Space-savvy strategies, organizational systems, and repurposed furnishings make small walk-in closets function at full capacity.

By Ann Wilson

Small walk-in closets work best when thoughtful design plans are put into play. Devise a purposeful closet design plan by first eliminating items you don't need. Then take an inventory of what's left while considering how remaining items can be grouped to optimize available closet space. Finally, do a little research to come up with racks, rods, shelves, bins, and do-it-yourself solutions that you can use to neatly organize your small walk-in wardrobe. These clever spaces -- which showcase imaginative small walk-in closet design ideas, custom features, efficient layouts, and fun organization ideas -- are sure to inspire you to design your own walk-in closet plan.

Maximize Every Inch

Sort, stow, and organize a walk-in closet in ways that reflect your personal style. This small walk-in closet lives large and lovely thanks to pretty wallpaper and thoughtfully configured furnishings. Wall-mount drawers, racks, shelves, and an upper rod puzzle together to supply holding areas for folded, hanging, sorted, and hidden items. The other wall houses an office file cabinet refreshed with blue paint and labels denoting each drawer's contents. Shoe-pocket bags hang from a rod installed on the window trim to corral accessories.

Tailored to Suit

A customized small walk-in closet layout amplifies usable space. This center tower acts as a dresser of sorts; it holds pullout bins sporting drawn figures that identify what's stored inside each drawer. Homeowners strategically spaced sets of double hanging rods to accommodate tike-size clothing. As kids grow, the rods can be rearranged or removed as needed to handle larger shirts, pants, and suit jackets.

All Systems Go!

Walk-in closet organization is essential to a streamlined routine. It's important to give every single item a proper, reachable place when organizing a small walk-in closet. You can't beat shelves for keeping folded items neatly stored and within view, which helps you quickly put things away and easily pull together an outfit. In this well-organized closet, double rods, hanging drawers, and a floor-set shoe rack work with a wall of cubbies to house a man's wardrobe. Labeled bins align on a shelf above the hanging rods to hold out-of-season clothing and sports gear.

Divide and Conquer

Don't just build a wall; raise a partition that brings utility to a small walk-in closet design. This bookcase divider handily holds shoes galore and divvies up space to create storage and a dressing area. Positioned beneath the mirror, a bench seat with a lift-up top provides extra storage as well as a spot for putting on and taking off shoes. Bins on the wall opposite the bookcase keep purses and totes where they can be seen and easily grabbed as the homeowner dashes out the door.

Creative Constructions

Traditional built-in shelves and drawers make the most of a small walk-in closet space, but a DIY hanging rack crafted of plumbing pipes makes a cool storage statement. The clever closet storage idea allows the homeowner to hang freshly ironed shirts in a manner that keeps them wrinkle-free; hooks hung on the lower bar do the same for pairs of favorite pants.

Under-the-Eaves Ease

Don't let slanted ceilings deter your plans for a highly functioning small walk-in wardrobe. This design makes the most of a closet's wall space. Installed where the ceiling meets the half-wall, two rods set perpendicular to one another store shorter clothes, such as shirts, pants, and tunics. A rod mounted high on the tall wall holds dresses above a multitier shoe rack. Shelves crowning all the hanging rods provide storage for clutches and carryalls.

Sweet Closet Suite

The walk-in closet above works well as stand-alone storage, but pair it with a finely furnished neighbor and you've got an all-inclusive wardrobe warehouse. These space-smart homeowners outfitted a secondary shallow closet space with a custom-built dresser that provides caches for lingerie, gym clothes, and socks; accessories rest atop the dresser and an adjacent shelf. A sliding barn door furthers the bedroom's modern farmhouse look.

Taking Stock

It makes sense to tuck a dresser or small wardrobe inside a walk-in closet. The pieces provide plentiful storage, both inside drawers and on top. This small walk-in closet design incorporates a chest of drawers within a built-in framework that houses glass shelves (a reflective choice that keeps light bouncing about to brighten dark closets) and two hanging compartments. A single rod for hanging dresses equips the rear compartment. Double rods in the other compartment hold blouses and jackets. Shelves rise to the ceiling to stow all sorts of extraneous clothing and rarely used items. A clear vessel sitting atop the dresser corrals colorful scarves.

Corner Utility

Engelhardt Master Bedroom and Closet - Napa Traditional Home Show House, October, 2015.

Whenever budget allows, outfit small walk-in closets with custom-fitted furnishings. These pieces make small spaces work as hard as they possibly can. This homeowner created bounteous storage for his wardrobe along two adjacent walls in his deeper-than-wide closet. The dresser houses drawers sized to hold all sorts of clothing items; shelves above support getting-ready supplies and accessories. Adjustable shelves on the side of the corner closet hold folded items such as sweaters.


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