13 closet organization ideas to maximize your storage space

Clever closet organization ideas that will transform any size space into a functional storage solution

Pink bedroom with fireplace and organized walk in closet
(Image credit: Future)

As well as being incredibly satisfying to look at, the best closet organization ideas really do make life a whole lot easier. Imagine not having to pull out all your dresses to get to your shoes, or deep dive into a pile of bags to find the one your after. 

A well-organized closet could cut down on your morning routine, give you extra space (for more clothes maybe?), and give you a much clearer idea of where everything is stored. But where do you start when organizing a closet? Well, we have pulled together plenty of expert tips and easy hacks to provide all the inspiration you need.

What is the best way to organize a closet?

The best way to organize a closet is to start from scratch. Get everything out and clean the space, making sure shelves are dust-free and the floor is totally clear. 'Clear enough time to do the job properly - there is nothing more frustrating or disheartening than starting a project and then running out of time' advises Lucy Williams, founder of Please Organise Me.

'Do not try to do everything in one go - it is tiring and can be overwhelming. Instead, tackle one small area at a time. One shelf, one drawer, one section of hanging space etc. Have a bin bag for rubbish, a bag for items to donate or give away, a bag for “belongs elsewhere”, a pile for needs to be mended. Only put back items into the wardrobe or closet you want to keep.'

1. Declutter your closet

Built in closet in yellow with painted mural

(Image credit: Future)

Before delving into those handy closet storage ideas you first need to assess how much storage you need, whether you are working with a spacious walk-in closet or more modest bedroom storage

And that starts with emptying your current closet and having a declutter. We spoke with Katherine Blackler, a professional organizer and founder of Sort My Space to get her top tips on how to cut down on your clothes.

'Start by emptying out everything onto the bed to a) see the full potential of your closet and storage space and b) ensure you don’t take the path of least resistance. E.g If you have to justify each item you return you’re more likely to let go of surplus than reviewing it in-situ.' 

If you are ruthless enough, go through each item and think about the last time you wore it. Does it fit right? Can you imagine wearing it again?  Do you have something similar you would rather keep?

'If you want to test how often you truly wear your clothes, hang all your clothes hangers back to front so the ‘pointy end’ is poking towards you. Once you’ve worn an item, turn the hanger to the usual direction when you return it to the wardrobe. After 6/12/18 months, there will still be some hangers pointing the wrong way. This is a clear indicator you probably don’t need these items in your life and can now let them go!' 

Make use of one of the stylish storage baskets in our edit, to help organize your wardrobe and keep it looking aesthetically pleasing.

2. Organize by category 

Dark blue walk in wardrobe with glass doors

(Image credit: Future)

Once you have made your cull, start organizing the clothes, shoes, and accessories you have left into categories. The categories you create will depend on a system that makes sense to you. For example, does it make sense to separate clothes into types, e.g trousers, tops, dresses or would it work better to divide them by occasion – most worn, workwear, loungewear, occasion wear? Once you have a system create piles based on these categories ready for them to go back into the closet. 

'To maximize space, we’d always recommend grouping clothes together, for example tops, dresses, trousers.' recommend Jen and Marr founders of Interior Fox. 'Giving each garment a designated area will allow you to find exactly what you’re looking for and will make best use of every inch. For an aesthetically pleasing wardrobe, make sure to group the colors together within their own garment category.'

3. Re-organize with the seasons

Organized wardrobe with hanging clothes

(Image credit: Future)

And while you are organizing your clothes, consider the season. You don't need a closet filled with bulky jumpers and coats in the middle of summer, so if you have the room store out-of-season clothes elsewhere. 

'Seasonal clearouts are a must when maintaining a well-organized closet area.' advise Jen and Marr. 'Stowaway winter coats and chunky jumpers in the warmer months in vacuum-packed bags.' This will free up space, keep it clutter-free and create a closet that's only filled with items you know you are going to use. 

4. Think about ergonomics

Blue walk in wardrobe with central storage and show rack

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Now it's time to start putting your clothes, shoes, and accessories back into the closet. A good place to start with this seemingly mammoth task is to plan where each of your categories would work best. 

'Alongside organizing exactly where everything is placed, it’s important to think about the ergonomics, meaning how you move and flow in the space. Consider what order you dress in and design the layout, so it naturally fits with your movement.' says Jen and Marr.

Literally, practice it. Go to your wardrobe and see where is most natural for you to reach. What shelves and rails do you naturally go to? It might sound silly but it will give you a clear idea of where to store your most used clothes so that they are always easily accessible. 

5. Assess your storage system 

Organized small walk in wardrobe

(Image credit: James Merrell)

If you're finding that your closet is constantly getting out of hand and no matter how much you declutter, the system isn't working, it's time to rethink the design and configuration. And this doesn't necessarily mean starting from scratch even if you have a built-in closet, it's more than likely you can tweak your current space to make it work harder and suit your needs better.  

Look at the clothes you own and assess what your storage needs are. Do you have lots of dresses that require rails? In that case, hang another bar. Do you need to incorporate drawers for t-shirts and sweaters? Can you fill dead space with bins and baskets that you can stash bags and shoes?

'Don’t buy any storage until your declutter is complete and your clothes positioned where they will live. Make sure you measure up and only buy extra storage if it is actually going to enhance the area. The basics that I find the biggest help are drawer dividers.' advises Silverthorn Vicky professional organizer and founder of You Need A Vicky.

6. Incorporate drawers 

Pink bedroom with fireplace and walk in closet

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Shelves can be great for bulky items like jumpers or pieces you don't have to fold like shoes and bags, but avoid storing piles on open shelving. Katherine Blackler says, consider filing your clothes in drawers rather than piling on shelves. Adapting this Japanese custom (popularised by Marie Kondo) optimises drawer space and stops you disrupting an entire stack!'

7. Be clever with hangers

walk in closet with black dressing table and pink patterned ottoman

(Image credit: Ben Gebo Photography)

You might not think of hangers have much of an effect on a well-organized closet but choosing the right hangers can free up space, be better for your clothes and just be much more appealing to look at. 

'Attention to detail is key when working with an exposed closet. Purchase slimline black velvet hangers, making sure to hang them all in one direction. Use baskets to group together smaller items that do not have a space within drawers such as hair accessories or scarves.' recommends Jen and Marr. 

Lucy Williams founder of Please Organise Me., 'We cannot recommend slimline hangers enough! It frees up huge amounts of space and with all clothing hanging at a uniform height, it is visually appealing too.'

8. Keep smaller items organized in baskets, bins and boxes 

blue built in wardrobes

A really simple closet organization idea that's practical but can also look really lovely is to fill any dead space with baskets or boxes. Shelves or cubby holes can be a waste of space unless it contains a basket or bin. That way rather than pile everything, only to have it tumble down on you when you need access to what's on the bottom, up you can place it all in a basket and bring the whole basket down neatly. 

Baskets and boxes are ideal for storing small items like bags and scarves, but if you have the room for larger baskets they are ideal for bulky items like sweaters. That way they don't take up lots of room on your rail, won't get misshapen from being on a hanger and are still easy to access.

See how in this beautiful blue bedroom, a section of the closet has been filled with hat boxes and shoe boxes which can make for really handy storage, something to consider before you go throwing them out. 

9. Add in freestanding storage

walk in wardrobe with shoe storage

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Really maxed out your built-in closet storage? Add extra storage by bringing in some smaller, freestanding storage pieces. A coat stand for example is perfect for lighter spring and summer jackets that you want to keep out in the warmer months but take up too much space on your rails. As you can see in this walk-in closet, a stand for bags, scarves, and hats means they can all be kept in one place and are easy to grab when needed. 

10. Make space for shoes 

Show storage in dark walk in closet

(Image credit: MATTHEW WILLIAMS)

Shoes can take up a lot of room, so having an efficient storage system is key to an organized closet. Shelving works really well as shoe storage as you can clearly see what you are working with. If shelving is going to take up too much room, hanging storage solutions can be great too and can fit onto a rail or be hung on the back of a closet door. 

Just as you would with clothes, you want to arrange your shoe collection with the most worn front and center so you can just grab them and go. And top tip; if you position your pairs facing opposition directions you can free up way more space than if all your shoes pointed outwards. 

11. Hang curtains to hide clutter

pink dressing room with neon yellow curtain over shoe storage

(Image credit: 2 LG Studio)

Firstly, can we just note how fabulous this baby pink and neon yellow color scheme is? But there's a clever closet organization idea to steal here too. Hanging a curtain over any open storage you have in your closet gives a much more seamless look to the space. This would work perfectly if you had a small bedroom with an open closet so you can just pull a pretty curtain over all that visual clutter. Plus, having a curtain is a good way to protect your clothes from fading too. 

12. Add an ottoman for seating and storage

Dark walk in wardrobe with blue ottoman

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

If you've got the room an ottoman or a storage bench can be a great addition to a closet. Not only do they look lovely and give a real luxurious feel, they can double up as storage too. They are perfect for keeping larger pieces that you don't want taking up lots of room in your closet but would still like easy access to. And they are great for outfit planning as you can just pop your clothes for the day on the ottoman the night before to save time rummaging in the morning. 

13. Hide a dressing area behind doors

Built in closet with dressing area and shelving

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

Loving this closet organization idea – shallow wall shelves create a dressing area plus storage for make-up, jewelry and accessories. Being able to tuck everything, including a dressing area, behind closed doors means you can create a clear, clutter-free space when your closet is not in use. 

Hebe Hatton
Hebe Hatton

Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.