5 apartment closet organization ideas that help no matter whatcha workin' with

Clothes chair, who?

Organized closet with baskets
(Image credit: @katys_organized_home)

Living in an apartment in a major city like Manhattan is the dream, however, there’s one minor tragedy when it comes to living in a small metropolis rental, and that is: a small closet

Let’s face it, limited space means tenants have to use every single inch of their apartment to just live comfortably. Small closets are staples in small apartments and don't offer much when it comes to storing all of your favorite garments, accessories, and shoes. 

With a pile of clothes on the floor and a space big enough for Barbie's clothes, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. We spoke with professional organizer Marcia Sloman and sourced some chic but functional inspiration to help make the organization process seamless. Sloman’s closet organizing tips are ideal for any space, even tiny nooks.

She mentioned that apartment closets can have limited space and restricted flexibility. For small closets, you'll need to grab some great organizers, too. With the right storage and organization accessories, your closet can hold as much as a built-in and be functionally perfect. 

1. Streamline your hanging space with tags and storage

Closet with tags on hangers

(Image credit: @katys_organized_home)

Typically, your apartment closet will have a hanging bar and a shelf above. According to Sloman, the best way to maximize this layout is with accessories that take advantage of that long-hanging space. It’s best to tier shirts, fleeces, or jackets to hang on multi-shirt hangers. Remember, that each hanger will be heavy when filled with four to five shirts. She also suggests making sure that the hanging bar is secure and can handle the weight.

If you're short on hanging space, use hanger tags to signify where different types of clothes are hanging. This will help separate out your clothes and make everything much easier to find in a small closet. Whether you use hanging cubbies, an extra rail, stacking baskets, or tags, make sure the system can support the weight of the clothing.

2. Take advantage of recess space

Closet with organizers and clothes folded up

(Image credit: @katys_organized_home)

Many closets have a cavernous recess to the side that is difficult to access. Sloman likes the standing basket drawer systems to fill this space, which she advises to measure carefully. The basket system frame should slide easily into the recess and the depth should fill most of the space. For drawers to have space, you can pull out to maximum depth, leaving open space at the bottom of your closet. These drawers can hold accessories, hosiery, and undergarments, as well as larger items such as t-shirts, turtlenecks, and folded sweaters.

3. Utilizing the shelf above

Storage baskets and hanging clothes in closet

(Image credit: @katys_organized_home)

The shelf above is often hard to reach. Sloman likes to stack shoes in their boxes. If you don’t have the box they came in, you can purchase shoe-size boxes. The contained shoes not only keep them dust-free but your closet interior is not soiled from their wear. Stack them two to three boxes high so they can be easily accessed. You can do the same with accessories and get labeled baskets to keep track of all your cute OOTD pieces.

Sloman also likes to keep a small step stool inside the closet door to access those hard-to-reach upper spaces. She said many may prefer an alternative to stacking boxes, such as the over-door shoe racks. These racks have pockets that can be used for shoes or small accessories. She prefers clear pockets so the contents can be seen.

4. Use the length of your full closet

Closet with colorful clothes hanging up

(Image credit: @katys_organized_home)

Store your longer, hangable items and make the most of your closet. If you have the space, take advantage of the floor area. It's a great place to store shoes and add baskets or stackable containers. Although some prefer to store shoe racks at the floor level, Sloman prefers to use rolling carts because they are easy to roll out to clean the closet’s floor. Metal mesh or plastic drawers on wheels can hold accessories, shoes, or any folded items. She likes to use these for shoe inserts, shoe-cleaning supplies, and accessories.

5. Add extra closet organization accessories

Clear storage bins with accessories in a closet

(Image credit: @katys_organized_home)

For all of those cute clutches, purses, belts, and scarves, additional storage is needed. Reserve one shelf for all these items, and fill it with acrylic bins or baskets. While Sloman loves installing a pull-out rod for extra storage space, it's not always doable for renters (especially if drilling is involved). Instead, she says laying out a fully functional closet design in an apartment requires careful measuring with the right accessories to suit, such as transparent containers, baskets, and shelves.

Aida M. Toro
Freelance Writer

About Me:

Hello! My name is Aida M. Toro and I am a freelance writer that loves cultivating stories about amazing people, fashion, interiors, art, and food. I currently write for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, The House Magazine, Hobnob Magazine, The C-Word, and Real Homes. I live in West New York, New Jersey, which is literally a 10-minute ferry ride or 20-minute bus ride away from New York City. Although I was born and raised in West New York, I consider NYC my home, as I believe it to be the place where all dreams come to fruition, and of course, spend most of my time in. When I’m not writing, I love perusing the city streets and taking snaps with my iPhone of street art along with random things, scoping out new restaurants as well as their spaces, shopping at some of my favorite stores, spending time with family and friends, walking my cockapoodle Benji, and working out at Lifetime or DOGPOUND, which are some of the top fitness spaces in Manhattan and overall the U.S.