8 Expert-Approved Storage Hacks to Organize the Smallest of Closets

8 Expert-Approved Storage Hacks to Organize the Smallest of Closets

Unless you're a Real Housewife or '90s-era Carrie Bradshaw, odds are your bedroom closet leaves something to be desired in terms of space and storage. 

But that doesn't mean a pile of sweaters needs to fall on your head every time you open the door, or that you have to dig through a heap of jeans and never-ending shoes just to find an outfit.

We spoke to top organization experts in order to find out the most efficient ways for setting up a small closet. And it turns out, with a few small tweaks, you can completely change the way you feel about your closet, no matter how cramped it seems. 

Kick your small cluttered closet to the curb with these eight tips from the professionals. Your sanity (and your partner) will thank you. 


Image via Styleizmo

  • Where to Begin?

    Image via Stylizmo

    The most daunting task of closet organization is getting started. But don't let that deter you -- something beautiful is around the corner! "Start by gathering inspiration," says NYC-based organizer Laura Cattano.

    "There are so many ways to organize a closet, and the idea is to see what you like best." (Hello, Pinterest!)

    Cattano also advises clients to take an inventory of what you have. "Count, don't guess," she says. "This will tell you things like if you need more shoe space versus hanging space."

    The last step in starting a closet overhaul is to measure your closet: The width, depth, height, and door clearance. This will come in handy when you're determining what shelves (if any) you'll need and how much room you'll have for things like hampers or baskets. If you have a little extra cash to spend, Cattano suggests taking the measurements and inventory of your closet to the Container Store for an Elfa Closet Design. (Also, psst: Even if you don't use them to do the actual design for you, the consultation is complimentary.)

  • What to Fold, What to Hang?

    Image via Decouvrir Design

    Not every article of clothing needs to be hung in your closet, but determining what should go on hangers and what can be folded (and kept in drawers) can prove to be a challenge.

    "Some things just have more structure than others, like jeans, T-shirts, and sweaters," notes Amelia Meena of Appleshine Lifestyle Organization. "These are easy to fold and stay nicely when stacked on a shelf."

    Meena adds that if you have a little extra room to hang things, choose articles of clothing for your "everyday uniform" so you can create an outfit at a glance each day and save time.

    Also, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the KonMari method of folding and storing clothing in drawers. This technique, which involves stacking things vertically instead of on top of each other, can save a lot of space, leaving even more room in your closet. 

  • Think About Vertical Integration

    Image via Ikea

    For closets with bi-fold doors that don't allow for an over-the-door shoe rack, try using a vertical hamper or other storage bin. "It's a great way to keep off-season shoes while the current ones are on display."

  • What About Accessories?

    Image via Annie Selke

    Of course, shoes aren't the only accessory housed in your closet. Purses, belts, scarves, etc., all need an easy-to-find place in there, as well.

    This is where Meena suggests become BFFs with storage bins. "Use labeled bins to hold like-with-like and place them on a high shelf," she suggests. "Then you can pull them down and look through the whole category at once." 

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  • Don't Let Hampers Eat into Your Space

    Image via Neiman Marcus

    Sadly, laundry (and its attendant hampers) are a fact of life -- and a fact that can seriously eat into closet space if done the wrong way. Cattano recommends having two hampers, "one for machine wash, the other for hand wash and dry cleaning."

    And if your closet is so teeny that you can't sacrifice the real estate for a laundry basket, Meena suggests buying a pretty basket (with a lid) that you're not embarrassed to store in your bedroom. 

  • Store What You're Not Using

    Image via PBteen

    There's no need to store bulky sweaters in your small closet in the summer, and dozens of maxi dresses in the winter.

    "Seasonal items should be cleaned and stored in canvas boxes," says Cattano. "Canvas allows for the clothes to breathe and not retain moisture, and cleaning everything will keep clothes moths away."

    Cattano notes that in addition to freeing up space, storing seasonal items also reacquaints you with what you have and gives you a chance to clean the closet itself -- the floors, baseboards, even the rods. If you, you know, don't do that already.

  • Place Everything Within Reach

    Image via Tatiana's Delights

    The placement of everything in your closet -- the shelves, the rod -- is pretty much just as important as the size. After all, if you're 5'1" and keep all of your shirts on a high shelf, there's a good chance the shelf will become a mess. "If you only have short hanging items and are taller, place the hanging bar low so the clothes hang a few inches off the floor (giving you room to clean) with open shelves," says Cattano. "And if you're short, do the opposite." In other words, make your closet work for you, not the other way around.

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  • Keep It Simple

    Image via Sugar & Cloth

    Perhaps more difficult than organizing a small closet is keeping said closet organized

    The key lies in tailoring organization to our personalities, as well as maintenance. "Organization is a series of habits. Make those habits work for you, not against you," Meena notes.

    "If you tend to be a bit more casual, don't try implementing a military system." She also recommends decluttering your space two to three times a year (with the change of seasons) to keep the mess in check.

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