The Best Closet Storage Ideas to Help Make the Most of Your Small Closet

Updated: Jul. 12, 2023

Here are small closet ideas and storage solutions to help you make room for your essentials—and a few items you just can't bear to throw out—even in the smallest closet.

When it comes to closets, size matters. If you have a small closet, you really have to pare down what’s going into it before you can organize it efficiently. Otherwise, you will just have piles of stuff thrown in and every day will be a struggle to find what you’re looking for.

“Organized closets actually help your mental health,” says Rebecca Gitana Torres, owner, Healing Through The Home. “Having what you need, when you need it, offers you comfort and support whereas a disorganized closet promotes confusion, uncertainty, and the stress of having to shop and spend when you probably already own what you can’t find. Getting organized is empowering for your mental and emotional wellness.” Plus an organized closet will save you time and money—an important reason to learn how to organize a closet.

How do you organize a small closet, though? You’ll want to load up on these best closet organizers and consider a closet system, then follow these expert tips for the best small closet organization ideas so you can spend your time doing the things you love rather than searching for the clothes you want to wear to do them.

Small closet storage ideas

There are so many ways to organize your small closet and you have to empty it out first to see what you want to keep in it so you can choose the find the small closet design that works best for your personal needs.

  • Professional organizers consistently recommend the closet organizing systems from The Container Store, IKEA, and California Closets because they offer options for small closets that include shelves, rods, drawers that can be configured to meet your individual needs. Plus, all the pieces are meant to work together, giving your closet a clean, finished look. Start by booking an appointment for a free design consultation. They’ll give you lots of ideas for how to organize a small closet on a budget.
  • Go vertical. No matter how small your closet is, hanging space is still its main function. Drawers are great but if you have to choose, opt for hanging space. You can always put a dresser in your bedroom.
  • Make sure you leave enough room to hang your specific clothes. You probably only need a little space for long-hanging items but if you do need more, take it. If you’re like most people, short items like shirts make up the majority of your wardrobe, and double hanging will make a huge difference in helping you organize them in your closet. Place one rod at a height of about 79 inches, and another under it at about 40 inches. Adjust for the length of the clothes you will actually be hanging on them and leave enough space between them so the hems of the top clothes don’t get caught on the hangers on the bottom rod.
  • “The number one way to maximize a small closet is to replace all your hangers with slimline hangers,” says Marissa Hagmeyer, co-owner, NEAT Method. “You will instantly gain at least 20 percent more hanging space and your garments will be sure to stay in place. If you do only one thing, do this!” These are more of the best space-saving hangers.
  • Looking for some DIY small closet ideas to really personalize your space or add in jewelry storage? The back of the closet door and any open wall space are great spots to place hooks or knobs for hanging jewelry or hats. An over-the-door shoe bag can be used to store accessories in addition to shoes. Here are more DIY closet organizer ideas to browse.

Ways to maximize the space in a small closet

Experts agree that the most effective way to organize a small closet is to stay on top of what goes in it. If you can control the amount that has to be stored, it’s much easier to keep it organized.

  • Go through your closet seasonally to do a full closet cleanout. If an item is out of date, damaged beyond repair, or you can’t remember the last time you wore it, throw it out, give it away, sell it, or donate it to charity.
  • Some professionals suggest getting rid of an old item every time you bring in something new. “Seasons change, styles change, and so do our bodies,” says Pamela Etzin, owner, An Eye for Detail. “Nothing looks great forever, and your donation will be someone else’s treasure.” Many charitable organizations will pick up your donations but if you need to get them out of your house before you decide to keep everything, head to a drop-off station like Goodwill.
  • Keep off-season clothing separate. If you have a tiny closet, pack it all up and store it in bins under your bed, in another closet, or in your basement, attic, or garage. Just be sure to use weathertight bins so everything stays dry.
  • If you have room to store off-season clothes in your closet, use bins on high shelves, where they won’t take up room that would be better used for everyday items.
  • Formal occasion pieces can also be moved to another room or under the bed in thin plastic bins. “It’s much easier to take that satin gown out of the storage bin and have it steamed before a special event than it is to live with it taking up valuable closet space every day of your life,” says Robbie Randolph, owner, Randolph and Associates.
  • Move unnecessary items out of the closet. “Putting like items with like items and just rearranging the way things are stored can create space where there didn’t seem to be any,” says Gayle Gruenberg, chief executive organizer, Let’s Get Organized. “A vacuum, for example, doesn’t need to be stored in the primary bedroom closet.”
  • Consider a capsule wardrobe. This means condensing your entire wardrobe down to a minimal number of pieces that all go together and can be worn in a variety of combinations. They cut down your decision-making time and require so much less space, making it one of the best closet space savers.

Next, learn these creative clothes storage ideas if you don’t have a closet.