How To Organize A Small Closet

how to organize a small closet


Figuring out how to organize a small closet is challenging, but important. Closets are the number one culprit where disorganization can take over quickly.

You’ve seen it before: a perfectly organized home with small, hidden closets that are bursting at the seams. What’s the point of a shiny, clean home when your tiny closet is secretly overflowing?

This is especially true when you live in a small space like a tiny home or a studio apartment. In settings like this, keeping your small closet organized and making the most of the space you have can start to feel impossible.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I moved into my tiny house 10 years ago, so I’ve had to get super strategic about organization. Living in only 150 square feet, I don’t have as much room as I used to! Keeping my tiny closet organized is just one way I take control of my possessions without letting them control me.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Simple Steps To Start Organizing Your Small Closet

Simple Steps To Start Organizing Your Small Closet

When it comes to small spaces, the culprit behind the mess is often having too much stuff. It’s good practice to have some kind of regular decluttering regimen, but organizing your cramped closet that’s bursting at the seams is also key to making the most of your small space.

The good thing about organizing a small closet is, there isn’t a whole lot that can fit into it, so it can feel more manageable to tackle.
tiny house closets

Step One: Declutter Your Clothes

Like I said before, its best to start out with a round of your favorite decluttering method before you get organizing. It’s much harder to organize your closet when it’s filled to the brim with clothes than it is when it’s been cleaned out!

I’m a simple guy, so I like to go with the Four Box Decluttering method. With this method, you’re creating a throw away box, give away box, keep box, and storage box to strategically declutter your clothing. It’s one of the easiest decluttering methods and is extremely efficient — it gets the job done quickly.

Declutter Your Clothes

Step Two: Measure The Size Of Your Small Closet

Planning on the front end will make your life easier as you organize your small closet. If you’re trying to take advantage of every square inch of space you have, you’ve got to be aware of just how much there is!

Measure The Size Of Your Small ClosetGet out your tape measure and measure the width and length of your closet space. Instead of just trying to shove everything into your small closet, get ahead of the mess on the front end, and be aware of how much room you have to work with and plan towards that.

Planning well will save you when it comes to small closet organization. Measuring your space can help you decide what organizers and tools can actually fit in your tiny closet. It will also help you realize if you need to cut down on what you’re storing or seek out additional space.

If you want to be really diligent, you can even get out some graph paper and draw your closet, plotting out your organization plan to scale.

Step Three: Store The Items You Use The Least Often

It’s time to start organizing, starting with the items you want to put in storage. The goal with any organization method is to set your space up in a way that makes your daily life simpler.

With a small closet, this means organizing strategically to give you easy access to your most frequently used items. You don’t want to have to crawl to the back of your tiny closet and waste time reaching around for the clothes you wear most.

You want the items in out-of-reach places to be ones you won’t need each week, but may need to get to a few times a month or maybe even less. These are prime candidates to store out of the way somewhere else, like under a bed or in another part of your house.

Items to store

  • Seasonal costumes
  • Toys and games
  • Books
  • Memorabilia
  • Sports equipment
  • Suitcases
  • Out-of-season clothes
  • Fancy dress or suit
  • Nostalgic clothing
Store The Items You Use The Least Often

Start placing these items in the least accessible places in your tiny closet, like high shelves, back corners, or between your hanging clothes and on the floor, as you won’t need to get to them as frequently.

Be strategic with placement. If you have a box of memories you hardly look at but can’t quite part with, put that in the farthest corner of your small closet. If you have a box of Halloween costumes you know you’ll need to get to annually, maybe move that a little closer to the front, but still out of the way.

Take advantage of every nook and cranny. The goal here is to take up the least amount of space as possible with these “extras”. You want to store them out of sight while leaving ample room for your most frequently used items and garments.

Step Four: Hang Up The Clothes You Wear Most Frequently

Now that you’ve stored most of the clothes you don’t wear often, you can hang up what you have leftover. Be strategic with this too. My favorite way to organize my closet is by type of clothing, then by what I wear most often.

Hang Up The Clothes You Wear Most FrequentlyBasically, I hang all my pants together, shorts together, shirts together, sweaters together — I make sure to keep all the likes with the likes. After I do this, I sort by frequent favorites. I move my favorite T-shirts to the front of my T-shirt section and the ones I don’t wear as much toward the back.

This way, you don’t have to shuffle around through tons of hangers and clutter to find that outfit you love because it’s waiting for you at the front. If you start to run out of room, be realistic and let it be a cue for you to identify what else you can get rid of.

These days, I wear a personal uniform and don’t spend a ton of time wearing clothing outside of my uniform. However, I still keep extras around for when I need a change, but I keep those further toward the back of my closet.

Organization Guide For Each Room Of Your Home

home organization guide

Tips And Tricks While Organizing Your Small Closet

Tips And Tricks While Organizing Your Small Closet
The biggest issue you’re battling with in a small closet is lack of space. That’s why you want to maximize as much space as possible by employing effective tricks to your process.

Tip One: Maximize Your Vertical Space

In a tiny closet space, it’s wise to go up. Look to taking advantage of your vertical space where you don’t have a ton of horizontal room to work with. Use every square inch you can in this way.

Use hooks to hang accessories vertically instead of using large boxes, invest in hanging drawers instead of plastic totes, and stack shelves vertically down your wall to house miscellaneous items. I’ve listed some products and organizers that might be helpful further down in this post.

Maximize Your Vertical Space

Tip Two: Make Use Of Ceiling Space

If you’re really pressed for space in your tiny closet, you can even take advantage of your ceiling. At the end of the day, your ceiling is just another large surface, so you might as well use the space if you need it.

Hang sturdy hooks or add rods to your ceiling above your highest closet shelves to suspend items you don’t need too often. This includes things like suitcases, sports equipment, memorabilia, or seasonal items.

hang clothes from ceiling

Tip Three: Expand Your Closet Into Your Bedroom If Needed

If there just simply isn’t enough room in your little closet no matter how hard you try, consider expanding your closet into your bedroom to make efficient use of your space.

Try adding a clothing rack in your bedroom to expand your closet. Place the rack against a side wall and hang your most aesthetically appealing garments on the rack to keep things looking good, while being efficient with your space.

Another trick you can try is adding clothes storage under the bed. There are rolling bins that slide easily under the bed that can serve to store overflow and lesser used items.

freestanding clothing rack

Tip Four: Store Clothes Inside Other Clothes

Another pro tip to maximize the space in your small closet is to use some items as the storage space for other items. You can tuck undergarments inside of each other to save drawer space, hide small bags inside larger bags, or hang scarfs, ties, or jewelry on the hanger with shirts you frequently wear them with.

This tip is ideal for optimizing your lack of space, but if you’re someone who easily forgets where you’ve put things, this may not be the trick for you. You don’t want to waste hours searching for a purse that you’ve stored inside another bag!

packing clothes

Tip Five: Reorganize Your Small Closet As Seasons Change

An awesome hack to make the most of your space is to get the clothes you don’t need right away out of the way. When it’s summer, slide those winter sweaters under your bed for the time being. When winter comes, store your tank tops and shorts under your bed and get those cozy sweaters and pants back in your closet.

Not only is this a great tip to make the most of your space, it can also help you keep track of what items you’re ready to get rid of by storing clothing in a different area of your room.

placing winter sweaters in closet storage

tiny house storage inspiration

Maximizing Storage When Organizing A Small Closet

Maximizing Storage When Organizing A Small Closet

Creating efficient systems makes anything simpler. I’ve tried several of these systems in my own small closet to make the most of extremely limited space.

closet shoe rack

Add A Shoe Rack To Your Closet Floor

Shoes aren’t flat, so they can easily take up a pretty substantial amount of room on the shelves of a tiny closet. One way to mitigate this is to take advantage of your floor space.

Invest in a shoe rack or shoe drawers for your favorite pairs. Make sure you put the drawers in a place that’s easy to access but still leaves you walking room to get to your clothing.

shoe hangers on shower rod

Use Towel Rods If You Have A Large Shoe Collection

Another hack for shoe storage is towel rods or tension rods. I love this idea because towel rods aren’t too expensive and you can fit a large volume of shoes across one rod.

You can pick them up at any hardware store for five to ten dollars a rod, depending on the quality. Just stack four to five rods on the back wall of your small closet so the shoes face you when you open your closet door.

wall mounted jewelry holder

Make A Chicken Wire Jewelry Holder On The Wall

Jewelry and other accessories are another category that can really take up space in your little closet. You wouldn’t think so initially, as accessories are typically pretty small, but a lot of hanging, rotating, or standing jewelry holders are bulky and can take up a large area on a closet shelf.

To combat this, take advantage of wall space. If you can make your accessory holder as flat as possible, you can do a lot more with your space. I love the idea of a chicken wire jewelry holder, which you can easily DIY or purchase at a craft store.

The earrings have hooks so they’ll slip right on. Then, you can easily add hanging fish hooks or S hooks in the holes for bracelets, necklaces, and even scarfs or rings.

door mounted shoe organizer

Use A Back Of Door Organizer For Shoes Or Accessories

Using the back of your closet door is crucial to making the most of your small closet space. It’s a huge surface that is easily ignored, but you can get a lot out of it. Invest in a back-of-door organizer for shoes or accessories you use often and want to access quickly and frequently.

hanging shelf organizer for clothes

Use A Hanging Organizer For T-Shirts

The cloth, cubed hanging closet organizer can also come in handy for maximizing space in a small closet. When you don’t have as much horizontal space as you need in your closet, these organizers can maximize your vertical space.

You can order high-quality hanging organizers online, or find one at most home or department stores. They’re great for folded T-shirts or miscellaneous items that don’t necessarily have another home in your small closet space.

hanging wire shelves

Double Your Shelf Space

Not having enough shelf space is a mega culprit of inefficiency in your already small closet. Try investing in shelf dividers or under-shelf baskets to maximize your shelf space.

If you don’t have room for these in your tiny space, you can add additional shelves onto the wall space instead. That way, you’ll have more room for miscellaneous items or accessories.

hanging laundry hamper

Invest In A Hanging Laundry Hamper

Laundry bins take up so much room and are often an overlooked element of your closet. If you choose to store your dirty laundry in your already small closet, you might want to buy a hanging laundry hamper for the back of your door or the back wall of your closet. It utilizes vertical space and keeps you from having to shove a huge, bulky laundry bin in your tiny closet.

roll up clothes to save closet space

Roll Up Clothes You Don’t Wear In Pull-Out Drawers

Reduce the amount of space your clothing takes up in your tiny closet by rolling your T-shirts, pants, underwear, or other more casual wear to fit in drawers. Rolling clothing is a wise way to take up less room on your closet racks without having to sacrifice the clothes you love.

hang two garments on one hanger

Hang Two Garments On One Hanger

This trick is one of my favorites for making the most out of limited closet space. When you don’t have a ton of room on your rack for your essential garments, double up the amount of clothing you have on one hanger.

Some special hangers are made to hold more than one clothing item. There are even some that have multiple tiers where you can literally stack your shirts or pants.

If you don’t want to splurge on fancy hangers, you can use soda tabs to broaden your hanging space. Yes, I said soda tabs!

Hang onto those metal tabs every time you crack a can open. When you have a few collected, loop one hold through your hanger and let it hang down off the top of the hanger. Then, hang your second hanger on the part of the soda tab that’s facing down.

Minimalists Checklist For Organizing A Small Closet

Minimalists Checklist For Organizing A Small Closet

A handy checklist helps to get any tedious job done. This checklist will make your small closet organization process as efficient and effective as possible.


1. Remove Everything

  • Make piles by category
  • Make a pile of least used clothing
  • Make a pile of most used clothing
  • Sort by color, if desired
  • Sort by hanging verses folded clothes
  • Make a pile of accessories
  • Make a miscellaneous pile

2. Choose A Systems

  • Look at your empty closet
  • Assess specific spaces you can use
  • Write down what will go where
  • Ask: What products will help me most?
  • List organizing hacks you’ll use
  • Buy or make the products you need
  • Put your helpful products in their places

3. Replace Intentionally

  • Put your favorites near the front
  • Fold and store least used clothes
  • Store shoes and accessories
  • Hang clothing
  • Put away miscellaneous items

4. Revisit, Tweak & Improve

  • Realize it’s a process
  • Schedule time to revist
  • Work in waves to declutter
  • Fix what doesn’t work
  • Be willing to start over

Getting dressed each day is something we all have to do. Making that process faster, more accessible, and less stressful through organization will empower you to put your mental energy in other places.

Your Turn!

  • What systems will you employ to organize your small closet?
  • What steps will you take today to begin maximizing your closet space?

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