These five easy tips help you create an organized and functional closet while sharing with a partner, child, or roommate, no matter how big or small the closet space is.
When it comes to sharing a closet with someone else, it can sometimes be a little stressful. Who gets what space? What if the closet is a weird space and someone is getting an unfair bargain? What if one person has more stuff than the other? I’m covering all that in these five tips for sharing a closet so your morning, evening, and laundry routines can be less stressful and chaotic.
1. Divide The Closet Evenly
Yes, I said evenly. In my career as a professional organizer, I visited many houses where one person was overtaking their partner’s side of the closet and their reasoning was “but I have more stuff than they do.” But here’s the deal. You are in an equal partnership, and your closet should be the same. You get one side, they get the other. If your stuff doesn’t fit, it’s on you to find other locations to supplement. (More on that in Tip #5)
Draw an imaginary line down the middle of the closet and assign one side to each of you. If you both agree that one person should have a larger side, it’s totally okay to make that line a bit lopsided. But before you give up precious space on your side for your partner’s shoe collection, remember that you need some wiggle room for seasonal wardrobe changes. The closer you can get the closet to being split evenly, the less resentment one (or both) of you will build over time.
Your Dominant Hand Matters
When it comes to picking sides, if you both have the same dominant hand, it doesn’t matter which side is which. But if one partner is right-handed and the other is left-handed, the left-hander should take the left side. It’s awkward to reach to the back end of the closet with your shoulder crammed into your clothes, so this simple fix makes the closet instantly more functional.
2. Use One Type Of Hanger For Uniformity
It might sound like such a silly thing, but having different types of hangers in a closet makes it feel messy and cluttered even when it’s not. By using just one type of hanger for both sides of the closet, it will feel cohesive and tidy all the time. Plus, you can store backups as your wardrobe grows and lessens for your partner to use, too.
I recommend slim-line hangers because they allow you to fit more clothes on the rod. I love the flocked slim hangers for their nonslip feature, but if you aren’t a fan of that velvety texture, you can opt for slim plastic hangers instead. Save the wooden hangers for suits and heavy coats, because they take up twice as much space as a slim hanger does.
3. Store Out-Of Season Items Somewhere Else
When you’re sharing a closet with someone else, the amount of storage space you have is instantly cut in half. That means there’s no “extra space” for keeping out-of-season items. Instead of trying to cram them in and making your side jam-packed, find another place inside your home to keep these pieces. You can store winter season boots or summer flip flops in under-bed bins or garage storage totes. And sweaters and coats can be packed away in airtight gasket lidded bins during warm seasons.
If you live in an apartment with very little storage space, out-of-season clothing can be stored inside suitcases or inside storage furniture like ottomans and benches. Or if you have a family member or close friend who owns a home with ample storage space, they likely would be happy to give you a space in their garage shelving or attic to hold a bin or two. (Just be sure to label it prominently so they know it’s yours)
4. Do Laundry On Separate Days
Speaking from experience here…anytime my partner and I are trying to do laundry on the same day, it’s one part frustrating and one part a circus act. He’s trying to get clothes in the washer, I’m trying to get mine out of the dryer, and seeing us attempting to put away clothes in the closet at the same time is worthy of a reality TV show.
Do yourself a favor and designate separate laundry days. This not only allows you the time and space to put away your clothing in the closet by yourself without stepping over someone else, but it also forces you to get the clothes out of the dryer and not let them sit in there for days at a time.
5. Secondary Storage Is Okay
More times than not, unless you have a very large walk-in closet, all your clothes, shoes, and accessories won’t fit in your half of the closet. Even after removing the out-of-season items, you still might not have the space you need. Of course, you should be purging seasonally to keep your wardrobe under control. But if you need extra space, it’s totally okay to branch out somewhere else in the house.
In my own home, my partner and I both collect sneakers, so there’s no way both of our shoe stashes could fit in our closet. We agreed that I would keep my shoes in the far side of the closet, and he would keep his shoes in the hall closet outside our bedroom. We both have the same amount of shoe storage, but his is just located somewhere else.
We do the same thing with our accessories. He uses some extra drawers in our closet for his accessories, while I keep mine in dresser drawers in our bedroom. And we keep all our coats, hats, gloves, and scarves in the guest bedroom closet along with my son’s coats and dress clothes. There’s no rule that says clothes have to be stored in your closet or bedroom at all, so don’t be afraid to take space somewhere else. If you need to keep sweaters and boots in a dresser-turned-TV stand in your living room, that’s okay.
Bonus Tip: Upgrade Your Closet System
When you’re sharing a closet, every inch of space counts. If your closet is still rocking the builder-grade single rod and shelf setup, it’s time to make changes to utilize the entire wall from ceiling to floor.
A budget-friendly option is this adjustable wire system. I have used this in my last three houses and can verify that it really does allow you to add a ton of space to your closet. Plus you can rearrange the shelves and rods over and over again so your closet space is truly customizable.
If you have more money saved up, I recommend opting for a semi-custom system like I recently got for my closet. You can design them to fit your closet perfectly and add drawers, doors, and dividers to suit your needs. The company I bought mine from even offers free layout planning from a professional closet designer, and you can use code LELA for a discount.