Do you constantly feel like closet space is an issue? Our home is fairly small by today’s standards, which means I had to perfect the art of how to organize a small master closet.
Here’s what I’ve learned about how to make a small closet work, including the 5 steps you can take to organize your own tiny bedroom closet…
Here’s an example to show you how our perspective about closets can change…
A while back my husband and I started watching HGTV’s ‘Flip or Flop’ on Netflix. Aside from the drool-worthiness of the finishes they use in the ‘after’ home tour, what really caught my attention was the fixation on closets.
It seemed like the first thing they mention when they tour a recently purchased ‘before’ house is how tiny the existing closets are. They state as absolute fact that buyers EXPECT and NEED larger closets.
Then I thought about the trend of turning an entire bedroom into a walk-in closet — for one person.
This is not something you just hear about on television or see online. I’ve been a silent listener when several ‘regular-type people’ real-life friends were discussing their plans to do this, and some of them even have the project in the works.
Here’s the thing… A project like that is not ‘wrong,’ Huge closets aren’t ‘wrong.’
But for many of us, it’s not practical… and definitely not necessary. With smart wardrobe management and some simple storage habit changes, even a tiny closet can hold all the clothing you need.
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What’s In My Tiny Master Closet?
My little reach-in closet is about 40” wide x 24” deep. And you know what? I built it that size on purpose and all of my regular clothes and shoes fit in there.
And I really mean all — I don’t own a dresser.
The only things I don’t keep in my closet are:
- My outerwear jackets, all two of them. They hang in the closet area of our (also very small!) renovated entryway/mudroom, but I could hang them in my personal closet if I had to.
- Three pairs of shoes. I keep hiking boots and a pair of regular shoes under the bench in the mudroom entry. I also keep one pair of shoes next to the sliding glass door in the living room in case I have to step outside quickly.
You know what else lives in my closet?
- Gift bags and wrapping supplies
- The Shark vacuum
- Two extension leaves for our dining room table
- A laptop bag and two travel bags
- Paint cans
- Some other stuff that I should probably declutter
I did manage to toss a big garbage bag full of stuff when I was writing this post, but all the items I just mentioned are still in there. I also used to keep about 60 boxes of cereal in that closet back in my couponing days.
Here are a couple of pictures from the day I wrote this post in 2016:
From the photos, you can see I don’t have a lot of clothes. I tend to lean more toward a capsule-style wardrobe. It really just makes life so much easier!
However, notice the empty spaces on the shelves? Each shelf holds at least five pairs of jeans or several sweaters, I just don’t have enough to fill them.
I also use wide plastic hangers and space them far apart. You could easily fit double or triple the hanging clothes by using slim hangers.
My preference for something resembling a capsule wardrobe may not be your vision of the perfect closet. Just remember… even if you own more clothing items than I have, the organizing process is the same and you can use these products to maximize your own tiny master closet storage options.
How Can You Organize a Small Master Closet?
Everyone has a unique closet situation. But we can all take some basic steps to make organizing easier when we don’t have much space.
1. Declutter the clothes that don’t work for you.
Ruthlessly get rid of the clothes you don’t wear by decluttering your wardrobe.
Think about how often you wear something. Every day? Once a week? Once a month? Once a year?
Anything that you haven’t worn in a year, doesn’t fit, or needs repair can go. Seriously, if you haven’t gotten it fixed by now, you probably won’t ever get it done.
I understand it’s definitely difficult to get rid of some clothing, even things you haven’t worn in years. But once you understand why you fear decluttering your clothes, you can use strategies to help you get past the roadblocks and finally create the perfect-size wardrobe.
The same goes for shoes. I don’t subscribe to the ‘you can never have too many shoes’ philosophy.
Chances are, if you keep buying more and more and more shoes, you’re just going to end up wearing the same few pairs most of the time and have to store a bunch of shoes that you don’t like or find all that useful.
How many shoes do you have RIGHT NOW that you have never worn more than once? Let them go — here’s a simple way to declutter shoes.
Free yourself from the vague sense of guilt and possibly very real discomfort when you wear shoes that aren’t really right for you. (In case you haven’t guessed, I’m also not a fan of ‘beauty is pain’ or whatever that silly saying is. Pretty much the only shoes I wear now are Skechers Go Walk.)
2. Evaluate any non-clothing items you may be storing.
Do they belong in your closet? Is there a more practical place to keep them?
I know — you’re probably thinking about the vacuum and other things I said were in my closet. For most of those items, my closet is the best place — easy to access yet behind closed doors.
I will say there are a few things I leave in there simply because there is plenty of room. Guess I should work on that!
3. Purchase a custom closet organizing system or create your own.
Remember to measure your closet before purchasing anything!
For my own closet, I went the DIY route for closet organizing.
I already had some wire shelves, so I installed them in the most reasonable way to fit my clothing, creating a 2-tier hanging system with space at one end of the closet for longer clothes like pants.
I purchased three stackable small shelf units with adjustable shelves (similar to these fixed-shelf stackable units). For safety, be sure to anchor the shelves to the wall, especially if you stack multiple units.
This is where I store all of my foldable clothes and baskets for my underwear and socks. You could also use baskets for scarves, belts, and casual shoes like flats or flip-flops.
2023 Update: I recently purchased a Rubbermaid Configurations Deluxe Closet Kit in the smallest size I could find. I’m sure it will be much prettier than my DIY version (and honestly, in 2023, not much different in price) and I’ll update this post after I install it.
4. Account for your habits.
If you constantly think you have too many clothes and “need more space,” the real issue may be something completely unrelated — like hating to put your laundry away. 😉
Been there, done that!
After eliminating nonessential clothing and improving my sloppy laundry habits, I’ve found that it’s really awesome to be able to open my closet and see all of my available clothing in one small but organized space.
5. Store off-season clothing only if absolutely necessary.
If you dress in layers or live in climates without temperature extremes, you can wear most of your clothing year-round. You can probably keep everything you wear right in your closet.
But if you live where there are four full seasons, consider whether you’re using that as an excuse to just keep more clothes. Cozy sweaters will fit on shelves — and how many do you really need?
Amazon Finds to Help Organize Your Small Closet:
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Depending on your closet and the amount of shoes you actually need, you may want to try a 6″ wide hanging shoe organizer that can hold 10 pairs of shoes. Or, if you have space on the floor under your hanging clothes, you could use a multi-tier storage rack.
If neither of those work and you still want to keep shoes in your closet, there’s always the classic over-the-door hanging shoe organizer. You just need to have a regular door, not sliding or folding doors.
You will have to work at keeping a small master closet organized, but the results are definitely worth the effort of learning how to organize clothes in a small space. Remember, you don’t always need bigger if you can make BETTER work for you!
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