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
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.
To help you store those aspirational pieces of clothing you’ll soon be wearing pick up a few durable storage containers like the MISSLO Oxford three-piece set. The set’s durable design, with metal zipper and airtight closures, means no dust, dirt, or mold can enter while your goods are stored. And, the set’s fabric designs means you can collapse them when you’re done using them.
To buy: $24 at Amazon.com
Remove the Clutter
And yes, that may mean 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.
For the best bang for your buck, order a set of 50 hangers from Amazon. Though they are part of the “basics” collection they are anything but, as the hangers are made from no-slip velvet material to keep all your garments safely in place. And their ultra-thin design means you can hang even more clothing inside a wardrobe.
To buy: $22 at Amazon.com
Remember the Floor Space
“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.”
Once you can see your closet floor, treat yourself to a Birdrock three-tiered bamboo shoe rack. The rack is not only environmentally-friendly but can also hold up to 12 pairs of shoes. And thanks to its compact design, it can fit in just about any closet you’ve got.
To buy: $35 at Amazon.com
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.
Or, for an even easier and economical fix, purchase a set of Dewenwils Wireless LED lights, which simply stick onto walls and other surfaces. And, as an added bonus, the lights also come with a remote control, a timer, and a dimmer feature, meaning you’ll never get lost in the dark.
To buy: $18 at Amazon.com
Make Use of the Upper Shelf
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.”
Once you’ve divided the top shelf, buy a few Aobeau linen folding closet storage bins to fill the space. The bin’s rope handle provides easy access to your goodies, and the rich brown color will give your closet a new, sophisticated and organized look.
To buy: $14 at Amazon.com
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.”
But, don’t go for just any old mirror. Instead, up the ante with a NEX LED wall-mounted jewelry armoire that has a full-length mirror to boot. This way, you can simply hang the mirror over your closet door, but also have the added bonus of a lockable jewelry storage unit to boot.
To buy: $90 at Amazon.com
Paint It a Lighter Color
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.
If you’re totally adverse to painting or are afraid to commit to a color, try a peel and stick wallpaper like Roommates’ polka dot design instead. This way, you can test out a new look without having to live with it forever and can change it up as often as you’d like.
To buy: $35 at Amazon.com
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.”
For an easy corner shelving solution, look no further than Rubbermaid’s FreeSlide wire shelving. It’s simple to install and will keep your stuff in place until you’re ready to use it. You can even hang clothing from its bottom hooks, too.
To buy: $26 atAmazon.com
Use the Doors
“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.
And over-door storage doesn’t have to be plain. To both add storage and still keep your closet looking stylish, pick up a two-pack of mDesign’s fabric closet storage organizer. The chevron pattern will make your space pop, and the added storage will keep your favorite items within reach.
To buy: $27 at Amazon.com
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.”
To keep stock of which items you want to keep and which items you can toss, read Marie Kondo’s masterpiece, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. Inside, Kondo teaches readers when to let go, and just how their life will improve once they do. Trust us, letting go, and clearing out your literal and metaphorical closet is well-worth your time.
To buy: $10 atAmazon.com