How to Organize a Small Closet With Lots of Clothes

If you love fashion, can never resist a good bargain and consider shopping to be the greatest hobby of all, then you know what an epic struggle it can be to have a small closet. You’ve probably experienced it all — trying to layer three different sweaters on one hanger, packing clothes you don’t wear as often into bins under the bed and more. No matter what you try, your closet stubbornly refuses to fit all your clothes into it.

Unfortunately, closet size often isn’t something we have control over. Not all of us have the option of a home remodeling, and that means we’re frequently stuck with simply making the most of our small closets.

So what’s the resourceful and enterprising girl to do? We believe that no matter how small your closet is, you still have options. There are ways to arrange the area that will help you maximize your space and give you the greatest amount of usable room for all your favorite pieces. On the other hand, there are ways of arranging your things that make your closet seem even smaller than it is, and that will result in you feeling cramped, claustrophobic and miserable.

To help you navigate the perils of your closet situation, we want to walk you through some of our favorite tips for organizing a small closet. We hope that through these tricks and ideas, you can truly get the most out of your space and end up feeling organized and confident.

Organization Is Key

Do you see yourself as a fairly organized and put-together person? If so, that’s great. You’re already one step closer to having a more spacious and functional closet space. If not, there’s no need to worry. We’re not telling you that you need to become a neat-freak overnight. However, one of the keys to keeping your space workable lies in keeping it organized. Because of this need, there's value in slowly training yourself to become better at cleaning and organizing.

The reason small spaces should be organized as much as possible is simple. If you have a big area, it can be a little on the messy side, and you won’t notice as much. If your space is tiny, however, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bedroom, a closet or a shelf. The smaller it is, the easier it is for it to become messy and cluttered.

It’s important to put things back where they belong. Don’t just drop items on the closet floor or shelf with a vague promise to "take care of it later." Doing so will quickly add up and leave you feeling overwhelmed and crowded-out. Instead, take the time to put things away. Create a specific place where everything goes. This action is the first and arguably most important step to any set of small closet solutions.

Train Yourself to Be Organized

Of course, saying that you need to be organized is one thing. Learning to be organized if it's not your natural inclination is another thing altogether. Here are some quick tips for re-training yourself to be comfortable with organization.

1. Make It a Daily Habit

The best way to teach yourself any new skill is to make a habit out of practicing. This fact is true of organization as well. Try to make it a daily part of your routine, wherever it fits most naturally. Maybe every morning before you leave for work, you make sure your closet is cleaned up. Or perhaps it makes more sense to do it every night before you head to bed. You might also try doing it every day before or after you shower.

Whenever makes the most sense for you, try to fit in a quick session of clean-up and re-organization.

2. Allow Yourself to Mess Up

Learning any new habit is tough. Inevitably, you’re going to mess up and lose ground. That’s okay. It happens to the best of us. The important thing is to not quit just because of one misstep. You’re likely to wake up from time to time to realize you haven’t put away your things in a week. At that point, it’s all too easy to say, “Well, I already messed up. What’s the point in continuing to try?”

Resist this type of thinking and keep trying. Before you know it, it’ll be a habit, and you won’t even need to think about doing it.

3. Provide a Home for Everything

It’s much easier to put things away when there's actually a place for everything. In a way, it can even be fun to return each item to its proper home, provided everything has an appropriate home in the first place. It becomes much more frustrating when “home” is simply on a shelf with 30 other assorted things. So take the time to find a good resting place for everything.

4. Let Yourself Experiment

Everyone is wired a little differently. That means that what works for one person might just not work for you, and vice versa. Maybe all your friends are giving you advice on how to stay organized, but their tips just aren’t working out, and that's making you feel like a failure. Don’t feel bad about needing to seek out new tips and advice. Try new methods until you find something that works for you, and don’t beat yourself up if the conventional methods just don’t seem to be cutting it.

Tips for Organizing Your Small Closet

Whether you’re dealing with a small wardrobe closet or a small walk-in closet, most of these tricks will work, although some may need some slight adjusting. Work your way through this list and see if you can’t clear up a little extra space in your closet.

1. Add an Extender Rod to Double Your Hanging Space

Do you have too many hanging clothes and not enough space on the bar to hang them? This one is an easy fix, provided you have a fair amount of vertical space in your closet. Simply purchase an extra extender bar, hook it from your regular bar and voila! Suddenly, you have twice the amount of area for hanging clothes. If you’re concerned about how much space this bar takes up, you can also look into an extender rod that only goes half as long as the original rod.

2. Invest in a Rolling Clothing Rack

Realistically, you may simply have too many hanging clothes to fit in your closet. It happens. First, we recommend going through them and seeing if there are any clothes you can bear to part with. If you still have too many pieces to fit in the closet after this, you may want to consider investing in a portable clothing rack. You can store it elsewhere in your bedroom or even elsewhere in your house or apartment. Here, you can hang any extra clothes that don’t fit in your closet.

If you’re concerned about this rack looking out-of-place and cluttered in your living room or bedroom, why not treat it like an additional part of the décor? You might choose to coordinate the colors of the items hanging on this rack so that they match the rest of the room, or provide a pop of color in an otherwise neutral space. You might artfully drape a scarf, purse or coat over it. There are plenty of great ways to integrate these types of racks naturally into your space.

3. Organize Your Shelves With Shelf Dividers

Remember how we advised you to provide a special place for everything so that no matter how small, all your pieces of clothing had a home? Here’s one practical way to do that. Grab some shelf dividers online or at your local department or home goods store, and pop a few of them onto your closet shelves. They'll help you break your shelves up into smaller units for storing things.

By dividing your shelves into smaller "compartments," you can make it easier to see where individual things belong. You might store a stack of folded clothes in each divided space, thus preventing them from toppling sideways into each other. These dividers are also great for getting large purses to stand upright. Use your imagination and try to think of all the different things you could store in these divided spaces.

4. Create Extra Space With Under-the-Shelf Baskets

Shelves make for handy storage, but the empty space beneath them is just dead space, right? Well, not quite. Did you know that you can purchase under-shelf storage baskets? These handy baskets simply hook onto the shelf and provide something similar to a drawer that hangs beneath the shelf in the otherwise useless space. These baskets then make the perfect place for shoes, scarves, purses or any other smaller items that would otherwise rattle around without a specific home. Depending on basket size, you might even be able to store clothes in them.

5. Add as Many Hooks as You Can

If you’re dealing with a lack of storage space, hooks are going to be your new best friend. They’re extremely versatile and can be used to hang anything from coats and sweaters to purses, scarves and more. You can even get creative and tie your shoelaces together to hang shoes over hooks. The possibilities here are truly endless.

Over-the-door hooks are a great place to start, but they aren’t the only way to add a few hooks into your closet. Any place you see free wall space in your closet, feel free to add some hooks. The more you find room for, the cleaner your closet will become overall.

6. Use the Space Over the Door

Step inside your closet, turn around and face the door. Is there any dead space above it? This strategy might not work with some wardrobe-style closets, but it will usually be an option for walk-in closets. There are plenty of ways to put this wall space to good use.

You might try installing shelves up there. You’ll probably need to drag a chair into the closet to access them, but that just makes them ideal storage for out-of-season items or other things you don’t use very often. You might also add extra hooks up there. Some people have even had success hanging their luggage from hooks above the door. Whatever you choose to use this space for, we recommend only storing items up there that you won’t frequently need, as they'll likely be inconvenient to reach.

7. Use the Inside of the Closet Door

We already mentioned over-the-door hooks, and that's certainly one of the best ways to use this otherwise dead space — but it isn’t the only one. You can also buy extra hanger rods and hang them along the back of the door. From there, you can use them for shoes, purses and plenty of other things. Alternatively, you might be able to mount small storage units or baskets on the back of your door. Experiment with different possibilities to see what works best for you.

8. Invest in a Shoe Rack

Yes, a shoe rack will take up a fairly significant amount of floor space. However, the trade-off is that it also allows you room to stack your shoes in layers instead of having them all spread out across the closet floor. If you don’t have very many shoes, you can even store other things on the top layers of the shoe rack.

Another option is to set the shoe rack on one of your shelves, entirely freeing your floor space from shoes. While this plan might not be something you first think of doing, it can go a long way toward making your floor feel less cluttered.

9. Try the DIY Option...

Do you love crafts and DIY projects? If not, do you have a loved one who fits this bill? You might want to consider the possibility of a building your own organizer for your closet. The best thing about this type of option is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It can look like whatever you want it to because it’ll be customized based on your needs and available space.

Maybe your DIY unit will consist of a combination of free-standing shelves and drawers, a cart on wheels that you can move in and out of your closet or a table with sets of drawers in the bottom. Feel free to experiment and come up with whatever works best for your closet and storage concerns.

10. …Or Try the Pre-Made Option

Not everyone is great with tools and crafts, and that’s ok. If you’d rather stay far away from any building projects in the near future, we understand that. There are plenty of pre-built organizers out there that you can purchase from a furniture or home goods store. These options might be portable shelving units, rolling sets of drawers or many other designs. Browse through the different styles available, think carefully about what will work best for your closet, then buy it.

11. Hunt for Dead Space

We’ve zeroed in on a couple areas worth paying attention to — such as the back of your door and the space above it. But these are just two examples, and most closets are full of little nooks and crannies of dead space. Challenge yourself to think creatively and discover all the different places where you could install an extra shelf or additional hook.

12. Try to Get Things off the Floor

We can’t emphasize this step enough. Nothing makes a closet feel more cluttered and crowded than messy floors. Even if all your shelves are packed to the max, your space can still feel functional as long as the floors are clear. At the very least, anything there should be pushed back against the walls and not simply resting in the middle of the space.

13. Think About Performing a Closet Purge

At the end of the day, no matter how many tricks and organizers you implement, the simple fact might be that you have too many things to fit into your closet. At this point, it might be worth asking yourself if it’s time to go through and purge your closet.

We’re not advocating for you to throw out all your favorite items. No one wants to do that, and you shouldn’t have to. However, there’s a liberating and empowering feeling that comes with casting off old things that you no longer want or need. It’s not just good for your storage space. It’s also great for your mental and emotional state.

For your closet purge, we recommend sifting through every item in your closet and evaluating it by asking yourself this series of questions, or something similar:

  • Have I worn or used this item in the past year?
  • Do I realistically foresee myself using or wearing this item in the coming year?
  • Do I have a deep emotional connection to this item that makes it difficult to part with?
  • How much space is this item currently taking up?
  • How upset would I be if I were to get rid of this item?

If, after asking yourself these questions, you come to the conclusion that an item no longer belongs in your closet, then we recommend getting rid of it by throwing it away, recycling it or donating it. Don’t let yourself hang onto things simply because “you might use it someday, you never know.” You’ll feel better for having let it go, and your closet will feel a little roomier as well.

14. Consider Moving Things out of Your Closet

Take a good look at everything you currently have crammed in your closet. Ask yourself how much of it actually needs to be in there. Are some things out of season? Do you have a lot of items in there that aren’t clothing or accessories? Do you tend to collect assorted junk in your closet?

All of these items are things that could potentially be stored somewhere else. Maybe you could move your coats and sweatshirts to a hall closet. Perhaps your out-of-season clothes could be stored in tubs or boxes under the bed. And it’s possible that the assorted knick-knacks that collect in your closet could be relocated to your desk or somewhere else.

Realize that the smaller your closet is, the fewer things you’ll be able to store there. Decide which items are most important to keep in your closet, and move the rest on to new and better homes.

Shop Trendy New Styles at My Sister’s Closet Today

Now that your closet is beautiful and organized, you might realize that you actually have a lot more free space than you initially thought. That’s good news, because if your shopping habits are anything like ours, we both know that space will be filled up again with new purchases in no time.

If you’re looking to grab some trendy new styles, we invite you to stop by our online clothing boutique at My Sister’s Closet. We’re passionate about providing current fashions that are comfortable and make you feel great about yourself, all at a reasonable price that fits snuggly into your budget. Whether you’re seeking an outfit for your next brunch outing, something for a date night or just comfy clothes for lounging around the house on the weekend, we’ve got all the pieces you’ll need and more.

Browse our entire catalog today and get busy shopping.