27 Ways to Organize Your Small Closet for Maximum Storage

Person pulling out organized closet drawers

Natalia Kostikova / EyeEm / Getty Images

When it comes to a small closet, a good organizational system is key. While it may not have the same square footage as a walk-in closet, there are clever and creative storage solutions you can implement to maximize space.

There are three key factors when it comes to adding function to a small closet—utilizing the entire space from floor to ceiling, using practical organizational tools such as baskets and dividers, and folding clothes properly.

Keep reading for 27 helpful, space-saving tips to get the most out of your small closet.

  • 01 of 27

    Use Shelf Dividers

    Closet with acrylic dividers to separate sweaters

    @nycneat_louisa / Instagram

    Clear shelf dividers take up very little space, easily slide onto most standard shelves, and help keep stacks of clothing neat and organized. Instead of messy piles of sweaters cluttering your shelves and getting creased and wrinkled in the process, use these inexpensive dividers to keep items in place.

    Divide garments by type, season, or color, so you can enjoy easy access to what you need and make your closet look like a department store at the same time.

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  • 02 of 27

    Utilize Wall Space

    Hats hanging on the wall in a closet

    @afreshspace / Instagram

    If you have a limited number of shelves in your small closet, maximize space by utilizing the walls. Only use the shelves to hold items that cannot be stored another way, and hang things such as hats, bags, and jewelry on the wall. Not only will you gain valuable storage space, but they'll also serve double-duty as decor.

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  • 03 of 27

    Store Shoes in Clear Boxes

    Shoes stored in clear shoe boxes in a small closet

    @afreshstart / Instagram

    Another way to prioritize closet shelf space is to store shoes in clear boxes. Stack the boxes on the top shelf or on the ground, so you can easily find your favorite pair thanks to the clear fronts. This shoe storage method also prevents damage and is a great way to put away out-of-season shoes to declutter your entryway.

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  • 04 of 27

    Corral Accessories on a Tray

    Accessories organized on a tray in a closet

    Laura Cattano Organizational Design

    If your accessories, perfume collection, and clutch bags are taking over every surface in your home including your closet shelves, get organized with the help of a cute tray.

    This decorative tool is as pretty as it is functional. Use smaller containers such as bows and boxes within the tray to sort items and easily move the tray from one spot to another instead of having to move each item individually.

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  • 05 of 27

    Label Storage Baskets

    Woven baskets with handwritten labels on them

    Finding Lovely

    Store seasonal accessories, socks, and even clothing in storage baskets and add labels so you can quickly find what you need and give your closet a professional, uniform look.

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  • 06 of 27

    Hang a Shelf

    Wall-mounted shelf in a closet

    Emily Henderson Design / Design by Lea Johnson / Photography by Sage E. Imagery

    Small closets often feature slanted walls that can make using every nook and cranny difficult. Maximize the limited wall space by hanging shorter length multi-purpose shelves that can hold boxes and stacks of clothes as well as hangers.

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  • 07 of 27

    Use Wall Hooks

    Wooden hooks on the wall with a hat on the wall

    brizmaker / Getty Images

    Wall hooks are one of the most valuable storage tools you can use in a small closet. They are inexpensive, can be hung anywhere you want, adds a decorative element, and can be used to hold a variety of items—from sun hats and crossbody bags to belts and bath robes.

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  • 08 of 27

    Implement Storage Bins

    Closet organized with storage bins

    @nycneat_louisa / Instagram

    If your small closet has cubbie-style shelves, use storage bins to take full advantage of them. Given their shape and size, items often fall and get stuck in the back of the shelf, creating messes and taking up more room than they should.

    Using fabric, plastic, or woven storage bins eliminates this problem since you can pull the whole container out and quickly find what you need. Place bins with the most frequently used items within easiest reach, and those holding more seasonal and occasional things up higher or closer to the ground.

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  • 09 of 27

    Hang an Over-the-Door Organizer

    Over-the-door shoe organizer hanging on a closet door

    @nycneat_louisa / Instagram

    One of the best ways to add a significant amount of storage space to your small closet is with an inexpensive over-the-door organizer. It typically has clear plastic or fabric pockets that are arranged in a horizontal or vertical design. Use them to hold shoes, seasonal items such as scarves and gloves, or extra toiletries in a bathroom closet.

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  • 10 of 27

    Go With Clear Plastic Containers

    Clear organizer bins with labels

    @nycneat_louisa / Instagram

    For a clean and contemporary look, you can't go wrong with clear acrylic storage containers. Visually, they keep a small closet open and airy, and practically, they make finding what you need quick and easy.

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  • 11 of 27

    Store Bags on Hangers

    Purses hanging on hangers in a closet

    @afreshspace / Instagram

    Bags—whether they're totes, weekender travel bags, or occasional shoulder bags—tend to take up a lot of valuable closet real estate. When making the most of a small closet, instead of bags occupying a large portion of shelf and floor space, hang them on special hangers. Not only will this save you space (you can often hang multiple bags on one hanger), but it'll also get your bags off the ground to keep them in good condition.

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  • 12 of 27

    Place Clutch Bags in Acrylic Dividers

    Shoes and purses organized on closet shelves

    Laura Cattano Organizational Design

    Speaking of handbags, in addition to using acrylic dividers to separate stacks of clothes, they're also very useful for keeping clutch bags neatly in place. Especially those that don't have a firm base and always end up falling all over the place. This method will streamline your closet and keep each clutch safe in its own compartment.

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  • 13 of 27

    Extend Shelves to the Ceiling

    Closet with floor to ceiling shelves

    Michelle Berwick Design

    If you're remodeling a small closet and are trying to create as much storage space as possible, extend shelves all the way to the ceiling. Similar to kitchen cabinets, closet shelves often stop at an awkward height, allowing lots of valuable storage space to go to waste. If your ceilings are very tall, use the top shelves for less frequently used items and keep a small step stool or ladder tucked away in the closet so you can access them as needed.

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  • 14 of 27

    Keep Jewelry Safe in Stacking Boxes

    Jewelry organized in clear acrylic organizers on a closet shelf

    @afreshstart / Instagram

    If you want to store jewelry in your closet, do so in a space-saving way by using clear stacking boxes to maximize vertical space. Divide jewelry by type—necklaces, earrings, and bracelets—store each in a different drawer for an easy-to-maintain organizational system.

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  • 15 of 27

    Repurpose Trays for Wall Storage

    Jewelry hanging on the wall in a closet

    Finding Lovely

    For jewelry that you wear regularly or larger pieces that would take up too much room in a jewelry box, go the DIY route and repurpose a decorative tray as a wall jewelry hanger. Your favorite pieces will adorn the wall, always be on hand, and you save shelf space for other items.

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  • 16 of 27

    Fold Clothes Properly

    Sweaters organized together on closet shelves

    @afreshstart / Instagram

    Saving space in your closet isn't just about the way you store clothes, it begins with how you fold them. Properly folding shirts, sweaters, or pants don't just minimize wrinkling and help keep clothes in good condition, it also makes a huge difference in how many items you can fit on a shelf. While rolling can be a great method for drawer storage, using a folding board can help you neatly fold tops so they take up as little room as possible.

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  • 17 of 27

    Put Shoes in a Basket

    Shoes in a wicker basket in a closet

    Casa Watkins Living

    For those pairs of shoes that don't need to be carefully stored in shoe boxes, such as casual sneakers or flip-flops, a wicker basket is a great solution. Place it in the corner of your closet or by the door to easily grab a pair when you're headed out the door.

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  • 18 of 27

    Save Space With Drawer Dividers

    Clothes rolled up and organized in a closet drawer divider

    Liudmila Chernetska / Getty Images

    If your small closet has built-in drawers or a dresser, keep them neatly organized using flexible dividers for items such as socks, underwear, scarves, and even rolled t-shirts or camis. Using collapsible dividers made from fabric gives you more flexibility as they can stretch and bend to accommodate more items, unlike plastic or wood ones.

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  • 19 of 27

    Make Use of Closet Doors

    Hooks on the inside of a closet door holding a bag and hangers

    @nycneat_louisa / Instagram

    If your closet shelves, drawers, walls, and rails are bursting at the seams, there's another storage avenue for you to utilize—your closet doors! Hang an over-the-door organizer to hold shoes and seasonal accessories and coat hooks to store bags, belts, and other bulkier items.

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  • 20 of 27

    Hang a Mirror on the Door

    Mirror and hooks hanging on the inside of a closet door

    Laura Cattano Organizational Design

    Another way to make use of a closet door is to hang a mirror on it. If your small closet doesn't have a spare wall to hang a mirror for you to try on your outfits, a door offers just enough vertical space to do so.

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  • 21 of 27

    Roll Clothes to Maximize Space

    Folded clothes in a closet drawer

    @nycneat_louisa / Instagram

    The way you fold your clothes makes a world of difference when it comes to how many items you can fit inside a drawer. The rolling method became especially popular thanks to organizational expert Marie Kondo, because it minimizes wrinkling, keeps drawers neat, and maximizes space.

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  • 22 of 27

    Install Rails at Different Heights

    Closet with rails hanging at two different levels

    fiphoto / Getty Images

    Squeeze as much hanging space out of your small closet by installing hanging rails at different heights. This can literally double the amount of clothing you can hang up and allow you to divide items by type—for example, keep all bottoms hung on the bottom rail and tops on the top rail.

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  • 23 of 27

    Use Wire Baskets for Small Items

    Wire baskets used for storage in a closet

    @nycneat_louisa / Instagram

    Wire baskets add a nice textural element while providing a contained way to store accessories such as hats, scarves, and even socks. You can easily pull out the whole basket to find what you need instead of having to rummage through a drawer, saving you lots of time each morning.

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  • 24 of 27

    Add Freestanding Shelves

    Freestanding shelves in a closet holding shoes

    @afreshstart / Instagram

    Size isn't the only problem when it comes to small closets, they are usually not built to maximize every square inch of space. If you're in a rental or don't want to invest a large amount of money into a customized built-in storage system, bring in free-standing shelves that extend to the ceiling. Make sure the shelves are adjustable so that you can customize the space between them to accommodate clothes, shoes, and bags.

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  • 25 of 27

    Bring in a Rolling Rack

    Freestanding clothes rack with clothes hanging on it

    Alexandr Dubynin / Getty Images

    Another alternative to add function to a small closet without a functional storage system is to bring in a rolling rack. It typically features a top rail for hangers and one or two shelves on the bottom for folded clothes, baskets, or shoes.

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  • 26 of 27

    Organize Shoes by Designer

    Designer shoes organized in clear boxes

    neat by meg

    Keep your favorite splurge-worthy or occasionally worn shoes in clear shoe boxes and label them by designer. Using stacking boxes allows you to utilize vertical space whether on a top shelf or on the floor.

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  • 27 of 27

    Mount Shelves

    Wall-mounted shelves in a closet

    Svetlana Evgrafova / Getty Images

    Mounting floating shelves gives you complete flexibility and is a great solution to getting the most out of your small closet as you can hang them at whatever height you choose. Install as many as you need and make use of awkward spaces such as those behind a door, under a window, or slanted ceiling.