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

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  • Where to Begin?

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    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?

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    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

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    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?

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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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