How to Organize a Small Master Closet

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. Let’s talk about REAL-LIFE tiny closet organizing…

Text how to organize a very small master closet on background of neutral clothing hanging on wood hangers.

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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.

Text how I organize my tiny closet to fit all of my clothes on white square over background of organized small closet contents.

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 allI 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:

Top row of hanging clothes in my organized tiny closet.
Organized small closet.

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?

Text 5 simple steps to organize a tiny master closet on white square over background of organized closet space.

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.

Collage of closet pictures with labels describing organized areas.

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.

Closet organization created with stackable shelves and wicker baskets.

Related: Easy Closet Organization Ideas On A Budget To Transform Your Mess

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, 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?

Think about it. Then, when the seasons change, store only what you must in zippered boxes or plastic bins.

Amazon Finds to Help Organize Your Small Closet:

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If you really can’t bring yourself to get rid of your hanging clothes, and they are overfilling your space, try slim hangers — they take up less space in your closet. Then, combine them with space-saving hanger organizers — these hanger organizers fold down so your hanging clothes take up less horizontal space.

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.

Next Steps…

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!

If you need to organize more than just a closet (think: money, tasks, the kitchen, LIFE), check out my full collection of decluttering tips and organizing ideas.

Did you enjoy this post? Know someone else who might like it? Please take a moment to share on Pinterest, Facebook, or your favorite social media… (Click the sharing buttons at the bottom of the post.) Thank you!

Pinterest image with text 'your very small master closet really is big enough - here's how to make it work' over dark background of neatly organized small closet.
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Text How To Organize A Very Small Master Closet over background of stacked folded jeans.

12 thoughts on “How to Organize a Small Master Closet”

  1. Great ideas and no, I do not have an extra bedroom to turn into a closet! I do love the feeling I get when I reorganize a closet. I think its time to do my closet again, thanks for the motivation!

  2. I am trying to do our shared small master closet…It’s horrible…I wish I had more closet space. I need to better organize, but hubby has more things than I do.

    1. Hi Karen! Thank you so much for visiting! My husband also has a LOT more things than I do. His closet is the same size as mine but separate, so I mostly try to ignore it. Having a shared closet would be difficult! What helps my husband a little bit is hanging everything possible, even t-shirts. Maybe I need to do a closet post about men who have too many clothes.

  3. My mom moved into my bedroom a while back when she got sick.I have a master with bathroom. She died. Between her clothing and mine. Plus weight loss going from size 24 to size 20. I need my bedroom and space back. As things don’t fit i have a pile of jeans and pants. My mom had designer clothing i have some. I’m thinking of garage sale. Does clothing sell at garage sales. How does consignment shops work. I got rid of all her undergarments. I also cleaned drawers out keeping a few things. Tossed her socks. Now working on shoes. I boxed up her clothing laying on top of her dresser. I keep finding bags of clothing. She and I wore the same size. My brother moved in he refuses to get rid of stuff that doesn’t fit him. Even after I got him a few new outfits. i had to get that room ready for him. Mom had clothing in that closet as well as mine. I tossed everything on my bed. Finally got that boxed up a well. I’m very overwhelmed.

    i need to do something fast.

    1. Hi Carol! First, I am so sorry for your loss. If your mother passed away recently, then please allow yourself time to grieve. If you’re now at the point where you are ready to let some things go, then I have a few suggestions which are just that — SUGGESTIONS. In the end, you need to do what’s right for you!
      I have found that adult clothing sells very poorly at garage sales. First, I would donate everything non-designer just to get it out of the house and give yourself some mental and physical space. Then, if you have designer clothing in good condition and would like to earn some money back from the pieces, I would try a consignment shop. MOST shops set an appointment, examine the pieces, and take what they believe will sell. Then they give you a percentage of the selling price after it sells. Alternatively, if you don’t need the money and are truly ready to just let it go, then you might consider simply donating the clothing to your charity of choice. (This is YOUR decision, and you should not make it until you’re ready.)
      Unfortunately, I don’t have much advice regarding your brother. Right now, as long as his mess stays in his room, I would concentrate on taking care of clearing out the other clothing and then organizing what is left and fits you properly.

  4. Thank you for your help . I have the same size closet. Retired a year ago and am in the process of decluttering and minimizing . I have gotten rid of 2 dressers, one more to go. My suggestion, don’t give up. Thank you again. ?

  5. You are the first one (of the 10,000 organizing posts Ive read 🤦🏼‍♀️) to suggest getting rid of the dresser! And you are SO right! It is the biggest clutter collector in my bedroom; including the folded clothes that don’t make it inside the actual dresser….
    I have to get rid of it!!! Thank you so much! 😍

  6. In all the helpful things I read, where does the underware go if you do not have at least a small dresser. Socks, nylons, pants, bra’s need to be kept somewhere.

  7. I have a difficult time with a sall closet. I have extra clothing stored under the bed ad in my son’s old room now that he’s grown, married and gone. My husband won’t let me make the room into a large dressing room but my clothes are still stored in there. We would like also to make his room into a Library but I would have to consolidate!!

  8. It took time but I have a organized Master Bedroom Closet now and have had it organized for several years now!! Not only did I clear the clutter for my small closet but I organized it!! I organized by putting like clothing together ie. skirts below the knees, skirts maxi etc. then I organized b color ROYGBIV, then I placed my patterned items with samie type of clothing then I placed going by background color. I’ve had no issues maintaining order because everything has it’s place!! I do have a dresser and I love how it keeps my T’s and socks etc. organized!! I pray that everyone will declutter & organize their closets because it makes life so much easier!!!

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