What do very old homes and small, ultramodern apartments sometimes have in common? A troubling lack of closet space and clothes storage.
Don’t panic: In these situations, you may have to deconstruct how you think about clothing storage. You’re going to literally live with your decisions, so home decor and design become part of the equation, too. It’s an interesting challenge, but one that can offer unique and colorful results.
Need some help getting started? We’ve compiled 11 innovative clothing storage ideas to help you see your closet situation (or lack thereof) in a whole new light.
How to Store & Organize Clothing Without a Closet
No closet? No problem. Here are 11 smart clothes storage ideas to try when you’re short on space:
1. Repurpose An Old Trunk
“A great way to store items is to use a wood trunk,” home blogger Jackie Hausler says. “Not only are trunks stylish, but they also hide items that would normally be out and about, making a room cluttered. “
Wooden trunks come in all shapes and sizes and are a great option when you’re looking for a storage solution that keeps clothes tucked away and out of sight. What’s even better? With a little love, you can transform any trunk to match your room’s decor.
“I took an old trunk I found at an antique store and brought it back to life with some wood stain and upholstery fabric,” she explains. “Now, it is as good as new and can be used for a variety of storage options. I think it is the perfect hideaway for accessories like hats and purses! Put it at the foot of your bed, or in your living room; trunks look wonderful in any room you choose!”
2. Add a Shelved Rack or Storage Bench for Shoes
Don’t have a hall closet near your garage to store shoes, coats, and other outdoor accessories and necessities? Depending on how much space you have to play around with, a shelved rack or storage bench could be a great option to add some additional storage compartments.
“If you have a spot outside your door to the garage (most of us do), where you can set up a simple shelf, this is a great spot for shoes to rest before kids cross the threshold,” Samantha, a professional organizer, National Association of Professional Organizers member and home blogger says. “This means shoes will always be exactly where you look – the first time. No more searching around the house. No more not finding a match.”
You can also use the rack as a home for your socks. Assign each member of your family a bin and fill it with their socks, keeping those easy-to-misplace pairs together and ready to go whenever anyone heads out the door.
PRO TIP: Put a chair or two near the rack, if you have the space. This helps discourage the practice of putting on or taking off shoes in other rooms of the house, which can easily lead to mud, dirt, leaves and other grime getting tracked onto clean floors or carpeting.
3. Try a Wardrobe Rack
If you simply want to mimic a traditional closet, a clothing rack is an affordable option that could work in just about any space. (You can find one at IKEA for as little as $12.99!)
Sure, this means your clothing will be more on display than in a traditional closet, but with some creativity and organization skills, wardrobe racks can provide your room with an adorable boutique-style visual display. After all, fashion is one of the best ways to express yourself and your personality— so why not display it all in a way that feels fun and inspiring?
If your clothing rack is small, be strategic about how you fill it to get the most out of your space.
“A MUST is to use all of the same hangers, professional organizer Jennifer Ford Berry says, “and they MUST be slimline if you are short on space.”
You can also double your hanging space by using pop-can tabs. Slide your first hanger’s hook through the top of the tab and hand a second hanger from the bottom.
4. Use the Space Under Your Bed
The space under your bed may have been a little scary when you were a kid, but there’s no reason to be afraid: we’ve checked, and there are no monsters. The space beneath your bed is a great place to organize and protect your shoes and handbags when you’re not using them.
It’s also an excellent spot to store heavy sweaters since you’ll avoid those unwanted stretched-out shoulder marks often caused by hangers.
To take advantage of this under-bed space, we recommend using rolling storage drawers, short plastic bins, and other under-the-bed storage containers that fit nicely in this small space. All you need to do is neatly fold each piece of clothing you’re planning on storing and tuck them away until the next time you need them.
If your bed is too low to the ground to fit storage underneath it, opt for simple bed risers (they’re not just for dorm rooms!) or even repurposed shipping pallets. You can find many stylish options online, or opt to keep your storage drawers hidden with a longer bed skirt.
5. Hang Accessories on Wall Hooks
When storing your belongings and organizing your closet, it’s easy to let accessories like hats, scarves, and jewelry become an afterthought. And if you’ve accumulated a bunch of different accessories over the years, you already know that things can get really cluttered really quickly.
Instead of tucking these items away, why not embrace your flair by making them a part of your room’s decor?
You can easily use Command hooks, wall organizers, or even just a handful of thin nails to display and organize your jewelry— if you can situate it in an aesthetically pleasing way, even better! When it comes to trickier items, like tights and scarves, a simple clothes hanger will do the trick. Simply tie each item in a knot around the hanger and put it on display. The hanger also fits nicely on a detached clothes rack!
6. Install a Picture Ledge
If you’re lacking in floor space and looking for a creative way to open up new clothing storage opportunities, a repurposed picture ledge could be a great option.
You may not expect it, but picture ledges are incredibly versatile and easily customizable when creating additional clothing storage in your home. Simply install one on any open wall, and attach a strong rail to its underside. So long as it’s nice and secure, this will let you hang hooks for clothes, bags, jackets, and more in any room that needs a little extra storage space.
You can also choose to screw in cup hooks to the bottom, allowing you to hang lighter items, like tank tops or necklaces. And don’t forget the top! You can use the upper ledge to hold sunglasses, handbags, or shoes.
7. Rethink Your Bookcase
If you’ve got a bookcase in your home, it’s natural to fill it with books, of course. But if your home severely lacks clothes storage options, we challenge you to rethink how you see those shelves.
Instead of shelving books and housing trinkets in this space, you can use it to store t-shirts, pants, sweaters, and any other clothing items that work well folded. What’s great about this hack is it keeps your clothes on display and easy to grab— you won’t have to worry about rummaging around drawers to find your favorite cozy sweatshirt or go-to party necklace since it will all be easily visible.
Don’t like keeping all of your items exposed? Simply install a rod and hang decorative curtains to cover them up!
Repurposed bookshelves are also a good place to keep your jewelry, shoes, and accessories organized, like Samantha from Simply Organized did. Jewelry organizers can often be beautiful on their own, and they look great as a focal piece on the bookcase in Samantha’s closet.
8. Use Your Vertical Space
Are you running low on floor space? Just look up! Another great way to fake a closet is by hanging a clothes rod from the ceiling.
How to Create a DIY Hanging Clothes Rack
If you’re interested in creating this super simple clothes storage hack in your space, here’s a quick DIY tutorial.
First, install strong hooks to your ceiling, and attach a strong rope to dangle below both of them. You’ll want to tightly tie your rope along a rod as long as the distance between the two hooks allows. This will give you a place to hang your wrinkle-prone items that can’t be folded away.
If your space is tall enough (and your rope is strong enough), you can also add another rod below your first one to double the hanging space.
Not only does this help give you additional space for clothing storage, but it can also function as an attractive focal piece in the room, giving it an incredibly unique look and feel. Just be sure to get your landlord’s approval first if you’re in an apartment!
9. Take Advantage of Other Rooms
Who says your clothes have to stay in your bedroom? If your living room, dining room, home office, or even your hallways have extra storage space that you aren’t necessarily using, take full advantage by utilizing these areas for clothes storage.
And don’t be afraid to get creative with it! You can easily conceal your items in plain sight using versatile pieces of furniture in multiple ways. Could the dresser you’re not using double as a TV stand or side table? Maybe you could store some hats, gloves, scarves, or other winter accessories inside your ottoman? The possibilities are endless.
Read Also: 53 Ways to Eliminate Clutter and Chaos
10. Rotate Your Clothing Seasonally
If you’re working with a tiny closet, another great way to cut down clutter and maximize your space by cycling out your clothes that are out of season.
Let’s face it: You’re probably not going to use your winter coat and wool sweaters during the summer months. And on the flip side, you’re not breaking out your sundresses and flip-flops when there’s over an inch of snow on the ground. So why let them take up precious space?
Taking an afternoon at the beginning of each season to switch out your wardrobe can help give you more clothes storage space to work with on a daily basis. Simply place any clothing, shoes, or accessories that are out of season in sealed plastic bins, trunks, or even suitcases, and leave them in a safe and dry area in your home until you need them again.
To make things easier on yourself when the seasons change, we also recommend labeling the outside of your bins so you don’t forget what’s inside.
Is it okay to store clothes in cardboard boxes?
While cardboard boxes are a decent temporary storage solution for clothing (not to mention a cheap option during the moving process), they’re not ideal for long periods of time. It’s generally a good idea to store clothes in sealed plastic bins or air-tight containers as they provide better protection against damaging elements like moisture and unwanted pests.
11. Consider Purchasing a Wardrobe
It may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t forget that you can always purchase your own exterior closet if you’re hard-pressed for clothes storage in your home.
Sure, buying a wardrobe or an armoire might not be the most creative option, but it’s simple, straightforward, and gets the job done if you’re short on time and have the budget to spare. Bonus points if you can thrift one to save some money!
Investing in a wardrobe, armoire, or any other piece of furniture that functions as an extra closet also means that you’ll be able to take it with you whenever you move into a new space. Adding clothing storage for your future home or apartment could be incredibly helpful down the line, especially if you live in a big city where large closets are hard to come by.
Try These Clothes Storage Solutions for Small Spaces
If you believe you’ve found the house or apartment of your dreams, don’t let a lack of closet or clothes storage stress you out or prevent you from moving in.
With some affordable supplies, time spent planning ahead, and just a little bit of creativity, you’d be surprised by how much clothes storage you can create for yourself! No matter how much space you’re working with, these tips should help you find new ways to properly store your clothes, shoes, accessories, and other wardrobe essentials.
Have a life-changing clothes storage hack you’re dying to share? Leave your best tips in the comments below to keep the conversation going!
This post was first published on 3/14/2016, was revised on 9/11/2017, and updated on 10/11/2022 to provide new information.