How to Maximize Your Closet Space

Ten easy ways to make more room for your wardrobe.

If you’re discouraged by a small closet, take heart: There are plenty of ways to make your space more streamlined and organized—and even make it seem bigger. With the right organizing products, a few decorating tricks, and a little patience, you might find that tiny closet is actually just right. (Major bonus: these ideas won’t cost a fortune.) Here, three experts open the doors.


Throw Out Clothes That Don’t Fit

Photo by Lisa Romerein/Getty Images

After tossing the pieces you no longer wear or haven’t used in a year—and the ones that long ago went out of style—zero in on the clothes that are too tight. “People think hanging on to smaller sizes will inspire them to lose weight, but you can only wear the size that fits you right now—you never change a size overnight,says Julie Morgenstern, a professional organizer and author of Organizing from the Inside Out. If you have diet plans, store your tighter clothes elsewhere and put them back after you reach your goals—the act of swapping out larger sizes for smaller ones might even make you feel more accomplished.


Remove the Clutter…

…which sometimes means more than clothes, shoes, and accessories. “Remove those plastic coverings that come with your dry cleaning,” says Lisa Zaslow, an organization and productivity expert and owner of Gotham Organizers. “They actually don’t protect your clothes because they trap the dry cleaning chemicals. It’s also shocking how much space they take up.” Since you want to maximize every last bit of space, opt for thinner hangers and remove excessive amounts of empty ones, while leaving just a handful in one spot so they're easy to find and use. You might be tempted to try stacking or “cascading” hangers, but they can be hard to maintain. Before you invest in this type of product, make sure you can easily grab clothes from them.


Remember the Floor Space

Photo by Bob Hiemstra

“If you have lots of long-hanging clothes, the whole bottom of the closet can become a no man’s land,” says Morgenstern. “Group your short-hanging pieces at one end of the closet and your longer-hanging clothes at the other—that will open up lots of floor space, where you can place a little dresser or a stacking shoe rack.”


Add Lighting

If looking into your closet is like staring into the abyss, illuminate it. “Just having more light in the closet will make it seem bigger,” says Zaslow. Swap out your normal rod for an LED closet rod, which is motion activated and battery-operated.


Make Use of the Upper Shelf

Photo by Jonny Valiant

Sure, you can stack storage bins on the upper shelf, but consider a shelf divider, which turns the space into little cubbies so clothes and accessories are easy to see and grab. “You can use them to separate stacks of folded clothing, so that they don’t topple into each other and create a big mess,” Morgenstern says. “Or, they can keep your handbags upright and accessible.”


Hang a Mirror or Two

“Mirrors are a great way to create the illusion of a bigger closet, whether they’re attached to the door or inside,” says Lisa Adams, owner of LA Closet Design. “They make the closet feel like it extends beyond the walls.”


Paint It a Lighter Color

Photo by Bob Hiemstra

A fresh coat of paint is an inexpensive way to add the illusion of space. “I’d get a durable paint, such as one with a satin or gloss finish, because the walls will get some wear and tear from clothes and shoes,” says Zaslow. “A light color—like white, light yellow, or pale pink—can make everything seem cleaner and brighter.” Brighter hues can also make a tiny spot seem more open and airy.


Don’t Count Out Corners

“Corners are, too often, awkward and wasted,” says Adams. “By adding corner shelves or hanging rods you can really maximize that space.”


Use the Doors

Photo by Bob Hiemstra

“Hang hooks to store handbags, loungewear, pajamas, scarves or belts on the inside of your closet door,” says Morgenstern. “Or, line the door with corkboard to hang your jewelry on.” If you have sliding doors, it can be hard to find things because a door is always blocking a portion of the space. Try some DIY projects to make your closet more accessible: “If you own your place, you can replace them with two doors that pull out or bifold doors,” says Zaslow.


Maintain the Space

“If you’ve maximized your space and are at capacity, you should probably let something go whenever you bring something new in,” says Zaslow. “If you’ve left a little room to grow, do some seasonal reorganization and put away clothes that you’re not going to be wearing during those months.”