Want in on a little secret? A well-designed home relies on what you can't see. Clutter is the antithesis of home design, so well-organized closets are key to a happy, beautiful home.
But, finding a place for everything can be difficult when you have a small closet. While we would all love to have a ton of storage space, the good news is that even the smallest closets can be incredibly functional with the right organizational system.
If you're ready to Marie Kondo your closet, we rounded up the best storage ideas for even the teeniest of spaces. We talked to a handful of experts to find out the best ways to keep your small closets clean and organized, and so read on for tips to maximize every inch.
Create Extra Surfaces
When styling a small closet, it's important to find creative ways to add more storage and surface space. According to professional organizer Laura Cattano, front-drop boxes are great solutions for this.
"These boxes keep small bags in sight and safe from dust while giving you an additional surface above for folded clothing or jewelry display," Cattano says.
Don't Forget the Door
If you are only using the inside of your closet, you're not doing it right. In a small closet, every inch counts, so Cattano recommends using the back of your closet doors as well.
Hang hats, scarves, or other accessories using hooks or clear bins, so you can quickly complete any outfit on your way out the door.
Create Your Own Custom Closet
A small closet often doesn't have enough space for some traditional organization products—so consider improvising. "Don't be afraid to alter a product for your needs," says Cattano.
Here, she cut a canvas organizer in half to fit the small wall space. With this, she created the perfect perch for flat shoes and sandals.
Opt for Velvet Hangers
If you are still using a plethora of mismatched hangers, it's time to upgrade. Messy hangers can make your small closet appear even smaller and take up precious space.
Liz Jenkins, owner of A Fresh Space, loves velvet hangers. "Matching slimline velvet hangers maximize your space on a closet rod, which, in a small closet, can make a huge difference in how much you can fit in there," she says.
Plus, velvet hangers grip onto your clothes, so you don't have to worry about slippage.
Use Baskets for Sandals
Finding the space to store shoes in a small closet can be a real challenge. They are super bulky, and without a lot of floor real estate, they can take up a lot of precious space. Jenkins recommends trying baskets for storing slim shoes like sandals.
"When you have a lot of flip flops and sandals but not a lot of space, using a decorative basket to create a ‘bouquet’ of shoes can do the trick," she says.
In really small closets, consider swapping out seasonal shoes and storing unused pairs under your bed or couch until next year.
Use Clear Bins for Shoes
Admit it: you have tossed a pair of shoes on the floor after a long day of work only to stumble over them the next morning. Keeping floors shoe-free is key to a clutter-free closet, and Meg Jenkins of Neat by Meg loves clear shoe bins and plastic stacking bins.
"We typically label the front and only put shoes in them that clients are not wearing often," Jenkins says. "Our other favorite product is the Like-it Shoe Space Saver. The shoes stack on top of each other and literally double the amount of shelf space. These are great to keep lower for your everyday shoes."
Use Clear Shelf Dividers
A small closet requires you to use all available space, but sometimes stacking can look messy and unkempt. To keep it under control, Holly Blakey of Breathing Room Organization + Styling has a secret weapon.
"Shelf dividers are your best friend," she says. "In closets tight on space where you have stacks of denim or sweaters, shelf dividers will provide the structure and division your clothes need to stay looking tidy."
Add Stacking Bins
Sometimes we get into the habit of thinking everything in our closets must be hung. Instead, consider your needs and whether bins or drawers can go further for you.
"For seasonal items or anything folded, such as sweaters, place them on a shelf in stacked bins—preferably with a see-through window so you have an idea of what's in them," Blakey suggests.
Think Outside the Closet
When done well, a hanging rack or freestanding wardrobe can be both stylish and functional. Blakey loves creating a "capsule" wardrobe for the pieces that her clients wear frequently.
Not only does this free up closet space for the less-used items, but it can also look incredibly chic and cool.
Always, Always Edit
If you're guilty of holding onto items you haven't worn since the 11th grade, it's time to pare down. "If you haven't worn it in six months, you're likely not going to wear it again," Blakey says. "For clients who are having a hard time letting go, this is a good question to ask yourself: would someone else get better use out of it?"
Ensuring your closet only holds clothes you actually wear will make it easier to find what you need each day.
Add a Shelf
Blakey says some of her best closet transformations relied on a few extra shelves. If you need more vertical space for stacked items or bins, consider heading to the hardware store and picking up a few shelves.
While a custom closet can also provide this extra space, you can easily DIY it to get exactly what you want.
Removable shelves are also a great idea if you are renting and need to transform a small closet without spending a lot of dough.
Stick to a Schedule
One of the best ways to ensure your small closet is always clean and organized is to hold yourself accountable. Whether you decide on a bi-monthly or seasonal refresh is up to you, but mark your calendar regularly to allow yourself time to dig through your clothes, donate what you don't wear, and ensure your system is in place.
If it's not working or your organizational system is too much effort, try something new. The next organization method is one you will stick to.
Create a Staging Area
If you have a little extra room, organizer Mika Perry suggests adding a valet hook to make it so much easier to get ready every morning. An extra rod can help you create a capsule wardrobe or lay out clothes for the next morning to save you time when you're rushing around before work.
Consider Extra Lighting
In a small closet, it can be difficult to see exactly what you have. Consider adding tap lights in nooks and crannies so you can utilize every inch of space. The extra lighting means you'll actually see everything you have—and you won't lose items to dark corners.
Go to the Ceiling
If you're not using every inch of space to the ceiling, you are losing out on some prime real estate. Hang shelves so that you can think vertically.
Store less frequently used items up top, and consider stashing a small step stool nearby if you can't easily access the top shelves.
Always Use Labels
In our dream closet, there would always be enough room to see everything you have without digging around. But, when you are working with a small space, sometimes closed containers like bins and baskets are best for organizing. To make life easier, invest in a simple label maker so you never have to guess what's inside.
Remove the Doors
When you're short on space, sometimes even doors can get in the way. Consider removing your closet doors so you can create a more open, airy closet. This will extend the depth of your closet space, but it does require a very neat and organized system to avoid looking messy or unkempt.
When you have a small closet, you may have to use shelves and rods for multiple types of items. But, just because you have to create multipurpose shelves doesn't mean you can't keep everything organized. Create "zones" for items such as sweaters, bottoms, and tops.
Maximize Your Wardrobe
If you need to supplement your small closet with a standing wardrobe, make the most of it. As you would in a small closet, mix in bins or baskets and use the backs of the doors to add even more storage.
Add An Extra Rod
If you only have one clothes rod in your closet, consider adding another below it. This is a great way to maximize your small closet space and can help you swap out a capsule wardrobe easily with two staging areas.