Tenant Life: Coping with a Small Closet

Nevermind coming out of the closet — some are too small to get into in the first place!

A very small, very crowded closet.

The house is almost perfect. There’s a dishwasher and a garbage disposal, one of your neighbors is a church and the other is a city park, and there’s one more room than you thought you’d need. The only issue: the bedroom has a closet that is only a few inches wider than the swinging door that opens up to it, and you had a full-on four-footer in your last place. You can’t afford to buy a free-standing wardrobe…so what do you do? Try these ideas on for size!

Do Your Clothes Hang High?
There are two ways that you can make the most out of clothing that doesn’t hang from your bar all the way to the floor.
• ‘Chain’ your hangars by using S-hooks, soda can tabs, or even oversized paperclips. Loop one end of your connector over the hook of one hangar, and then hang a second hangar from the far end of the same connector.
• Using chain, rope, or a good strong cord, hang a second bar from your first bar, below the bottom of your high-hanging clothes. Then you can hang a second batch of high-hanging clothes from the second bar, effectively doubling that length of closet bar.

Pressure Rods Are Your Friends
Pressure rods are those spring-loaded closet (or shower curtain) rods that you can buy at just about any store with a Houseware section. They’re inexpensive, and they’re the most versatile thing you can think of when it comes to closet hacks.
• Turn the bottom of your closet into an impromptu shoe rack by using 2 pressure rods — one for the heel, one for the toe — set so that your shoes tilt just slightly forward so you can see them easily. If you have heels and flats, you can use four rods: two for the flats, and two for the heels, with the rear bar set up higher so that your heels hook over them.
• You can also use a pressure rod set right inside the closet door and just above the height of the doorframe. A pressure rod in this position can be used to hold ties, scarves, kerchiefs, and almost anything else that can be draped — just don’t have them hanging so low that they interrupt your access to your clothes.

Don’t Discount that Swinging Door
Some people prefer sliding-door or even accordion-door closets, but if you have a swinging door, you have a resource all those other people don’t: the door itself. There are all kinds of crazy hooks, pegs, and other storage devices that are made to hang over the back of a swinging door — so if you have one, use it! There’s no reason to have your hats in boxes if they’ll fit on the back of the door, for example. Or get those thin wire hangers and stack several of them on each hook/peg and you’ve got a perfect place to store undershirts, tank tops, or other flat items.

For the Truly Storage-Challenged (and/or Wardrobe-Gifted)
If there’s just no amount of hacks that will get your clothes into a closet as small as the one you have, celebrate that fact and just stick it all out there. You might be able to get permission from the landlord to put some ceiling hooks in and hang a rod just right there in your bedroom. If not, you can purchase standalone clothing rod sets (like a home version of the stuff you see in the department stores) for a fairly reasonable price, and get the same effect.

There’s no need to suffer with downsizing your wardrobe — just commit to being clever and putting in a bit of extra effort, and you can make the room you need.