11 Clever Design Ideas That Will Totally Transform Your Small Walk-In Closet (2024)

Small walk-in closet ideas work best when thoughtful design plans are put into play. Devise a purposeful small closet design by first eliminating items you don't need. Then take an inventory of what's left and consider how the remaining items can be grouped to optimize available space. Finally, do a little research to find racks, rods, shelves, bins, and DIY storage solutions that will neatly organize your wardrobe. These clever spaces showcase imaginative small walk-in closet ideas, custom features, efficient layouts, and closet organization tips. Use these ideas to help you design your own small walk-in closet plan.

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1. Use Various Types of Closet Storage

The key to successful small walk-in closet ideas is storage—especially when you mix and match storage types to suit your space. Apart from the usual hanging rods, consider using open cubbies, baskets (like these Better Homes & Gardens Rectangular Water Hyacinth Baskets, set of 4, $40, Walmart), plastic bins, and cabinet storage units to store different types of clothing and accessories. As a general rule, most clothing, shoes, and extras (like purses) can be stored out in the open to make outfit planning easier. Plan to store smaller folded garments, accessories, and other miscellaneous items inside closed storage solutions to avoid a cluttered look.

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2. Design a Small Walk-In Closet with Style

Small walk-in closets provide a lot of storage within tight quarters, but that doesn't mean they can't also be stylish. A beautiful chandelier, for example, can work wonders for turning a dark closet into a bright and inviting dressing area. To add character and dimension, cover the walls or door with patterned wallpaper and add accents like an ornately framed mirror.

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3. Maximize Every Inch of a Small Walk-In Closet

Sort, stow, and organize a walk-in closet in ways that reflect your personal style. For example, this small walk-in closet lives large with the use of colorful boxes. Lidded boxes in bright colors and patterns add notes of color (and hidden storage) throughout while racks, shelves, and baskets puzzle together to provide space for everything else. The closet doors sport glass panels and cut-glass knobs for a touch of elegance.

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4. Reconsider Your Small Closet Layout

Amplify your usable space by customizing the layout of your closet. No room for a standard dresser? This tall, narrow dresser bears a multitude of drawers for folded garments and accessories while still allowing enough space to step inside the closet. A mirror and pendant light above the dresser provide a spot to try on jewelry and accessories. To complete the customized small walk-in closet ideas, the homeowners strategically spaced sets of hanging rods to accommodate longer shirts and dresses as well as folded slacks.

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5. Use Open Storage for Easy Access

Organization is essential to a streamlined routine. When organizing a small walk-in closet, it's important to give every single item a proper, reachable place. Look for shelves designed to keep folded items neatly stored and within view. Not only do they help you easily pull together an outfit, they also help you quickly put things away. In this well-organized closet, double rods, hanging drawers, and a floor-set shoe rack work with a wall of cubbies to house a full wardrobe. Labeled bins align on a shelf above the hanging rods to hold out-of-season clothing and sports gear.

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6. Divide a Small Walk-In Closet into Zones

Employ furniture to raise a partition and bring extra utility to a small walk-in closet design. Acting as a room divider, this bookcase handily holds shoes and divvies up space to create a separate dressing area. Positioned beneath the mirror, a bench seat with a lift-up top provides extra storage as well as a spot for putting on and taking off shoes. Bins on the opposite wall keep purses and totes where they can be seen and easily grabbed as the homeowner dashes out the door.

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7. Add Storage with Creative DIYs

Traditional built-in shelves and drawers offer convenient storage inside a small walk-in closet space, but a DIY hanging rack crafted of plumbing pipes makes a cool storage statement. This clever closet storage idea allows the homeowner to hang freshly ironed shirts in a manner that keeps them wrinkle-free. Hooks hung on the lower bar do the same for pairs of favorite pants.

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8. Design a Closet Around Existing Features

Don't let slanted ceilings deter your plans for a highly functioning small walk-in wardrobe. This design makes the most of a closet's wall space. Installed where the ceiling meets the half-wall, two rods set perpendicular to one another store shorter clothes, such as shirts, pants, and tunics. A rod mounted high on the taller wall holds dresses above a multitier shoe rack. Shelves crowning all the hanging rods provide storage for clutches and purses.

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9. Expand a Small Walk-In Closet

The walk-in closet above works well as stand-alone storage, but pair it with an adjacent dressing area and you've got an all-inclusive wardrobe warehouse. These space-smart homeowners outfitted a secondary shallow closet space with a custom-built dresser that provides a home for lingerie, gym clothes, and socks. Accessories rest atop the dresser and an adjacent shelf. A sliding barn door enhances the bedroom's modern farmhouse look.

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10. Use Furniture Inside a Small Walk-In Closet

It makes sense to tuck a dresser (like this Better Homes & Gardens Modern Farmhouse 4-Drawer Chest, $219, Walmart) or a small wardrobe inside a walk-in closet for added storage—both inside drawers and on top. In this small walk-in closet, a chest of drawers is incorporated into a built-in framework that houses glass shelves and two hanging compartments. The glass keeps light bouncing about to brighten the dark space while other shelves rise to the ceiling to stow all sorts of extraneous clothing and rarely-used items. A single rod for hanging dresses equips the rear compartment and double rods in the other compartment hold blouses and jackets. A clear vessel sitting atop the dresser corrals colorful scarves.

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11. Try a Custom Small Closet System

Whenever budget allows, outfit small walk-in closets with custom-fitted furnishings. These pieces make small spaces work as hard as they possibly can. This homeowner created bounteous storage for his wardrobe along two adjacent walls in his deeper-than-wide closet. The dresser houses drawers sized to hold all sorts of clothing items; shelves above support getting-ready supplies and accessories. Adjustable shelves on the side of the corner closet hold folded items such as sweaters.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is considered small for a walk-in closet?

    Generally speaking, a closet needs to be at least 4 feet deep to be considered “walk-in”. That allows you just enough space to hang clothing and step inside. In most American homes, walk-in closets occupy approximately 25 square feet (5 feet x 5 feet) or more.

  • Where should I store shoes in a small closet?

    Since floor space is limited, consider ways to make items perform double duty. For example, you could add a shoe storage cabinet that doubles as an ottoman. Or hang an over-the-door shoe rack on the closet door. Store flip-flops and slim sandals in a pretty fabric bin. You could even hang shelves or towel rods to display some of your favorite shoes as art. If there is absolutely no space in your closet, consider adding under-the-bed storage bins.

  • How can I save space and store out-of-season clothes?

    If you can, store out-of-season items in plastic bins with cedar balls or blocks to protect them from moths. Don't overfill the bins to avoid creasing clothing. Bins can then be kept under the bed, in a laundry room cabinet, or in another room until they are ready to be worn again. You aan also fill empty suitcases with out-of-season items. Clothes that can't be stored in plastic could be hung with fabric covers on a rolling rack or in a wardrobe.

11 Clever Design Ideas That Will Totally Transform Your Small Walk-In Closet (2024)

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