Living With a Small Closet

in Small Space Ideas on by

Cabinets, curtains, screens, and drawers are your friends when you live in an apartment with limited closet space or none at all. Since adding on a closet or other storage space is probably not an option, you’ll have to invent alternative ways to store your items. Read on for some terrific tips on doing so!

Throw it out

As the esteemed storage expert the Closet Lady will tell you, the best way to improve your use of storage space is to get rid of what you don’t need. This doesn’t always have to mean throwing things out, but it does mean reevaluating your storage priorities. If you can get rid of anything, do it. That dress you haven’t worn in two years but “might wear someday”? You’re not going to wear it someday. Sell it on eBay, donate it to charity, put it in long-term storage if you just can’t get rid of it—but don’t waste precious closet space on something you don’t wear on a regular basis. Storage in your home is meant to give you a way to store commonly used items, not a way to hold on to things forever. Reassessing your needs and reducing the amount of things you need to store is the first—and most effective—step on your journey to increase storage space in your home.

Hide and seek

Once you’ve reduced the amount of items you need to store, you’ll have to figure out where to put them. Of course you want to be able to find your items easily, but you don’t necessarily want to keep them out in plain sight for everyone—especially not your guests. When you don’t have a closet, keeping your items under wraps can be a little tough. Fortunately, there are always options.

In small spaces, custom curtains can work miracles—they’re easy to make and good at hiding your unsightly storage. They can also double as a door for a small space where you can stack items needing storage. If you don’t have a closet, make one out of a corner or cranny in your home, or block off the end of a hallway and use it for storage.

Decorative screens are also great ways to section off a part of your home and reserve it for storage. Since they’re tall, they can hide stacked boxes of items you may only need infrequently, such as winter clothing or seasonal decorations. Or, if you don’t have a closet for your cleaning supplies, hide your vacuum, broom, and mop behind a tall screen. The space between your refrigerator and the wall can be another great place to keep tall, narrow items like cleaning implements.

Show it off

If you can’t hide your belongings in your closet (or a covered makeshift closet), another option is to show off items you’d otherwise keep under wraps. You don’t necessarily want to put your undergarments or ratty old t-shirts on display, but keeping some items in a cute set of cubes can be a good way to add color to your home without spending lots of money on decorations. Some storage systems are perfectly attractive and don’t even need to be covered up—there’s no reason not to let others see your furniture, even if storage is its main function. You can also put your shoes (the more attractive pairs, at least) on display by using shoe racks (these stackable racks are a great option, especially if your shoe wardrobe is prone to expanding). There’s little limit to what you can display as long as you’re comfortable with doing so!

Under the bed—and other furniture

Ah, under the bed. That’s the place where monsters hide, right? Well, the monsters won’t have any room if you’re truly maximizing your storage space by using all available areas. The space under your bed can become your new closet, if necessary—it’s conveniently located and can hold a lot of items. Or, if you’ve managed to store a lot of items elsewhere, the space under the bed can become your long-term storage.

Whatever your approach, there are many options when it comes to keeping items under the bed. Drawers—store-bought or self-made—are great options if you need to use your stored items frequently, because they increase the ease of access to those items. Boxes and bags are better if you won’t be using the stored items very frequently.

Your bed probably isn’t the only place where you can keep extra items. Do a thorough walk-through of your house and determine where you have underutilized storage options. If you have an abundance of kitchen cabinetry, condense your pots and pans into one or two cabinets, leaving another cabinet free for non-kitchen items. Or maybe you can combine the contents of two of your bathroom drawers, freeing up one to store towels, pillowcases, or other items that need a place to stay. And since many people have separate CD and DVD storage racks, the entertainment center supporting or surrounding your TV may be completely empty. Fill it up with the games or puzzles that had been languishing in a corner, or use it to store books or magazines. Thinking about alternative places to put items will help you maximize the storage space in your apartment.

Using these tips and your own creativity will send you well on the way to storage solutions, even in an apartment with no closet space whatsoever.

4 Responses to “Living With a Small Closet”

  1. January 09, 2007 at 2:00 am, Guest said:

    Speaking from vast amounts of experience: Every single piece of furniture should be multi-functional, and ideally offer hidden storage as well.
    e.g.: a very stiffly upholstered bench — with an open space in the center and drawers on either side, front and back, plus additional storage under the hinged lid. This single piece of furniture can serve as: 1)seating, 2)a low-profile console or coffee table; 3)a storage cabinet 4) a low-profile desk (perfect for a laptop surfing — just throw a cushion on the floor). Also, you MUST think FUNCTION first, THEN consider aesthetics. A lot – MOST – of mod furniture — which I love, BTW — is open, with clean geometrical lines, and has no storage whatsoever — unless it is very limited open (not hidden) storage. The result? That clear acrylic coffee table that looked so sleek and cool and clean in the catalog is a magnet for clutter in a cramped space, and that wall of stackable brushed aluminum open cube shelving that spoke to you from the window of Ikea or Container Store — the one you thought so practical for getting clutter up and off the floor –is an unattractive eyesore once filled with magazines/books, cleaning products, vitamins, cds, pet toys, bills, etc. — no matter how organized. (BTW, buy the doors that attach to the cubes and that problem is solved. Also, individual cubes can serve as extra seating OR occasional/side/accent tables,OR you can put three together on the floor side by side in a vertical line (NOTE: for # 4 function above, you’ll want the center cube open on ONE side), to serve ALL the 1,2,3,4 functions given above in the first example.

    I love organizing!!! [email protected]


  2. March 30, 2007 at 10:59 am, Guest said:

    In small rooms, closet organization is important. An organized closet can help prevent clutter from creeping into and engulfing the rest of your limited space. Begin by getting rid of unnecessary items. Make a list of the items you need and another one for the ones you want. If you must keep more than you can store in your living space, face it, it’s time for mini storage. Figure out what can go in the closet and also to the storage. Invent alternative ways to store your items. Fully utilize other furniture accessories including cabinets and drawers. Invest in hanging wall shoe pockets for your closet door.


  3. November 09, 2007 at 12:38 pm, Guest said:

    hello this whole organization is great. i mean i really feel guilty throwing a lot of stuff out that i dont need because its practically in good condition…however having a homey place makes it less i can walk freely and enjoy my home..i even feel more fresh air with less cluttered things. thank you


  4. July 03, 2008 at 10:48 pm, Guest said:

    as an expert of small space storage solutions….I can relay that the first step in this article is extremely important! Keeping things that you could possibly use in the next century is ridiculous if you live in an apartment or similar place! Another thought not described in this article is to build your own clost in the little tiny closets they give you! my roommate and I just took the little closets that we have and went to the local hardware store and with measurements in hand got the people to cut wood for us which we then spray painted to look nice and made shelves that are custom to our needs and sit flesh with the closet and under our hanging clothes! It was easy and cheap we spent 20 dollars for all the supplies! Another thing to keep in mind is that a storage space that most people don’t think about is walls they are great for hanging shelving and such and you can store quite a bit in a space that otherwise would be unused! Happy planning and storing!


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