Almost every family lives in a house smaller than a mansion or in an apartment smaller than a luxury-size penthouse, sooner or later discovers that there just isn't enough closet space for everyone.

Yet in most cases the problem arises not so much from inadequate closet space but because of inefficient use of what is available.

Although many improvements have been made in interior home desing in recent decades, the layout of the average clothes closet in most homes and apartments remains basically the same, and often wastes much of the total space on the inside.

Typically, there is a single shelf across the top with a single clothes pole for hangers mounted a few inches below this. The shelf is almost as high as the door frame opening, so storage of bulky items on that shelf is a wkward and often impossible, and the extra space at the bottom of the closet usually becomes a jumble of shoes, boxes and other items piled in disorganized fashion on the floor.

Because it is not always practical to enlarge an existing closet, or build additional ones, there is increased interest in making more efficient use of the closet space already there - and the quickest and easiest way to do this is to rearrange poles and shelves. Done properly this can provide room for more hangers, as well as easily accessible shelves for neater storage of shoes, sweaters, blankets and other items.

The one pole in most closets is mounted as high as it is to insure that full-length dresses, coasts and other long garments will not touch the floor, yet a glance at the contents of most closets will show that most garments hung there are half that lenght, or even less. And in a child's room none of the hanging garments is long enough to require a high pole, while a much greater part of the space is needed for shelves for toys, boots, extra bedding and the like.

Long garments can be hung from the rest of the pole where it extends out past the pole underneath. In a child's closet where no long garments will be hung, the extra space can be given over to a new set of shelves along the side, which can hold toys and other bulky items.

Although this type of closet remodeling involves only a moderate amount of carpentry, it does require considerable measuring and planning, plus some ingenuity in figuring out how poles and shelves can be easily mounted. One simple way to solve these problems and to get considerable help in designing your new closet layout is to use closet hardware and specialized brackets that have recently been introduced for just this purpose.

Sold under the brand name Dial-A-Closet-it gets this name from the merchandising rack that has a wheel you dial to get various suggestions for closet layouts-the hardware can be bought in department stores, home centres and other mass merchandising outlets. (In the Washington region it is sold in Hechinger hardware stores, at Hardware City in Kensington, J.S. Hayes hardware in Vienna and Clement Hardware in Severna Park, Md.)

The components are made and distributed by the Wessel Hardware Corp., Erie Avenue and D Street, Philadelphia 19134, and they are sold with complete instructions for installtion with simple hand tools. An electric drill will make the job a bit easier, but a hand drill can be used for drilling the necessary holes in the walls.

The parts consist of an assortment of poles, sold in lenghts from 18 to 48 inches so that no cutting is required; L-shaped supporting brackets and pole arms to support the free end of a pole where it does not go all the way across; pole sockets to support the end of the pole where it does meet the wall; and shelf clips. The pole sockets, shelf brackets and clips come with wood screws for fastening to wall studs, and hollow wall anchors for installing on drywall [WORDS ILLEGIBLE].

When shopping for Dial-A-Closet hardware for a particular closet, the purchaser turns the wheel on the selector to the width of the closet to be remodeled: The chart indicates the options and list the items of hardware available, as well as the items of hardware needed to rearrange the closet according to the plan selected.

The only other purchase needed is the shelves-either ready made of wood, or pieces of plywood cut to size.

Combinations of the various components can be used to fit closets ranging from 29 to 121 inches wide, either by following any of the eight basic plans illustrated on the rack, or by making one's own arrangements to meet specific needs. The illustrations show how some closets can be set up with the systems.

Prices for the poles range from $1.49 to $2.98, depending on length. Shelf brackets are about $2.00, and the Suspend-A-Pole arms are $1.38. The total cost for a typical closet will vary with the number of items required to meet the selected layout. (A 6-foot-wide closet can be redone for less than $30.)

The homeowner who wants to do a more extensive remodeling job can gain even more usable space in a typical closet by removing the door or doors and enlarging the opening, then replacing the original doors with new ones that are taller and wider. Most closets do not have doors that go all the way from floor to ceiling, so replacing these with full-height doors will enable occupants to make more use of the space at the top.

Most closets do not have doors that open to expose the full width of the closet. A closet 36 to 48 inches wide on the inside, for example, may have a door only 29 inches wide. This means dead space or blind areas on each side of the door. These can be eliminated by making the opening wider and installing a door that opens across the full width.

When a remodeling job of this kind is contemplated, some thought should be given to the type of door or doors that will be installed. Instead of a conventional hinged, one-piece door, it may be more convenient to install bi-folding doors, or several narrow doors that are hinged together so that not as much floor space will be required to allow clearance for opening them. On wider closets, sliding or sliding-folding doors may work better. Most lumber yards and home centers have literature describing the various types available.