16 Ways to Squeeze Extra Storage Out of a Small Closet

updated Sep 28, 2023
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Credit: Kim Lucian

Living in a little apartment can have its own special joys (like being able to reach everything you own without getting off the sofa), but small closets aren’t one of them. If you’ve pared down your wardrobe and deep-cleaned the entire space , but you’re still at a loss for  how to fit all your things into your teeny tiny closet, read on.  These brilliant small closet organization ideas will change your life — or at least your wardrobe storage.

Credit: Amazon.com

1. Hang drawers if you don’t have a bureau.

Maybe it isn’t just a small closet you’re dealing with, but a small bedroom, too. If you don’t have space for a traditional chest of drawers, opt for a hanging design like this set of 6 hanging drawers from Amazon.

Credit: Amazon.com

2. Hang your leggings.

If you’re like us, you’ve acquired a rainbow assortment of buttery-soft leggings from places like LuLu Lemon and Athleta. Keep them organized with this handy leggings organizer from Amazon. The curved design helps you to see each pair so you can easily coordinate your outfit every day.

Credit: Amazon.com

3. Use a flat storage option.

Under-bed storage is great for, well, under the bed, but it also works as a small closet idea. Stack a few of these flat storage boxes on your shelves to store just about anything, from shoes to seasonal decor.

Credit: Amazon.com

4. Store small items together.

When you’re working with a small space, things like socks and underwear can easily fall by the wayside, creating additional clutter. Corral the potential mess with an organizer like this fabric-covered socks and underwear organizer. It’s perfect for things like pantyhose, socks, underwear, scarves or even accessories.

Credit: Wayfair

5. Invest in a basic closet system.

Good news: You don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars and hire a team of professionals to have a killer closet system. There are plenty of easy-to-install closet systems available online, like this closet system from Wayfair that comes in six different finishes.

Credit: Amazon

6. Organize accessories on a single hanger.

Sometimes it’s the purses, scarves, hats, and other accessories that can create the most clutter in your closet. We’re big fans of special hangers built to hold various kinds of accessories to streamline organization, like this $14 Amazon find.

Credit: Amazon

7. Use an extender rod to double your available hanging space.

This can be especially helpful during the winter months where an already tight closet feels stuffed to the brim. Check out this $14 pick from Amazon to increase closet space instantly anywhere it fits. 

Credit: Amazon

8. Store more efficiently with shelf dividers.

No more falling-over stacks of shirts and sweaters. Shelf dividers like the wire ones above are useful for making purses stand upright, too.

9. Double your shelf space with hanging baskets.

While these wire hanging baskets are a popular choice in the kitchen, you can also use them for the closet. They can be used to hold clothes, accessories, and even certain shoes. Adding just a few of these can make it feel like you have a bonafide closet system.

Credit: Sandra Rojo

10. Hooks are your very best friend.

Step into your closet (or as far into your closet as you can get). Do you see any wall space that is not covered by clothes? Put a hook there. Or better yet, if you’ve got the space, put a whole rack of hooks, as seen in the entryway of this Barcelona apartment. This is a great way to reclaim wasted space, and you can use those hooks for practically anything.

11. Store suitcases in the space above the closet door.

Another brilliant use of space is for hanging suitcases in an otherwise wasted wall area inside the closet and above the door. You can hang them from hooks, or mount an inexpensive shelf, like the one seen in this California mid-century modern home, for them to sit on. Lightweight out-of-season items can be stashed in the suitcases — just don’t forget they’re there!

Credit: The Container Store / Amazon

12. Hang things on the inside of the closet door.

Like scarves, and even shoes. You can buy a closet organizer to hang or mount on the inside of your closet door like the one on the left, or the Simple Housewares Over The Door Closet Rod Hanger from Amazon (above right).

Credit: Amazon.com

13. Stack your shoes.

Turn the bottom of your closet into a little shoe condo with multi-story storage. You’ll find lots of options in our post on budget shoe storage options. You could also place these on top of a shelf to make the most of your space.

Credit: Emma Fiala

14. Add an extra hanging rod perpendicular to your existing one.

Melissa from the home blog 320 Sycamore brilliantly tripled the amount of hanging space in her small closet by adding a few extra hanging rods on either side of her existing one. Of course, you’ll have to tailor this to the shape of your own closet, but we bet you can sneak at least one more in!

15.  Build your own budget-friendly closet organizer.

Check out this DIY from Tom Builds Stuff for the ultimate weekend project for creating a happier closet with plenty of room for all your clothes, shoes, and accessories.

Credit: Anna Spaller

16. Make a closet organizer with an IKEA shelf unit and tension rods.

The folks at I Heart Organizing came up with this idea that uses dowel rods and IKEA’s Kallax shelving unit, but tension rods would work, too.