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10 Inexpensive Ways to Organize Your Closet

Updated on September 15, 2014

Tips to Help You Organize Your Closet Space

Most of us have modest or even small ordinary closet spaces like the one pictured here. It looks messy, but in reality, it's not a bad space and can be improved to be much more functional. There is a bunch of unutilized space in this closet that could be recaptured and used effecively.

If you're like me, your bedroom closet by necessity becomes home to more than clothes and shoes. Mine also houses a sewing machine, craft projects, an emergency kit, and a basket of baby toys. I've learned to utilize every square inch of valuable closet real estate. I'd like to share some inexpensive practical ideas and organizing tips with you to help any closet become more efficiently organized.

Photo: peacefullylessstressed

Some Inexpensive Closet Organizing Systems

There are hundreds of really good closet organizers, but before you choose any, make sure you analyze your needs and your space.

Organized Closet
Organized Closet

The Perfect System

It may be pretty, but how functional is it?

Don't you just love the beautifully staged photos of closet systems? Or TV makeovers where the after picture leaves you wondering if anyone really lives there? I can't seriously consider any system that showcases monocromatic clothing hanging six inches apart, or one sweater on each shelf. I know, they are "staging." I get it. But most makeovers are pretty only until the cameras and crew leave. It's important to choose your closet accessories and "systems" with a really practical eye. Function first!

Closet Organizing Tips

Ten practical inexpensive tips to make your closet efficient and organized.

Tip #1

Clean and Purge

Cleaning Closet
Cleaning Closet

Tip #1 - Clean and Purge

It's hard, but you'll feel better

This one is so obvious I almost left it out. But it's so important that you really eliminate anything that you don't use, need, or that belongs somewhere else. Only you can decide what remains, but it has to fit in the space allotted. If you can't bear to part with something that you should, remember that something that is never used is only taking up space. That's all it does. It has no other function or useful purpose. That is space that you can use for a more worthy object. And, that item might be useful to someone else who needs if far more than you need to store it. And if you're lucky enough to end up with some negative space when you're done, just enjoy it, or display something pretty there.

Photo: thankgodimnatural

Clean Out Your Closet - Be free

This is the hardest part and sometimes just the thought of it bogs us down before we even start.

From Closet Clutter to Closet Control: Four Steps to Organizing Your Clothes
From Closet Clutter to Closet Control: Four Steps to Organizing Your Clothes

For a quick energy boost and the motivation to tackle that ugly closet,let a professional guide you through the process step-by-step.


Tip #2

Take Inventory

Standing Closet
Standing Closet

Tip #2 - Take Inventory of What Stays in the Closet

Divide and conquer

List your items into categories based on how they will be stored and how much space they need. Your list might look like this:

Hanging clothes (1/2 of closet)

Folded Clothes (about 2x4 feet)

Shoes (about 2x4 feet)

Bags (about 2x3 feet)

Belts, ties, scarves, etc. (not sure)

Now you're going to think about the best and most efficient way to store each group of items. Obviously it would be nice to have an expert come in and build out your closet. But you can inexpensively organize your closet space youself.

Photo: rococoreport

Tip #3

Assign Priorities

Formal Dress
Formal Dress

Tip #3 - Assign Priorities Based on Frequency of Use

Denim to the front, sequins to the back

The things you use the most should be stored in the most convenient place. For instance, the right side of my closet is for the things I wear every day, the left for dressier clothes. The craft supplies I seldom use are on the highest shelf in the back. I need to stand on something to access them. My shoes are within easy reach. Since I only change purses about twice a year, my bags are high on the shelf, but in front of the craft supplies where I can reach them. About those craft supplies. Those are the ones that as soon as I get rid of somthing I'll need to repurchase it next week. As long as I keep them, I'm assured of never needing them again. . .oh, nevermind.

Photo: Strapless Dress

Tip #4

Create a Closet System

Closet System
Closet System

Tip #4 - Shop for the Perfect Closet System

But don't buy it

Here's the fun and creative part. Based on your assessment of your storage needs, shop for the perfect closet system for you. It doesn't matter how expensive it is. Find the system that you think would be your ideal solution to all your storage needs for that closet. That doesn't mean to look at systems that take up three times the space of your closet. It has to fit within your closet space. Now you're going to find ways to inexpensively duplicate the storage sections you've defined. For instance, canvas shelves instead of hardwood shelves; baskets instead of custom modules, an extra chest of drawers repurposed from another room, etc.

My closet space is like the introductory photo at the beginning of this article, a typical closet with two sliding doors, a horizontal pole for clothes to hang, and a long shelf running across the top. I determined that I needed half for hanging clothes and the other half for shelves for folded clothes and shoes. There is room for another shelf low to the floor running under the side with the hanging clothes. The existing shelf that runs across the top of the entire closet could benefit from storage boxes/baskets with a variety of functions. Clear boxes would make it easy to identify contents.

Here is how I created the space inexpensively, and in some cases for no cost at all, by recycling items I already had:

I purchased hanging canvas shelves (like the ones shown below), enough to fill up the half of my closet I designated for folded clothes and shoes. They hang from the poles. I have four large canvas clothes units (below) and two canvas shoe units (further down the page). Hardwood would be lovely, but these work just fine and were inexpensive. From another room I repurposed a vertical shelf with four cubes by laying it down on my closet floor to become organized storage cubicles underneath my hanging clothes. To organize the top shelf, I repurposed several nice sturdy Tiffany boxes from my son's wedding china. Clear boxes would be more functional, but these were free.

Photo: mywordsinterestslife

Tip #5

Create More Space

Tie Rack
Tie Rack

Tip #5 - Create More Functional Space

Use your imagination

Make use of overlooked spaces and create new space. Can you make one shelf into two and get more use out of it? Is there a corner for a hook for a bathrobe or pair of jeans? Find and use unique solutions and spacesavers, but make sure it will truly be useful to you. I like hooks, special ironing board racks, and those cascading hangers that allow you to hang several skirts from one hanger. These are things that work for me. You can sift through hundreds of solutions online, study the details and prices, measure to make sure it fits the space - all before you make a decision to buy.

Photo: Tie Rack

Tip #6

Find *Your* Shoe System

Shoe Storage
Shoe Storage

Tip #6 - Determine a System for Organizing Shoes

Identify shoes with a snap

There are many ways to store shoes. Choose one that is convenient for you and that fits the space you have. An alternative to storing shoes in your closet is to store them on one of those under-the-bed shoe racks.

I like the idea shown in this photo as an alternative to the obvious clear plastic shoe boxes. Just keep them in the boxes they came in and snap photos to show what's inside.

Photo and idea: gonomad

Tip #7

Paint the Inside of Your Closet

Painted Closet
Painted Closet

Tip #7 - Paint the Inside of Your Closet

It changes your outlook

Many people neglect to paint the inside of their closet. It's such a chore to empty it out and all that. But what a difference it makes! You might even choose a constrasting color from the rest of the room. Even the smallest, most modest closet can feel like a carefully decorated room - one you enjoy spending time in.

If you choose a darker color just make sure you have plenty of light inside the closet, which brings me to my next tip.

Photo: shuttersmack

Tip #8

Lots of Light

Closet Lighting
Closet Lighting

Tip #8 - Make Sure Your Closet Has Plenty of Light

Brighten things up

It's so difficult to find things in a dark closet. This tip kind of goes without saying, but many closets have no light except what comes in from the room when the door is open. You may have to add a light fixture, or find a battery solution, but it will be well worth the effort.

Photo: naturaltechnology

Tip #9

Closet Door Makeover

Closet Makeover
Closet Makeover

Tip #9 - Give Your Closet Doors a Makeover

Think outside the box

If your closet doors are old, shabby or dated, update them with fresh paint and molding strips, stenciling, or wallpaper. Just a coat of paint and new knobs will do wonders.

You can find so much inspiration online. I found this and many other happy ideas online by doing a search for "closet door makeover." This particular one even provides extra storage from the colorful totes as part of the design.

Photo: livinginanutshell

Make Your Own Stenciled or Painted Tote Bags - Everyone can use extra storage

This is an especially effective idea for storage in a tiny apartment. Even when there isn't a single inch of closet space left, you can still store a lot in tote bags. If done somewhat artistically, they add decor and personality to the room.

Tip #10

Keep it Clean and Organized

Happy Closet
Happy Closet

Tip #10 - Keep Your Closet Clean and Organized

Never outgrow your closet

Your new closet system should be easy to maintain, but if you find yourself getting crowded and disorganized again, that's your cue to retire some things and find them a new home. When you first reorganize your closet, make sure to leave some room for you and your things to breathe. The goal is to enjoy using your closet to help you get dressed each day. If you do, you will be happier and it will be easy to maintain that effect.

Photo: missnowmrs

Photos used with permission are credited in individual modules. Every other photo on this lens resides in original form in my personal collection.

Do you have a closet challenge or tip you'd like to share?

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    • WeeCatCreations1 profile image

      Susan Caplan McCarthy 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I love the satisfaction that comes from going through everything in my closet and organizing it.

    • despinadesign profile image

      Debbie Anastassiou 

      5 years ago from Perth Western Australia

      Organise your wardrobe- it does wonders for your sanity! Thank you for the ideas

    • dawnsnewbeginning profile image


      5 years ago

      Some good ideas.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I like these ideas for Ways to Organize Our Closets

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      5 years ago from Keller, Texas

      Wonderful suggestions. My rule of thumb is if i buy something, i must take that same type of something out of my closet before putting the new thing in. I then donate those items so someone else can use them. Great lens!

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      6 years ago

      Twice a year I need to face the task of changing the contents of my closet, from summer to winter clothes, and then the reverse six months later. I'm in one of those phases right now. I thought I would donate a dozen or more items, but so far have only given away three items. Hope to finish the task tomorrow, and find more donations.

    • texan203 lm profile image

      texan203 lm 

      6 years ago

      My closet, well I prefer to keep the door closed. Thanks for the tips.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      6 years ago from USA

      This used to be a big issue for me, but thankfully I am getting better at it. My closet is always organized, but "purging" wasn't a strong point for me.

    • eccles1 profile image


      6 years ago

      I need to organize my closet badly,Thank you for your help

    • iamraincrystal profile image

      Rosyel Sawali 

      6 years ago from Manila Philippines

      Wow! Everything looks so well organized ^_^


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