Genius Closet Organizing Tips to Maximize Every Single Inch of Space

Follow this brilliant formula to instantly double your closet space.

How to Organize a Closet, beautiful closet with scarves, bag, shoes
Photo: Michael Wiltbank

Figuring out how to organize your closet can be almost as daunting as deciding to (finally) commit yourself to the task. No matter how big or small your closet is, there just never seems to be enough room to fit every single jacket, t-shirt, and pair of high heels you've collected over the years. This may be a signal it's time for a full-on closet purge (here are 10 things you can ditch right away), but it may just mean that you're not utilizing the space you have to its full potential. In our new book, The Real Simple Method to Organizing Every Room, Real Simple editors share all of the closet organizing wisdom they've gathered over the years, including the genius space-saving secrets, below.

Four Key Areas Every Organized Closet Should Have

A smart closet addresses four key areas: hanging clothes, folded pieces, shoes, and accessories. There's no one way to arrange your space, but to determine the setup that will work best for you, be realistic about the square footage you have and work within these guidelines.

Consider the Closet Doors

Hinged full-swing or bifold doors give full access, whereas dual-hung sliding doors prevent access to the center. If every inch counts, consider replacing sliding doors with hinged ones or doors that slide all the way open on a rail.

Add an Extra Clothing Rod

If your closet ceiling height is at least 7½ feet, you have room for two rods (one hung about three or four feet above the other), which can maximize space. A clothing rod should hang at least 42 inches above the floor so that clothes don't drag. Position the rod at least a foot from the back wall, if possible. There should be at least 3 inches beyond the ends of your hangers.

The low rod can hold skirts and pants; an eye-level pole can hold dresses and tops. If you can, leave breathing room between garments—at least 1/4 inch, if possible, with fabrics barely grazing one another. Again, seasonality and frequency of use can be a big factor in delegating space: That taffeta evening gown in the roomy garment bag may have to be stored somewhere else.

Pro Tip: Make sure to measure your space precisely (to the nearest sixteenth of an inch) before buying rods, shelving units, or other hardware.

Make the Most of Your Shelves

Leave some space in your closet for shelves, which are crucial for holding sweaters and delicate knits (or any clothing that wil stretch out of shape on a hanger), accessories (totes, purses), storage boxes, and shoes. Shelves should be open and not deeper than 14 inches, so you never have to dig through a pile to find what you're looking for. When it comes to material, wooden shelves are sturdy and stylish, while metal and plastic-coated wire are durable, but can potentially "rib" clothing. The acids in wooden shelves, particularly cedar, can deteriorate fabrics, so line them with shelf paper. Don't have the budget for expensive shelving? Consider adding a few affordable hanging shelves instead.

Don’t Forget the Drawers

Whether they're mounted to the closet wall or part of a chest positioned inside the closet, drawers help you organize small pieces, like undergarments and accessories. If installing drawers is too costly or complicated, substitute baskets placed on shelves.

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