Creative Solutions for Making Closets More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Dane O’Leary of Dane is a full-time freelance writer and design blogger. He has degrees in psychology and anthropology with additional study in journalism, graphic design, and public relations. Dane is currently working on his debut novel.  

While many of us are looking to shop less and downsize our wardrobes, we still need to consider how to best use the closet space in our homes. The ideas in this post can work for both homeowners and renters alike.  I hope you’ll find some inspiration here that you can to make your closets work better for you.  

When shopping for a new home or even a new rental, most people have a list of criteria that must be met. The new abode must have a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the preferred type of kitchen, some prefer a separate dining space or to have a formal entryway, and the list goes on. While the details may vary from person to person, there’s one thing that’s usually on everybody’s lists:  closet space.

Messy closet

If your closet looks like this, the tips in this post can help! 

Homes that lack sufficient closet space require some creativity in order to maximize what storage space is available. The good news is that there are a number of ways to maximize or enhance the efficiency and storage capability of your closet space. In fact, even those with plenty of closet space can benefit from these creative storage solutions, as they can help you to be more organized and keep the contents of your closets in order.

Do-It-Yourself Closet Mods

Whether your closet is small or large, one of the best ways to enhance your existing storage space is by rolling your sleeves up and creating things like built-ins, shelves, and extra rods for hanging. The standard closet usually has a single rod at the top for hanging clothes and sometimes a shelf above, but that doesn’t give you much in terms of storage and organization. In fact, the large space beneath your hanging clothes can easily become an indistinguishable heap. However, this blank slate is an opportunity to incorporate creative solutions that will turn your closet into the organized, efficient closet that you need.

The simplest do-it-yourself closet project would be to install additional rods for hanging clothes. Even if it’s just one additional rod about midway between the top rod and your closet floor, this will double your closet’s hanging space and prevent you from having to cram and stuff clothes into a single rod, which could break or fall down due to the weight of too much clothing.

Do-it-yourself closet modifications

Do-it-yourself closet modifications (via Innatcascade Home Interior)

Installing an additional rod is pretty inexpensive—all you’ll need is the rod and something to attach it to the walls in your closet, perhaps like what you’d use for a shower curtain, both of which can be purchased at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot—and simple enough to do yourself in minimal time.

An alternative to installing extra hanging rods would be to incorporate shelving into your closet. Depending on how you feel about shelves or how much shelving you’d need, you could go small and simply put together a small ready-to-assemble shelving unit to sit on the floor of your closet, or you could build your own wall-to-wall shelving units, giving you an organized way of storing your shoes, hats, accessories, and so on. Larger shelving units can be more of an investment, but it’s still not all that expensive in the grand scheme of things.

Closet shelving options

Adding shelving to your closet can help you better utilize the space (via The Space Between).

Additionally, if you opt for a larger shelving system, you might want to measure your closet and sit down to create a blueprint for them before just jumping right into it. Don’t be intimidated; shelves are one of the simplest and most straightforward do-it-yourself projects you could possible do. There a number of tutorials across the web (like this onethis one, and this one, for starters) and on YouTube if you need guidance or design inspiration.

Closet Hacks

If you’re not a handyman or handywoman, or if you simply don’t trust yourself with a hammer, there are a variety of ways you can “hack” your closet to enhance existing space. For example, have you ever thought about putting a chest-of-drawers into your closet? Instead of building shelves of drawers, you can achieve a similar effect by putting a dresser or chest-of-drawers into your closet.

Dresser in closet

Putting a dresser in closet can give you more storage space (via Sing Honeycomb). 

You can find these pieces at yard sales or thrift stores for very low cost. Although giving the chest-of-drawers a face-lift is optional since it’ll be hidden in your closet, it might be fun to paint it a unique or fun color. This is also an opportunity to try something bold, something you wouldn’t normally do.  You could decoupage maps or newspaper clippings on the drawers or try your hand at stenciling.  As an alternative, laying lace over this piece of furniture and spray-painting over it can be both fun and elegant.

You could also install a single floating shelf on brackets—the type of shelves you can find at your local general store that come in a box with everything you need to install except a hammer—in your closet, then use those shelves to hold baskets or some other types of containers. You could “stack” smaller shelves vertically to create a column of storage containers, or put up a single wide shelf lower in your closet to hold containers.

Stack of shelves

Stack shelves to add more closet space (via Sheila Zeller Interiors).
For more tips and tricks, head to  Modernize is where you can go to get inspired, see what’s possible, and connect with professionals who can help make your dream home a reality.  (NOTE:  This was not a sponsored post.)

I’ll be back next week with my June accountability post and an update on my “Love It, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI – see previous posts here).  I wish you all a wonderful weekend – and for those in the United States, I wish you a Happy Independence Day (ironically, I got married on that very day 14 years ago…).   

8 thoughts on “Creative Solutions for Making Closets More Efficient

  1. I have a chest of drawers in the bottom of my wardrobe (Damn, thought I invented that!) The only thing I would say is that if you have a lot of long items hanging up (e.g. dresses) they often have to be pushed out of the way so you can get to the drawers, or get caught in the drawers when I shut them. I try to hang up dresses at the sides of my wardrobe for this reason, so they are out of the way. But it’s good for extra storage space.

    Another thing I would suggest is doing a wardrobe clearout before you start thinking about extra storage space (or, have a clearout during the process). I moved into a smallish flat last summer and before I started creating space for all my stuff, I tried to ask myself (often in frustration and anger!) “do I even need this or could I just get rid of it?”

    Still got too many clothes though, nobody’s perfect 🙂

    • Thanks for the tips, Rachel. I totally agree that a closet audit/cleanout should come first before one starts bringing in new storage methods and systems. Some people won’t even need new means of storage if they clear out everything they don’t use and love… I use a plastic set of drawers to store my pajamas and workout clothes, but it’s small and doesn’t fit very much. I like the idea of storing a chest of drawers in the closet. That works well for people who have a lot of items that they fold or have limited floor space in their bedroom. Most of us will still need some long hanging space for dresses and other longer items. No one solution will work for everyone, but it’s great to get ideas that we can implement as desired for our unique situations.

  2. These great suggestions could not have been more timely, as I’m on vacation for a few days and trying desperately to complete the closet overhaul I began around this time last year. This has gone on for so long that my initial enthusiasm has been replaced with a desire to be finished with it so my clothing can reside inside my closet, rather than on all the doorknobs in my house. The LIWI project has been a good way to decide what gets closet space – I’ve been putting my “keeper” items back in the closet one at a time as I wear them, but I’ve still not really figured out what should be grouped together, if I’m sorting by color or type of item, etc. This post has given me some new ideas, and coupled with others I’ve gleaned from your archives, I feel ready to do something constructive. Thanks so much for both the timing and the content of this guest post! On an unrelated note, happy anniversary, Debbie! Hoping you and your husband get to do something very special this weekend. Best wishes for many more years of making memories together!

    • I’m glad this post was timely for you, TexasAggieMom. I know you’ve been working at overhauling your closet for a long time and I’m glad this post and some from my archives have been helpful for you with this pursuit. I’m also glad that LIWI has helped you to decide what should make the cut. I wish you the best of luck with getting your closet in order during your days off. I hope you are able to free up your doorknobs once again! Thanks for the anniversary wishes – much appreciated.

  3. Happy anniversary Debbie!
    Wayne Dyer used a nice statement I use to celebrate Independence Day – to be independent of good opinion of others. A beautiful concept to live by every day.

    • Thank you, Helen! We had a great day. I have heard that quote from Wayne Dyer before – I like it a lot. I agree that it’s a beautiful concept to live by…

  4. Great topic for so many… We used to move frequently, and used each of these ideas in our houses, but if one rents, there can be so few options! The dresser in closet, and free standing shelving are great for the domestically mobile! You never know how they can be reincarnated in a new home. Not long after we bought the house we live in now, we decided to make do with one hall closet and turn the other into a mini-office to keep piles and paperwork out of sight. But that is an organizing nightmare for a different kind of blog!

    • Yes, I’m glad there were some suggestions that apply to renters, too, Liz. I have been a renter most of my adult life and sometimes it’s challenging to make the closet situation work… I like your idea of turning a closet into a mini-office, but I can see how other types of problems would arise. I have issues with piles of paperwork myself, not to mention digital clutter. It’s kind of out of the scope of this blog, but if I come up with any great solutions, I may have to do a post about it anyway.

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