How to Organize a Small Closet with Smart Storage

When closet space is at a premium, it's important to make every inch count.

It's tempting to daydream about owning an enormous closet, thinking it will solve all your storage problems. Although a bigger closet might help you fit more stuff, it's not always an option. Fortunately, there are many ways you can expand your current closet to fit what you have in an organized fashion.

The key is to organize everything inside your small closet while keeping the most frequently used items visible and within reach. With smart storage solutions and a little creativity, you'll find that your dream closet can be a reality. These ideas show you how to organize a small closet to better support your daily routine.

metal closet racks for sweaters
Marty Baldwin

1. Use a Combination of Drawers and Dividers

If you're wondering how to organize a small closet with lots of clothes, one of the most effective methods is to utilize multiple space-saving methods. Shelf dividers provide barriers between your clothing so that they don't topple over one another. They're perfect for bulky pieces such as sweaters and sweatshirts. Meanwhile, drawers organize smaller garments, such as tank tops, leggings, and sports bras. Include a mix of both drawers and shelf dividers in your small bedroom closet to accommodate all of your apparel with ease. Encourage order by shifting seasonal items to the top shelf and organizing everyday items at eye level. Label shelf edges so everyone knows what goes where to avoid mix-ups.

craft space in closet
Brie Williams

2. Save Space by Stacking Storage Containers

If your small closet shelving is adjustable, customize the layout to fit your items. However, if the shelves are fixed, stacking bins can make the most of a small space. Find bins with lids that are designed to stack on one other or small multi-drawer units that can sit flat on a shelf. These are best used in closets that you might not reach into as often for things such as gift wrap, craft supplies, backstock beauty products, or travel toiletries. Attach labels on the front of the organizers, especially if they're opaque, so that you don't forget what's in each container.

vanity in closet with hanging accessories
Marty Baldwin

3. Embrace Empty Wall Space

The chances of your small closet having an abundance of empty wall space are slim, but if there is even a sliver, you should take advantage of it. Install a set of decorative hooks and hang anything you need access to daily or in a pinch. For example, in your entryway coat closet, consider hanging up your everyday purse and jacket or an umbrella and your raincoat. If the area is narrow, line the hooks up vertically, leaving enough space for items to rest without interference, and place the least-used items at the highest point.

pink organized closet open doors
Marty Baldwin

4. Don't Forget the Door

If wall space is nonexistent in your closet, don't be afraid to adapt the door for storage. A set of hooks, whether adhesive or a rack that hangs over the top, can hold hats, bags, scarves, bathrobes, and sweatshirts. A hanging shoe organizer is another clever behind-the-door solution. However, avoid overloading the space. Stick to storing only the things you reach for and wear on a regular basis.

white doors open to navy closet work station
David A. Land

5. Choose the Right Light

Install LED lighting in your small closet to allow you to see your items clearly. This is especially helpful in clothing closets as it will be easier to determine colors. Place the light source in the center of the ceiling and ensure it's bright enough to illuminate your space. Avoid track and recessed lighting, which generate heat. Instead, look for wall-mount battery-powered or rechargeable options with motion-sensing capabilities.

toiletry and towel storage in closet
Carson Downing

6. Aim High

When working with a small closet, you're often limited to a narrow space. Use it to your advantage by installing shelves from floor to ceiling. If you're converting a small closet into a home office, also known as a cloffice, for instance, store the files or extra supplies you don't need to grab anytime soon in decorative boxes or file organizers on the very top shelf. Reserve the lowest shelves for the stuff you use daily or weekly. For added small closet organization, add metal-frame label holders to each shelf. These allow you to revise signage as storage needs change and are easily affixed to shelf fronts.

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