19 Ideas for Storing Clothes Without a Closet

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No closet? No problem. These creative clothes storage ideas are the closet alternatives you've been searching for.

A room without a closet may seem like a travesty to regular watchers of today’s real estate, home design, and organizing shows, but the fact is that closets in every bedroom of the home were a rarity 100-plus years ago. Back then, folks had a lot less stuff in general, and their clothing was typically stored in a trunk or armoire. So if you fell in love with the charm of an old house or are renting an apartment that dates back to the 1800s, you may need to get more creative when it comes to your clothes storage ideas.

After all, closet or no, storing your clothes neatly and in an organized fashion is a must. When you don’t, not only is it harder to find something to wear in the morning, but your clothes are also more likely to get wrinkled and look messy.

So how do you create storage in small spaces? Start by doing a full closet cleanout to pare down the clothing you need to store. Then assess your space: If you have high ceilings, look for vertical storage options; if they’re low, shorter and wider storage makes more sense. Either way, you want to use whatever space you have to your advantage and fill it with the best closet organizers. Don’t forget to brush up on the best tips for how to organize a closet, too.

We’ve rounded up the best no-closet solutions and small room storage ideas for people without closets and anyone who has a small closet and is short on space. You may also want to consider creating a capsule wardrobe and you’ll definitely want to learn how to fold like Marie Kondo.

Woman preparing to get dressedFlashpop/Getty Images

Create a “closet”

Invest in a bedroom wardrobe

An armoire, a clothes storage idea from the past, is a classic closet alternative. This piece of furniture is essentially an external closet; some come with a bar for hanging with enough room to hang longer clothes including pants and dresses, while others have a bar with only enough space to hang shirts and a lower half filled with drawer space. Still other versions are all shelves. Pick the version that works best for you and your current wardrobe. You can find armoires in a range of sizes and finishes to match your space and style.

Commit to a freestanding closet organizer

Basically, a wall-less portable closet, a freestanding closet system offers all the storage of a clothes closet—just without the walls. Look for one with built-in drawers that’s wide enough to hold storage bins and boxes for added organization. And brush up on your folding skills—since your clothes will be on display, they’ll need to be extra tidy.

Closet and bathtub in modern bedroomMint Images/Getty Images

Create zones with a bedroom cabinet

If you’re in a studio and/or want to section off your bedroom, a large freestanding organizer/wardrobe doubles as a way to store your clothes and divide the space. Bedroom cabinets typically offer a mix of hanging space, drawers, and shelves; they can be open or closed, and are large enough to function as a makeshift partial wall.

Try a telescoping rack

A tension pole garment rack is one of the easiest non-closet closet units to put up. If you tend to hang most of your garments, then this clothes storage idea is for you. Two vertical, tension poles get locked in place from floor to ceiling; then two tension poles fit side to side, adjustable from approximately 24 to 47 inches. You can make this adjustable rack work in almost any space, plus there are no screws or other hardware required, making it a smart choice for renters. Need some shelving? Hang a short hanging shelving unit from one of the bars.

Reclaim that dark corner

Replace the chair in the corner of the room where you haphazardly toss all your clothes at the end with a functional corner closet. This one from Wayfair packs a lot of storage into not a lot of space (it’s just 33 inches front to back and side to side). With two shelves and two closet rods, this corner piece makes use of the often-forgotten room corner space. Choose between neutral white and the on-trend designer-inspired bark gray color.

Knitted Woolen Things Of Different Colors, Stacked In A Pile, Lie On A White Wooden Table. Winter And Autumn Warm Cozy Sweaters For Charity. The Concept Of Storage, Care And Washing Of Handmade Products. Copy Of The Text Space.Aleksandr Zubkov/Getty Images

Get creative

Hang floating clothes shelves

Hung on the wall, floating shelves are a perfect place to set folded clothes. Another clothes storage idea: Attach hooks to the front or sides of the shelves to hold hats and scarves. Bonus: Being able to see everything you own means you know exactly where everything is.

Find hanging storage space everywhere

Upgrade the basic floating shelf with an under-shelf hanging rod. A valuable addition to your makeshift closet set-up, this multitasker is a shelf with hanging space all in one. You can purchase DIY add-on kits—just screw the brackets to the underside of a solid shelf; then add the hanging rod. Or go the easier route and buy a pre-made shelf with the hanging piece already attached.

Turn a clothesline into a decorative accent

Sure, you could hang a basic clothesline from hooks secured to wall studs. Or you could up-style your clothesline by stringing it with wooden beads for a simple DIY clothes storage idea. Keep it rustic-looking by leaving natural wood beads unpainted. Or for a pop of color, paint them a bold, contrasting shade or the same as your wall color to blend with your décor. The beads are not only decorative but also functional, as they prevent clothes hangers from sliding to the center of the line.

Repurpose a bookcase

One of the best no-closet solutions—a bookcase (or two), which can do the work of any closet. Consider mixing bookcase heights to get useable wall space above the lower bookcase. Organize your folded clothes by category before placing the stacks on the shelves. Distinguish your long-sleeve shirts from your short-sleeve shirts by keeping them in separate piles. Use a modular cubby system to create compartments for grab-and-go items such as workout tops. Attach hooks to the sides of the bookcase for hanging a few clothes on hangers or storing larger accessories such as statement necklaces.

Seating and storage

Storage benches and ottomans have a surprising amount of space to hold things—and you gain an extra seat. To avoid messing up folded clothes, use clear stacking boxes, that way you can lift out a box to reach the one underneath.

Stack your storage

Stacking cubes let you design an organizer to your specifications—it can be as tall or as short as you want. Because the cubes are easily changeable, you are not locked into one design. You can move the cubes or add more to the system as your needs change; stack two or three on top of each other, slide out the shelf and you’ve got hanging space.

corner clothes hanging barvia amazon.com

Use the corner

Transform the corner of any room into an impromptu closet with a corner hanging bar to maximize unused corner space with 19 inches of hanger real estate. Double your hanging space by installing two bars, one higher and one lower. The durable bar holds up to 45 pounds.

Make your bed do double duty

Trade in your basic headboard

Instead of a decorative headboard for your frame, buy one with a hutch or place a large freestanding closet system behind the bed to add storage space where there was none. Some come with racks for hanging, along with shelving. Store your smaller items in fabric-covered bins to keep things neat.

Raise the bed for DIY under bed storage

Optimize often-overlooked space under the bed by adding bed risers; these lifts raise your bed frame three to eight inches higher, creating more space for storage below. With more clearance, low-to-the-ground bins, cubbies, and containers easily slide under the bed. Place a fabric bin or basket on its side (with the open-top facing out) to contain items, so they won’t get lost under the bed and are easy to reach.

under bed storagevia homedepot.com

Hide things under the bed (in a good way)

If you’re in the market for a new bed frame, shop for a platform bed with built-in drawers. It blends right in with the decor of your room and keeps your clothes neatly hidden out of sight.

General tips

When you’re short on space, it’s important to store your clothes strategically.

  • Hang your garments by type: pants, skirts, dresses, button-down tops, and so on. Then within each category, line the clothes up by color: darks, naturals, lights, and brights, etc. The streamlined look is more pleasing to the eye than a jumble of pieces, and it makes finding what you need a whole lot easier, too.
  • If you don’t have drawer space, store socks, undies, swimsuits, and other smaller items in bins.
  • Give your everyday clothes prime real estate, whether that’s hanging space or more readily accessible shelves or drawers.
  • To gain the most useable space for everyday wear, cycle your seasonal clothing. Store out-of-season clothes in compression bags in the basement, attic, or under a bed, while not in use.

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Jamie Novak
Jamie Novak is a globally recognized professional organizer who regularly contributes to RD.com. She has more than 20 years of experience covering the home-organizing industry. Novak wrote Keep This Toss That: the practical guide to tidying up, a top selling book for Reader's Digest. She’s been seen on HGTV, QVC, and national morning talk shows. Her work has appeared in magazines from Better Homes and Gardens to Real Simple. Connect with Novak at JamieNovak.com, @JamieNovak, or using the hashtag #KeepThisTossThat