assorted clothes hanged inside cabinet

Best Closet Storage Ideas for a Small Step-in Closet (on a budget)

white wooden shelf with white textile
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on

As a wise fellow once told me, it’s all about your mindset. You can turn the worst thing to the best if you change the way you think about it. A small closet is a perfect example of this. While many will originally freak the first time they see their small closet, a smart sum will use it as encouragement to get creative and maximize their space. After living in New York for almost 5 years and in 4 different apartments with a tremendous amount of clothes, shoes, accessories, etc., it is in fact possible to fit everything you own. And trust me when I say this, because I was once that negative nelly that would pass up an apartment if it did not have enough closet space (or what I thought was enough.) As I’ve frequently preached in multiple posts, organization is key to maximizing your space. So, yes, it is through organization that you will be able to fit every last thing and here’s how:

Some general questions to ask yourself before you start putting things in your closet

person with difficulty and questions in studies
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on

1. What is your goal with your closet? Do you want it to be the place where you store absolutely everything or do you also have a set of drawers outside of the closet? Or an extra coat closet?

2. Do you have drawers in the closet? Have you prioritized what you want to put there? (underwear, socks, extra bed sheets)

3. Do you want to put your handbags in your closet or can you put them somewhere else?

4. How many pairs of shoes do you own? Is it too many to fit in your closet? Are you going to need a stackable shoe rack? (more details on this below.)

5. Where are you putting your jewelry and sunglasses? In your bathroom or in your closet?

6. Do you want your closet to be color coordinated?

7. What color hangers did you buy and are you buying the right hangers for what you’re hanging? (I recommend sticking to the same color)

8. How much clothes do you even really own? How many pants? How many sweaters? How much work out clothes? How many coats? How many shirts? Skirts? What can be folded? What can be stacked? What has to be hung?

9. What do you need easiest access to?

And now, let’s get to it….

1. Add shelves (if possible)

Photo taken from Amazon

I personally had way too many things to be able to accommodate shelves but if you can, you should! Shelves will create space for your folded items. For example, your sweaters, your pants, your pajamas, your knits, and more. Shelves will also give your closet a more luxurious and aesthetically pleasing vibe.

5 Shelf Hanging Closet Organizer – $14.99

Hanging Closet Organizer – $23.99

6-Shelf Hanging Closet Organizer – $36.99

2. Double rod (double hanging space)

Photo taken from Amazon

This one’s a game changer! If you have to pick between adding shelves and a double rod, it’s got to be the double rod. The double rod is the most efficient, because it accommodates double the clothing without taking up any extra space. This does however mean that you have to hang the items you planned on folding.

Adjustable Hanging Closet Rod 30 48-Inch – $8.28

Adjustable Closet Rod, 18-Inch to 30-Inch – $11.17

3. Use the right hangers

clothes rack
Photo by Daian Gan on

I know this one might seem like a no brainer, but I’ve walked into closets with very thick hangers and it makes a big difference. The thick hangers take up half the space, only to just hang one item. This leaves you with no room to hang the rest of your things, so they aren’t very efficient. And yes, you can still find hangers that are thin and hold pants and sweaters in 1. The next thing you want to pay attention to when buying hangers is making sure they are non-slip! Super important. You want to be able to scramble through your closet without things falling everywhere. I have attached some below.

Amazon Basics Slim, Velvet, Non-Slip Clothes Suit Hangers, Ivory/Silver – Pack of 30 – $18.28

AmazonBasics Velvet Suit Hangers, 30-Pack, Black/Rose Gold – $19.58

Non-Slip Premium Wooden Hangers – $26.99

4. Shoe racks

womens black and brown peep toe pumps
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on

Shoe racks are efficient for many reasons. First, they keep your shoes in good condition. Storing them properly helps maintain their condition. Second, no matter how many pairs you have, each one is as easily accessible as the other. This not only saves you time when looking for a specific pair, but also gives you a clear view of all your other options.

3-Tier Stackable 12-Pair Shoe Rack Wood – $29.10

4-Tier Shoe Rack Storage Organizer 20-Pair – $22.87

4-Tier Expandable 24-Pair Shoe Rack – $23.09

5. Small articles of clothing & accessories

Photo taken from Amazon

Instead of stacking all your tank tops on top of each other and having absolutely no clue what you have, why not hang them onto a single hanger? Because they are small articles of clothing, and are light weight, they’ll easily fit on one hanger. This not only makes it easier to see what you have, but also saves you some space. This goes for accessories too! Your belts, scarves, etc., can all be hung onto one hanger as well. There are hangers that come with built in hooks, I have attached some below.

Multiple Purpose Holder for Closet – $11.99

3 Pack Closet Organizer for Scarves, Belt, Tie, Mufflers & Accessories – $7.99

Durable Hanging Closet Accessory Hooks for Belts, Ties, Jewelry, Scarves, Tank Tops – $11.99

6. Clothing dividers / labels

Photo taken from Amazon

To find exactly what you’re looking for, you can insert clothing dividers or labels that say the section name on them. For example, making a section for your sweaters or all your long sleeve shirts.

Blank Clothing Rack Size Dividers – $12.25

Black Rectangular Clothing Size Dividers – $10

10 Pack White Clothing Rack Size Dividers Plus 60 Labels – $8.99

7. Use the walls in your closet

Photo taken from Amazon

The walls are not useless! You can install hooks and hang any accessories you’d like. Some examples are hats, jewelry, purses, etc. Depending on the weight of what you’re hanging, you can use adhesive stick hooks which take 2 seconds and don’t require installation.

Adhesive Hooks Heavy Duty Stick on Wall Hooks  – $12.99

10 Pack Heavy Duty Dual Coat Hooks – $14.99

8-Hook Double Entryway, Closet  – $18.80

6 Pieces Stainless Steel Wall-Mount hook – $12.99

8. Use the doors in your closet

Photo taken from Amazon

The doors in your closet are also not useless! Again, just like I mentioned above, you can install hooks on the doors and hang bags, accessories, etc. Whatever you decide to hang is completely up to you, there is no right spot for anything.

Adhesive Hooks Heavy Duty Stick on Wall Hooks  – $12.99

10 Pack Heavy Duty Dual Coat Hooks – $14.99

8-Hook Double Entryway, Closet  – $18.80

6 Pieces Stainless Steel Wall-Mount hook – $12.99

9. Add drawers

Photo taken from Amazon

If you have room to add drawers, I highly recommend doing so. My advice? Get a thin but tall drawer set that can fit your underwear, socks, bed sheets, sunglasses, and more. I’ve attached the one I have in my room currently and I’m so happy I got it!

4 Drawer Fabric Dresser Storage Tower – $59.99

Vertical Furniture Storage Tower – $54.95

Dresser Storage Tower – $69.99

Design Vertical Dresser Storage Tower – $49.99

7-Drawer Chest, Wood Storage Dresser – $115.99

10. Color coordinate

clothes on clothes rack
Photo by Leticia Ribeiro on

A color coordinated closet is not just aesthetically pleasing, but will also make your life easier. Instead of scrambling through your closet looking for that one red shirt, you’ll find it immediately because it’ll be in your red section. It’s also easier to coordinate outfits this way, and gives you a better idea of what’s in your closet.  

11. Storage boxes for the space up top

Photo taken from Amazon

I recommend putting storage boxes with handles on the top of your closet. The handles will make it easier for you to pull out the boxes. You can put anything you’d like in the boxes, whether it’s a bunch of tchotchke’s, or clothes that are currently out of season. It’s completely up to you. These boxes will also make your space look and feel more organized.

Storage Bin for Shelves – $18.99

Storage Cubes – (Set of 8) Storage Baskets – $24.95

Large Storage Bins Baskets 3 pack – $20.79

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