20 closet organization ideas – simple, DIY ways to max out on storage

The most effective closet organization ideas will keep spaces big and small looking fancy. Think DIY and budget-friendly solutions for all your storage needs.

closet organization ideas
(Image credit: Ikea)

Pristine closet organization ideas are not hard to come by online, but in our actual homes, where you go to dress can often be the polar opposite of these gorgeous and practical spaces.

Whether you are searching for ideas on how to maximize the space in which you store your clothes, or you want to buy some handy closet organizers to help you with this job, we can help.

Clothing folded perfectly à la Marie Kondo, shoes where they should be and uncluttered small closets may seem unachievable but it's not. With clever closet organizing items around from Ikea, Amazon, and the likes plus, some creative thinking you can keep your closet tidy and good looking without spending a huge amount either or calling in a professional.

'Initially, you need to look at the design of your closet in comparison to the clothes you own. For example, does your closet house your long dresses and have enough rails for your collection of blouses?' Says professional organizer Vicky Silverthorn.

'If not and if the design is wrong it may need tweaking because you are potentially fighting a losing battle. In addition to this have a look at if you are simply trying to fit too much into the space.' It's all about being savvy with the space you do have for a stylish and organized closet.

1. Organize by color

Beige and neutral organized closet

(Image credit: String furniture)

A color coordinated closet is a big achievement and, for some this can help both put outfits together easily and back away again. If you'r tight on space, keep neutrals on one side and bright colorful clothing on the other. With the luxury of a big closet, you can go all out.

Lana Blanc of The Blanc House styling company in New York says explains, 'A great way to organize your closet is to sort items by category (make piles of shirts, skirts, pants, etc). Then, within those categories, color coordinate using one of the methods below. It may not be as aesthetically pleasing as a Home Edit rainbow closet but a lot of clients find it beneficial to keep items organized by category in addition to color.' 

'There are two ways to color-coordinate your closet. The first is the technique used by most professional organizers, it's called rainbow or ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). After breaking your clothes up by these colors all you have to do is decide where to put your neutral colors - I like to layer them in between so that they're easily distinguished. The second option is light to dark.'

2. Use the entire length of the wall

closet organization ideas

(Image credit: Ikea)

Hanging clothes storage ideas are ideal to keep creases in check. And, this will still leave room to squeeze differently shaped items around your closet design. 'Try and use every inch of space your wardrobe has and add shelves where needed if there is any dead space. Be methodical in your clothes positioning. Put seasonal clothing up high in harder to reach areas or at the back of shelves. Make sure the clothes you are currently wearing are in the easiest to reach places.' Adds Silverthorn

3. Organize your walk-in on what you wear most  

Small closet with clothes rail and shelving

(Image credit: Ikea)

If you really want to get serious about organizing your closet, unfortunately, you are going to have to pull everything out and start from scratch. To make the most of your space and to make it work for you, you need to first think about what you reach for most and least so you can come up with a plan for where everything will go. 

'The easiest to reach spaces should house the clothes you wear most/ daily. I like to hang in category ie short sleeves together, long-sleeved, jackets etc… you can always put them in color order within these categories. Some people prefer to hang jeans and others fold - this really has to depend on the room you have and your preference. There are only guidelines and never set rules.' advises Silverthorn. 

4. Hide some and display the rest

Mirrored walk-in closet with white storage chests

(Image credit: Covet House)

You might not want everything on display in which case combine displaying shirts and dresses that you want to keep crease-free with streamlined chests of drawers for smalls, jeans and the likes. For an even more desirable gallery-esque finish, choose a little backlighting. 

Blanc adds how you should let your beautiful items work for you, 'The best way to organize a closet stylishly is by maximizing function while focusing on aesthetics. One way to do that is by turning your beautiful pieces into displays (similar to works of art).'

5. Making awkward spaces work for you

Blue hanging storage with silver wall hooks

(Image credit: Ikea)

Note the small hooks on the side wall, that's an efficient use of what some may have considered dead space and it lets you display any favorite frocks.

The  STUK range from Ikea makes small and awkwardly shaped  or non-existent closets work hard by helping compartmentalize jeans, jumpers and the likes. And the added bonus is that it's inexpensive as far as closet organization ideas go.

Interior designer Zoe Warren, interior designer at PriceYourJob says 'If you have an awkward closet space or small wardrobe, you need to think carefully about how  you’re going to organise it.' 

6. Be creative with shelving

bedroom with bedroom wall hung shelf with light

(Image credit: Ikea)

'The best thing to do is make use of the space you have. For instance, if you don’t actually have a physical closet, you should hang clothing rails on the wall to store jackets, dresses, and anything crease-prone.' Says Warren.

7. Double space in a closet with hanging storage

closet organization ideas

(Image credit: Ikea)

If your closet has plenty of space for hangers but you're squeezed for space for items like t-shirts, jumpers and jeans adding some hanging storage is an easy solution. This SKUBB hanger is another great buy from Ikea is just $6.99 – check out the rest of the range too as there are some great cheap pieces to help bring your closet organization ideas to life.

8. Clothing racks for crease-free linen

Danielle and Andy Lisle transformed her old teenage home in Gateshead so it was perfect for modern family life

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

A great option for smaller closets or for anyone with a lot of linen to keep looking fine, clothing racks can store plenty but don't take up anywhere near as much room as built-in units. Plus you can get some really stylish options that can become a feature of your closet as well as storage. And because you can actually see all your clothes, you are more likely to get wear out of them all and keep them organized.

9. Protecting clothes properly

closet organization ideas

(Image credit: Ikea)

If you do opt for open storage, like a clothes rail, you may need to consider how you store your clothes, especially if you get a lot of natural light in your closet space. Bright colors will fade if they are constantly stored in a space that fills with direct sunlight so be sure to store anything bright either out of the sun or in a clothes bag. And, moths are real so it is worth concealing your favorite formal wear.

10. Matching hangers

Clothes hanging off metal hanging rail on wooden coat hangers with houseplants and mirror

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

Matching all your hangers, looks nicer but it will likely save you space too. As hangers in different materials, shape and size won't sit neatly together. Choose good hangers for your clothes too. It sounds obvious however, choosing cheap, flimsy hangers can misshape and stretch your clothes. A simple wooden hanger is your best option.

11. Organize small items with pegboards

Pegboard from Ikea in a closet

(Image credit: Ikea)

Ah, we love pegboard. We have sung the praises of pegboard many a time and they can add plenty of extra storage to your closet by fixing a few boards to the back of your closet or wardrobe door. They are really handy for keeping the smaller items, like, jewelry, shoes, glasses and bags organized and easily accessible. 

12. Or opt for bins and baskets

Ikea sale best picks

(Image credit: Ikea)

If you're more one for more DIY closet organization ideas on a budget – boxes and baskets are your answer as they will help keep your space free of clutter and full of character. 

They are perfect for making us of those higher up shelves, so you can just pull down the whole box rather than blinding reaching around for a single item. Just be sure to label them so you know where everything is. 

Warren adds, 'For small items such as jewellery, small bags or purses, you should recycle some old baskets and place them inside your closet for safekeeping. Try to use different sized boxes and stack them to  save space in your wardrobe.'

13. Re-organize your closet with the seasons

storage boxes in a walk in wardrobe

(Image credit: Orthex)

Because you don't need a whole closet of sandals and summer dresses in the middle of winter. Switch out your wardrobe every few months to keep it clutter-free and filled with clothes you are actually going to wear. 

'The less you have in your closet the easier it is to keep organized so ensure you clear out regularly and pass on any items you don’t want. Pull out holiday wear and put in a separate box or space because this isn’t something you use daily. Also, do this with seasonal clothing - again to give you less to look at visually and deal with mentally. The magic answer is always have less and it’s easier to control!' says Silverthorn.

14. Think outside the closet

Blue under bed storage containers with white bedding

(Image credit: Ikea)

If you don't have a walk-in closet or if you want to keep it perfectly organized but still have some lingering items that you can't get rid of, turn to that space under your bed.

Use more of the Ikea STUK range or add whatever clothes you aren't wearing to clear plastic boxes. If you don't have space, look to the loft, just ensure any boxes are labeled so you know what to take out as and when you need it.

15. Hang accessories on rails 

Accessories stored on rails in a closet

(Image credit: Ikea)

The key to good closet closet organization ideas is having as much as possible visible and accessible. You don't want to be rooting around at the back of drawers for belts or constantly detangling jewelry, get your accessories out and on show by hanging them from rails. You could add small hanging baskets too for things like sunglasses and hair accessories. 

Whether you try this look with accessories or as jewelry storage, it's budget-friendly  to DIY and perfect for small closets as it takes up zero floor space.

16. Squeezing shoes in

Closet storage with hanging shoe organizer

(Image credit: Ikea)

Need closet storage for your ever-growing shoe collection? The best way, and one that takes up as little space as possible, is shoe organizers you can hang on the back of doors or organizers that can hang from a rail. Both take up zero floor space but provide an ample amount of shoe storage, plus every pair is accessible too. 

17. Changing rooms

Large closet with cream armchair and patterned rug

(Image credit: Rug'Society)

With the luxury of a large closet space you can go all out to make it cozy – so long as you have the organization down. Keep everything on one wall, using the entire back wall space rather than all the surrounding walls and you may have room to add a mirror and an armchair to make it feel like you're shopping somewhere very exclusive.

18. DIY jean hangers

Ikea hack using shelf brackets to store jeans

(Image credit: Ikea)

It can be so tricky to know how to store jeans and pants, but having them hung like this keeps them crease-free and means you can store way more than if they were folded into drawers. This set closet organization idea has been created using shelf brackets and hanging clips – very nifty!

19. Add a dressing table to your closet

Jenny Weston loft: the dressing room is pink with a patterned dresser and open rails

(Image credit: Rachael Smith © Future)

If you have a medium-sized closet, adding a dressing table will provide you with plenty of room to keep smaller items safe and out of the way. You'll instantly give your closet more of a dressing room or cloffice feel too – depending on the day –  plus if you hang a mirror and add a stool you have a place to get ready for the day, away from the main bedroom.

20. Storage ottomans

Ikea clothes storage

(Image credit: Ikea)

If you have been blessed with a larger closet to keep tidy adding an ottoman to the center of the room will help store a mishmash of items and make the space feel more stylish also. 

You can keep bulkier clothes like coats or jumpers in there so they are are of the way but still easily accessible from your dressing room

And, if you don't have a closet at all, an ottoman works just as well at the end of a bed as a DIY solution.

What is the best way to organize clothes in a closet? 

The best way to organize clothes in a closet is to start by getting everything out. Go through each item and have a declutter, getting rid of anything that Marie Kondo wouldn't approve of. That's the way of the Marie Kondo closet organization method, after all! Then organize your clothes by category – tops, jumpers, dresses, bottoms. That's the simplest way to sort them, but you will then want to consider clothes you reach for the most and make sure they are easily accessible. You might also want to put away clothes that are suitable for the season so they aren't just taking up room in your closet. 

How can you organize a small closet?

If you have been blessed with a small closet the best way to organize your space is firstly to make sure everything you are putting in there is something you wear and want to keep. Yep, sorry more decluttering. 

Then when it comes to designing your closet, opt for as much wall storage as possible. Wall-mounted shelving, a clothes rail, hooks and organizers that hang off the backs of doors are all going to be your friend. Double up where you can too, so hang cubby organizers from your clothes rails if you need more storage for pieces that don't need to be hung. You can maximize shelving space with bins and baskets too, and of course, make use of all the clothes folding hacks that exist to keep everything as compact as possible. 

How do you organize a cluttered closet cheaply?

'I never advise any gimmicky sections to a wardrobe. Simple rails and shelving are perfect. I am a huge fan of Ikea as you can always add more shelves and sections once you’ve put it together at home so you don’t have to get it perfect first time.' advises Silverthorn. 

'Do a declutter before you buy/ design your wardrobe so you aren’t just guessing what you need. You need to see visually how many shorter items and longer you own so you don’t end up with extra unwanted or dead space.'

'ALWAYS get enough shelving and allow for shoes. This is the biggest mistake people make. I love a floor to ceiling section with shelves that are adjustable as shoes are all different heights. Keep the design simple and practical and to suit what you have.'

Color co-ordinating is also a free and effective closet organization technique. If you have more pattern than block colors then you can still adopt the same method as Blanc says, 'If you find yourself unsure where to put clothing that are printed and/or multi-colored, you can either put all prints together (florals, polka dots, stripes, leopard, etc) or you could put them with their dominant color (e.g. leopard prints would live with browns).'

Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.