Smart Strategies for Organizing Your Kid’s Closet

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We've got all the kid's closet ideas you need to get—and keep—their closets neat and organized.

Knowing how to organize a closet is important, but keeping your children’s closets organized is no easy feat! Not only do kids tend to have a lot of stuff, but they aren’t exactly known for their ability to put everything back in its place. If you want to ensure that your kids maintain a little bit of order in their closets, it is your job to come up with a closet system that can help maximize space and storage, compartmentalize to give everything its own place, offer storage that can grow with your children as their needs change, and make everything accessible for them, so they can find their stuff easily and be able to put it back in the right place (so you’re not stuck doing it for them).

If you are in need of some brilliant kid’s closet ideas along with the best closet organizers look no further. We’ve enlisted the help of a few top professional organizers—Ashley Murphy and Marissa Hagmeyer, co-founders of NEAT Method and Laynē Brookshire, CEO and founder of Ms. Placed Professional Organizing—to offer guidance on how to organize your kid’s closets.

Children sorting clothes from their closet for donationJakovo/Getty Images

Start from scratch

Don’t even consider trying to tackle any kid’s closet projects when they are full of stuff. Once you decide to tackle your child’s closet you should block off time when your kids are out of the house, so you can focus on doing a full closet cleanout when they are out of your way, suggests Murphy and Hagmeyer. Then, start with a blank slate. “When you first begin to organize, start by taking everything out of the space, so you can see exactly what you are working with,” notes Murphy and Hagmeyer.

After pulling everything out, the next step before attempting to organize should be designating what “zones” are needed based on the inventory of the space so that you can strategically plan out how best to use your available closet space, Brookshire advises. This is when you can decide how to design your closet. “We always recommend knowing exactly what you have before starting down the path of implementing a custom solution,” Murphy and Hagmeyer continue. “Go through all the organizing steps including pulling everything out, sorting, categorizing, and editing. Taking inventory of exactly what you have will help determine what you need in terms of hanging space, open shelving, and even drawers.”

RELATED: How to Organize Your Pantry

boy getting dressed Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

Custom closet options for kids

Once you know what you are working with, you can now decide how to design the space, taking into consideration how much hanging, shelf, and storage space you need.

You can do this yourself if you are on a tight budget, or use a professional company, like California Closets, or a professional organizer, to help. “Consider spending your money on measuring services, so you are assured it will be done correctly,” suggests Murphy and Hagmeyer.

If you do decide to tackle it yourself, Brookshire suggests checking out the ELFA System, sold at The Container Store. “It is adjustable, grows with your needs, and you can buy additional parts and accessories if your needs change, and they will all work with your existing system,” she says. You can opt for a more budget-friendly closet system or can go for a very high-end look—both options extremely versatile. Best of all, The Container Store has trained staff that can help you with your design at no additional cost. This ELFA Classic Closet has literally everything you need for a complete kid’s closet—from hanging space and drawers to over-the-door storage.

IKEA is also a great resource, as they offer many closet components and configurations. The PAX Wardrobe system is one of the most popular with designers and consumers alike. This configuration costs less than $500 and has ample shelving, drawer space, and even upper and lower hanging rods.

If you are on a tight budget, Little Seeds Grow with Me is another smart kids closet idea, and is adjustable to fit nearly any size closet. Wayfair’s Dotted Line collection also offers a really smart, low-priced closet system, with a starter set retailing for under $200 and available in several different color options. Lastly, Rubbermaid has an affordable system consisting of hanging bars and shelves for a little over $100.

bins in an organized kids closetvia amazon.com

Labeling and bins

After dividing everything up, it is time to compartmentalize. One of the keys to organizing is sorting all your items into categories, so like items are all grouped together. “This makes it so much easier to stay organized because you can easily find what you need when items are compartmentalized,” Murphy and Hagmeyer explain.

Now you need a bunch of baskets and bins. “Baskets and bins help to contain items that are grouped together on shelves and labels are the icing on the top. If you want to take it up a notch, you can color-code their items to make it even easier to find things like that favorite blue shirt your child wants to wear every day,” they say.

For example, Brookshire points out that you can create separate bins for shoes, socks/undies, swimsuits, casual and dressy items, school uniform, and dance leotards. You can also strategically create zones for clothes that fit them now, those they have grown out of, and those you are saving for the future, labeling them by size and placing the bins that they are currently using at the bottom where they can reach them. A few of our bins of choice? Pehr Pom Pom Bins are incredibly popular, as they are equally adorable as they are functional. And these mDesign Clear Plastic Bins are perfect for children because they can see what is inside them. Bonus: they won’t pull everything out and make a mess. As suggested by the pros, simply swap out labels when it is time to reorganize. Here are more of the best organizers on Amazon.

“A great rule of thumb is to use neutral colored organizing products in your kids’ closets, so they don’t outgrow the style,” Murphy and Hagmeyer point out. “When you use baskets with labels, it allows you to simply swap out the contents as your children grow and just update the labels.” Also, when creating labels for little ones who can’t yet read, you can use pictures instead of words, suggests Brookshire.

Colorful dresses hanging in wardrobealexandradabija/Getty Images

Hanging system

A hanging system is an essential kid’s closet concept. However, there a few different configurations you should consider plus tips on how to maximize space.

  • Two hanging bars vs. one. Having two hanging bars—one higher up and one lower—can come in handy. While your children are young, you can place the clothes they need to reach on a daily basis on the bottom, and clothes for the future on the top, harder-to-reach bar.
  • If you have only one hanging bar, add storage. Kid’s clothes are not as long as adults so if you only have one long hanging bar, Brookshire suggests adding a dresser or shoe storage underneath the hanging space to maximize the otherwise “unusable” space below.
  • Opt for slimline hangers. Also, to maximize hanging space, Murphy and Hagmeyer suggest choosing your hangers wisely—these are the best hangers for every type of clothing. “Slimline hangers are a great way to maximize the amount of hanging space in a closet. They are available in adult and kid sizes, will instantly give you 20 percent more space, and will also give your closet a beautiful cohesive look,” they point out. Amazon Basics offers kid-sizer slimline hangers, and they are seriously affordable.
  • Compartmentalize your hanging system. One way to keep the hanging portion of the closet organized is by compartmentalizing. “Closet rod organizers are wonderful,” says Brookshire. “You can put them on the clothing rack between sizes or categories to keep everything separated.” Check out this mDesign hanging storage organizer that is available in a variety of colors and features six handy shelves.

Mother & daughter playing Hide & Seek in closetKlaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

How to handle shared closets

If your children are sharing a closet, your best bet is to divide up the space. For example, if you have a boy and a girl, you can create a “his” and “hers” side, using a single color labeling or bin system for each to designate whose stuff it is. To divide up the hanging section of the closet, you can use a closet rod organizer to separate your children’s clothes.

How to maximize a small closet

Brookshire suggests getting creative when it comes to maximizing the space in a small closet.

  • Utilize the storage on the back of the door. The back of the closet door can offer some much-needed storage space, she points out. There are a variety of options, including this mDesign over-the-door organizer that can be used to store a variety of items ranging from shoes and hats to stuffed animals.
  • Stick things you don’t use regularly on the top shelf. Use prime storage space wisely. “Use a top, unreachable shelf for keepsake items and things that don’t need to be within reach,” Brookshire suggests.
  • Add floating shelves. Installing floating shelves is a brilliant hack to add extra storage space.

little girl getting ready for schoolMarilyn Nieves/Getty Images

Other organization tips for kid’s closets

  • Add lighting. “Lighting makes a huge difference in a closet,” Brookshire points out. “If you are able to bring bright light into the space, it will allow you to see the true colors of your space and allow you to ENJOY your bright and beautiful closet (which helps you stay motivated to maintain the space) vs. a dark closet that isn’t enjoyable to spend time in.” These are the best closet lighting options available.
  • Consider a bench. Seating is a great idea, not only so your kids will have a place to put their shoes on, but will also add a stylish look suggests Brookshire. “I’m a big fan of adding design elements because it helps create intention in a space.” The IKEA Hemnes bench is a great, affordable option as it offers storage and a place to sit.
  • Use extra closet space for toys. In order to keep your child’s room from getting super messy, consider storing toys and other clutter-prone items in bins on their closet shelves.

Sources:

Cluttered Garage Home Storage Room in Denver ColoradoBoogich/Getty Images

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Leah Groth
Leah is a Philadelphia-based writer, editor, mother and product junkie. Her obsessions include old houses, home design, fashion, beauty, books and anything that makes her life — which includes working full-time and taking care of two "spirited" children and a Vizsla puppy — a little bit easier. Her work has appeared on a variety of publications and websites, including Glamour, Prevention, Business Insider, Livestrong, Mindbodygreen, Fatherly, Scary Mommy, Wonderwall and Cosmopolitan.