If you’re in need of a closet revamp, take a look around the internet. You’ll find pictures of beautiful, perfectly organized closets. There are shelves and lighting that turn shoes into artwork, and clothes that are color coordinated on matching hangers. There are built-in units that cover entire walls in huge, master-bedroom size closets, and there are drawers the perfect size for scarves and jewelry. It’s easy to find pictures of the dream closet you’ve always wanted, and you might begin to imagine how perfect all of your clothes will look in a closet like that.

Now, look at your own closet. Yep, that thing. Chances are, it’s a mess of clothes stuck in every possible corner and shoes thrown in piles on the floor. Too many of us struggle with how to organize our closet in a way that utilizes every inch of space while also making it easy to find everything we need. Closet shelving units can cost hundreds of dollars and are usually not an option for someone looking to clean up their closet on a budget.   But don’t despair, regardless of the size of your closet, and regardless of how much or how little you’re willing to spend, here are some tips for maximizing closet space and creating your own dream closet.

1. Part with things you don’t need – This might sound like a no-brainer, but getting rid of items you no longer wear can make a huge difference in the amount of closet space you have. Start by taking everything out of the closet and separating all of the items into piles: one pile of things to keep, one pile of things to donate, and one pile of things to throw away. If there are clothes that are in good condition but no longer fit or just aren’t your style anymore, donate them to a trustworthy charity in your community. If there are clothes or accessories that are broken, stained, or are no longer usable, put them in the pile to throw away.

2. Keep out clothes for one season at a time – During the summer, heavy winter coats and sweaters probably won’t be worn, so there is no reason to keep them in the closet. Store out of season clothing in another place in the house, or even in boxes under the bed.

3. Keep the most-used items in the most accessible places – Don’t put your favorite shoes on the highest shelf in the closet if it means that you have to get a step-stool to reach them. Put items that you use the most in easy-to-reach places. If you wear jeans nearly every day, make sure that your favorite pairs aren’t stuff in the farthest corner or stuck under piles of other folded clothes. This will not only help you maximize your space, it will also help you stay organized while you are deciding what to wear.

4. Use storage boxes (or create your own) – Many stores like Get Organized and The Container Store sell storage boxes and baskets that are the perfect size for closet shelves. These storage options can range from inexpensive to pricey depending on the style, but if you are looking for a cheap alternative, consider making your own storage boxes. Cardboard boxes can be decorated with fabric or colorful scrapbook paper to create stylish storage that can be placed either in the bottom of the closet or on a shelf in the closet for shoes, handbags, scarves or other items. Old shoeboxes work especially well for small accessories or even jewelry.

5. Create hanging storage for belts, scarves, or purses – You can buy specially-made hangers for these accessories, or you can use hangers you already have to create your own organizing devices. For belts and scarves, simply loop them over the bottom of a regular hanger and buckle/tie them to keep them from sliding off. You can hang these right beside your clothes on the main rack in the closet, or you can utilize free wall space by placing durable stick-on hooks on the wall to hang the hangers on. You might find some free space on the inside wall spaces beside the closet doors or even behind the hanging clothes. Purses are bulkier than scarves and belts, so they would most likely need to be hung on the actual clothes rack. To hang purses from hangers, put shower curtain hooks through the straps and around the hanger to ensure that the purses don’t fall off.

6. Utilize the closet door – Over-the-door shoe hangers are very inexpensive and are a great storage solution for shoes. However, the closet door can also be used for hanging jewelry or other accessories. For jewelry, cork board can be installed on the back of the door and necklaces and bracelets can be hung up on pushpins.

7. Create your own double-hanger – Hangers that fold down and are actually two or more hangers in one can save a ton of space, but if you don’t want to spend money buying these, you can actually make them at home. To do this, all you need are tabs off of soda cans. These tabs have two holes – perfect for creating double hangers.  Simply slip one hanger through one of the holes and another hanger through the other hole. Hang one of the hangers on the rack in the closet and the other hanger will hang by the tab. You probably don’t want to use these for very heavy items, but for regular shirts and blouses, the DIY double hanger is pretty effective.

While these tips are very simple, they can make a big difference in the amount of space you have in your closet. Ultimately, don’t leave any inch untouched in your closet – use every bit of space that you have available. Keep in mind that your closet should stay organized, though, so use shelves, baskets, boxes, etc. to keep everything in a designated space. See? You don’t have to have a huge closet to have a dream closet; it just takes some work and a little creativity.

Daniella Leightzen is a florist and the mother of three sons and one daughter. When she’s not busy getting everyone out of the house, she enjoys reading English literature, hiking, and getting Starbucks with her friends. Daniella plans on writing a memoir one day.

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