How to Organize a Small Closet to Maximize Space

Small closets can contain plenty when you employ these expert clutter-cutting tips and clever storage systems.

Clutter makes small spaces seem even smaller. Tackle that issue in your small bedroom closet with a two-part strategy: some smart weeding-out, then reorganizing via efficient, accessible storage. If done right, it can effectively double your limited closet space and help you find what you need, when you need it. Inspired? Start here.

Start Fresh

Begin by taking everything out of the closet. Set aside for donation any items that no longer fit you or your style. Create another pile of items needing repairs, by you or a tailor.

Sort what’s left using an A-B-C priority system. A is most worn, B is sometimes worn and C is rarely worn at all. All A-category items take up your closet’s easy-access real estate, front and centre, whether hanging space or shelving. Relegate B-category items to the floor. Those Cs can live on upper, out-of-the-way shelves or be stored elsewhere — under the bed, or in a labelled bin in the basement, garage or attic. (Just make sure you never store these things in the attic.)

Start a “Maybe” Bin

It’s a great way to remove less-used items from prime space. If you go an entire year without looking for your “maybe” items, consider them safe for donation. (Here are the things a professional organizer would recommend you toss.)


Be realistic about your closet’s size and layout, as well as everything you’re trying to cram into it. Remember: Its main function should be storing your everyday go-to items within easy reach. Are most of them on hangers? You might need an additional hanging rod or a double-hang bar (they’re easy to install). Shoes galore? Consider a triple-tiered floor rack or a hanging shoe organizer. Looking for inspiration? Check out these impressive home organization makeovers.

Divide and Conquer

Open shelves are breeding grounds for clutter, allowing items to spill into one another. That makes it hard to find things and quickly makes a mess of a small space. There are lots of remedies to this problem, depending on what your shelves hold: shelf dividers for sweaters or purses; stackable organizers for shirts; cubbies for shoes. Those create a clean look that’s easy to maintain, and maximizes unused vertical space.

Colour Code

Consider colour-coding your items, making things easier to find and creating a space of visual comfort. First sort clothing into categories, such as pants, skirts, tops and sweaters. Then group by colour within each category.

Get Hooked

When you’re dealing with a small space, you want to use all of it, including doors and walls. Enter hooks. Stick-on hooks are especially easy to install on walls, doors or even the side of shelving. Consider them for frequently-used items like robes or your favourite sweatshirt, or accessories like scarves, jewelry and purses. When they’re on a door back, front and centre, you’re most likely to use them.

Plan Maintenance

Plan seasonal or monthly check-in sessions to revisit what’s working in your closet and what’s not. With small closets especially, one smart, subtle change can make a big improvement! Put in on your calendar. A quick check-in sooner is way easier than fixing a cluttered mess later.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published in The Family Handyman