glad I’m not alone! Lol! So glad it was helpful for you, Sarah! Happy Friday!
The closet looks so good. I’ve been eyeing those Ikea Algot closet systems for a while now.
Thanks so much, Jen! Hope you love them as much as I do! 🙂 Have a great Monday!
I love this closet! I want to use this in my son’s room, but I have been afraid to try the Ikea shelving before. Thanks for all the great tips! I love how simple and organized this closet looks. Do you all keep toys in their bedroom? I try to stack toys away neatly in closets too (if there is room). I’m curious how you organize toys and Legos!
Hi, Melissa! The boys have a separate playroom in our new house, but did not in our old house. Eventually, I’ll share how I organized their new playroom but, hopefully, these posts will be helpful in the meantime:
Thanks and have a great week!
First, I love your house and appreciate you sharing it with us. I am so organized my family calls me Monkish from the old TV show “Mpnk.” One question though. If you had the house custom built why didn’t you put you favorite closets in it as it was being built? Just curious. Thanks!
Hi, Jackie! We used a community builder so while we did get to customize our home, the options were limited if that makes sense. Some things we just went very basic so we were able to customize the way we wanted to. Thanks and have a great week!
Great post! I’ve used the Algot System a number of times myself. On our most recent project I found IKEA had added an Algot planner tool on their website. You enter your dimensions and you can customize your closet system from there. It figures out how many pieces you need of every item and will either place them in your cart or copy to a shopping list that you can take to the store. It worked very well! I also love using the top rail. Makes hanging the uprights a snap! I love Algot!
Yes! The Algot system and planner are the BEST! Have a great week, Karen!
I have been wanting to do something similar with my boys’ closets (Master 6 and Master 3), but have been putting it off because it seemed such an overwhelmingly complicated task, to plan out the wardrobe spaces, and try to figure our what and how much hardware was required. Your post has made it look easy and you have fired me with enthusiasm for the project. Love your straightforward instructions (with diagrams and pictures!). Thanks Abby 🙂
Yay! So glad it was helpful for you, Deirdre! Happy organizing!
Thanks for helping me understand, Abby!
OMG! that’s a great idea to organize the closet, I’m taking notes as crazy, thank you!
So glad it was helpful for you, Esther!
I love the detailed post! I am looking at this system but am worried about the shelving not being sturdy enough. We have very little storage space and need to put a lot in our closets. Will this system hold up? And what if, heaven forbid, I kid climbed on it? Would it all fall out on him or her?
Hi, Whitney! My kiddos haven’t climbed on it (yet, lol) so I can’t speak to that, but I can tell you that we’ve used this system in 6 closets between our two houses and I have not had one complaint about it. They have held up perfectly in pantries, a craft/office closet, and in our bedrooms! I hope this helps! Have a great week!
I have seen some people use either the fifteen inch or two foot shelves as desks. Do you have any sense from your experience if these shelves would be stable enough for a desk with a 24 inch monitor and keyboard? For a kid coloring?
I have never had a problem with the sturdiness– the shelves have all held up well for us. That being said, I have never attempted to use them as a desk, so I can’t speak to that from personal experience. IKEA does show them being used as a desk on their site in some of their examples with a laptop, so it seems like they should be sturdy enough for that purpose. I would run your idea by the store employees to make sure– they typically can advise as to what the shelves can stand and what they can’t, as well as the recommended weight limit for each combination. Good luck with your project!
It looks fab. What screws did you used, Ikea do not supply them and wonder if “any” would do
Thank you very much
I use zinc drywall anchors. You screw them into the drywall and that creates a nice anchor for the screws that come with the drywall anchor kit. Finding a stud would obviously be better but we haven’t had any issues with the drywall anchors.
hi there, what size screws and anchors did you use? They don’t come with.
I used the largest zinc drywall anchors I could find. If you luck into a stud it’s a lot easier.
Looks great. Would like you to show pantry shelves install. I love ikea never thought of shelving much nicer then other box stores
Do you not use the suspension rail? Is it needed? I got the wrong size suspension rail & really don’t want to make another trip there!! Also, do you screw in with dry wall anchors?
Great information and tutorial. Quick question. How do you feel about the hanging bars? I am considering this for my teenage son’s and daughter’s closets in our new home, however I have concerns about the weight of their clothes (adult size) on the hanging bars. They don’t seem as strong as the bars from some of the other companies. Thoughts?
They have always seemed really sturdy to me. We actually used the ALGOT system in the master closet in our last house (https://justagirlandherblog.com/how-to-organize-a-small-closet/). We had it for a year and a half before we moved out and never had any issues!
Why didn’t you use the horizontal wall rail ? I have seen it in all ALGOT system at IKEA.
Hi, Claudia! From my understanding, the horizontal rail is mainly to help with spacing, and we haven’t had a problem measuring it out ourselves, so we just install the uprights and have a few less holes in our walls, lol. Hope you’re having a great week!
Thanks for such a detailed instructional post. I have a closet that this system would be perfect for!
So glad it was helpful for you, April! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend! <3
Is the total depth from the wall to the front edge of the shelf 15″ or do the brackets add additional depth?
This post is super helpful.
I just went and measured! The shelf itself is 15″ so with the upright, it sticks out 16″ from the wall. Best of luck with your project!
I can find only 23 5/8″ clothes rails but not 15 3/4″ on ikea.com . Did you buy it from ikea or somewhere else ?
We did buy them from IKEA. I was actually on their site yesterday and was having trouble with the clothes rail link, so I think it may be glitching right now. I told my contact at IKEA about it, so hopefully they will have it fixed soon!
I know this is an old post and I’m hoping to still reach you. I am doing my Algot closet now and am in Ohio, United States and it appears they do not sell 15 3/4 clothes rail locally. Where are you or how did you get them?
Hi, Mandi! I get ours at the Pittsburgh, PA store. I just looked, and they are available for sale online, so you could try that if your local store isn’t carrying them? Best of luck with your project!
This was extremely helpful, thank you!
So glad it was helpful for you, Brianne! Have a great week! <3
Thank you so much for taking the time to spell it all out for us! So helpful and much appreciated!
So glad it was helpful! Hope you’re having a great week, Sara!
if two shelves are next to each other, can they meet and be flush, look like one longer shelf?
does each need it’s own upright?
does each need it’s own bracket?
I’ve been reading that it is a real problem in US installs because ALGOT is designed for metric spacing of the uprights and I won’t be able to install this because studs are not spaced metric distances apart.
I think I saw the answers to the first couple of questions in your blog but I’m nervous about doing this. The nearest IKEA is 4 hours away so I have to get this right on my first shot. I’m trying to place this system above my washer dryre
Hi, Michele! IKEA has a great planning tool that you can use here: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/bedroom/tools/planner_algot/ . If you have two shelves next to each other, they will be like one long shelf; there is no space in between because they will share the middle bracket and upright. So for two shelves next to each other, you would use 3 uprights, 3 brackets, and two shelves. I hope that makes sense.
As far as matching up with the studs go, we just end up using wall anchors when we’re installing the system if our uprights don’t match up with a stud, and we’ve never had a problem with them coming loose. I hope this helps!
I stumbled on your blog through Pinterest and this particular article is SO helpful! I have wire shelving in my master closet (and I hate it) but I thought getting a new system would be way too difficult. I’m going to be using your articles as a guide, and this is going on my 2021 goals list!
Yay! So glad it was helpful for you… love to hear that! Have an awesome week!
The ALGOT system is discontinued. 🙁
Yep! See then note in the post about the BOAXEL system as its replacement! 🙂