12 Ways You May Be Wasting Closet Space

Square footage isn't the only measure of a good closet—it's how you use what space you're given. No storage area is too small or too big to reconfigure in a way that maximizes every inch. Take a look at these pointers to root out bad storage habits that could be eating into your usable closet space, then consider planning your own organizational overhaul.

  1. Smart storage

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    Better closet organization

    If opening your closet door in the morning unleashes an avalanche of accessories, or if you need to dig through your entire wardrobe to find the one pair of shoes that completes your outfit, take heart. Whether you rent or own, whether you live in big house or tiny apartment, practically everyone has the same complaint about the bedroom closet: It's too small. But even a small closet has more room than you think, particularly when you make the most of every inch. Check out these 12 ways you are probably wasting the space you have, and then follow the suggestions for putting that space to smarter, more efficient use.

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  2. Your shoe collection is out of control

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    Shoe storage closet

    We get it: There’s really no such thing as too many shoes. Except, of course, when you allow your closet to be overrun by footwear that is uncomfortable, out of fashion, hopelessly scuffed or stained, worn out, or simply out of step with your current lifestyle. Get rid of all the shoes you no longer wear, and you instantly increase your available closet space.

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  3. You don’t use shelf dividers

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    Shelf divider closet

    You know not to store bulky knitwear on hangers, which stretch out the shoulders and leave those annoying “hanger dents.” But when you stack folded sweaters on your closet shelf, they teeter and tumble, and you can’t fit all your favorites in the allotted space. That's where shelf dividers come into play, like the sturdy ones from Evelots (available on Amazon). Just slip the dividers over your shelves, and voilà! Now even tall stacks of sweaters will stand neatly in place so you can keep your entire collection on hand and easily accessible.

    Related: 8 Other Uses for Closet Space

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  4. You don’t pack away seasonal clothing

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    Store seasonal clothes closet

    If it’s the middle of summer and you’re still pushing aside that bulky down jacket to reach your shorts, it’s time to get in gear with the change of seasons. Save closet space by packing away winter gear once spring arrives and summer gear when the temperatures start to dip in the fall. Slip your off-season clothes into underbed storage boxes, or seal them into vacuum storage bags until the weather changes again.

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  5. Your bedroom closet is a catchall for the rest of the house

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    Bedroom closet wasted space

    Sets of golf clubs, ironing boards, boxes of holiday decorations...don’t waste precious closet space on items like these that really belong in the garage, attic, basement, or some other room. Dedicate your bedroom closet almost entirely to items that you wear, such as clothing, shoes, and accessories. You may, however, want to use it to stash a small quantity of important papers or boxed valuables that you need to keep hidden from peeping eyes.

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  6. You have only one rod

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    Clothes hanger rod closet

    Unless your wardrobe consists mostly of dresses, skirts, and other long items, you can immediately double your usable hanging space by installing two rods instead of just one. With two rods, you can hang twice as many pants, shirts, and jackets in the same amount of space. Now, that’s efficient!

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  7. You forgot the back of the door

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    Closet door storage

    If your bedroom closet has a swinging door (not a folding or sliding one), the back of the door offers valuable real estate that you can put to use with a hanging organizer to hold scarves, jewelry, gloves, belts, and even flat shoes. You may want to opt for a soft organizer with clear plastic pockets. It won't stick out as much as a rigid wire organizer, which might get in the way when you close the closet door.

    Related: 9 Creative Uses for the Back of Any Door

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  8. You don’t make use of vertical space

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    Vertical space in the closet

    Most bedroom closets have a shelf directly above the clothes rod. But why stop there? There may be plenty of space for at least one more shelf up high, and in a walk-in closet you can generally add a shelf over the door as well. Use the high shelves for infrequently worn accessories, shoes, and garments, and store items in clear plastic boxes to keep them clean and visible.

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  9. The closet floor is a mess

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    Closet floor space

    If the floor of your closet is a jumble of shoes and dirty laundry, you aren’t making effective use of the space. Tidy things up with a shoe organizer—we really like the Seville Classics stackable organizers (available on Amazon)—and neatly pair up your shoes. Purchase a small laundry basket to corral dirty clothing, and you'll have an organized, clutter-free closet floor.

    Related: 21 Big Ideas for Small Closets

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  10. You have too much clothing

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    Overfilled closet storage

    The average closet is hiding at least one or two garments—and in many closets, far more than that—that are never worn because they don’t fit, aren’t flattering, aren’t comfortable, or are simply disliked. Clear out space for your well-loved clothing by boxing up everything you no longer wear and donating it to your favorite charity.

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  11. You don’t use hanging space effectively

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    Efficient closet design

    While a rod is useful for hanging much of your wardrobe, there are many items, including purses, folded knits, hats, and boots, that aren't easy to hang but that you want close at hand. For those types of items, a hanging cubby organizer is the perfect solution. Cubby organizers are also an easy way to simplify hectic mornings: Hang one in your child’s closet and fill each cubby with a complete outfit to save time and eliminate tears and indecision when everyone's getting ready for school.

    Related: 9 Closet Storage Tips from a Professional Organizer

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  12. You waste a recessed area

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    Recessed closet space

    Many closets have a deeply recessed corner or side that goes to waste because it’s not easy to reach and doesn’t have a hanging rod. Don't pass up that valuable storage space. Fit a tall organizer —it can be as simple as a thin, tall shelving unit—into the recessed side and you'll have extra shelves to hold boxed accessories, shoes, folded sweaters, and purses.

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  13. There’s no light

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    Closet light

    While a light doesn’t physically create more space, it does give the illusion of space. As well, when you illuminate the interior of a closet, it's much easier to find what you’re looking for. Unfortunately, the typical bedroom closet usually isn't outfitted with electric lights. You can, however, brighten things up without calling in an electrician if you install a battery-powered, motion-sensor LED light that switches on when you open the closet door and turns off automatically a few minutes later. You’ll find a variety of options for less than $20 at most home improvement centers, or check out the Mr. Beams Wireless LED Ceiling Light (available on Amazon).

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  14. Don't Miss!

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    For the handy home improver, few pleasures compare to the joy of a well-stocked workshop. Take a look at this roundup of some of the best and most essential tools for DIYers of every stripe, and see which items might be missing from your own home improvement headquarters.