How to Maximize Closet Space

A disorganized closet.
  • Beginner

We all wear clothes. Maybe not all the time, but often enough that they are a significant part of many people’s organizational struggles. Misplaced items, nowhere to put the clean laundry, hangers, and organizational systems weighed down to the point of breaking are common issues. If any of this sounds familiar, it might be time to reconsider the way you are using your closet. Here are some tips to maximize closet space.

Sort What's in Your Closet

Sort out the donations and garbage before you begin the organization process. It’s much easier to organize things you are passionate about, so don't be afraid to get rid of something you haven't worn in years. Remember: we typically wear 10 percent of what we own, 90 percent of the time. Consider what can go into deep storage, such as specialty gowns (the spare room, maybe?) and off-season clothing (box up and move to the garage or put under the bed).

Donate items that you haven’t worn in the past year. That means you’ve made it through every season without it and you’re not likely to wear it this year, either. Create a donation pile, sell items online, or sell nice items at a resale shop. Remember to go through accessories, too. Do you need all five pairs of black heels? Are any of your ties ripped or stained? Are you still hoping to get back into the size small belt from the '90s? Toss ‘em.

An organized closet.

Take Inventory

Now that you’ve purged, figure out what you have. This will allow you to create your organizational plan. If a big majority of the closet is suits and ties, evaluate how much space is allotted for these. Do they need to be stored in suit bags? Could smaller hangers work just as well? Can you use a tie rack that mounts to the wall rather than one that takes up space on the clothing rod? Same with scarves. Can they be hung on a coat rack or hooks inside the closet? Are belts taking up prime real estate when you only wear them once or twice a month? How many sweaters do you have that you wear regularly?

Think about what really needs to be in the closet. Just because your shoes have always been there doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be better in the closet by the front door. Could you put your umbrellas in a nook in the hallway?

Create a Plan

The most important part of creating a plan for maximizing space in your closet is to make sure that you choose a system that works for you. If your husband is not going to hang each baseball cap on the back-of-the-door hat hanger, there is no reason to use that technique. Perhaps use a tote to stack them or an actual hat rack instead.

Look to the rafters for options. Much of the space above our heads goes to waste. Instead, add shelving and store off-season clothing, specialty hats, outdoor gear, costumes, and other infrequently used items out of the way. Similarly, look low. The floor is often the best place for shoes, but if you have a huge space between your shoes on the ground and the lowest hanging clothes, consider a shoe rack or cubicles for the storage of sweaters, jeans, and other easily folded choices.

A closet with storage.

Other Options

For a small closet, something as simple as hanger choice can make a huge difference. Rather than bulky plastic, choose a slim design. Try out the tiered hangers for skirts, slacks, and jeans. Create your own double-duty hanger system by attaching one hanger to another hanger by using a soda can tab. Simply slide the tab over the first hanger and use the lower hole to hang your second item. This uses your vertical space rather than your limited horizontal bar space.

You can also use one hanger for two articles of clothing. For example, hang a skirt or slacks with a shirt over it or hang the blazer over the shirt on the same hanger. Since we’re on the topic of clothing, consider changing around your dresser to make better use of it. Instead of hanging them, put your tees and shorts into drawers.

Maximizing closet space involves a few simple steps: only keep what you need, use all the closet space from top to bottom, and get the most use out of horizontal space with the efficient use of hangers. With these easy techniques, you can create a space that removes the frustration of crammed and lost clothing.