4 tips for maximizing clothing storage when you don’t have closets

Happy Thursday! Did you take my challenge last week? I would love to hear all about it. I made a concerted effort to connect with my partner and really focus on him for a few moments at the beginning and end of each day. This week in particular has made a big difference on my mood and outlook throughout the day. Spending some time waking up together, instead of me slinking away to get dressed for a workout in the dark, has made me a happier person these last few days. Those moments are more important, in the grand scheme of life. I will never wish “If only I hadn’t spent so much time sharing my love with him…” so I call this challenge a win, in my books.

How did your challenge go? (If you’re just reading, last week I challenged readers to perform a small action each day for a week to improve their lives – such as drinking a glass of water upon waking, spending a minute to hug and kiss their partner or children when they get home, eating a serving of vegetables, etc. Go check it out!)

This week, I’m going to bring it back to your garden variety minimalism themes and talk about how to cope when you lack closet space. Many of us live in small spaces and lack storage space. I, personally, find this to be a blessing in disguise, because it means I have to be very particular about the clothes and items I keep around. They must really be things that I love if they make it to the prime real estate.

We don’t have closets in our master bedroom. There is a linen closet and a couple of storage cabinets on the landing outside our bedroom, which are being used for linens, the laundry hamper, workout equipment, unmatched socks, and craft supplies. The small spare room/office near our bedroom has one closet, but it’s housing my boyfriend’s nice button-down work shirts and some shoes. (Stay tuned for “How to live with a non-minimalist.”)

What can you do when you don’t have a lot of closet to work with?

1. Store clothes in a dresser

My first order of business when I moved in was to procure a dresser or two. Co-human had been using a downstairs spare bedroom to keep his clothes in a dresser and closet, but I prefer having clothes in the bedroom. I found a set of dressers at a local antique shop and purchased them for a great deal. One dresser is more horizontally oriented with three long drawers – these house partner’s underthings and socks, tee shirts, and backup tee shirts, respectively. The other dresser is taller with four short drawers. I have two: underthings and socks, and tee shirts/workout clothes/misc. The other two are for my partner’s workout shorts/towels and pants. (Side note: I have now written and read the word “dresser” so much that it no longer looks like it’s a real word).

Keeping clothes in a dresser, bureau, or chest of drawers is a great way to keep clothing contained without needing to hang them up. This works well for pants, sweaters, workout gear, tee shirts, socks, and underwear, but some things really need to be hung to maintain their shape and avoid wrinkles, such as dress shirts, slacks, dresses, or blouses.

2. Hang clothes on coat hooks

The more minimal you keep your wardrobe, the better for this example. If you only have a few “nice” items that you need to keep on hangers, you could hang them from coat hooks on the wall. This would be a great option if you only keep a few articles of clothing (think Project 333) and want to pre-make some outfits to wear.

Do not use this option if you have cats, dogs, ferrets, or other pets that might climb up your pant leg, pee on your hemline, or chew your sleeves.

3. Use a wardrobe

We bought two Ikea wardrobes to put in our bedroom for clothing storage. This solution made the most sense for our needs. They were about $100 each (plus gas and mileage to Pittsburgh and a burger lunch) and fairly easy to assemble. I put them both together. They have a shelf at the top, on which I keep folded pants, tank tops, leggings, and sweaters. They have one rod, which comfortably fits all of my clothing besides the things in the two dresser drawers. I still only have about 50 items in my wardrobe, but there are some things I recently culled from the pile and need to donate.

4. Be a nomad

You could always live out of a backpack and just have two pairs of pants, five shirts, and some socks and underwear. Hey, it’s an option.

How do you compensate for lack of clothing storage?

10 thoughts on “4 tips for maximizing clothing storage when you don’t have closets

  1. Aphrodite Priestess says:

    I’ve got lots of storage space. My problem was I filled it to bursting, then could never find what I wanted!

    Sometimes less is more, but I’m sure there really is a happy medium to be found somewhere!🙂

    • Caitlin says:

      I find that too! When I have a lot of storage space, I end up filling it with too much. It’s a struggle either way. Thanks for sharing! Let me know if you find the secret to the happy medium.

  2. starfish says:

    Since most European houses don’t come with real closets and no shoes are worn in the living space I’ve always been living with a small wardrobe in the bedroom (in my first room in the city I study in I just put my clothes in empty spaces in my cupboard/bookshelf) and – at least back home – a family shoe shelf next to the door.

    Right now my husband and I are living in an apartment with a preinstalled three-door wardrobe (custom fit to the weirdly angled corners and high ceiling by former tenants) which we share. It has shelves and a narrow rod, so it holds everything from clothes and towels to sandals and the odd sleeping bag. Sadly there is not a lot of space below the rod, so I have to fold my full-length dresses in half. Bedding and husband’s socks live in drawers under the bed, my wedding dress still hangs from a hook in the study. Most of our coats hang on movable door hangers (one of the best inventions ever) in the corridor, and the majority of our shoes sits in a tiny shoe shelf next to the apartment door. A few rarely used items (like more heavy snow gear) are sitting in a box on a high shelf, while hats and mittens are stowed in the small cupboard holding telephone, internet router, shoe polish, and tools. The clothes spread over all these places do not look very tidy or minimalistic, but the system works for the moment.

    • Caitlin says:

      Wow, sounds like a weird shape to fit, but it’s nice to have that custom solution instead of trying to fit standard-size wardrobes or something in there. That’s a bummer on having to fold your dresses in half. Mine get stuck in my wardrobe doors if I don’t close them carefully, the wardrobes are not very deep.

      I am glad your system is working for you even if it’s a bit untidy🙂 “good enough” is good enough sometimes!

      • starfish says:

        Good thing I don’t own a lot of dressy dresses! Even my two more formal dresses can be machine washed and don’t crincle a lot, and two my long cotton summer dresses are very forgiving as well – when travelling I just roll them up and stuff them in my bag and no harm done. I don’t iron anything as long as I can get away with it (I even show up at church in unironed blouses when singing with the choir, and my husband goes to work in unironed shirts as IT dudes are pretty relaxed about that) so I don’t even notice slight crinkles anymore – which is good as we really have to squeeze all the shirts, blouses, and dresses in the wardrobe to fit in sometimes! I wish we had some drawers in the wardrobe, though. The shelves in it have really weird spacing and no side walls so sometimes the stacks of clothing fall over. Drawers would be much easier to keep tidy (or just shut them and ignore the mess as it can’t fall out).

  3. Eva says:

    I’m doing the opposite – I moved into a small bedroom with no space for a dresser, so I’m a closet girl. I like that I can close the closet doors and make my room look more simple and soothing. I do have a dinky metal four-drawer thing from Ikea to house fold-dables. Doing the Project 333 makes storing clothes pretty easy, thankfully!

    • Caitlin says:

      I’ve been there too! In my last apartment, my bedroom was pretty small so I only used a closet with a small plastic drawer jobbie to house my socks, etc. I am one who can adapt, sounds like you are too!

  4. swissrose says:

    Interesting to catch up! I mostly do those challenges in everyday life anyhow but I can see how many people are too rushed and could benefit🙂
    I wouldn’t know what to put in an American closet LOL We had matching antique armoires when we got married, which my daughter now has and we now have Ikea wardrobes, so about 1m hanging space each. Half is full length which I need for my dresses and the other half has blouses, skirts, pants and then drawers below, so the best of both worlds. Although I still have a dresser (chest of drawers in my British English!) I’m working on getting rid of it, so opposite to you! When it all fits in the wardrobe I will be happy. And a lot more room in the small room! Hubby’s things all fit in his 1m wardrobe space, as he has two shallow drawers at the bottom of it. Having said that we do have another smaller wardrobe downstairs in the entrance with all the jackets, coats, ski jackets, rainwear, wedding dresses (my daughters’!) etc.

    • Caitlin says:

      I think I could get it all into my wardrobe if I needed to. Not happening with the boyfriend’s stuff though!

      I like the idea of having half full length, half for shorter items, and the drawers. I’ll have to take some photos of my closet and put them on here to share.🙂

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