How to Organize a Small Closet to Maximize Space

Small closets can contain plenty when you employ these expert clutter-cutting tips and clever storage systems.

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Clutter makes small spaces seem even smaller. Tackle that issue in your small bedroom closet with a two-part strategy: some smart weeding-out, then reorganizing via efficient, accessible storage. If done right, it can effectively double your limited closet space and help you find what you need, when you need it. Inspired? Start here.

Start Fresh

Begin by taking everything out of the closet. Set aside for donation any items that no longer fit you or your style. Create another pile of items needing repairs, by you or a tailor.

Sort what’s left using an A-B-C priority system. A is most worn, B is sometimes worn and C is rarely worn at all. All A-category items take up your closet’s easy-access real estate, front and center, whether hanging space or shelving. Relegate B-category items to the floor. Those Cs can live on upper, out-of-the-way shelves or be stored elsewhere — under the bed, or in a labeled bin in the basement, garage or attic.

Start a “Maybe” Bin

It’s a great way to remove less-used items from prime space. If you go an entire year without looking for your “maybe” items, consider them safe for donation.

Customize

Be realistic about your closet’s size and layout, as well as everything you’re trying to cram into it. Remember: Its main function should be storing your everyday go-to items within easy reach. Are most of them on hangers? You might need an additional hanging rod or a double-hang bar (they’re easy to install). Shoes galore? Consider a triple-tiered floor rack or a hanging shoe organizer.

Divide and Conquer

Open shelves are breeding grounds for clutter, allowing items to spill into one another. That makes it hard to find things and quickly makes a mess of a small space. There are lots of remedies to this problem, depending on what your shelves hold: shelf dividers for sweaters or purses; stackable organizers for shirts; cubbies for shoes. Those create a clean look that’s easy to maintain, and maximizes unused vertical space.

Color Code

Consider color-coding your items, making things easier to find and creating a space of visual comfort. First sort clothing into categories, such as pants, skirts, tops and sweaters. Then group by color within each category.

Get Hooked

When you’re dealing with a small space, you want to use all of it, including doors and walls. Enter hooks. Stick-on hooks are especially easy to install on walls, doors or even the side of shelving. Consider them for frequently-used items like robes or your favorite sweatshirt, or accessories like scarves, jewelry and purses. When they’re on a door back, front and center, you’re most likely to use them.

Plan Maintenance

Plan seasonal or monthly check-in sessions to revisit what’s working in your closet and what’s not. With small closets especially, one smart, subtle change can make a big improvement! Put in on your calendar. A quick check-in sooner is way easier than fixing a cluttered mess later.

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Mary Carlomagno
Mary Carlomagno writes about organization, living with less and losing clutter. Her belief is that when you get your life free of what is holding you back, you are free to live the life you imagine. (Hat's off to Thoreau) She has written four books on the topic, three with major houses and one audible book. And just for writing fun, she published her first novel last year drawing upon her years of experience as a professional organizer and publicist. Her articles have been featured in the Washington Post, Woman's World, Body & Soul, care.com and Pink to mention a few. She is a nationally recognized organizing expert and public speaker with extensive television experience including appearances on Oprah, the Today Show, NPR and CBS News.