Ginny Q&A: Closet Design from Cradle to College

Custom closets are an investment that can last a lifetime.

When it comes to kids’ closets it’s especially important to design a system that can transform over time. The needs of a toddler, a kid and a teen are different.

Ginny Snook Scott is our chief design officer but she’s also a mother of three, so she knows the secret to keeping kids organized. Here are her tips on how to design your kids’ closets to grow with them.

Keep baby’s items close by and visible with baskets and cubbies.

Q: What are the important elements of a nursery and its closet?

GSS: Newborns up to six months have a lot of little things – socks, pacifiers, hair bows – and if they’re all in a big drawer it becomes a mess. If you can’t find them, you don’t use them – and that’s a shame because they’re only useful for a short amount of time.

The key is to compartmentalize appropriately for the size of the items. Little items go in little drawers, little dividers, and little containers. Place these smaller compartments into big drawers.

Include cubbies for stacked items – diapers, diaper cloths, and onesies. A new parent will go through a lot of these items. Keep them within easy reach.

Babies move quick and aren’t always cooperative when it’s changing time, so think of where you’ll need to access items easily. For example, near a changing table you need diapers, wipes, and clean cloths.

Stay away from closed drawers as much as possible. With lots of little things floating around you won’t know what you have if they’re out of sight.

Q: What about closets and rooms young children who are past the baby phase?

Include low hanging rods and baskets so kids can easily access everyday items without making a mess.

GSS: The great thing about kids is that they’re starting to explore their independence and self-sufficiency. So this is a great time to teach them how to dress themselves and keep things neat and organized.

The secret is creating accessibility to the things that you want them to have accessibility to.

So in a closet, you can tier it. The things you want them to dress themselves in, put at the lower tier. Make sure there are drawers down low so they can see and reach for underwear and socks. That gorgeous dress that grandma purchased for the holiday party goes to the top tier so it doesn’t come out at playtime.

This creates independence and it starts teaching organization. When kids can find their clothing and dress themselves that accelerates their self-sufficiency.

Just remember that the closet design has to have a kid’s abilities in mind.

Create storage for toys and books. Some people think shelves are the way to go, but for kids, bins and baskets are a better idea. A child can take a basket, dump it out on the floor and have a wonderful day of play. When they’re finished, it all goes back in the basket and the basket gets tucked away. This makes it easier for the kids to understand how to clean up and it’s not so time consuming for the child or the parent.

Baskets are better than drawers because kids can see what’s in them. In a bank of drawers that’s over their eyeline  they stick their arms in and pull everything out and make a mess. In a basket they can easily see their favorite PJs, cowboy t-shirt, etc. Kids can get very headstrong – “I want this one shirt!” – and it turns into a frenzy looking through drawers to find it. In a basket they can easily see it.

Q: What about designing a teen’s closet?

A teen’s bedroom needs more functionality, privacy and unique personality than a young child’s room.

GSS: It has to reflect their personality. That independence continues to grow as they get older and it’s really important they have a place where they feel comfortable.

It’s important they’re not living in the room they lived in as a two year old. When you’re investing in furniture and cabinetry, it’s important that it can adapt. Every parent has had to repaint. A 15-year-old doesn’t like the cotton candy pink they loved when they were six.

Teenagers become more private. It’s important to provide drawers and cabinets as a place for personal items not exposed to world. They need privacy when inviting their friends over to spend time or do homework.

Where a small child will use their room as a play area, a teenager will need more functionality. Doing homework, watching TV, playing with their Xbox; you need to create spaces in their room so it doesn’t become cluttered with stuff from all these different activities.

Teenagers are using more and more technology and starting to think like an adult. Where is their charging station? Where are they going to store their book bag? Helping them to think about things that help them stay organized as an adult and giving them the tools to be able to do that will help them be successful.

Q: How can parents plan their children’s bedrooms and closets to easily and inexpensively grow and change with them?

Drawer faces, door inserts and hardware can be switched out to reflect your child’s growth and evolving personality.

GSS: With the California Closets  systems that we create, it’s really easy to do.

If you tell one of our design consultants, “Our intention is to be in this house for next 10 years – this baby will be 10 years old before we leave,” the design can incorporate adjustable features.

A  child or toddler can have three tiers of hanging because they have small clothes. Bigger kids can just have two tiers. Shelving needs to be adjustable. A child will go from dollhouses and big stuffed animals to iPads and laptops.

When you plan ahead in a space, you can think about next thing to fit in a certain area. An open space for a changing table can be converted to wire baskets for a toddler, and cabinetry or a desk once they are in school.

When designing for teenagers, ask them to be a part of that decision-making process. Changing out one or two doors or drawers is a very inexpensive way to change the entire look of the room. New drawer and door faces or new hardware is  an easy way to make it look more zingy.

When you allow for changes in a teenager’s room, it enhances their ability to present themselves to the world uniquely without having to dye their hair purple!


What do you think of Ginny’s kids closet design ideas? Tell us in the comments! And for more inspiration, check out our kids’ closets designs on our website.

If you’ve found this post helpful or inspiring, please share it with your family and friends!

Ginny Snook Scott California Closets

Ginny Snook Scott


Ginny Snook Scott is the chief design officer at California Closets. She has over 25 years experience with California Closets and has helped over 1,000 clients create custom closets and organize their home. Connect with Ginny on Google+.

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