Fixes for Small Closets

Does your closet fit all of your goods?


One of the curses of living in a small or poorly designed space is lack of storage. You can't live without stuff, and the older you get, the more stuff you accumulate. It's a fact of life.

If your belongings have started spilling out into your living space because you don't have any place to put them, then you really need to give your closets a makeover. Hey, it isn't your fault. With any luck, some planning and a few changes will net you some prime storage real estate and help you finally get organized.


10: Go Up, Not Out

Vertical space can be your best friend in a small closet.

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Stand in your closet and look up. If you see empty space, you have an opportunity to take advantage of it with hanging racks, pegs or hooks. From pesky items, like scarves, to horizontally hung umbrellas, you can usually find a way to take advantage of closet space near the ceiling. If you're lucky, you may even be able to fit a couple of shallow wire shelves on the wall up there.


    9: Space Bags

    Did You Know?

    Space bags can help you conserve space in your suitcases, too.

    A space bag and your vacuum cleaner can reduce the volume of many of your bulky items, like blankets, winter coats and pillows. Just put articles in the bag and suction out the air. All the dead space between the folds will be eliminated. It'll save you precious inches and keep your gear safe from mold and mildew until you need it again.


    8: Adjustable Shelves

    Adjustable shelves can grow along with your wardrobe.


    Why use a tall shelf when a shorter one will do just fine? When you have shelves that you can customize, you might be able to salvage enough wall space for a whole new shelf. It might even justify a shopping trip to score some additional stuff. New shelf, new stuff, right? It's almost like it was meant to be.


    7: Going Seasonal

    Did You Know?

    If you have a storage area or a garage in your home, you can invest in an inexpensive armoire to store out-of-season clothes in. It's an easy way to keep your off-season wardrobe ready and waiting for you when you need it.

    If you live in an area that experiences cold winters, you may be able to split your wardrobe and store items in another location when you're not using them. It's not the most desirable solution because you'll have to switch out things a couple of times a year, but it's better than total chaos.


      6: The Purge!

      Be realistic about how much stuff you can fit in your closet.

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      Yikes! Sometimes a worthy cause requires sacrifice. If you don't have enough room, something may have to go. Just think of it this way, if you haven't used that bowling ball, pair of mittens or electric blanket in a while, it may be time to share the bounty by donating to Goodwill or your local shelter. Someone will benefit from your generosity, and you can console yourself with the tax write-off.


      5: Baskets

      Did You Know?

      Getting organized with baskets can be an inexpensive and flexible solution. With so many basket styles and materials to choose from, like modular baskets, canvas-lined baskets and baskets with drawers, you're bound to find a style and size that will be a good home for your closet collections. Oh, and for open storage, they're an essential.

      Yes, wicker is always in -- the closet, that is. Wicker baskets are an inspired storage solution that will corral your small items and organize your larger ones. They'll streamline your shelves and liberate your floor space, too. If you don't remember the color of the carpet in your closet and your shelves are prone to occasional accessory avalanches, baskets will save the day.


      4: Organization

      Keep things simple and be smart about where things are placed.


      You knew this part was inevitable: having to pull everything out, sort it into piles and put stuff into some logical order. Organization will help you maximize a small closet by encouraging you to keep like items together. When you start to see groups of things that just don't fit, you'll really be having an organizational aha moment -- say, like a group of seasonal shoes that could be stored in another room, a pile of purses that might work on hanging pegs or a bunch of leg warmers and shoulder pads that are in desperate need of recycling or tossing.


        3: Shoe Racks

        Did You Know?

        According to a poll conducted by ShopSmart Magazine, the average woman owns 19 pairs of shoes, and one-third of women have a hard time finding a place to put them all [source: Chatham Journal Weekly].

        Over the door, on the floor, on hangers or under the bed, shoe racks can be lifesavers. If you love shoes (and who in their right mind doesn't love shoes?), then get a grip and put them somewhere safe and sane. Properly stored shoes will look better longer and you won't be wasting time with one shoe in your hand and the other, well, who knows where.


        2: A Major Overhaul

        Keep things simple and be smart about where things are placed.


        There are lots of cool gadgets that can get your clothes and other items in order and keep them that way. From rotating tie organizers to modular wire-shelving that you can customize, the days of rigid, drab wooden closet shelves are over. The next time you visit your home improvement outlet, check out some flexible options. You may be able to redesign your entire closet in a weekend for less money than you think.


        1: Tiered Hangers

        Did You Know?

        Hangers have come a long way in the last few years. If you keep finding your slippery clothes (like silks and satins) on the floor, or you need a special solution for hanging wide-necked garments, take a look at a few 21st-century hanger solutions that grip better and won't stretch your knits out of shape. You may be surprised by what's out there.

        Layering is good for more than just hiding those extra pounds. When you use creative hanger solutions, like tiered hangers that let you stack clothes conveniently, you can sometimes double or even triple your useful space. OK, it doesn't work with everything, and you have to reprogram your brain to understand and use the system consistently, but when it works, it works really well. If the alternative is keeping things in a pile on the floor, tiered hangers and other hanger wizardry is a smart way to go.