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How to Organize a Small Reach-in Closet for Multi-Purpose Storage

Today I’m sharing five tips for organizing a small reach-in closet for multi-purpose storage.

Having recently moved into our lake cabin for the next several months as we build a new house from scratch we’ve had to downsize and reorganize many parts of our home and lives in order to make things functional in a smaller space.  Although the cabin still has a decent amount of square footage, we’ve gone from each having our own 40″ PAX with built in drawer space to sharing one reach-in closet.  Not only that, but the linen closet is really tiny and the bathroom vanities have less storage than we are used to as well.  As such, our master bedroom closet has become the overflow for linens/bedding/towels/medicines etc. In addition, we don’t have a dedicated home office space at the cabin so the closet also houses our filing cabinet and my printer!

Closet Organizational Tips

With so many functions in what is actually a relatively small space I’ve had to get creative in my storage and organization solutions, and today I’m sharing five tips for getting and staying organized in a small reach-in closet space that is used for multi-purpose storage.

5 Tips For Organizing A Small Reach In Closet poster.

Tip 1: Purge

The first step is definitely to go through all your old clothes and the other items you need to store and purge – keep only that which you will need, that you love, and that you use.  Don’t hang onto items out of guilt or obligation (see my 10 week organizing challenge here if you need more help with this idea).

When we were getting ready to move, we purged our clothes, linens, and bathroom items.  I then did it again when we actually moved in.  Weeding out items that I don’t wear, don’t use, or that are out of date made a big difference to allowing us to fit everything in our smaller storage spaces in the cabin.

When I started dealing with our closet, it was totally overflowing….

The closet full of clothes and storage items.

I went through and we purged a bunch of clothing from the mix, which is really important when you are working with a small amount of storage space.  I’ll be donating all of these clothes to a local thrift store.

A bag full of clothes for donation.

Tip 2: Store out of season clothing elsewhere

We didn’t actually really do this, but it is a strategy I have used in the past and that I know some friends of mine use.  Put items that are clearly “winter” or clearly “summer” away in bins and store them until the season arrives that you actually need them and switch things around.  This can save you a ton of space in your closet(s)!

Tip 3: Add shelving to the lower part of your closet

This was a major game-changer for us.  When we first moved in, I had boxes piled up in the closet and things were very haphazard and disorganized.  I purchased a couple of cube units on sale (one ended up in our “cleaning closet” and it helped to control the clutter and gave me a much better way to organize our extra belongings (linens, towels, and medicines etc.).  It also feels so much better to open the closet doors and know that everything has a place.  Before I tackled this closet, it was a disaster…

Blue storage bins and clothes on the floor.

And now that it is sorted and I’ve added the cube unit for extra shelving…

Organized bins on the bottom of the closet.

Wicker baskets on the top of the shelf.



Tip 4: Use thin hangers

A few years back when I shared our first PAX closet (in our old lake house), I had a reader suggest using these hangers in order to free up closet space.  I had never seen them before, but it wasn’t long after that I saw boxes of them at Costco and I decided to make the switch.  These hangers actually do make an enormous difference to your closet storage space, as opposed to the old plastic hangers that we had before.  I highly recommend trying them if you are short on hanging space!

You can see these thin hangers in use below – they really make a huge difference to the amount of things you can hang in a small closet.

All black velvet hangers in the closet.



Tip 5: Sort and group like items together in baskets and bins

This feels like the same mantra that I repeated again and again throughout my 10 Week Organizing Challenge.  Take everything out.  Purge.  Sort it into like groups.  Then select the baskets or bins you need to group like-items together to store.  Don’t just go and buy bins and baskets before you know what you have and what you need to store! Our linens are mainly in the grey  baskets on the upper shelf, but I grouped some towels together in our cube unit.  I used smaller bins for medicines and less often accessed clothing.  It all works and looks neat and tidy hidden by bins and baskets!

Before we got this closet organized, it was a mishmash of boxes and clutter, both above and below our hanging space…

Sorting items and then grouping them together.

Blankets on the top of the shelf.

Extra black hangers on the top shelf.

And now it feels so much more functional!

Storage baskets filled with items.

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to get this part of our cabin organized and functional!  I’m excited to tackle a few more closets and organization jobs around our new space before school gets started again after labour day.  August is the perfect time of year to get things in order… no matter what type of schooling you are going back to.  If you are looking to tackle your whole home, make sure to check out my Ten Week Organizing Challenge – thousands have taken the challenge and loved it!

And today, some of my friends are sharing their closet and cupboard organizing tips, as well! Be sure to check out their posts by clicking on the links below each image.

Closet and Cupboard Organizing Ideas For Your Home

Closet inspiration.

Organizing Through Our Home // Finding Lovely

Clean Out Your Closet in 5 Easy Steps! // Modern Glam

How to Organize Your Bedroom Closet // Dreaming Of Homemaking

Pantry shelf inspiration.

Spice Rack Organizing Ideas // Happy Happy Nester

Baking Cupboard Organization // Zevy Joy

Tips to Organizing the Pantry // My 100 Year Old Home

Shelf organizational tips.

A Pretty & Functional Small Linen Closet Makeover // The Ginger Home

How To Organize A Small Reach In Closet // The Happy Housie

Bathroom Organization // My Sweet Savannah

Want to remember this? Just PIN it!

The Best Closet & Cupboard Organizing Tips poster.


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  1. I like all the tips! They are basic. I follow them. I also bought special hooks for hangers. That is, you can attach a few more to one hanger and they will be a little lower level. But it saves a lot of space and makes it compact

    1. Hello,
      When we were living in this cabin, we kept our shoes in a closet near the front door as we don’t wear our shoes in the house. Hope that helps!

  2. This is a great tutorial for how to organize a smaller reach in closet. My mom just moved to a smaller house and is having trouble with her closet which looks just like this one. I will share this with her to help her.

  3. Krista,
    Good luck on building your new home. You did a spectacular job on organizing your closet. I’m sure the investment in organizing your cabin will pay off this winter. Thanks so much for joining us!

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