Real Small-Space Closet Solutions: How To Hang Your Clothes Out in the Open Without it Looking Like a Mess

published Feb 25, 2016
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

No closet? No problem. You know how Edward Sharpe says “Home is wherever I’m with you”? Here’s your new motto: My closet is wherever I keep my clothes. Let’s just grab a sturdy garment rack (or make one from scratch) and set up shop in the living room or bedroom. It can look great, with the right inspiration.

Flank a garment rack with a dresser on each side, like shown above in Jeanette & Mikul’s Airy, Sunny and Minimal One-Room East Bay Loft. It defines this part of their studio as a dressing area, and the sturdier pieces help ground the garment rack in the lofty, open room.

(Image credit: Monica Wang)

Jenny, of Gregory and Jenny’s Relaxed Hippie Bungalow above, co-owns a clothing store, so one wall of her home office is dedicated to storing her wardrobe. A high shelf keeps shoes out of the way, and a bench below the window is a great spot to pose a pair of beautiful bags. It kind of looks like a hip boutique, actually.

(Image credit: Kathryn Bacalis)
(Image credit: Kathryn Bacalis)

Another house tour that takes cues from clothing stores is Bridget & Jake’s “Make It Your Own” Denver Homestead. With a low, sloped ceiling, there wasn’t much room for a regular-height storage rack in the room where Jake hangs his wardrobe, so they got really creative with shelves and hooks.

(Image credit: Kathryn Bacalis)
(Image credit: Kathryn Bacalis)

Bridget‘s closet area has some creative solutions, too. She hangs her jeans and blouses from short wall-mounted rods. The advantage here for a small space is that your hybrid closet/wall doesn’t have to stick out so far into the room.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

If you don’t want to (or can’t) mount anything to the wall, a freestanding garment rack is going to become your best friend. A great idea to add extra storage and make the whole thing feel a bit more built-in and intentional: Slide a small dresser or two under the rack, like they did here in Blanca & Cody’s Oaxaca-Inspired Compact Cottage.

(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Next to the bed is another great spot to stash a garment rack when space is tight. Sorting the clothes by color gives the rack a nice aesthetic, as you can see here in Joshua’s Grayscale Living & Gathering Space.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Even if all you can do is hang a garment rack out in the middle of the living room, there’s still two big strategies you can employ to make it look good. One is the color tip from above: Even if it’s counter-intuitive to the way you dress, sorting clothes by color will shrink the eye-sore factor of an open wardrobe by half, at least. And the second tip is just to get a great-looking clothes rack. This one in Carla’s Simple City Living in Downtown Los Angeles is the IKEA MULIG, a steal at $9.99.

(Image credit: Chloe Berk)

A pair of IKEA MULIGs fill the wall in a corner of Shannon & Alex’s Artistic Apartment, with a tall mirror taking up the space between them. “Fill the space” is another critical concept when you’re talking about turning a wall or corner into a makeshift closet. Don’t just leave a garment rack floating in space.

…even when it’s actually floating.

(Image credit: Selena Kirchhoff)

The hanging clothes rack here in Janice & Jacob’s Home of Magical Curiosities does a great job of filling the space in this nook area, but it also kind of looks like an art installation, with the artwork hung above and the stool below. Don’t be afraid to accessorize your dressing area like the “room” is is.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Here’s one final tip to polish off your open wardrobe: Like any other room, details and finishes matter. Don’t underestimate the power of some great-looking hangers, like these copper beauties from Anthom in Emma’s Memphis-Inspired Painting & Design Studio.