How to organize a walk-in closet — 15 ways to showcase your style

Learning how to organize a walk-in closet like the pros will make getting ready in the morning a cinch

Neutral walk in closet with central ottoman on grey fluffy rug
(Image credit: Style By Emily Henderson/Kaitlin Green)

Learn how to organize a walk-in closet if you have the luxury of a dedicated space for your clothes and optimize its true potential. Get it right, and you’ll wind up with an inspirational dressing area that’s as beautiful as it is practical. 

How you approach the task will depend on the size of your walk-in closet, and how messy it is. We quizzed the pros on their top tips to ensure an overwhelm-free process, savvy storage and space-boosting buys — plus a stylish finish. 

Thinking practically is one thing, but when it comes to organizing a bedroom, you’ll want to consider aesthetics too and avoid strewn shoes, haphazard handbags, and piles of crinkled clothing.

How to organize a walk-in closet like a pro

Of course, it goes without saying that you don’t need a lavish walk-in closet to leave the house looking perfectly primped. If your closet goals are still in the making, rest assured, even organizing a small closet with lots of clothes can still be done in style. 

1. Streamline your collection

Walk in closet with freestanding drawer unit, laden with woven baskets

(Image credit: Style by Emily Henderson)

When it comes to fashion, capsule collections are trending, and we can see why. Not only is it better for the environment to have less stuff, but it's also easier to keep organized.

Professional organizer Heather Aiello, founder of The Organized You, says, "Work through your clothing, shoes and accessories item-by-item, setting aside pieces you no longer want, need or wear to discard or donate."

This can be an emotional process, but it’s important you be honest with yourself. If you haven’t worn something in over a year, it might be time to let it go.

Professional organizer Heather Aiello, founder of The Organized You
Heather Aiello

Heather Aiello is the Founder and COO (Chief Organizing Officer) of The Organized You. Her goal is to develop a customized solution for clients to easily maintain now and in the future. Heather is a member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO), multiple Boston business groups and an independent representative for The Container Store’s Contained Home Program.

2. Group items by type

Walk-in closet with wooden storage boxes and hanging rails

(Image credit: Neat Method/Martin Vecchio)

One of the easiest ways to organize a walk-in closet is to group similar items together. 

"Grouping garments to create distinct zones within your walk-in (just like you would when organizing a small bedroom) not only maximizes the utility of your closet space, but significantly reduces time spent looking for things", says professional organizer Shannon Krause, co-founder of Tidy Nest

Shelf separators work well for zoning. Try the Brightroom™ sheld dividers in light gray from Target, which come highly rated by shoppers.

Shannon Krause, professional organizer at Tidy Nest, a woman with long brown hair picutred in a garden with pink flowers in bottom right corner
Shannon Krause

Shannon Krause is a Certified Professional Organizer and owner of Tidy Nest, an award-winning organizing and relocation management company. Her unique approach blends her expertise in professional organizing with her skills as a Certified Reiki Master, integrating energy work to enhance her client's experiences. 

For most, categorizing by item is a popular choice; pants, jeans, sweaters, undergarments, jewelry and so on. Another option is to categorize by activity; casual wear, occasional wear, workwear, and gym gear.

You could even take things a step further and color-coordinate within your clothing categories. It might not be the most practical, but it’s pretty pleasing on the eye, something to consider if your hanging rails are on show!

3. Group by frequency

Neutral walk in closet with central ottoman on grey fluffy rug

(Image credit: Style By Emily Henderson/Kaitlin Green)

Next, consider which  items you wear most often when deciding how to organize a walk-in closet. Positioning your everyday essentials in the most accessible spaces will not only make your life easier, but cause less rummaging, and therefore mess.

“Line a top shelf with a set of streamlined bins (such as these Graciadeco collapsible fabric closet boxes on Amazon) to stow away occasional or out-of-season items, or store them outside of the closet altogether to free up space”, suggests Amanda Wiss, design expert and founder of Urban Staging and Urban Clarity.

A picture of Amanda Wiss, a woman wearing a purple top in front of gray shelves
Amanda Wiss

Amanda Wiss is a design expert and founder of Urban Clarity, a home organizing company. She is also the founder of home staging studio Urban Staging, whose design-savvy team gets homes — and tired bedrooms — market ready.

When packing away clothes longer-term, experts advise using breathable bags made from linen or cotton to protect them from moths, or vacuum storage bags, such as these Cozy Essentials Store 20-pack space-saver bags from Amazon, with over 55k great reviews.   

4. Give thought to how you store things

Wooden walk-in closet with drawers, folded jumpers on shelving and hanging rails

(Image credit: Michelle Berwick Design/Mike Chajecki)

When it comes to awesome clothes storage ideas, knowing what items to fold and what to hang is more important than you might initially think. Not only does it make a difference space-wise, but also helps your clothes to remain in tip-top condition. 

"I recommend clients use drawers for things like socks, underwear, and t-shirts. Some people also like to fold their pants up and stow them away, which is fine. Use your hangers (Kalimdor space-saving hangers from Amazon will increase hanging space) to hang sweaters, dresses, suits and jackets, as well as nicer blouses and button-ups," says Amanda.

When folding, most experts recommend using the ‘file fold’ method, which involves placing items vertically, a bit like papers in a filing cabinet. It’s preferable to stacking as you can see everything at a glance, and makes access easier, too.

"Take it a step further by adding drawer dividers (we recommend the Container Store's expandable drawer dividers for customizable zoning) to offer boundaries between rows," recommends professional organizer Ashley Murphey, co-founder and CEO of Neat Method.

A picture of Ashley Murphy, a woman wearing a black top with blonde hair
Ashley Murphy

Ashley Murphy is the co-founder and CEO of NEAT Method, a home organization brand committed to creating simple and versatile organizational systems for its clients’ homes and lives.

5. Invest in a DIY closet system

While bespoke storage is the ultimate dream when organizing a walk-in closet, it’s pricey, and not always feasible if you’re looking for budget bedroom ideas, or renter-friendly closet organization tips.

A shoppable walk-in closet-system is the next best thing, if you don’t mind a little DIY, that is. 

Experts recommend opting for a customizable kit, like this budget-friendly Rebrilliant Marivic closet system from Wayfair. Ideal for organizing small spaces, the shelves are adjustable, and there’s two rails included, so plenty of storage configurations to play around with. 

This is just one of a plethora of options out there, including wall-mounted (Home Depot's tower wall mounted six-shelf system gets four stars from shoppers) and freestanding, so be sure to consider both budget and layout, as well as your specific storage needs, before investing.

6. Maximize vertical space

The vertical space in your walk-in closet has all manner of storage potential, just waiting to be realized, but before you start buying every space-boosting closet organizer under the sun, take the time to consider your specific storage requirements.

If you’re short on shelving, a box-style hanging organizer (like this one from Walmart), creates a similar effect without having to drill into walls, while mounting dual rods will double your hanging space. 

When clothes fall short, line the floor space directly underneath with stackable storage boxes. These drop-front shoe boxes, from the Container Store have a clear front, so you can see what's inside. They’re a great shoe storage idea for small spaces. An over-the-door pocket organizer works well, too.

Wall-mounted hooks and rails are great when deciding how to organize jewelry, scarves and ties, or for something more versatile, try a customizable pegboard, like this one from Wayfair. Line it with baskets for storing smaller items like hair clips and cufflinks. 

7. Designate a place for purses

Purses organized with dividers on closet shelves

(Image credit: NEAT by Meg)

If purses are your thing (we feel you), you’re going to need to find somewhere safe to store them, both big and small. 

Stack them individually inside clear containers lined along an empty shelf, or use a dedicated purse organizer such as the Zober large handbag organizer from Amazon. Purse hooks are also handy, and can be used for other items like belts, caps, and scarves, too. 

8. Line shelving with baskets and bins

The key to a well-organized walk-in closet is ensuring everything has a home, right down to the very last sock. Baskets and bins are brilliant drop zones for anything and everything. 

Clear designs are practical as you can see what’s inside, but if they’re on show, choose stylish designs to suit your scheme. This two-pack of mDesign bedroom closet storage organizer baskets Target are super versatile, and come with a slot for labels.

9. Divide drawers

Jewelry drawer in vanity area of walk-in closet

(Image credit: Michelle Berwick Design/Mike Chajecki)

Drawer dividers are invaluable for keeping items in place. Adjustable versions are a good bet for utilizing every inch of space, but depending on what you’re storing, some designs come with specific compartments designated for socks, underwear, bras, ties, and more.

If you’re short on drawers, consider investing in a freestanding unit, such as the Amazon Basics fabric four-drawer organizer unit . The fabric drawers come in white or gray, it won’t break the bank, and you can take it with you when it’s time to move on somewhere new. 

10. Keep systems simple

Ben Soreff, professional organizer at H2H Organizing recommends shop-bought organizers for awkwardly shaped items like belts, ties and hats.

He says, "But do avoid anything too gimmicky. Focus on ease of use. If your walk-in closet organization system is too complicated, you simply won't keep up with it and everything will end up in a heap on the floor."

We've all been there... 

Ben Soreff, professional organizer at H2H Organizing
Ben Soreff

Ben Soreff is a professional organizer from Portland, Maine, with 16 years of experience helping people to organize and declutter their homes, as well as working with hoarders.

11. Create a stylish display

Green tiled walk-in closet with boots, hat and bird ornament

(Image credit: Avery Cox Design/Lindsay Brown)

From beautiful bags to statement shoes, some pieces are just too pretty to hide away, so consider incorporating some open storage ideas to keep them on show. 

Be as creative as you like with handbags arranged in size order on shelving, beautiful necklaces hung from decorative wall hooks, a freestanding clothing rack (we like this sleek and compact Costway bamboo garment rack clothes hanging rack with shelf from Target) dedicated to your dreamiest dresses. 

Note that direct sunlight can cause colors to fade over time, so be sure to position on-show pieces away from windows if possible.

12. Choose the right hangers

Don’t underestimate the importance of your hangers — choosing the right ones could make all the difference when organizing a closet, not just in terms of looks and space, but the condition of your clothes, too. 

“Investing in uniform hangers is a quick and easy way to give your closet a facelift,” says Shannon. “We recommend a slender profile, like these non-slip velvet hangers, from The Container Store. Bulky plastic or wooden hangers take up unnecessary space while wire hangers can easily damage your clothes, plus they look messy.” 

13. Keep surfaces organized and clutter-free

If you’re lucky enough to have countertops included in your walk-in, or space to fit a vanity in a small bedroom, you’ll need to keep surfaces as clear as possible to avoid a cluttered feel. 

Shannon adds, “When organizing a vanity, store a few of your most frequently-used — and most aesthetically-pleasing — items on the top, neatly contained on a decorative tray (we love how gorgeous this marble scalloped tray from Anthropologie is). 

"This creates a sense of intention and adds a touch of elegance to the display. You can always switch them up now and then for a fresh new look."

If you haven’t got space for a vanity, you can always use a deep shelf to create a DIY dressing table.

This stylish vanity organizer from Wayfair has three separate trays so you can categorize your essential skincare, makeup, brushes, and perfumes. It also has a handle, so you can move it into the bathroom or bedroom depending on where your mirror is. 

14. Deal with dirty clothes

Losing floor space to piles of laundry is easily avoided with the simple addition of a brilliant laundry hamper

Position a standalone basket beneath a rail of clothes, or invest in a rolling unit with two laundry drawers, like this one from Amazon, so you can sort clothes as you go. 

15. Keep on top of closet maintenance

White drawer unit showing file fold method

(Image credit: Neat Method/Martin Vecchio)

A quick tidy once a month along with a couple of re-organizations twice a year should keep your walk-in neat and tidy. Pre-season is a good time to revisit. Anything that’s not been worn since your last clear out, donate or get rid. 

Alternatively, Heather recommends decluttering as you go. “Keep a basket handy that you can throw unwanted items into there and then’, she says. “If you put something on and don’t like it, or it no longer fits, there’s no point hanging it back up”. 

This is a great way of keeping on top of clothing when organizing a kid’s closet — they whizz through sizes like nobody’s business — or organize a closet with lots of clothes.

If your walk-in closet dreams aren’t quite a reality just yet, know that a lot of these tips are just as effective in small bedroom closet ideas, too. It’s good to have goals, but remember, it’s not the size of your closet that matters, it’s what you do with it that counts! 

After the arrival of her second son – and subsequent departure of any free time outside of his unpredictable nap schedule (!) – seasoned writer Tara King decided to move on from her position as a Content Editor and enter the exciting world of freelance, covering interior design, DIY and lifestyle. Alongside features for, Tara writes for Ideal Home, Style at Home, Country Homes & Interiors and other interiors publications. When she’s not working or ‘mumming’, she can be found (hiding) in the garden, attempting DIY projects… with varying levels of success!