It's no secret that living in New York City means sacrificing space to live in a reasonably priced apartment. I knew the reality of the situation and prepared for my move into Manhattan by donating clothes, shoes, and unwanted furniture, but nothing could make me ready for the single two-square-foot closet my boyfriend and I would have to share.
While our Lower East Side apartment checked off so many boxes (great location, within budget, renovated building), the lackluster one closet was a major challenge. When we first moved in, I naively attempted to hang all my clothes on the bar inside the closet, only to return hours later and find the wooden bar snapped in half, resting on a sad pile of shirts and skirts on the floor. We stuffed blankets, towels, and other knick knacks into the shelving units above the rack, but it looked too chaotic. To make matters worse, there was zero space left for Mike to hang his own clothes (oops).
Soon after moving in, I had enough of our makeshift closet "system" and declared it was time to go to IKEA. The objective? Fixing our sad, sad closet.
After looking around and grabbing some organizational tools, we decided our problem could be solved with an open storage space. We grabbed four nondescript MULIG clothes bars ($6, IKEA.com) and two simple black EKBY HEMNES shelves ($25, IKEA.com). We mounted the clothes bars in a square shape with two rows of two bars. Then, for extra shoe storage (because you can never have too many shoes, right?) we topped the upper level of bars off with the shelves. Essentially we built two new closets, thus tripling our closet space.
We quickly found that we had created more opportunities to store stuff than we'd thought. The great thing about an open-closet layout is that you can conceal other items behind your clothes. We store our Swiffer and stick vacuum plus two pairs of heavy-duty winter boots behind the lower level of hanging clothes to save space and hide clutter.
Is this solution Instagram-friendly? Not really, but it is necessary. And you can make it appear more streamlined by using all of the same hangers and keeping a certain color scheme among the clothes you hang in the open. I love the AmazonBasics felt hangers ($22, Amazon.com) because they are simple, yet effective at holding clothes in place.
Now if IKEA isn't your jam—I get it, the assembly instructions can be a major pain and stores aren't accessible for everyone—the internet is abounding with other great clothes bars and shelving units. A corner wall-mounted clothes bar, like this iron one from Hanging Bars ($25, Amazon.com) is perfect if you're really tight on space and need to utilize the corners of your room for clothes. You can even install it in a mud or laundry room where extra storage for coats or hang-to-dry items would come in handy.
These BGT clothes bars ($18) will get the job done as well and can be purchased in white or black.
As for inside my little closet, we replaced the broken clothes rod and filled the space with fabric bins ($10) for storing smaller knick knacks. These bins are more flexible then their plastic counterparts so I can stuff things in if necessary and squish a few bins together to make the most out of the two shelves in the closet.
I also added an over-the-door shoe storage system ($13). It makes picking my shoes in their morning easy because I can see everything right there, plus it keeps me from piling them up on the floor so I can store other items like linens and towels on the floor of the closet.
City living isn't for everyone, but a few budget finds and the inventive use of a wall as a second closet can make all the difference when you need to store your wardrobe and linens in a practical way.