Whether you're converting a space into a closet or you're remodeling an old one, how high your clothes hang is a small but important consideration to make before you start installing. The standard closet rod height is about 64 to 65 inches from the floor for single-rod setups. For double-rod systems, the top rod sits at 80 inches, and the lower rod is 40 inches from the floor. The closet shelf height should allow for maximum storage area, so it usually goes just a few inches above the top rod.
Although there are fairly standard closet dimensions, these numbers are not carved in stone. And when you're designing your own system, you can create closet designs and make modifications that work for you. A shorter person may prefer lower shelving, while a tall woman may need a higher rod for floor-length dresses. The specifics of your closet may also force you to work around factors such as sloped ceilings or ductwork.
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When planning your closet design, start with the standard measurements and adjust them as necessary to make your closet work for you.
Above-Rod Closet Shelf Height
Ideally, the top shelf of a closet is high enough to tuck items out of the way but low enough that you can retrieve them without a stool. For double-rod systems, top shelves are usually installed at around 84 inches above the floor. "[This is] "based on the height of an average person and the space available in most closets," Jonathan Faccone, interior designer and founder of Halo Homebuyers, tells Hunker.
A shelf above a single rod should be a few inches above the rod to maximize storage space while allowing clearance for moving the hangers on and off the rod. This means the standard shelf height is about 68 inches high.
Tall closets may have enough headroom for a second shelf above the rod. In this case, the upper shelf might be at 80 inches, or 12 inches above the lower shelf. Bear in mind that higher shelves may not be reachable without a stool or ladder.
To reduce the risk of fire, top shelves should be kept a safe distance from light fixtures. Surface-mounted light fixtures in closets must be at least 12 inches away from any shelf storage area and must have some type of enclosure so the bulb is not exposed. If a closet features recessed lighting in the ceiling, the shelf must be at least 6 inches from the ceiling. To further reduce the risk of fire, use LED or fluorescent bulbs in closet light fixtures.
Closet Shelf Depth
The shelf depth varies based on what you intend to store and the height of the shelf. Top shelves work best when they are between 11 and 16 inches deep. At 7 feet high, reaching a standard top shelf in a closet is a stretch for many people, so these shelves are commonly limited to less than 12 inches deep for better access. If you make your shelves too deep, you risk not being able to reach small items that may get pushed to the back.
On the other hand, lower shelves can and should be deeper to provide more shelf space. For example, a shelf installed 68 inches high can be up to 16 inches deep to maximize closet storage space. Pillows, sweaters, bedding, and towels need deeper shelves, which is why linen closet shelves are usually 15 to 24 inches deep. On the other hand, T-shirts need only about 12 inches to lie flat when folded. Most shoes need 12 to 14 inches of shelf depth.
Closet Shelf Spacing
The spacing of shelves in a closet organization system should be based on what the shelves are designed to store. In general, when placing a column of shelving in a closet, space each shelf 12 inches from the next. The lowest shelf should be 16 inches above the floor, leaving enough room for tall boots and shoes underneath it.
Because linens and towels are thicker than most clothing items, shelves for these items should be spaced 15 inches apart. On the other hand, because most shoes are relatively short, these shelves should typically be 6 or 7 inches tall, although boots may require taller spaces.
Standard Closet Rod Height and Depth
The minimum closet rod height for a single-rod system is 60 inches. "Sixty inches is a common height that allows for comfortable hanging and easy access to clothing," says Faccone. This height gives you enough hanging space for a long robes and dresses, but it might not leave much room for tall shoes or boots below.
When installing a double-rod system, hang the top rod 80 inches from the floor and the lower rod 40 inches from the floor. Leave at least 3 feet of space between the two rods. These systems usually work best for skirts, blouses, shirts, or pants folded over a clothes hanger.
Rod depth — the distance between the rod and the back and front closet walls — is also important. Hanging clothes require a closet depth of at least 24 inches, so make sure your closet rod is a minimum of 12 inches away from the back closest wall to ensure clothing hangers will not bang against the wall. If you have the room, place the rod 14 inches away from the back wall to allow for increased airflow around the clothing.
Standard Closet Rod Height and Closet Shelf Height & Spacing
Closet rod height — single-rod setup
60" - 68" above the floor
Closet rod height — double-rod setup
Lower rod: 40" above the floor; upper rod: 80" above the floor
Shelf height — single-rod
60" - 72" above the floor
Shelf height — double-rod
84" above the floor
12" - 16", or 6" - 7" for shoe storage
15" - 24"
Hanging Rod Capacity
Although you may have more or fewer articles of clothing, the general rule is to provide 4 feet of closet rod space per person using the closet. Factoring about 2 1/2 inches of rod space per apparel item allows ample room for reaching in for a garment and prevents clothes from being smashed together and wrinkled.
Consider both the weight of your clothes and the rod when determining the right rod for your closet. A typical women's outfit (a blouse plus skirt or pants or a dress) weighs an average of 2 pounds, while men's outfits (a shirt and pants) typically weigh 2.5 pounds.
A 6-foot closet rod can hold a limited amount of weight, depending on its shape and what it's made of. Always follow manufacturer instructions to make sure your closet rods are adequately supported. For example, a 72-inch wooden closet rod can hold up to 320 pounds but only with supports installed every 16 inches.
Wheelchair-Accessible Closet Designs
"When designing a closet for a wheelchair user, the heights of the rods and shelves need to be adjusted to accommodate the user's height and reach," says Faccone. Recommendations from the Americans with Disabilities Act state that the maximum closet rod or closet shelf height should be 48 inches above the floor. However, the height may need to be adjusted based on the user's height and chair size.
The depth of accessible closet shelves and rods should also be designed for the individual using the closet. "It's important to work with the user to determine their specific needs and preferences when designing a closet for a wheelchair user," Faccone says.