Closet Storage Solutions

I have yet to meet the person who thinks they have sufficient closet space. Most people lament how small their closets are—no matter whether the closets are large walk-ins or small coat closets. No matter what size space we have to work with, we can learn to make the most of it with organizing tools.

1. Purge First

Before you head out to buy various closet organizing tools, do your purging first based on the Closet Organization 101 tips and worksheet shared earlier this month. Once you are down to only the best items in your closet, then check out these options.

2. Hang or Fold

Clothes organization at the macro level is relatively easy. You either hang clothes on a hanger or fold them and store them on a drawer or shelf. I don’t get a good visual picture of how something will look on me if it is folded in a pile. I also find it hard to keep track of my clothes when they are folded and piled. My husband prefers more piling than I do but most of the clothes he folds and piles are things that have almost the exact same cut and style but are in different colors, like T-shirts or jeans. Women’s clothing generally has more variety and doesn’t lend itself to piling in the same way.

Decide what items you want to hang and fold and determine how much space you need for each. After a lot of trial and error over the years, I have learned that I prefer hangers for everything except sweaters. (As a knitter, it is painful to see a beautiful sweater get stretched out of shape on a hanger.)

3. Hanging Options

Stanley V7052 Adjustable Closet Rod. At

There are many different types of closet organization systems out there that combine drawers and hanging rods. They look lovely in the pictures but before you invest in a closet system, think about how it will function for you. If you have “long” clothes like dresses, long skirts, one-piece uniforms or jumpsuits, you will need at least one full-length closet road to hang them neatly. For shorter items like shirts, pants folded in half on a hanger, shorts, and swimwear you can increase your hanging space by adding a second closet rod between the upper rod and the floor.

Tip: The next time you are evaluating a closet system, look for whether the closet accommodates both long and short clothes. Often the closet designer has picked only one or the other.

Neu Home Closet Doubler. At

If you don’t know how to install a closet rod, there are quick slip-on double-closet rods you can use. I am not sure how durable these would be in the long run and they do have the disadvantage of breaking up the hanger flow space on your upper rod. But if you are in a hurry or have no access to power tools, this might be for you.

4. Shelving Options

Winsome Wood Step Stool, Antique Walnut. At

The easiest shelf to use is the one usually found right above the tallest closet rod. If you have a hard time seeing objects up this high, you could add a stepstool to your closet. You can maximize this space by adding shelf dividers or shelf cubes.

Chrome Closet Shelf Divider. At

Way Basics Eco Modern Storage Double Cube Plus. At

If this still isn’t enough space, then you will need to add more shelving.

6 Shelf Over the Rod Closet Organizer. At

One of the latest trends in closet organizer design is to create fabric pocket shelves that slip onto the rod and serve as “shelves.” I have one of these in my children’s closet and it has never functioned well for me. The fabric is not strong enough to hold the clothes straight and sometimes it tilts forward spilling out little items (like baby socks) onto the floor.

John Louis Home Standard Closet Shelving System, Red Mahogany. At

If you really need more shelving, I would install solid shelving or a beautiful closet organizer system like this one.

5. Shoe Options

One other preference I have adopted in my closet organizing approach is to keep all shoes off of the floor on a rack or shelf. It makes it easier to vacuum the closet and also easier to review your shoes at a quick glance rather than pushing aside clothes to find them. The easiest spot to store shoes is hanging over the closet door.

My shoes are currently on an over the door metal shoe rack with boots and other shoes that don’t fit on the rack on a wooden organizer on the floor. In my own closet organizing process, I hope to get all the shoes off the floor. Whatever doesn’t fit on the door rack, I will put on the upper closet shelf.
There are a variety of over-the-door shoe organizers, including fabric shoe pockets and clear plastic shoe pockets. I prefer the greatest visibility and would tend toward the clear pockets or wire shoe racks.

Whitmor Over The Door Shoe Rack. At

Honey-Can-Do Over The Door Clear Shoe Organizer. At

If over-the-door does not appeal to you, you might consider a hanging fabric shoe shelf suspended from the closet rod (with the caveats about sturdiness raised above) or closet systems with shoe shelves mounted a few feet off the ground.

Kennedy Home Collection 5168 16-Pocket Hanging Shoe/Purse Organizer. At

Rubbermaid Closet 3H94-03-White Shoe Shelves 26". At

Women's Clear Shoe Boxes - Set of 10 (Clear) (3.75"H x 7"W x 11.5"D). At

You could also go the classic shoebox route, stacking a pile on top of your closet shelf. Clear shoeboxes are easiest so that you can quickly see your collection.

One note on shoe storage learned the hard way. If you are buying a men’s shoe organizer make sure the organizer you purchase specifically says it is for men’s shoes. Men’s shoes are too wide to fit on most women’s shoe organizers and shelves.

6. Valet Options

Valet Bar - Aluminum by RDM, Inc. At

If you have limited time in the mornings (and who doesn’t?) to get ready, it can be a big help to pick out your clothes the night before. You might want to treat yourself to a valet rod to have a specific place to put the next morning’s outfit. Most valet rods retract so that they are not in the way when you don’t need them.

7. Laundry Storage

If you are lucky enough to have a large closet, you have the option to use a portion of the space for laundry storage. After a big clothing purge, we were able to add canvas sorting bins under one of the closet rods in each of our closets. We still have room above the sorters to hang shorter items like shirts or pants draped over a hanger. The six storage compartments are assigned roles: whites, colors, jeans, reds, dry cleaning and hand washables. It is easy to see when there is enough to run a load and we spend no time sorting laundry on laundry day.

Honey-Can-Do Heavy-Duty Triple Laundry Sorter, Chrome/White. At

Household Essentials ML-6445 Woven-Seagrass Triple Laundry Sorter with Casters and 3 Removable Bags. At

Our prior solution was to have laundry baskets out in the bedroom. It was depressing to wake up every morning to see reminders of the laundry to be washed. It is far more relaxing to get the laundry out of sight if you have the option. If you don’t pick the most beautiful laundry hamper you can find.

Some older homes include a laundry chute, whisking the clothes away to the basement where the washing machine resides. In my grandmother’s house, the laundry chute is a simple but inconspicuous solution where the back portion of one of the bathroom cabinet drawers is cut away. You put the laundry in the drawer, close it and “Presto!” like magic, the laundry disappears into the basement. I am not sure why the laundry chute disappeared from modern house planning. It seems like an innovation we need back.

8. Out of Season Storage

If you live in a four season climate, you need a closet review each spring and fall during the climate transitions. If you are working with a really small closet, most likely, you will need to pack clothes away in storage when the seasons change. It takes time and effort but each time you go through the packing process, you usually benefit by weeding out clothes that didn’t get worn or that you no longer love. If you have a larger closet, you might not need to pack clothes away but you might want to rearrange the position of the warm and cool season clothes so that the clothes most appropriate for the current season are in the easiest to access portions of the closet.

Rubbermaid 3F19 Configurations XL 42-Inch Three-Handle Low-Profile Box with Cedar Inserts, Natural. At

Antique Victorian Wood Trunk Wooden Treasure Hope Chest. At

I hope the above sampling of closet storage options has given you some inspiration to update your own closet. What are your experiences with closet organizers? Do you have a closet problem not addressed by the above? Please share in the comments.