When you think of a walk-in closet, you automatically assume that it’s this big, luxurious dressing room with all the space you could possibly need for your dream shoe collection, right? I hate to tell ya, but that’s usually not the case. Walk-in closets sometimes hold less stuff than a reach-in closet, and awkward u-shapes actually make storage a bit tougher to figure out.
My absolute favorite organizing projects for clients is always the master closet, and I’ve seen my fair share of them, in all shapes and sizes. It’s safe to say that I’m a pro when it comes to organizing a closet, so when Wayfair reached out and asked me to share my best tips for making the space more functional, I was more than happy to spill the beans.
Pro Tips For Organizing A Small Closet
1. Invest In A Good Closet System
If you’re still rocking your builder grade rod and single shelf above, GIRL, you need to get it together! Those basic closet rods are such a waste of good space. There are so many closet systems available to fit any budget, from adjustable wire systems to mock-custom cabinetry. My advice is to buy the best system you can afford, because you really do get what you pay for. And don’t forget to read the reviews!
2. Slim Hangers Are Not Just A Trend
Those nonslip super-skinny hangers you keep seeing online aren’t just the latest internet fad. They really do work! They save a ton of space, allowing you to fit more clothes on one rod. And that nonslip material keeps your clothes from sliding off and ending up in the floor.
Tip: Put these hangers on your shirts from the bottom up, not through the neck. They don’t bend as easily as plastic hangers, and since they’re nonslip, the top of your shirts won’t slide through. Putting the hanger on through the neck will stretch it out and give you an accidental slouchy v-neck. Not cute.
3. Get A Divided Hamper
If you share a closet with another human, one hamper is not enough! Even if one of you is in charge of doing all the laundry, it’s really a time-saver to separate your laundry. Don’t waste space by having two different hampers; instead go for a dual or triple hamper with removable laundry bags inside so you can take only one side’s contents to the laundry room.
If you don’t share with someone else, it’s still a good idea to have a divided laundry basket. You can use the other side for your whites or towels and other linens.
4. Create A Drop Zone
Things To Put In Your Drop Zone Tray:
- Small pail or flower pot for trash, specifically random lint and shopping tags
- Small bowl for loose change; I like to use tasting bowls and salt cellars, but mason jars and whiskey glasses look cool, too.
- Scissors for cutting off tags from new clothes (never rip them off unless you like holes in your clothes)
- Oil diffuser or air freshener because closets can sometimes smell a little like a gym sock (I like lavender, sage, and cedar for closet scents)
5. Maximize Drawer Space
Whether you have drawers in your closet system, a dresser in your closet, or the dresser is in the actual bedroom, it’s so important to maximize your drawer space. If you haven’t started using the file fold method, today is the first day of the rest of your life. Never stack-fold again! Here’s my super easy tutorial for how to fold clothes like a retail pro, and here’s my video on how to fold clothes while standing without a flat surface.
It’s also a great idea to utilize drawer organizers like telescoping dividers, sorted drawer cubes, and shallow adjustable bins. They’re especially helpful for your underwear, socks, bras, tank tops, and tights.
6. Hang Your Accessories With Your Clothes
Scarves, mens’ ties, belts, and sashes can take up a lot of space even though they’re so small. And rolling them up inside drawers can make them wrinkled and misshapen. Always opt to hang these accessories on a hanger and store them with your clothes to keep them in their best shape.
If you have dresses and jackets with a matching belt or waist tie, keep those with the piece of clothing they go with. Just wrap it around the top of the hanger or drape it over the “pants part” of the clothes hanger. It saves you time from sifting through a huge belt collection just to find the one that matches your fave kimono.
7. Utilize Your Closet Door
If you’re not using your closet door, you’re wasting precious real estate. There are so many great over-the-door organizers that can actually hold quite a bit of stuff. I love this full length mirror with hidden jewelry storage inside. I’ve had it for 6 years and it’s still absolutely perfect for my closet.
You can also use the door for shoe storage, handbag storage, hats, or even bed linens!
8. Keep The Floors Clear
If at all possible, I always suggest to my clients to keep their floors completely clear. No shoe boxes stacked around the edges, no baskets stashed under the hanging clothes, and not even a row of boots lined up in a neat little spot by the door.
The reason? Closets don’t usually get swept and vacuumed as often as the rest of our house. We always skip it because we think it doesn’t need it. And when we do sweep or vacuum in there, we just take care of the middle/main area. But the reality is, dust, dirt, and icky stuff can pile up in the corners and under your lower hanging clothes, which will attract bugs, moths, and sometimes mice. EW!
Don’t let those critters damage your wardrobe. By keeping your floors free and clear with everything elevated, you’ll be more likely to clean the floors entirely.
9. Ditch The Iron For A Handheld Steamer
If you’re battling a small closet, you probably don’t have room for a big, bulky ironing board to hang out in there. But just because you’re short on space doesn’t mean your clothes can’t look like a million bucks. Opt for a handheld steamer instead.
You can freshen up your clothes just like with an iron but faster and easier, plus you can make your dry-clean-only clothing last a little longer between visits to the Cleaners. And bonus points, the handheld steamer also freshens up your curtains, table cloths, bed skirts, and duvet covers.
10. Make Your Closet Feel Like A Room
Who says a closet has to be this dark hole that hides your clothes from your beautifully styled home? You can make your small walk-in closet feel like a luxurious dressing room by treating it just like your living room.
Add a vintage patterned area rug, a fancy mini chandelier, and some artwork you love to create a space that deserves a star with your name on it on the door. If you have the space, add a small ottoman with storage inside to hold hats or lingerie, and use it to sit on when you’re lacing up shoes.
Shop My Favorite Closet Finds From Wayfair