Ideas on How to Organize a Closet

When we first start looking at houses or apartments, closet space is typically high on most of our wish lists. Yet once we’re living there, coming up with ideas on how to organize a closet can feel a lot like sitting in front of a huge pile of pieces from one of those DIY furniture stores—overwhelming!

Where to begin?

Maybe you’re tired of not being able to find what you’re sure is in that closet (somewhere!). Or you’ve got stacks of items threatening to rain down on you the next time you open the door. Whatever your closet organizing headaches, I’ve got ideas to help you get started:


Before you even open the door, consider your goals. If you’re an early bird, I recommend doing this with your morning coffee or tea; night owls may prefer to settle in after dinner!  Make a list of what you’d like to have happen, using these questions as thought-starters:

  • How would you like the experience to be when you open the door (or step in) to your closet? How do you want to feel when you look inside?
  • What’s most frustrating to you about its current state? What is the clutter preventing you from doing?
  • Is speed a priority? Maybe you want to spend less time searching for or buying things you’re pretty sure you already have.
  • Would it be helpful if your closet arrangement could help you make new and better pairings (e.g., outfits, recipes, projects)?

And finally, is anything working fine now? If you love that all your off-season clothes are packed away in storage bags or boxes, or your shoe rack is perfect, jot that down, too. If it ain’t broke…

Visualize how you’d like your closet to look. If you’re not sure, search some of the gallery photos of finished closets for ideas.

ideas for closet organizers

Here’s where it’s important to be realistic with your goals. There are lots of beautiful closets here, on Pinterest, Instagram, and HGTV, but consider the maintenance they require before committing to them.  If you know you won’t fold clothes when they come out of the laundry, then don’t set yourself up for failure by creating a closet space full of folded clothes.


Now that you have some goals in mind, it’s time to get to work. Take all your things out of your closet, sorting items into groups as you go. Start simply:

  • things you love, want and need (be honest with yourself!);
  • those that you use rarely (e.g., once or twice a year… or less!);
  • and things that really need to GO (e.g., damaged, expired, or items that are terribly outdated, don’t fit or are no longer your style)! Keep your goals in mind here.  Don’t keep something you never wear just because you spent a lot of money on it. Read this for help identifying and clearing mental blocks.

Simplifying begins with reducing what’s right in front of you: ideally, shift the things you rarely use to somewhere you don’t have to see them every day.

  • Can you whittle down selections of “same items” – for instance, do you really need 10 pairs of black leggings? If you get stuck, keep asking yourself if this item is moving you toward or away from your goal for the space.
  • If you don’t have a whole different storage space available, perhaps choose (or install) an upper shelf—or is there a completely different closet, attic or other storage space available? Storing bulky coats in a coat closet or spare bedroom closet will free up a lot of space in your master closet.
  • Protect items from dust and pests by storing them in boxes or bags. Smaller containers are easier to handle; labels help reduce searching.

Lastly, sort the items that should go into trash vs recycling vs donation center.


For the items you love and want to keep, this can be the fun part (no, really!), when your closet turns into your own private boutique.

Categorize your items in ways that resonate with you. For instance:

  • Clothes Closet: popular options include sorting by season and/or color; it’s also a time saver to group clothing types (e.g., short/long sleeves; dresses; tops, etc.)
  • Coat Closet: group jackets, coats and other items by family member.
  • Hobby & Game Closet: group types of supplies for different hobbies together; separate family games from adult games.

When it comes time to organize your closet with everything you’ve sorted, simplified and categorized, here are a few more streamlining ideas:

  • Put your most-used items front and center.
  • Using color-coded hangers, shelves and bins for each family member can help sort and maintain shared closet space.
  • Keeping items visible is key. Rolling most clothing types can help with this, while reducing space needs (and wrinkles!), but requires maintenance. If that isn’t for you, don’t even start! Instead make it easier to access folded items by adding more shelves, shelf risers—or simply hang more items.

For more strategies and tips, check out our Closet Solutions. And if you’d like to apply these same ideas to other parts of your home, our virtual Master Class in How to Organize Your Home is a truly affordable solution!

SOS by Lisa | Professional Organizer, Home Organizer
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