Why does it feel as though no closet, no matter the size, ever seems to fit all our things in a neat or practical way? There’s always some wonky corner we need to work around, or a rod that’s too short, or shelves that don’t quite work the way we’d like them to. That said, in all our time spent with annoyingly tiny closets, we’ve picked up a few tips, tricks and storage solutions to make the most of even the smallest space. Here are 11 things you can do to maximize your small closet.
1. Stow Coats and Jackets Over Dresses
Not every item in your closet needs its own hanger. Have your hangers pull double duty and free up some much-needed space on your closet rod by slipping outerwear over dresses you wear less often (like wedding guests dresses, cocktail attire or other occasion wear).
2. Add Under Shelf Baskets
These handy little additions are great for breaking up any stacks or piles that have gotten too big. Simply slip them onto a standard-size shelf, fill the basket with scarves, cardigans, jeans or even socks and leave your actual shelf free to stow handbags, shoes or additional chunky sweaters.
3. Use Flat Velvet Hangers
It’s really remarkable how quickly using the wrong hangers can shrink your closet space. A matching line of slim-fit hangers helps everything to lay flat and orderly, while the velvet offers enough grip to prevent skinny straps or lightweight tops from slipping. (One thing to note: Heavy wool coats and malleable leather jackets should still be stored on sturdier hangers with a bit more shoulder support.)
Get the look: BOXED Prince & Spring Black Non-Slip Hangers ($11 for set of 35); Made by Design Non Slip Velvet Hanger ($20 for set of 30); Amazon Basics Velvet Suit Clothes Hangers ($32 for set of 100)
4. Lighten Up a Dark Wardrobe with Non-Black Hangers
Just because you should be using a row of velvet hangers doesn’t mean they need to all be black, or even one single color, for that matter. If you subscribe to the NYC uniform (aka all black everything), white or lightly colored hangers will prevent your closet from turning into a black hole from which nothing can ever be found. Or you can hang black, navy and other dark items on white hangers and use black hangers for your bright summer pieces.
Get the look: The Container Store Taupe Premium Non-Slip Velvet Hangers ($7 for set of 10); MIZGI Premium Velvet Hangers in Whites ($24 for set of 50); SUPJOO Premium Velvet Hangers with Rose Gold Swivel Hooks in Gray ($24 for set of 50)
5. Tuck Belts Into an Open Handbag
Make the most of all the available space in your closet, even the spaces within your clothing and accessories themselves. Instead of hanging your belts on a hook, roll them up and tuck them into an empty bag. Pro tip: If you’re the type of person who tends to forget what she owns if she can’t actually see it (just like yours truly), leave one end of the belt draped over the top of the bag as a visual reminder of what’s in there.
6. Try Shelf Dividers for Stacking
Easily maintain your stacks of sweaters, T-shirts and tops with the help of these minimalist dividers. Now you can feel free to grab that bottom cardigan without fear of the entire pile coming tumbling down and adding an annoying extra ten minutes of folding to your morning.
Get the look: Lynk Tall Shelf Dividers ($11 for set of four); Richards Homewares Acrylic Closet Shelf Divider ($19 for set of two); Evelots Closet Shelf Divider ($25 for set of eight); Kosiehouse Selve Dividers ($30 for set of eight)
7. Don’t Forget to Use the Door
With the right tools, your closet door can actually provide some excellent storage space, as well. Add more room for clothes with a hook rack that slips over the top of the door, or for shoes with hanging shoe sleeves. You can also add your own stick-on hooks at need for things like belts, scarves, hats or handbags.
Get the look: Command Medium Sized Utility Hooks Value Pack ($6 for set of six); Made by Design Over The Door 26 Shelf Mesh Shoe Organizer ($20); Oxel Over The Door Hanging Wall Organizer with 8 Pockets ($27); The Container Store Platinum Elfa Utility Closet Door & Wall Rack ($101)
8. Add Another Hanging Rod for Short Items
Double up on hanging space for shirts, miniskirts and shorts with a second rod that attaches and hangs from your original closet rod.
Get the look: The Containter Store Lynk Double Hang Closet Rod ($13); The Container Store Umbra Dublet Adjustable Closet Rod Expander ($15)
9. Remove Your Shoes
As much as you’d like to stuff everything into your closet, shut the door and call it a day, sometimes you have to admit that you just don’t have the space to fit everything. Shoes tend to take up a lot of room, so it might be the case that they’re better off in their own little storage space. Vertical shoe cubbies are easily stacked in a corner out of the way without taking up too much of your floor.
Get the look: Honey-Can-Do Cotton 10-Pair Shoe Organizer ($26); ClosetMaid 1545 Stackable 10-Cube Organizer ($35); The Container Store 8-Pair Shoe & Purse Organizer ($40); West Elm 5-Tiered Shoe Rack ($55)
10. Create a Specific Home for Everything
Our girl Marie Kondo is a particular fan of this method, and after testing it for ourselves, we’re definitely on board, too. Rather than hanging your clothes randomly, come up with an ordered system that assigns a home to every piece you own (and easily dictates where new items will go). For example, you can order tops by sleeve length or color (or both!). Hang dresses by season or occasion, i.e., all your work dresses go first, followed by weekend wear and finishing up with fancy cocktail and wedding guest options.
11. Commit to Staying Organized
You can buy all the cool gadgets, gizmos and storage fixers you want, but if you’re not willing to put in a little effort on your end, things are likely to turn messy again soon. Make a conscious effort to put clothes away after trying them on or at the end of the day. Fold your sweaters before you stack them. Put things back in their original place, rather than tossing them wherever.