How to expand your existing closet space – 6 tricks organizers use to improve storage

Is there such a thing as too many clothes? Not with these closet-expanding storage solutions, there isn’t

The Cinquanta Scatola wardrobe makes great use of space, combining a walk in design with an exterior shelving unit.
(Image credit: Go Modern Furniture)

There is nothing more irritating in the morning than an overflowing closet where you can't find anything or put anything back. 

If you are guilty of trying to organize a closet with too many clothes and aren’t prepared to declutter some of them, you are not alone. Professional organizers come across this conundrum more often than you’d think.

These are the six ways to expand your existing closet space without buying a whole new storage unit to keep your collections together. 

How to expand your existing closet space

Although the professionals will always urge you to try decluttering a closet to some extent before organizing your clothes, you don’t have to part with everything for the sake of limited home storage. Lauren Saltman, professional home organizer and founder of Living. Simplified. suggests trying out an editing process to keep track of which items you use regularly, and which fall by the wayside: 

‘Put all of your hangers on your hanging rod backward. As you wear an item of clothing, wash and return it to your closet, turn the hanger in the proper direction. After a while, say four weeks, you'll quickly be able to see the clothing that you haven't worn,’ she recommends. ‘These are the items that you should be donating, giving away to friends, or selling online.’

With that in place, you can get to making more space for the items you want to keep.

Laura
Lauren Saltman

For Professional Organizer Lauren Saltman of Living.Simplified., decluttering and organizing is how she lives her daily life, whether she is organizing her home, a friend’s office, or a client’s garage, her resourceful approach yields happy clients who learn to incorporate techniques for a happier and more simplified lifestyle.

1. Bring storage onto your closet door

bedroom

(Image credit: Target)

A typical closet storage idea is to bring your storage out onto the door where possible, giving you extra space to store the more awkwardly shaped pieces such as shoes and accessories, suggests Ashley Murphy, professional organizer, CEO, and co-founder of NEAT Method. An over-the-door rack is ideal for this. Consider picking a modular option, such as this over-door-unit from The Container Store to make the most of your new storage space. 

‘You can also stack modular shoe shelves along the floor and add hooks for hats along the wall,’ she adds.

Neat Method team headshot
Ashley Murphy

Ashley Murphy is one of the organization-obsessed co-founders behind NEAT Method. Started in 2010, NEAT Method is the result of the duo's inspiration to bring a fresh perspective to the industry. Murphy, the CEO, leads the team from localized markets to expanding across the US and Canada.

2. Install additional shelving

custom clothing storage with shelving and drawers

(Image credit: Kitesgrove)

Bedroom shelving is a godsend when it comes to expanding closet storage, says Brenda Scott, professional organizer and owner of Tidy My Space. She almost always recommends installing more shelving and maximizing the closet height:

‘Most closets come with one shelf and a clothes rod but this wastes so much space,’ she explains. ‘For instance, do you have lots of sweaters that need to be piled? Installing another full-length shelf above the original  with dividers or bins is the solution.’

High shelving is also the perfect spot for storing special pieces you only use on occasion, or even seasonal storage and luggage storage. Be sure to keep a small step in your closet against the wall so you can reach them easily when needed. 

brenda scott home organizing
Brenda Scott

Brenda Scott is passionate about home organizing, decluttering, and creating a safe home. At Tidy My Space, she helps people to keep their homes tidy when life gets busy. Brenda shares useful tips and gives practical help with sorting and editing her clients' spaces, leading them to feel less stressed and bringing the luxury of time to be spent with family, friends, or on themselves.

3. Add in an additional lower rail

Large walk in wardrobe with round bench in center

(Image credit: Sarah WInchester Studios/Nicole Hirsch)

If you have lots of clothes or are trying to organize a closet if you don't have seasonal storage, a second, lower rail can be a great addition, organizer Lauren Saltman suggests: ‘Consider doubling your hanging space by adding a second rod to your closet. This does mean you'll have to fold your pants and be creative when hanging your long dresses, but in the end, having the extra hanging space will be invaluable.’

Brenda Scott, professional organizer, reminds us that whether or not this will work will depend on how many items we have that need full-length hanging. She suggests picking a rod that clips onto your existing rod but is a fraction of the length, allowing you some longer hanging space on one side of the closet for dresses and dress trousers, etc. 

Hanging Closet Rail | View at Amazon

Hanging Closet Rail | View at Amazon
These hanging clothes rails simply clip onto your existing rail for extra storage space without any DIY. They are also adjustable to fit any closet, while also leaving space for long-hanging items. 

4. Use slimline hangers to save rail space

small clothing storage closet with hanging space, shelving, mirror

(Image credit: Sharps)

Slimline hangers are, by far, the best closet organizer professionals always buy. Darla DeMorrow, professional organizer, and founder of Heartwork organizing, always picks slimline hangers, such as these velvet hangers from Amazon: 'Swap bulky plastic or unruly wire hangers for slim hangers, flocked or not. These will create a beautiful uniform appearance and save as much as half of the hanger space that tubular hangers require,' she says. 

If you are desperate for space, you can also consider hanging multiple pieces of clothing per hanger, too, adds Jackie Pittman, professional organizer and founder of Chez Nous Organizing. Be sure not to overload them, or hide clothing so that you don’t wear them, 'There are also plenty of options for hangers that hold multiple items of clothing or accessories,' she adds.

Darla
Darla DeMorrow

Darla DeMorrow is a certified professional organizer, productivity expert, home stager, and author. Her company, HeartWork Organizing, based in Wayne, PA, offers seminars and training as well as hands-on work with residential and business clients.

Jackie Pittman
Jackie Pittman

Jackie Pittman is the owner of Chez Nouz organizing, having started her business after making multiple cross county moves and becoming familiar with the process of cutting back belongings and organizing the essentials of everyday life.

5. Switch out seasonal clothing

Pull out under bed drawers

(Image credit: Sofa.com)

'Seasonal clothes storage is a must if you want to keep your closet functional year round without sacrificing pieces from your collection', Ashley Murphy, professional organizer, continues. 

‘Store out-of-season items in a bin tucked out of the way to clear up space for what you're reaching for. When the seasons change, switch everything out,’ she recommends. 

If your closet shelving is tight on space, consider moving these pieces to under-bed storage in vacuum bags to keep them in good condition.  

6. Add a dresser to your closet

closet with drawers and hanging space

(Image credit: Sharps)

If you can’t add another rail but are aware of wasted space at the base of your closet, professional organizer Lauren Saltman suggests adding in a dresser, perfect for stowing away anything that doesn't need to be hung while also giving you a small amount of shelf space on top:

‘If you don't have a dresser in your bedroom, see if you can add a small one to your closet. Having available drawer space to hold your delicates and your gym clothes will be so helpful in keeping your clothing well organized.’

FAQs

Why do I have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear?

If you have lots of clothes but can never find anything you like wearing, then it is likely because your closet is disorganized and you have lost track of what is in there. This is the best time to try decluttering your clothes – pulling everything out so you can see them and getting rid of pieces that no longer fit, you no longer like, or are irreparably damaged or stained. Then, you can go about adding the pieces you like back into your closet in categories such as pants, skirts, tops, etc. so you can find outfits more easily.  

Is it okay to have too many clothes?

Having a large clothing collection is perfectly fine so long as you regularly wear the pieces and rotate through them, rather than simply keeping hold of pieces you no longer like or no longer fit. Consider decluttering your clothing collection regularly to pull out pieces that don’t bring you joy – even if you are only getting rid of one or two things each time, to stay on top of your wardrobe. 


It is good to remember that there is only so much we can do when trying to squeeze a lot into a small closet. Brenda Scott, professional organizer assures us that it's okay to bring clothes storage out into your bedroom so long as you can keep it neat: 

‘If you've done everything possible and you still have overflowing clothes and you have the floor space, invest in a free-standing rolling clothes rack,’ she suggests. ‘They come in many sizes and with shelves for accessories. This can expand your closet space without renovating your current closet.’

Chiana Dickson
Writer

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.