Putting a Dresser in the Closet Is a Major Space Saver for Small Bedrooms

updated Mar 8, 2023
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Feeling cramped in a tiny bedroom? I’ll let you in on one of my favorite ways to maximize space in small bedrooms: move your dresser into the closet. Yes, really. Let me explain why, and how to make this unusual arrangement work.

Why Put a Dresser in the Closet?

To clear more space in the main area of a small bedroom, it makes sense to put the dresser inside the closet. Oftentimes a kid’s or guest bedroom has a closet as big as the one in the primary bedroom. This can be a waste of space because visitors rarely fill up a closet, and kids’ clothes are often too small to hang.

When my parents moved into a ranch house in California a decade ago, they were downsizing by 900 square feet. My mom used her space-planning prowess to fit almost everything from their old home into the new one, but the guest room had her stumped. The queen-sized bed took up most of the floor space in the small room, but my mom wanted to offer her guests a dresser to store their clothes.

When I came to visit, I looked at the room and its generous closet, and I instantly saw that the closet was bigger than any guest would ever need. What if we just put the dresser in the closet? I thought. We gave it a go and boom, the room felt so much better.

Credit: Rox Van Del

How to Put a Dresser Into the Closet

There are a few different ways you can make the dresser-in-the-closet arrangement work.

  • Consider removing the closet doors. My mom’s dresser was extra-deep, which was part of the reason we removed the closet doors. (That said, most dressers will fit in most closets without removing the doors. Closets are usually about 24 inches deep, and dressers usually clock in at less than 20 inches deep.)
  • Hang a curtain in place of the doors. After we took off the sliding doors and put the dresser in one half of the closet, we hung a curtain to cover the other side.
  • Keep one of the doors. If you’ve got two sliders, you could also remove one to hide half the closet and leave your drawers accessible on the other half.
  • Or, move in a low dresser. A low dresser can even go beneath the usual rod, if you strategically hang short garments above it. As a bonus, this leaves more room to style the top of the dresser.

How to DIY a Dresser in the Closet

The dresser-in-the-closet solution need not be makeshift. Some simple custom work can create a more polished-looking arrangement (yes, even in really small closets).

One example we love comes from Elsie Larson, the blogger behind “A Beautiful Mess.” Larson built simple shelving around a basic Target dresser for a more custom look when she made over her daughter Marigold’s closet.

And Katie LeClercq, an residential designer in Seattle, recently shared an in-progress sneak peek at what she described as “a favorite solution of mine for modest-sized kiddo’s bedrooms: built-in dressers within the closet.” (It’s a custom millwork dream!) Feeling inspired, but not so handy? Custom closet companies like California Closets and others also routinely build dressers into reach-in closets, too. 

So, if you’re struggling with a cramped bedroom, take a second look at your closet and your bureau: They might just hold the key to your small space woes.