How To Organize a Small Closet

I live in a small cottage-style house with small closets to match. My master bedroom closet is 6'3" wide and 2 feet deep and has those *awesome* sliding doors that you constantly have to move left or right to do anything.

Nevertheless, I make this closet work, because I have to. It probably helps that I am a Purger with wannabe-minimalist tendencies. I have the one thing in, one thing out rule, plus at least twice a year I relentlessly go through all my shoes and clothes looking for things to donate to charity. I like to keep my clothes and shoes pared down to only what I really wear because I think it makes it so much easier to get dressed in the morning. (For more about how I started that habit and why, read my post on "The Book That Changed My Wardrobe Life.")

In this closet, I store 15 pairs of pants, 11 jackets/cardigans, 2 dresses and 45 tops. I also store 2 pairs of tall boots, 3 pairs of calf-high boots, 1 pair of ankle boots, plus 15 pairs of other shoes; my yoga blocks and a 6-pound dumbbell; my hot roller set (because my bathroom's so tiny there's no room for them in there;) my iron, spray starch, and ironing board; 8 belts, 11 scarves and wraps, 3 purses and 2 hats, 4 suitcases, my laundry hamper, and a small "junk" basket. (I keep sweaters, undergarments, socks, and workout wear in my dresser.)

This is how I make it all fit:


To get a really organized closet, first off, you need some shoe organizers. I bought two 15-pair shoe organizers something like this 12-pair one for $49 from The Container Store (I got mine at Bed Bath & Beyond, but they don't seem to carry that exact type anymore.) I would avoid the hanging shoe bags that take up valuable rod space; what you need is one with a hard shelf-top that you can store things on.

I turned one of these shoe organizers on its end so that I could fit my clothes hamper next to it on the left side of my closet, under my pants.

All my calf boots go in front of the shoe organizers, and my tall boots are to the left of the hamper against the left wall of the closet. (Speaking of the hamper, it's a $15 mesh dorm-room one with two compartments that folds up, is very light weight, and flexible so I can squeeze it in and out of the very small space it has to live inside.)


My closet has that open wire-type top shelf that nothing sits on very well. That's where I put all my suitcases, my small junk basket, my hats, and two of my extra purses. (I store a fancy clutch in one of the shoe dividers below my hanging pants.)

I have a small ironing board with a hanger-hook (like this $14 one from JC Penney) that I use to divide off my pants from the rest of my clothes. You can see it in the above pic--it's bright teal-colored, almost hidden by an orange t-shirt.

My belts are loosely rolled up and stored in the green basket in the photo below, on top of one of the shoe organizers, along with my iron and hot roller set. Again, I avoid those hanging belt organizers because I think it's hard to find the belt I want, and I don't want to take up rod space with it. With this little green basket, I can pull it out, find the belt I want, and put it back in the closet in a matter of seconds.

Full view of the right side of my closet


I have a pretty simple clothing organization system: tops on the right, pants on the left, scarves in the middle. I tend to keep my two dresses (not a huge dress person, obviously...) all the way to the right, with jackets next to them, then my other tops. I've tried organizing tops by color, but what tends to make the most sense for me is just to group them by type--long sleeve/dressy, sleeveless/dressy, long sleeve tees, short sleeve tees. And sometimes there's some intermingling of the types, but since I try to keep them weeded down to the minimum, I can usually find what I want to wear pretty easily.

Full view of the left side of my closet
So that's pretty much it! I find it fairly easy to keep everything basically in its place in there, and I can find what I need without much trouble other than swinging those damn sliding doors back and forth, back and forth. Oh well. It burns calories, right??