How to organize your walk-in closet

Dec 2023

organize your walk-in closet

Frustrated by trying to organize your walk-in closet? You’re not the only one who seems to have too many things to cram into what always seems like too small a space.

Fortunately, there are strategies and systems for making your closet an efficient space that not only holds more than you ever imagined but is also a pleasure to enter.

First things first

Start by completely emptying your closet.  That will not only give you a true sense of the space and configuration but also an opportunity to cull those clothes you no longer wear and donate them to a charity like The Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul so someone else can enjoy them (a good rule of thumb: if you haven’t worn an item for a year or more, it’s time to pass it along).

Once your closet is empty, give it a cleaning and decide if you want to paint it. Neutral colours like tan, grey and beige will make the space feel bigger, but bright, bold colours — maybe a red or cheery blue accent wall — can be fun and give even a dull, rainy day a happy start.

Finally, is your closet well-lit? If not, check out simple solutions like those at IKEA, including lights with sensors and battery-powered strip lighting.

Measuring up & making choices

Next, measure your closet top to bottom and side to side so you know how much space you have to work with on each wall. Are there built-in shelves? If so, note their location on your paper along with your measurements.

Then, decide what you want to store in your closet. Shoes, sweaters and other clothing are all standard items, but if you want to keep jewelry, accessories or precious keepsakes there you’ll need a spot for them. Whatever you’ve decided to keep in your closet will help dictate how you organize the space.

Selecting solutions & systems

Closet organization has become an industry unto itself, and you’ll find modular closet organizing systems and other solutions everywhere from Home Depot to California Closets.

These products — clothes and shoe racks, shelving, wire baskets, even floor-to-ceiling systems with racks, drawers and built-in shelves that you assemble on-site — are standardized designs and may not make total use of your space. But, unless you have the money to hire a custom designer, store-bought solutions will suffice quite nicely.

There are no hard-and-fast rules about the configuration of your closet system, but readily accessible racks, shelves and drawers are all essential. Double hang rods (one above the other) are a smart way to fit a lot of shirts, blouses and trousers on a single wall while leaving space above for a shelf or two. Shelving towers, especially those with adjustable shelves, make good use of vertical space and adapt easily to various closet configurations.

One more idea: Do you have an old but attractive bureau sitting in the basement? Why not repurpose it in your closet? It not only gives you storage space but also a handy top for jewelry, an ornament or even a lamp.


  • If you have room, a wall mirror not only helps you look your best, it also makes the walk-in closet feel bigger.
  • If you have large drawers, use shoe boxes to compartmentalize the space. And spruce up those drawers with inexpensive handles from a building materials store (gold adds glam; black adds contemporary style).
  • Need somewhere to hang a tie or belt rack? The back of a closet door makes smart use of otherwise-wasted space.
  • When choosing shelf brackets, opt for adjustable ones so you can raise or lower the shelves as your seasonal and other needs change.
  • An inexpensive scatter rug makes even the plainest closet feel a bit more luxurious and feels lovely underfoot.