Reworking an awkward closet on a shoestring budget

Cleaning out

I loved reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. First up is clothing and the approach is so simple: gather ALL clothing in one spot and go through it. This means everything—coats, socks, stray exercise wear, all of it. Pick up each one and if it brings joy, keep it. If not, get rid of it. The book explains why these steps are important and I encourage you to read it. What’s cool is that “joy” doesn’t have to mean flattering or in perfect condition. Like the ratty old shirts for painting? Keep them. Dislike a dress even though it fits well? Toss it.

The best part of going through it all in one space is that when I finished I could see exactly what volume of clothing I had. The jackets still went in the hall closet but now I could finally tackle the closet I’ve hated for 10 years. Seeing what I had and how it could be stored meant the closet was a simple fix-up with very minimal cost.

Old closet

The old version had sliding doors and one shelf with integrated hanging bar (with hangers pointed backwards, weird). The space isn’t completely open, a part is tucked behind the opening.

Knowing how many hanging bars I needed for long clothes vs short clothes is great. Now the space can be reworked to maximize storage and access.

The new closet

I didn’t much room for long dresses, and not even a ton for short hanging items. So the plan was to put a short shelf and rod in front of the large opening, with a cubby for clothes that normally go in a dresser. The tucked space could have shelves and be easier to get to.

Short clothing, seasonal, and special items

My husband changed the shelf and rod layout. He removed the one long shelf with a rod going across the entire width, and put in shelves with a short rod that go from front wall to back wall. I now have a space for fabulous hats, plus room on the floor for miscellaneous items like yoga mat and winter boots.

Top shelf: 1 bin with halloween costume and 1 empty bin, and big hats that finally able to have a stable base. Bottom shelf: 1 bin with winter sweaters, 1 bin with swimsuits and fancy summer shirts.

Long clothing, folding clothing, accessories

There is a rod and shelf at about the same height as the previous one. I don’t have many long items so the space to the right of the cubby is enough. If I get more, the cubby can move over.

Big closet reveal, crappy photo. The room is very dark.

I have always been bad with clothing in drawers, so a few years ago I got bins, baskets, and a cubby for folded clothes. The socks and underwear used to each be kept in a giant basket, which wasn’t efficient for storing or finding. So I bought 4 small baskets to hold socks, underwear, etc. The sides of the cubby have cup hooks with dowels to store longer scarves.

Yep, those are my bras. The only expense here were the 1/2 baskets, shelf, and dowels/cup hooks on the left.

The top of the cubby is now accessory central. I leaned a bulletin board on the back to hang jewelry on. Short scarves hang from shower curtain hooks. Bins on the shelf hold pajamas.

I might actually wear jewelry now that it’s all out and untangled. The antique box holds special things and whatever isn’t appropriate for a board.


Lightweight scarves are great on shower hooks. Heavier ones that wrinkle are on a hanger or the dowels.
These hands make me happy. They should be outside but the rings look great!

Final thoughts

It works great for me. The only really awkward space now is the far back of the top shelf on the left, but using boxes helps being able to move stuff out. Thinking of that space in terms of depth instead width was clever, I think. The short rods could easily be stacked, depending on how many shelves vs are needed. I don’t know why houses have these weird closet spaces but changing them without tearing down drywall makes this an easy project.

Cost was minimal. We already had the pipe used for rods, wood for supports, some old cabinet doors for shelves, plus we cut up the shelf from the old closet. I bought shower curtains hangers for $1 at Salvation Army, 4 baskets and a shelf at Meijer, and a bunch of cup hooks and a dowel at Home Depot.