I’m joining Cindy, Mary Ann, and Sheri to discuss organizing. I think we are all doing a bit of cleaning out and organizing this time of year. For me, I have put off organizing our bedroom closet, and having to write this post forced me to do it, and now I am thrilled with the results! I think the worst part may have been my dread of getting started. Here are some ideas on how to organize a small clothes closet.
Small Space and Closet System
When we bought our 1920 house a few years ago, it had been renovated, so the tiny closet already had a built-in closet system. I could have started over with custom built-ins, but the entire space was already in place and not terrible.
I’ve read several articles or at least headlines about different cleaning methods. There’s the “one-hour method” and then the Marie Kondo method. I think my closet was way past needing only an hour to make much of a difference. An hour or even less will help keep it tidy in a month or two. But this time, we needed to remove every item from the closet and start fresh!
Remove Everything in the Closet Space
I have found that whether I’m cleaning kitchen cabinets and drawers or the clothes closets, the best way is to take everything out. It’s a great way to see exactly what you have and its condition.
Clean like you are moving. We’ve moved a lot over the years, and that’s when I get the most organized. I get the most organized just as we are about to put the house on the market. Then, when we are ready to pack, whether we are doing it or someone else is coming in to pack for us, nothing is getting packed up that should be donated or put into the trash bin! We are not moving this time, but it still feels great to get organized. Next, the basement!
Make Sure You Have Scheduled Enough Time for the Task
Our current closet situation was in such disarray that I knew I would need at least a day and a half to complete the task of a full cleanout and end up with a well-organized closet.
If possible, use a guest room or extra room to place the contents of your closet carefully. Set aside items you will need in the next couple of days. Pajamas, clothes…whatever it is, make sure you can find it!
The first thing you will need is these tall, brown, heavy paper bags, which are the perfect bags to use while cleaning out clothes and shoes. It’s so much easier to organize lots of clothes and shoes when you’ve sorted out the items you no longer want. We were shocked at how much we were keeping that we no longer needed or wanted.
Make four bags
Once you’ve filled your four (or more) bags, it’s time to clean the space thoroughly. It was a little dusty in the back, in the corners of the small walk-in closet, but surprisingly, not as bad as I had thought. The bottom of your closet is often for shoes, so it made sense that it was a little dirty. The shelves were not at all dusty. It made me realize that keeping a tidy closet will not be difficult with a bit of discipline.
Let’s Start at the Top to Organize a Small Clothes Closet
Our closet has one top shelf deep enough for all our shoe boxes. We keep our shoes in the original box, except for sneakers. We wear sneakers on a regular basis, so we keep those out on the floor for easy access. We ditched the shoe racks because they took up too much valuable floor space.
We use cedar shoe trees in all our shoes (except sneakers) and keep them in the shoe bags inside the original box. I know many people like to use special boxes from places like The Container Store so that the closest looks beautiful. It’s a good idea, but it’s just not necessary for our small closet.
Shelf Space and Shelf Dividers are Key to Organize a Small Clothes Closet
The closet has three standard shelves and then space above the chest of drawers. We have always used the shelves for sweaters, but it’s the first place that gets messy. I finally bought the acrylic shelf dividers that are so easy to use and work beautifully. You can even store bulky sweaters sideways between acrylic dividers.
You add them between your stacks of sweaters or folded jeans or T-shirts, and then when you reach for a stack, you are not disrupting the stacks next to it. It’s a simple, easy-to-use solution that makes a big difference in organizing the stacks.
I also used the acrylic shelf dividers to organize small purses and bags. What I love about these dividers is that they do not take up much space but keep everything in its place.
We use adjustable drawer dividers to keep the stacks of T-shirts organized in the drawers. We have had cedar sock boxes for years. It keeps everything tidy. We all have different needs for organizing things like socks and underwear. I used boxes that we’ve had for years and made it work. There are so many options these days that work for your available space.
Since we have more hanging space than shelves, we hang out pants and jeans. I do hang wool and linen trousers full length to keep them fresh and without fold marks.
Full-Length Hanging Space
We have limited full-length hanging space, but we have found that we don’t need more than this since we have a closet in the attic for out-of-season clothes, ski clothes, etc. The extra closet is used mostly for our kids, who live in small NYC apartments, but there’s enough space for all of us, even in a small house.
Use the Back of Your Closet Door
Behind the closet door is where we keep our laundry bag. We have three large hooks and one large hook on the back of the door, where I store my travel bag. Inside the travel bag, we store all our adapters, travel chargers, shoe bags, etc. This otherwise dead space in the closet has become the perfect solution for storing travel items and laundry.
Adding a little Personal Decor to the Small Closet
Our small closet may not be big on square footage, but that didn’t stop us from adding a little decor. I always have a small lamp in the closet. We keep it on (it has a very low-wattage light bulb), and it’s nice to walk in and have just enough light to find what you need! I’m using an old lamp, but this little lamp would be a good option if you don’t have a convenient outlet.
I hung the little “Winter Coats” painting we had at our New Canaan house in the entryway. I also added a favorite small painting from my friend Nancy Sharpe.
I used a combination of vintage items and some small containers from UASHAMAMA to corral and organize a few times, like shoe horns, extra buttons, and mini scissors to remove tags. I like to keep a few extra packages of tissues so that I never leave home when I grab a different bag. I buy the tiny packets at Monoprix.
I bought this jewelry organizer to hold small accessories and smaller items together. I don’t have a lot of jewelry, so this simple organizer works perfectly.
I may use some removable wallpaper on the back shelf, but that’s about all I plan to add to this closet…other than the intent to keep it this neat! A tidy closet sure makes me happy!
Items to Organize Even the Smallest Closet that Might Even Spark Joy
One thing I think resonated with many people in the first Marie Kondo book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, was the idea of determining if the item in question sparks joy. I thought about this a lot during the process of cleaning and organizing.
One last thing…Have something in every space (even your closet) that makes you happy. I have two acrylic frames with “love notes” from our kids when they were young. Every time I see them, it makes me smile. It could be a photo, a postcard, a favorite quote, or whatever brings you joy!
- Acrylic Shelf Dividers // 2. Cedar Sock Boxes // 3. Cedar Shoe Trees // 4. UASHMAMA Paper Bags/Trays // Vintage Crystal Ashtray // Small Bowl // 5. Acrylic Double-Sided Photo Frames // 6. Wood Adjustable Drawer Dividers // 7. Acrylic Adjustable Drawer Dividers