The ideal height for closet shelves starts at a distance suitable enough that allows you or your significant other to reach the top shelf of the closet from a standing position, without the use of a stepladder or step stool. The rod can be attached directly beneath the shelf position, hung from brackets at anywhere from 2 to 5 inches below the shelf or lower, if preferred.
Closet design guidelines indicate a variation in the number of rods that hang inside a closet. You can install a long, single-hang shelf and rod, two fixed shelves and double rods or a mid-hung shelf and rod with multiple shelves above the one that holds the rod. If you plan to organize your closet, keep the following dimensions handy.
The closet's ceiling -- usually the same as the ceiling height throughout the house -- can also affect how many shelves are added above the closet rod. Standard ceilings range from 96 to 108 inches -- 8 to 9 feet -- tall with a closet system's top shelf hung at between 87 and 96 inches above the floor based on the overall ceiling height in the closet, but this isn't set in concrete. The ideal location is to drop the top shelf in a closet a minimum of 1 foot from the ceiling to allow for storage.
The shelf depth determines the space available for storing needed items. Blankets require a shelf depth of between 14 and 18 inches, while men and women's shoes fit comfortably on a shelf 10 to 14 inches deep. Sweaters, towels and sheets need a shelf that is 14 and 16 inches deep, while T-shirts require at least 12 to 14 inches.
Rod heights vary based on the type of rods installed. For example, a single-rod system generally measures 66 inches from the floor to the bottom of the rod. Install a valet rod for adults at 70 inches above the floor and 60 inches above the floor for children. If you plan to hang a formal gown or a long dress, place the rod between 70 to 78 inches above the floor.
In a double-rod system stacked one above the other, install the first rod at 82 inches and the second rod 40 1/2 inches above the floor. These systems usually work best for shirts, blouses, shirts or pants folded over a clothes hanger. A medium height rod with shelving above is generally placed at 54 inches above the floor.
Keep the rod placement in mind when installing a rod in a closet. If you set it too close to the back wall, the hung clothing won't have enough room to comfortably fit. The type of garments hung in the closet determine the distance needed to hang them, but if you plan a minimum depth for most items at 24 inches, you can hang the rod 12 inches from the wall.