Tight On Space, Big On Closet Design

Get ideas for making your closet user-friendly, a key design element in a small space.
Studio Apartment Storage

Studio Apartment Storage

This apartment is tight on space, but big on organization.

Photo by: ClosetMaid


This apartment is tight on space, but big on organization.

By: Jeannie Matteucci

While closets are a great way to store clothing, linens and other home essentials, they can be a challenge in a small space. If you give some thought to how you can make the most out of the closet you have, you can have the storage you need and a space that feels warm and welcoming.

Removing closet doors is a great way to make a closet in a small space feel larger and give you easy access to the items being stored. Painting the back inside wall of the closet the same color as surrounding walls can add depth and make a room feel larger. Painting the back wall a bold color or using a wall covering with a pattern will add contrast and visual interest. Be aware removing doors means the contents of your closet are on display for everyone to see. Even a small-space closet needs a good system that keeps everything organized and neat.

7 Ways to Optimize Your Closet Space

See All Photos

Keep It Open and Attractive

Dramatic drapes are the perfect finishing touch for this closet that adds practical storage and beauty to this one-bedroom apartment. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Choose Colorful Hangers

Instead of basic white plastic hangers that take up space, go for thin, streamlined non-slip hangers in great hues to inject color into your closet. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Layer In Lighting

Track lights included in this closet make the space attractive and contents easier to see. Photo courtesy of Artistic Designs for Living

Add Your Personality

Decorative panels give small-space closet doors a touch of style. Photo courtesy of California Closets

Photo By: Virginia Macdonald Photographer

Take Advantage of Dead Space

This strategic storage system optimizes every inch of wall space to create a stylish open closet in this tight attic bedroom. Photo courtesy of California Closets

Have Fun With Patterns and Textures

Use fabric-covered containers and distinctive bins in fun colors and patterns to store items on shelves inside small open closets. Photo courtesy of California Closets

Photo By: Copyright 2010 John Granen

Don't Overlook Backdrop Colors

The back inside wall of this young girl's open closet is painted the same cheerful pink used for the surrounding walls of the bedroom. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

"A wire shelf track system is the best use of space in a closet," says ClosetMaid representative Lisa Engel. "You're wasting the least amount of space on the material itself and you can see everything you have. If you want a semi-custom look, use a wood organizer for what you see and use every day but use a wire shelf track system for the higher part of your closet for seasonal items."

Drapes are a nice alternative for homeowners who like an open closet but want the option to close things up when guests come over. Choose drapery that complements your small-space decor. Go for durable fabrics for high-traffic closets that are used often.

If you prefer a closet with doors, Engel says choose to bi-fold doors over dual sliding doors that block access to 50 percent of the contents inside your closet. A closet door can also be a way to add a nice design element to your small space, says designer Libby Langdon of Libby Interiors, Inc.

"Painting your closet door a high-gloss cobalt blue or black can spice up your space and make the door recede and the room feel larger," says Langdon. "You can also have mirrors cut to fit in the panels on a raised-panel door to open up your space and add a little spice."

Adding lights to your closet allows you to see your stored items more clearly and makes the closet feel more spacious. If electrical work is out of the question, use the stick-on, battery-operated lights now available at many retailers and home improvement stores.

Keep Reading

Next Up

6 Tips for Downsizing

Make the most of your small space with careful planning and smart design strategies.
More from:

Smart Small Spaces

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.