20 Big Ideas for Organizing Small Closets

Have a tiny closet? These clothes storage ideas will help you maximize the space you have—and give you easier access to your stuff.
Small Closet Ideas
Photo: istockphoto.com

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Closets in every kind of home seem to shrink a little smaller each day. When the shelves start sagging and clothing piles up on the floor, it’s time to confront those closet fears. Luckily, these tips are here to help transform your closet organization for good. From simple DIY hacks to small investments in lifesaving organization products, these small closet ideas will make the most of what limited closet storage you have.

1. Put It On Your (Soda) Tab

Small Closet Ideas - Soda Tab Hanger Trick
Photo: YouTube via HackCollege

Empty soda cans may take up space in the recycling bin, but in a cramped closet, they create more. By doubling the number of garments you can hang on one hanger, this hack maximizes the amount of garments you can store in a small closet. Simply pop the tab off the can and slip it around the hook of a hanger. You can then slip another hanger through the hole in the tab. This DIY small closet idea is easy, effective and best of all, free.

2. Swap Hangers for Chains

Clothes hanger with chains
Photo: amazon.com

This clothes hanger hack may be the missing link between you and clutter-free closet organization. Here’s what to do: Spray-paint a foot-long plastic chain in any color you like, then attach the last link to a large S-hook. Fit the S-hook over the closet rod and finally slip hangers hooks through each link in the chain. You can also purchase specific products, like these Andicker laundry hanger chains, if DIY is not your strong suit.

3. Customize With Closet Tracks

Pink closet with shelving
Photo: homedepot.com

If heaps of wrinkled clothes have turned the floor of your closet into a second hamper, don’t fret. You can restore order by installing track shelves. User-friendly and endlessly customizable, track shelving enables you to make the most of the vertical space—that’s the real key to small closet solutions.

4. Hang Accessories

Hats hanger
Photo: aliexpress.us

There’s a better way to store random hats, scarves, and belts in a closet than cramming them all on one small hook. Create an off-the-wall organizer to serve as the designated, permanent home for accessories. Your closet storage solution doesn’t need to be fancy either. Look at this one: It’s nothing more than a hanger on a nail, embellished with homemade hooks.

RELATED: What to Do When Your Home Has No Closets

5. Score a Stand-Alone Wardrobe

Stand alone wardrobe
Photo: target.com

If your closet is especially lacking (or you lack a closet entirely), take your most frequently worn items out of the closet and store them out in the open in a freestanding wardrobe like this one. You can also make your own instead. There are options aplenty when it comes to DIY-ing small closet ideas, too, as they can be made by connecting separate pieces of shelving with a rod or entirely from new or repurposed lumber.

6. Hide a Secret Shelf

Over the door organizer
Photo: honeycando.com

Over-the-door organizers work to wrangle craft supplies, pantry items, and (perhaps most commonly) shoes discreetly behind closed doors. However, you can apply the same principle to more than just footwear in a small closet. This organizer from Honey-Can-Do, for example, is perfect for small items like purses, hats, and even rolled T-shirts.

7. Build a Tie Board

Tie hanger board
Photo: dapperwoodworks.com

A bare-bones wardrobe assistant like this one provides the perfect closet storage for neckties and similar items. Mount yours to a side wall in the closet, to the back of the closet door, or even in your bedroom dressing area. Making one involves nothing more than driving a series of nails into the surface of a painted or stained piece of scrap wood, or you can purchase a fancier, hardwood custom tie rack from Dapper Woodworks.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Hangers We Tested This Year

8. Separate the Spaces

Closet shelf
Photo: wayfair.com

In a space-challenged closet, forgo an inefficient tension rod in favor of this double-duty DIY organizer. By reserving a portion of the closet for a skinny closet shelf and the rest for short rods, you’ll create just enough room for garments that hang as well as space for shoes and folded clothing, while minimizing visual clutter.

9. Lower Things for Little Ones

Clothes with multiple hanging rods
Photo: amazon.com

It’s never too early to teach your little ones how to get organized. Easier said than done perhaps, but this small closet storage idea certainly helps get the message across. What’s involved? Simply install a companion closet rod at a child-friendly height, both to let kids hang up their own clothes and also to give the closet a handy additional rung of hanging space.

10. Turn Walls Into Shoe Racks

Wall shoe racks
Photo: istockphoto.com

For fashionable footwear display without the sticker shock, try these unconventional shoe racks on for size. Just fasten one or more hand towel bars to an unused section of wall, then use them to hang up high heels and flats, freeing up floor or shelving space for less awkward items.

11. Declutter With Closet Cubbies

Closet cubbies
Photo: istockphoto.com

Many homeowners who purchase a custom closet solution end up believing it was money well spent. Hiring professionals isn’t your only option, though. If you have the tools and experience, why not design and build your own? In fact, even for novice woodworkers, building out closet shelving and cubbies often makes for a satisfying project. Cubbies and small shelves in closets can optimize space and contain items like tee shirts or gym clothing. To save even more space within the cubbies, roll your clothing rather than fold it.

RELATED: The 9 Cheapest Places to Buy Storage Bins

12. Repurpose Towel Bars

Towel bars
Photo: wayfair.com

Need a place to hang clean linens but lack shelf space? Try mounting multiple towel bars inside the linen closet door. This trick is also great if you’re lacking a sturdy closet shelf. Instead of towels and washcloths, you can even add curtain rings to the towel rods if you need to store small, loose items like jewelry in a bedroom closet.

13. Install a Space-Saving Barn Door

Closet barn door
Photo: renin.com

Escape clutter and invite rustic charm into your bedroom by eschewing a traditional out-swinging door in favor of one that slides back and forth. Barn doors are nothing new, of course, and there are many possible approaches, but one thing’s certain—there’s no better small closet solution if you can’t easily reach items toward the back or along the side of your closet. If an awkward door is preventing you from even hanging clothing in the closet, this change is a life-changer.

14. DIY Some Display Storage

Shoes on wall shelf
Photo: ChesnutCo via Etsy.com

Put your enviable shoe collection (or accessories, such as bags or purses) on display with this easy, space-saving do-it-yourself trick. Negative space becomes elegant, economical storage that serves as convenient floating closet shelves.

15. Label Assigned Spots

Storage bins with labels
Photo: amazon.com

Successfully cramming more and more into a small closet isn’t the be all and end all. After all, to be truly satisfied with a closet, you need it to hold what you want, but you also need to be able to find what you need. Want to go the extra mile? Label shelves and cubbies to help make sure there’s a place for everything, and that everything stays in its place as time goes by.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Label Makers We Tested This Year

16. Divide Folded Clothes

Clothes folded in organizer bins
Photo: istockphoto.com

Why is it so hard to keep clothes neatly folded on closet shelves? We may never know. But in the meantime, here’s a great way to reinstate order: Use various sizes of organizer bins (or screw some small painted plywood dividers into shelving) to make a place for everything and put everything in its place. This small closet organization idea prevents folded shirts, pants, and sweaters from reverting to formless mounds of fabric that are a pain to sort and sift through.

17. Substitute Curtains for Closet Doors

Curtain used to cover closet
Photo: ikea.com

The biggest barrier between you and a functional, organized room may not be the cluttered contents of the closet, but the closet door itself. Consider removing and replacing the door with a floor-length curtain to add space and an element of luxury to a bedroom or guest room.

18. Hang Shelf Brackets

Hanging clothes off brackets
Photo: ikea.com

When space is at a premium, consider this space-saving storage idea as an alternative to installing a second rod in a closet. Mount painted shelf brackets to the sides or back of a closet to hang wardrobe essentials efficiently and in a way that wards off wrinkles.

RELATED: 12 Ways You May Be Wasting Closet Space

19. S-Hooks to the Rescue

Jeans hanging from S hooks
Photo: amazon.com

For certain items, S-hooks are your best bet, and that’s especially true in closet corners too cramped to accommodate the fuller width of a traditional hanger. Here, S-hooks hang alongside wire hangers to keep purses, belts, and hats suspended within easy arm’s reach.

20. Light It Up

Light in closet
Photo: ikea.com

Is lack of light only making living with your small closet more difficult? There’s more than one way to improve the situation, but LED light strips rank as one of the simplest, lowest-cost available options. Plug-in strips don’t require professional installation—far from it!—and LED bulbs last for years and years without ever needing replacement.