How to Make the Most of a Small Closet

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When you have limited storage in a studio apartment, dorm, or even a tiny home, sometimes you need to learn how to make the most of a small closet. Let’s look at how to maximize a tiny closet.how to make the most of a small closet various photos of closet organizing


Do you need to maximize a tiny closet?

Do you only have one or two closets in your small home, apartment, or dorm?

Maybe you don’t even have a closet and need to add one!

Well, today’s tips and tricks just may help you to learn how to make the most of a small closet!

I don’t know if you saw the sneak peek of my tiny closet-of-shame HERE, but you may be shocked.

It’s not pretty.

After living in My Wee Abode for almost FOUR years (I can’t believe it’s been that long), the tiny walk-in closet needed a MAJOR overhaul.

I’m talking big-time purging, decluttering, and organizing of a little closet!

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For more information, see my complete disclosure HERE.

What is the Best Way to Declutter a Closet?

Well, I don’t know if my way is the best way, but it did work for me!

Would you like to see how I did it?  I’m warning you, these pictures are not “glamour shots” by any means.

Here’s my closet when I first moved in 4 years ago (pardon the awful cell phone pics):how to get the most from a small closet empty closet with shelves

And here’s my closet-of-shame prior to my re-organizing (again… the photos make it look even worse… well, maybe not):how to get the most from a small closet stuffed closet

Not proud… at all! Just keepin’ real… And ‘un-pinnable’. Hehe!

And here it is now!maximize a tiny closet organizing products in closet

LOTS of people will tell you to clean EVERYTHING out of the closet and start with a clean slate.  That’s a GREAT idea, if you have the room to keep your closet contents somewhere else in your home for a day or two.  But, I couldn’t do that because this tiny-closet-decluttering-project took me altogether a couple of days to finish, and I needed my bed to sleep on!

So, I took everything out except for my clothes, and this was my living room for about two weeks! (Life gets in the way sometimes… glad I didn’t take out all the clothes and put them on my bed!)maximize a tiny closet contents on floor in living area

And again, my friends, we will not be pinning these… Hehe!maximize a tiny closet contents on floor in living area

And then, I forgot to take photos of the nearly empty closet and the progress!

Sometimes when I get busy with a project, I forget that pictures are needed throughout the process!

So, just close your eyes and imagine the very first photo at the top of the post with only my clothes in it. Do you see it? Gooood! 

What is the Best Way to Purge a Small Closet?

The best way I found to purge items from a tiny closet in a small home:

  • While the clothes are hanging in the closet, go through them one-by-one and get rid of the items that have not been used in over two years (or whatever time limit works for you).  Make three piles: donate, give-way, and toss.  
  • The items that are outside the closet, do the same with them.  If they haven’t been used in “X” amount of time, make a donate pile, give-away pile, and throw-away pile.  It took a bit of time to get all my items delivered where they needed to go, but it was worth it!

And… after you declutter and purge, you can have a garage sale! No room to keep tables in your tiny home for displaying those items for sale? No worries! Use these makeshift tables for a garage sale!

How Do I Fit A LOT Into a Small Closet?

This is the fun part!

Let me show you how to make the most of a small walk-in closet!

Install an Affordable Closet System to Maximize a Tiny Closet

My closet system was already here when I moved in, but I *did* add another shelf afterwards.  I simply went to Home Depot, purchased the shelf and had them cut it to size.

maximize a tiny closet contents on floor in living area

The shelves are great for holding containers, pillows, linens, and clothing.  Super-versatile, these closet systems can be configured in dozens of variations.

Use a Cubby Organizer with Pretty Containers

Be on the lookout at yard sales for organizing products.  This console was a steal at a garage sale for $15.  I just painted the wood part in white chalk paint.how to get the most from a small closet organized closet

This works great for blankets, fabric, craft items, and more!  And the top surface works as another shelf to hold paper towel, small storage containers, etc. (In case you can’t wait to find one while thrifting, here’s a similar one.)

Add some cute tags to the baskets to find items easily.maximize a tiny closet organizing products in closet

Once again, I know these aren’t the most glamorous shots, but I worked with what I had and only purchased the blue boxes (scroll down).  I think sometimes it’s helpful for us to keep it real and on budget.

Purchase Plastic Containers

Use large flat containers that stack to hold purses, travel items, backpacks, etc. (items that you need but don’t use every day).  Then, place your hamper on top for super-efficient use of space!maximize a tiny closet organizing products in closet

Use small flat containers with lids for tools, adhesives, and hardware items.how to get the most from a small closet organized closet

Add Plastic Drawers

When you don’t have a craft closet, add plastic drawers to hold your supplies.  Again, the top works as another shelf!

Pretty Containers Add a Touch of Lovely

Add pretty containers with lids (they keep out the dust) to hold utility items, gifts (I keep small gifts on hand for giving for b-days, hostess, etc.), more craft supplies (of course), and decor items.  My textured boxes came from IKEA, and were on clearance, but they are still available HERE.how to get the most from a small closet organized closet

how to get the most from a small closet organized closet

Think Vertical Storage Solutions

A Hanger Holder is a perfect solution for adding vertical storage space to a closet.  This area wasn’t used until I added this dress hanger.  Be sure to anchor or install this item on a wall stud.how to get the most from a small closet organized closet

Simple Shelving

Some simple ClosetMaid portable shelf units can hold shoes, linens, and laundry products (that bag is holding detergent, softener, and wool dry balls (you gotta try ’em)).

how to get the most from a small closet organized closet

Look Up for Additional Storage Space to Maximize a Tiny Closet

Don’t forget inside and above the door!  Use every inch of space you can!  Adding another ClosetMaid shelf above the door is the perfect place for flat boxes.maximize a tiny closet organizing products in closet

If you want more ideas for organizing, take a look at the best closet shelves and cabinet organizing products.

I’m super happy with the final outcome of this space, and the organizing items have been perfect for my tiny closet.  Actually have a place to be able to STAND in the closet has been great, too!

For more space-saving ideas for your closet, check out these informative posts:

How Do YOU Maximize a Tiny Closet?

Do you have a closet that needs organizing? What have you used to make the most of your small closet? Share your tips in the comments, and let’s learn together!

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  1. Who doesn’t have a closet that needs reorganization! You did a terrific job. I took on my linen closet not long ago and it’s time to revisit. It seems it only stays “pure” for about two months! I’ve so much to purge, I need to do one room at a time! Lovely tips here. I found some wonderful small matching baskets that worked well for dividing cloth napkins by color or season. Helper shelves are a good thing, too. And of course big baskets with tags as you did. Well done!

    1. Oh… baskets for cloth napkins! That’s a great idea! I only use cloth… to save money! 😉 Thanks for sharing, Jeanie!

  2. You did a great job, now can you come help me with mine.I think I am just lazy but if I get started I can get it done. I have cleaned out my clothes 2 or 3 times and need to do it again.I have lived here going on 7 years so am not doing too bad but man can you accumulate things in a short time.

    1. Yes… the accumulation factor is real, Fernie! I’m hoping mine will stay organized for the long haul… we’ll see! Thanks for commenting! It made my day!

  3. It looks fabulous Julie! It totally reminds me that I planned to do this as a New Year’s resolution. And it’s February already!! Love the blue boxes, those are adorable. Keep up all your great work and thanks for the tips!

  4. Since we moved to the apartment last year, my master BR walk in closet and pantry have been my 2 biggest pains. All the wire shelving seems to just not be in the right place. Pantry is being done as we speak, then onto that closet.

  5. Julie, it looks great! Bet you are feeling so good about this project. We have all small closets in our old house except mine. We added a bath and walk in several years ago. Every season I do some purging which keeps it mostly neat. My real clutter collection spot is the craft / guest room closets and shelves. Some days, I just close the door!!

    1. I am SO happy with the outcome… It was weighing on my mind so much! Now it should be good for a long time. Usually, when I organize a cabinet or closet, it stays that way! Wish other areas of my life worked that way, right, Linda?! 😉

  6. I need to work on my clothes closet and you’ve inspired me! Great job, Julie! I did just clean out my pantry closet last weekend, so that’s a start on the decluttering train at least… 🙂

    1. Thanks, Barb… that basket console also has a couple empty baskets! My velvet hoard will be going in them! LOL!

  7. Julie, you did an incredible job! I have several closets that need to be cleaned out, but I have lacked the motivation to start. You have inspired me. I love the boxes, baskets, and great organization ideas you shared. Thank you! Pinned!

  8. Awesome job, I will admit I am NOT ready to tackle any closets yet but when it gets closer to warm weather, I will not be able to procrastinate any longer. A great place to donate “worn out” linens is your local animal shelter. They need towels, blankets, sheets, etc. for bedding as well as newspapers (not the colored ads). It’s an easy way to feel good about using worn stuff for a good cause!

    1. That’s a great tip, Kathy! So glad you shared! I have given my old towels to family members for their pets, so the animal shelter is a great way to donate! Thanks, again!

  9. Awesome post, Julie! I love those blue boxes from IKEA! They do add a touch of pretty to the closet. We had a master closet makeover when we moved into our house, and it had a “valet” bar much like your dress hanger. It was pricey, though. I had no idea that hanger was an option. I might use it for other closets in our house now! Pinning!

  10. Your closet looks great, Julie! I’m on an organization kick this year and we have several closets that need an overhaul. Thanks for sharing these excellent tips. I love those blue IKEA boxes! Pinned 🙂

  11. So many great ideas here Julie. I love that you have labeled everything and bought some pretty items too. Everyone needs a little organization in their homes. It’s been ages since I’ve gone through my closet, but looking at yours makes me inspired to tackle it. Maybe this weekend. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for dropping in, Patti. The labels were fun to make and add to the blue containers. Let me know if you get your closet project done this weekend!

  12. Great ideas Julie. Love the IKEA boxes and the over the door shelf idea. We all need to purge occasionally. Right now my pantry and under sink bathroom areas are desperate. Got to get with it. Thanks for the ideas.

    1. Yeah, Carol… the over the door shelf was there when I moved in! I think it is so smart! Good luck with your spaces!

  13. You did a great job making the most of out of your space. When we built our house we tried to make sure we’d have really large closets but I still find it’s still not quite enough.

  14. Wow, you did a really great job! Right now I’m purging our storage room in the basement and it’s a huge job. But I’m determined to clean it out and get it organized! You have inspired me! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. xo Kathleen

    1. Purging is so hard sometimes… always thinking, “Will I be sorry if I get rid of this?” I’d love to see your closet once it’s ‘done’. 😉

  15. Looks amazing and functional! I need to tackle our master closet. We moved in and I closed the door. It seemed too overwhelming, but, you make it look easy! I love your style!


    1. Oh, C… thanks for coming by and commenting! It made my day! I hope all is well with you… we seriously need to chat soon! BIGGGG hugs!

  16. Julie, I need to take your ideas and rethink my closet. The rack over the door, and the wall hanger you use for dresses are just two of the Ideas that would help me out!

    1. Thank you, Pam! It’s a struggle for me, but it often stays nice for a long time when I actually use some organizing tools!

    1. Thank you so much, Bev. I get the whole purging/clutter/purging cycle… I think it’s part personality, part being a blogger!

  17. There are some great tips in here, Julie! I especially love the idea of adding a shelf above the door! That adds so much storage potential and I’ll definitely be doing this in our home. I audibly said, “wow, she even fit a spray shelter in there!” LOL Pinned

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I hope these tips will help your in your small home! I lived in an older house before My Wee Abode. They didn’t have much clothing to store in those days! 😉 (Or decor items!)

  18. Hi! I’m new to your blog. Great ideas here! Do you have storage under your bed? I have a small clothes closet that only holds seasonal clothes; the off-season clothes are stored under my bed! Blessings, Melody

    1. Hi, Melody, and welcome to MWA. Yes, I actually do use the space under my bed, and I also use the space under my sofa, and I have a ‘makeshift’ closet that also is for storage. 🙂 I even use the space under my baker’s cabinet for a storage container! (I have to be careful of all those spaces, as I often forget to ‘hide’ the items when I’m photographing for the blog! LOL!)

  19. Hi, Julie! Your post is so wonderful! I was super inspired by your organization skills and ideas. I would love to invite you to link up your project at Whimsy Home Wednesdays to inspire others and have a chance to be featured!

  20. You always have the best small living tips Julie.
    Thank you for sharing these great options for maximising a small closet at Create, Bake, Grow & Gather this week. I’m delighted to be featuring this post at the party this week and pinning too.
    Happy New Year,

  21. It looks great and I gleaned some good ideas! We recently moved into a two-bedroom townhouse (from a large three bedroom house with an entire basement and two-story garage!!) that has fairly generous closets compared to other places I looked at, but we still need to make the very best use of the space we have. Visiting from the Sweet Tea link-up today

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