What to Do When Your Home Has No Closets

Many older homes have little or no closet space, but there are ways to maximize the space you have and create more.


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There’s a lot to love about old houses. Their character, architectural features, and craftsmanship can tell a story of bygone days—a time when most people had far fewer clothes and household items than we do now. If you’ve fallen in love with a century home but are dismayed to discover it has a dearth of closet space, don’t despair. Here are 10 ideas on how to fit a modern life into a home with no closets.

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1. Go old school with traditional armoires.


Lean into the historic feel of an old home by filling it with the types of furnishings your predecessors used. Armoires, chifferobes, chests of drawers, and other large-scale storage furniture can be beautiful statement pieces that provide the storage space you need while setting the character of the room. Wardrobes can take up a lot of real estate, however, so they are often best for larger rooms.

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2. Use hooks everywhere.

Clothes and accessories hanging from Dseap Wall Mounted Metal Coat Hooks

Hooks are a fast and affordable method for hanging clothes and other items. Older homes often lack storage in entryways, so affixing an attractive row of hooks above a bench with a shoe rack underneath can be a quick and easy way to transform an entrance dumping zone into an organized and welcoming space. Hooks are versatile and can hang on almost any vertical surface, including the backs of doors and inside cabinets. We like the Dseap Wall Mounted Metal Coat Hook Rail at Amazon, a top pick in our list of best coat racks for your entryway.

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3. Build a closet.

Mature man is building a wardrobe in the bedroom of his new home.

If you’re a handy DIYer who loves a weekend project, you may choose to build a closet in an underused space like an unused corner. If you want to take your new closet to the next level, make it partly or all-the-way recessed into a wall. Building a closet that takes advantage of the area inside a stud wall or under a stair can be an excellent way to maximize space while minimizing its footprint.

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4. Repurpose a room.


Many older homes are a collection of small rooms, some of which no longer serve their original purpose. (For example: Does anyone have a fainting room anymore?) If you have a spare room that has no clear purpose, don’t let it turn into a closed-door dumping ground of all the stuff you can’t fit elsewhere. Consider repurposing it into a closet room. Customizable closet systems, such as the Rubbermaid Configurations Custom Metal Closet System at Home Depot, can make it a breeze to turn a spare room into a personalized walk-in closet or dressing room.

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5. Turn a wall into a closet space.

Empty Modular Style Wire Frame Closet

If you don’t mind your closet items being on display, consider using a wall as your closet space by installing a modular or wire track system along one end of a room. Freestanding closet systems, like the ClosetMaid Style Floor Mount 6-Shelf Closet Kit at Amazon, are affordable and easy to install. For storage that requires a sturdier option that takes up less space, we like the Elfa Décor 6-Foot Reach-In Closet at the Container Store.

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6. Find space in unexpected places.

Storage space beneath stairs

Use space wherever you can find it. Store shoes and out-of-season clothes in bins under your bed or couch. Put storage baskets on top of cabinets and bookcases. Install shelves and cabinets in the nooks and crannies of under-stair spaces. And invest in dual-function furniture like couches, side tables, and ottomans that include extra storage space.

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7. Store seasonal items outside the home.


If you save room by rotating your clothes by season but can’t find enough space inside to store them, consider storing off-season clothes in bins elsewhere on your property, such as the garage or a waterproof shed. Invest in good-quality storage bins that will keep moisture and pests out and keep your items safe until their seasonal turn rolls around again.

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8. Get a portable closet.

Portable Closet in Bedroom filled with clothes and shoes

A portable closet can be a flexible, low-cost option for renters or homeowners who want a temporary closet space solution. Portable closets are easy to put up and take down, and many of them can store impressive amounts of shoes and clothing, like this Songmics 59-Inch Portable Clothes Closet Wardrobe at Amazon. They are also easy to move, enabling you to reconfigure the layout of the room as needed.

9. Be smart with the closet space you have.


If your home has any existing closet space at all—no matter how tiny—use it wisely and waste none of it. Maximize whatever space you have by installing a second rod to double hanging capacity, hanging a wire organizer on the back of the door for shoes and accessories, and making use of vertical space by installing shelves above the top rod or even above the door.

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10. Keep a lid on how much you own.

Mother and son sorting clothes for donation at home

While there’s a lot you can do to fit a modern lifestyle into an old house that has no closets, whatever space you can find is still finite. Keep on top of overload and clutter by doing regular clothing and clutter purges, and say goodbye to things you don’t use.