How To Deal When Your Closet Isn’t in Your Room (or Maybe Isn’t Even a Closet)

published Apr 3, 2014
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(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

Small space dwellers have a whole set of issues that folks who live in more spacious homes could never understand. Take this one, for instance: in a perfect world, your (incredibly spacious) closet is conveniently attached to the bedroom or even the bathroom. But what do you do when your closet is in a weird place? Or you have a tiny closet? Or no closet at all?

Well, you start getting creative. Maybe you take over a linen closet in the hallway to stash bulky winter pieces, or your spouse takes over the closet in the kid’s room (they don’t need much space anyway, right?). Then you buy a garment rack to keep a few extra pieces in the living room. And the coat rack on the back of the door? That becomes a permanent storehouse rather than a hospitable place to hang your coat. The most desperate will even decide to stockpile their extra clothes inside kitchen appliances when they run out of more conventional storage.

No matter what arrangement you choose, here is some advice that can help you make the most of it. From friends’ experiences and my own reality of living with a too-big wardrobe, here are some tips that help you stay sane when the closet isn’t near the bedroom (or you don’t have one at all).

  • When your wardrobe is split up in mutliple places, keep the same sort of things in each spot. Winter clothes in the linen closet, summer frocks in the master. I keep shoes on a rack inside the coat closet by the door to slip on before I leave, which opens up space for other things in my bedroom closet.
  • Keep a mirror nearby each “closet.” Streamline your routine by checking out your outfit as soon as you put it on, and avoid running back and forth to the bedroom.
  • Keep schedules in mind when deciding how to split. My friend and her husband keep separate closets in their small two-bedroom apartment: hers in their bedroom and his in the guest room. When a baby came along and transformed the guest room to a nursery, they decided to switch closets. Since she gets up when the baby does, her clothes are now stashed in the nursery to keep early-rising dad from waking the baby.
  • If you’re hanging things out in the open, a little bit of attention goes a long way. Extra clothes hung on a garment rack, back of the door or hooks on a wall should be treated as decoration. If you can swing it, find some way to organize them by color, style or shape (and definitely invest in good-looking hangers).

I’m sure the Apartment Therapy community has a wealth of advice for living in small spaces. Let’s hear it! What are your tips for sharing and splitting closets?

And also check out our 10 Fixes for Apartments with a Lack of Closets to get ideas for where else to stash your stuff.