It’s no secret—the holidays are a celebratory time that can leave us with excess. From presents to decorations, you’re not alone if you find yourself with an overabundance of things post-holiday and a sudden urge to purge in an effort to maximize closet space and get organized for the new year.
If you’re shifting things around wondering how to make room for the new, you’re likely asking yourself:
The secret: being strategic about available square footage and periodically re-evaluating how to maximize closet space, especially if you’re trying to maximize small closet space. After the holidays is the perfect time to optimize closet space, taking action to avoid the postseason stress that tends to creep in this time of year. So let’s make it happen, together.
With years of experience perfecting how to optimize closet space, we know that getting started is the hardest part. That’s why we’ve put together our top tips and tricks to maximize closet storage. Be mindful of any additional questions or pain points you experience and when you’re ready for additional advice, we’re here to help! Our design consultations are free and there’s no space we can’t transform.
To truly conquer the feeling of after-holiday stress, it’s important to avoid stuffing more into an already cramped space.
By completing the following checklist, you can start with a fresh canvas and have more visibility to usable space.
Start from top to bottom, or vice versa, and put things into piles (keep, toss, donate).
For instance, maybe you realize you have way more hangers than necessary or you could benefit from finding a better solution for shoe storage.
For example, perhaps you need more storage for accessories like hats or jewelry and your end goal is for everything to have a dedicated place in the closet.
In order to maximize closet space, you want to evaluate every square inch available, and we recommend working in one direction—like top to bottom— and working your way around the space in sections. Top to bottom is most common and reflected in our tips below followed by a few extra trade secrets to make the most of your square footage and elevate the space even further.
Believe it or not, most closet designs and structures fail to maximize the vertical space the closet offers, focusing everything at eye level. From experience, we know that many homeowners are shocked when they realize how much more they can fit into their existing closet when the organization structure goes from floor to ceiling. This is an especially helpful tip if you’re looking to maximize small closet space.
When it comes to maximizing closet storage, it’s truly a game of inches, especially if you’re maximizing small closet space. When you observe the space in your closet, notice where you have unused wall space. For example, if your closet has a built-in dresser or a bank of drawers, there is likely available wall space above the dresser where a row of hooks can be added.
Did you know that open shelves store more physical items than drawers or baskets? Something to consider as you think about how to maximize closet space. Most don’t know that a custom closet offers you the ability to have shelves as shallow as 12” deep and as deep as 24”. During a design consultation, talk with your designer about these ranges and what works best in your space.
Opt for adjustable shelves whenever possible. Change is inevitable. In order to optimize closet space now and for the future, you want it to be easy to modify your closet to support whatever comes your way. When you consider how to maximize small closet space, adjustable shelves give you flexibility and help ensure you’ll love your new closet in all the years to come.
If you’re opting for upper cabinets above a dresser, consider glass fronts. Glass fronts will make the space feel bigger and airer. Any additional lighting in or around the cabinetry can become a focal point, creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing way to maximize closet space.
Whether you’re designing to support an established organizational practice or looking to start one, know what size and style totes you prefer (depth, material, whether it’s see-through or not, etc.). During a consultation, an expert will take this all into consideration and customize your closet with a design that supports the totes you have or plan to buy.
Moving from top to bottom, let’s discuss how to maximize space in a small closet in the middle—the line of sight you have when you walk into the space. If you have enough room, adding a dresser or even a single bank of drawers (Yes, that’s possible! Ask your designer during a consultation) pays dividends when things are easily accessible during your everyday routine.
Pro Tip: The top of the dresser is ideal for accessories you access daily like perfume, sunglasses, or your favorite bracelets.
In order to maximize small closet space in tighter footprints, keep drawers in the middle and hang clothes to the sides. Drawers need to open freely without bumping into a wall or another part of the closet. Also, think about where you’re standing when opening and closing drawers. For instance, can they be fully extended without needing to stand off to the side? These are all things to consider when maximizing small closet space.
Long hang is the most flexible hanging option because you can hang items of varying lengths. When not filled, you get valuable floor space, which is ideal for storing a suitcase when not in use. Need more options? Try double-hanging! You double the amount of hanging space but limit what you can hang on the rods. Some of both is best to maximize small closet space.
Add a valet rod to optimize closet space and use it as a temporary “parking” spot for the dry cleaning before it’s put away, the clothes you’re packing for a trip, or tomorrow’s outfit. You will be amazed at how often you use this easy add-on.
When deciding how to maximize small closet space, a Shoe Shrine® is our best-kept secret, featuring shelves that adjust to the height of each individual pair of flip-flops, flats, shoes, and boots. A guaranteed winner every time.
When adding a dresser or bank of drawers in your closet (which is a great idea!), opt for under-mount drawers. From an aesthetic perspective, the drawer hardware is underneath, essentially covered up by the drawer instead of visible on the sides. Doing so saves valuable inches, especially when you’re looking to maximize small closet storage. Every inch counts!
Even in smaller walk-in closets, a small bench, stool, or poof can be so nice to have when taking shoes on and off. To maximize small closet space, consider a foldable option that can be tucked away when it’s not being used.
For larger walk-in closets or boutique closets, a person needs 30” – 36” of clearance to walk and feel comfortable. If you have less than 30” of walk space, your closet could feel cramped and cramped closets often end up disorganized. Having available space to move around is an important part of maximizing space in a small closet.
While it might sound obvious, don’t overlook the importance of being able to see all your belongings. As the saying goes – out of sight, out of mind, which means you’ll own things that you won’t wear, and those things take up valuable space, which is especially important if your goal is to improve – maximizing small closet space.
In a reach-in closet, it’s imperative that you can see partially into the corners of the closet to access what is there. If you can’t, you’ll likely bury stuff in the corners and then spend time cleaning it out later.
A full-length, wall-mounted mirror is great if you have the wall space, however, most closets don’t. A full-length, pull-out mirror can be added to nearly any size closet. Simply pull out and tilt when needed and then tilt and tuck away when not in use.
If you’re planning to have full-length cabinets with doors in your new and improved closet, consider mirroring the outside of the doors. Doing so will make the space feel bigger and give you a larger full-length mirror.
More material doesn’t always mean more order or organization but will always mean a higher price, so work with a designer who knows not to overfill the space with the built structure.
We hear it time and time again—learning how to maximize closet storage can lead to a lot of trial and error. It’s a common problem and while your determination likely hasn’t ceased, you probably still haven’t found an efficient solution that you’re happy with and that can grow with you. These tips are just a few examples of how we approach designing a space that is both beautiful and practical, built for efficiency, and uses every available square inch. Need more inspiration to help you imagine what your space could be? Check out our idea gallery like this one for walk-in closets.
Schedule a complimentary design consultation to work with one of our closet experts who will help customize designs to your unique space, routine, and preferences to finally give you that “I love my closet” feeling.
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