Do you dread opening your closet, fearing an avalanche of clothes, shoes, and accessories? Or are you someone who has everything sorted by style, color, and season, ready to be grabbed at a moment’s notice? Odds are you probably fall somewhere in the middle. While it’s easy for your closet to get out of control, there are some simple tricks for how to organize a closet to maximize your space and get it back in order — without needing to install a costly shelving system.
Take advantage of the door
If your closet has a door that opens out rather than doors that slide along a track, invest in an over-the-door organizer. You can find racks that are perfect for hanging purses, scarves, belts, and other accessories. There are also organizers that hang flat against the door with pockets that are meant to hold a shoe collection, although you can also tuck in other items, from socks and lingerie to extras like leather cleaning spray, shoe polish, or a lint brush.
Look to the ceiling
There’s almost always extra space toward the ceiling of your closet, so think about installing a shelf or two up there, above the clothing bar. You can add baskets to store out-of-season items that you won’t need to touch for a few months. This is also a great spot for special occasion clothing and shoes or sentimental items like love letters or children’s drawings.
Arrange your hanging clothing
Decide how you would like to organize the clothes that hang in your closet. For example, you could group by color, by type, or by outfit. Let your wardrobe and your personal style dictate the solution you choose. Once you’ve made a decision, spend a few hours pulling every single thing out of your closet and then putting it back one piece at a time, hanging it in order.
And don’t overlook the use of quality hangers as part of your organizational system — for example flocked hangers make it less likely that clothes will be harmed or will fall on the floor, and they come in a range of colors to give your closet a cohesive and slightly upscale look. There are also sturdy hangers that can hold multiple items of clothing vertically to save space. If you want to go classic, wooden hangers are always a safe bet, and they can protect delicate clothing. Shop around to find what will work for you.
Periodically, remember to pull clothing you haven’t worn in years (and probably never will again) for donation or discard. It will give you more room as well as a great excuse to go shopping for updated pieces.
Sort out your shoes
Shoes can be moved from their cardboard boxes to clear plastic containers, so you can easily see what you have while protecting each pair. Stack them on the floor or put them on that shelf you installed at the top of your closet.
You can also buy a shoe rack for your closet floor, another area that often has unused or underused space. Put your most-worn pairs higher up on the rack or front and center, and let the ones that you only wear with certain outfits or on certain days stay lower down or to the side.
Expand your space
Fabric shelves that hang directly from the closet bar come in a variety of sizes and lengths, and they can give your closet even more versatility. These shelves work particularly well if you’re running out of space in your dresser drawers for items that need to be kept flat rather than hung, such as sweaters. They also provide a great way to store the essential accessories you need to complete an outfit, from purses to hats to, you guessed it, shoes.
Above all, remember to stick with whatever closet organization system you have chosen. It’s not that complicated to set everything up the first time. What will take some getting used to is putting everything back in the appropriate place after you’ve used it or worn it. But after a bit, you’ll find that it’s second nature, and you’ll never have to worry about opening the door and getting hit in the head by a wayward sneaker again.
Have other thoughts on how to organize a closet? Leave us a note in the comments below.