Closet Organization Ideas: Tips for Maximizing Space

When it comes to tackling home projects, it’s easy to keep putting them off until

When it comes to tackling home projects, it’s easy to keep putting them off until you’ve run out of excuses. But with organization comes productivity, peace, and a clear mind, and who couldn’t use a little more of each? 

Keeping your closet organized is no exception to this rule. In fact, if your walk-in or reach-in is in need of some serious decluttering, get ready to turn your life right-side up. Professional organizer Lisa Jacobs of Imagine It Done shares some of her best closet organization ideas, tips, and tricks so you can get the job done like a pro.

Before you get started, remember to:

  • Go in stages. Avoid emptying your whole closet at once so you don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged.
  • Be decisive. Don’t think too long about what you want to do with an item. “Your first thought is the best thought,” says Jacobs
  • Consider calling in backup. By asking a friend, family member, or even a professional for help, you can make decisions on what to toss more quickly and keep the process rolling.

Hands sorting through men's dress shirts

Sort clothes by type, style, and color for easy access.

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Use matching hangers. Maintain an aesthetically pleasing closet you’ll want to keep organized with uniform hangers. Choose children’s hangers for pants, blouses, sleeveless shirts, and tank tops and adult hangers for long sleeves, wide-shouldered tops, and blazers. Doing so keeps clothing from slipping around or falling off the hangers and showcases the clothing instead of the hangers.

Consider a classification system. Sort everything you want to keep by clothing type, color, length, and season. Keep like with like.

Hang all items in the same direction. Hang everything in the same direction to maintain order.

Jeans and pants folded and stacked on closet shelves

If you can’t hang your pants, tri-fold and stack them.

Imagine It Done

Hang pants if space allows. Jacobs says hanging is the preferred method of organizing pants for easy identification. 

Consider multi-tier pant hangers. Should hanging space be limited, multi-tier pant hangers will double, triple, or even quadruple the number of pants you can hold on a single hanger.

Fold pants in thirds. If hanging isn’t an option, keep pants on shelves or in drawers in a three bend fold with the inseam facing the same direction (typically the wall). 

Arrange pants by color and material. Sort pants by material and then arrange by pant color and denim shade.

A hanging shoe rack inside a closet

A hanging shoe rack can save valuable space.

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Place shoes on flat or slanted shelves. Slanted shelves are typically best for shoes with at least a short heel to keep them from slipping out of place. Flat shelves can hold any type of shoe, including flats, sneakers, and

flip flops

Arrange shoes by type, heel height, and color. Organize shoes on shelves based on the style for easy access.

Use door-hanging shoe storage if space requires. Limited space may require hanging shoes on the inside of your closet door so as to not take up valuable floor or shelf space.

Avoid keeping shoes on the floor. Floor storage often leads to it becoming a “landing space” for other items that’ll cause clutter over time.

A drawer full of neatly folded tshirts

File-folding your t-shirts allows you to see them all at a glance.

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Sort T-shirts by color and style. When it comes to T-shirts in drawers, you can roll or fold and arrange them by color. If you’re putting your tees on shelves, fold them all the same size, categorize by style, and stack.

Roll lighter T-shirts. Thinner tees will be easier to roll and stick in your drawers. To neatly roll them:

1. Lay the shirt flat, face down

2. Fold each side over, bringing the sleeve with the fold

3. Roll from the bottom to the top

4. Smooth the shirt as you roll

5. Arrange rolled tees in the drawer by color

File-fold thicker T-shirts. Thicker tees work best when file folded. To do so:

1. Lay the shirt flat, face down

2. Fold each side over, bringing the sleeve with the fold

3. Fold from the bottom to the top, typically a double fold is sufficient

4. Smooth the shirt as you fold

5. File tees in drawers by color with the front facing up

Sweaters folded and stacked on a shelf

Sweaters should be folded, not hung. Hangers can misshape them.

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Stack sweaters on shelves. Fold them to neatly stack them on shelves or in drop-front clothing bins.

Categorize sweaters by season. Organize them by thickness and material to keep in-season items within reach.

Sort by color. As with other clothing items, sort sweaters by color in addition to material.

Do not hang. Heavy sweaters can easily get stretched out of shape by hangers.

Hats hanging on wall hooks

Hang hats on hooks to take advantage of empty wall space.

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Place hats on upper closet shelves. Storing hats high up in the closet is important to make room for the items you’ll have to search through a bit more down below.

Stack hats. Similar-sized hats can be stacked instead of placed side-by-side on the top shelves to make room for more.

Store hats in labeled bins. Hat bins are another great way to keep them all contained to one space on the top shelf, especially if they’re unstructured like beanies or bucket hats.

Hang hats on wall hooks. If shelf space is limited, make the most of unused wall space with hat hooks. This can make for fun decor, too.

Categorize hats by season and size. Keep baseball caps, sun hats, fedoras, and each hat type sorted together.

Organizing accessories and small items

Jewelry organized in a closet

Keeping necklaces hung up keeps them tangle-free.

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Organize accessories in acrylic stacking drawers. Jewelry, belts, scarves, sunglasses, hair accessories, and the like can be beautifully stored and showcased in acrylic drawers, or jewelry boxes, wall trees, or hooks if preferred.

Hang or roll ties. Tie hangers or storage boxes are perfect for keeping ties organized and wrinkle-free.

Coats hanging in a closet

Consider investing in a storage unit for seasonal items if space is limited.

Joyce Grace/Getty Images

Store out-of-season clothes in bins. Label bins with swimsuits, tees, shorts, sundresses, coats, or any other seasonal clothing item and store it in the back of your closet or on top shelves.

Hang out-of-season clothes in the back of the closet. If you’re not short on space to hang clothing, keep your out-of-season items hung and just shift them to the back of the closet until you can wear them again.

Use an entry closet or storage unit to store out-of-season clothes or bins. Should you have an extra coat closet in your home; a dry, climate-controlled basement; or a storage unit, swap out your clothing seasonally. Store bins outside of your bedroom to reduce clutter.

Cleaning out your closet is a pretty big task, but once it’s complete you’ll feel so much better. Plus, when the steps are broken down, it’s actually pretty simple (albeit time-consuming).

Start ready with the storage solutions and cleaning supplies you need to tackle the job, work your way from left to right, up and down to sort things into keep, toss, donate, consign, give away, and/or throw away piles, then get to categorizing and containing.

And remember what Jacobs emphasizes, “If you don’t see it… you don’t use it. Keep things as visible as possible and label, label, label.”