Rose asks "One thing I struggle with in my rental apartment is the hanger pole in the closet, which has obviously been painted over a million times, making the hangers hard to slide, and having to deal with scraps of paint on the bottom of the closet (and all over my shoe boxes). I've been wanting to change the poles, either completely to a chrome pole, or to a raw wood pole...OR to scrape off the paint. Do you have any suggestions? Where could I find replacement poles that have custom sizes?"
Stripping it, sanding it down and repainting is going to be a pain and take a lot of time so I would just replace it. (If you do switch it out, either list the one you have 'free' on Craigslist or give it back to the management co/landlord for reuse).
Many local hardware stores sell closet rods in 6' and 8' lengths and can cut them for you. I personally love the thick polished chrome in 1 5/16" diameter(link is just to show you what it is, try to buy it locally) as shown in the pic above. They come in chrome and stainless steel which is a lot heavier and therefore sturdier, but almost twice the price of the chrome. Unless you are seriously loading heavy heavy stuff, the chrome is fine. Use a center support if over 4' long.
If you can't get the larger one as mentioned, you can get a custom sized Elfa rodfrom The Container Store. They aren't as thick in diameter and the longest length they come in is 6'.
Most hardware or housewares stores sell adjustable ones are less expensive and easier to deal with if you don't want to worry about having something cut.
If you go with having one cut, make sure you measure the length you need several times, better yet, bring your existing rod as a guide.
I'm a professional organizer who lives and works with a 'living better with less' philosophy. I'm not a minimalist but believe you should only take things into your life that you love. That your home should not only support your functional needs but be beautiful as well.