Freakishly tiny closets, anyone?

xantippeNovember 17, 2006

We bought our first house this spring (a 1929 cottage with 900 square feet) and we love it, but we have never had such small closets before. Our coat closet, for instance, is so shallow that hangers can't go in straight--they have to be put in at an angle. We're going to take out the rod and use hooks instead, so we've solved the problem of that closet, at least. It's the master bedroom closet that's the real problem. Each of us have a clothes rod that is two feet long. That's it. Two feet.

So... my question for all you small house gurus is how do you best make use of your tiny closets? I would love to learn some tricks!

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I'm a tad better off than you are from your explanation, but am still fighting the closet thing. A lot depends upon your life style and options for adding storage in other rooms, size of your master, only two people living in the house, etc.

Since I don't work, my bedroom closet is for everyday clothes, with the good stuff in another room's closet. My dresser is probably too large for the bedroom, but after living here for a few months it is the best with tons of drawers.

Things I did:
Added a second closet rod below for pants.
Removed the sliding door with regular double door...this added 6" inside to use for hanging storage on the doors.
Seasonal clothes stored under bed...I hate this, but only way.
Add another shelf up high.
Trunks or storage options for end tables, etc. or anything with lots of drawers.

Am sure there are a lot of other suggestions.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 6:34AM
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Bought at Target one of those temporary hanging racks that you sometimes see when you got to public events and use it - it's in the basement and I hike the stairs a few times daily. Change out seasonal clothing in spring and fall and store in basement. I have a pretty large dresser. I know just what you are dealing with and it's a pain!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 7:19AM
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I agree with have to *find* space and their suggestions are good ones.

You have to pare down to what you really love and what can do double duty. This is still difficult for me but I'm learning. (The same goes for the kitchen where there's little space. Just have 1 small set of dishes you love...not tons of styles or different kinds of glasses, etc)

We don't have a basement or usable attic. We only had 1 1/2 ft closets in our two rooms. So, seasonal clothes go under the bed. Trunks for coffee tables can hold blankets and sheets. If you can build out a closet, somewhere, that's good too. We built out an 8' one and that's great. (I'm not sure if you have basement space)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 8:00AM
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In the room we use for an office, we took out the bar & put shevles in and hooks on the back of the door. That holds alot of things we have to keep. Under the basement stairs we put in a set of draws we bought cheap at menards, and more shelves, even added shevles behind the stairs for extra pots, cleaning things, misc. Our really big problem is MB is the attic and the closet is 2 ft deep. We are thinking of taking the wall out and going under the slope ceiling. Lou

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 7:50AM
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Older houses didn't even have closets- they used armoires instead. Finding room for an armoire in a 900 sq. ft. house is another problem altogether...
I periodically go through all my stuff, esp. clothes, and I'm amazed how much I keep that I either don't wear, or doesn't fit. It all goes to a charity. In a small house, you really need to limit yourself- something I'm not good at. We are moving to a smaller house in a few years, and I'm already trying to cut back, and decide what I can live without.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 8:33AM
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Small house, small closets, and a packrat nature!! That's me. Clothes end up everywhere! I keep promising myself that I WILL of these days!

Be Safe,

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 11:07AM
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I'm in somewhat better shape as I have two small closets, one in each small bedroom, and it's just me here, so I spread my stuff between them. I also have a hall closet that I use for coats/utility items. When the coat closet got too stuffed, I realized that I needed to find more space and wound up putting a rack w/hooks on the wall in the entry to my split level. That's worked out really well. Still, it pays to routinely go through what you have and donate what you no longer need to your favorite worthy cause.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 7:40PM
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Like many of you- my small 1928 craftsman just did not have closets. There were 2 original closets in the entire house! Each one was tucked under a sloping eave 18"deep and maybe 30" wide. Well we fixed that when we renovated our second floor. Since we were already going to strip all the old sheetrock to insulate, update electric and replace windows- we just kept going. We "stole" 12 inches from each bedroom and ended up with a 36" wide closet in my sonÂs room and a 66" wide closet in our bedroom.

Other than that- it is still a constant battle to not accumulate stuff. It seems that when you buy your first house, all of a sudden everyone you know has extra china, sofas, cookware and so forth that they want to give you.

Our more immediate problem is the outdoor storage- just how many sheds can you put in your backyard?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 4:51PM
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xantippe; We have the same size closets in our house I have not found a good solution to them yet. I was looking into those wire organizing systems but think they are more for organizing and not necessarily creating room where there is none. But, I do know someone who has a closet like your shallow one(too narrrow to put hangers in straight.) If it is the same kind, their solution was to place two short rods at each end, width-wise in the closet instead of the usual length-wise way. This allows you to hang coats etc, on normal hangers instead of hooks and provides more space. This method also leaves empty space in the center of the closet in which they placed a small scale dresser that holds gloves, hats, umbrellas and other odds and ends that find their way into hall closets, I hope this helps. Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 7:38PM
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Coming in late here... we also have silly shallow closets in the MBR even though my house was built in 1993! Clothes get rather mashed and the shoulders on suits and shirts get all rubbed-looking if hung the "standard" way. We also lacked space for a dresser in the bedroom due to the poor layout of the room. But, the closets are juuuust deep enough to squeeze a ClosetMaid drawer set (the side supports just barely clear the walls) in one side and then two rods, one over the other placed widthwise on the other side. Skirts/pants go on one rod, shirts on the other; long things, dresses etc., are stored in another closet. I can sort of sidle into the closet partway to pull out a drawer to get my folded clothes or select something from the hanging rods, so I suppose technically we have a walk in closet now! LOL I need a little stepstool to get into the top drawers, where I put out-of-season or dressy things I don't use much (like the pantyhose stash LOL) but it's wasted space up there, might as well use it. Purses and such go up on top. I bought the materials at Home Depot - that is two 2815 4-drawer kits and two of the Shelftrack wall standards, I think it was about $100-120 total - and it took me about two hours to install including a few brief lie-downs in the midst of it. Keeping my wardrobe pared back is pretty important though.

Took this picture a while back before I got the hanging clothes up, now they stick out several inches past the doorframe into the middle, about the same as the drawer thingies, so it's a little bit of a squeeze in the middle of the closet. Still, gets the job done.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 6:25PM
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now you've given me some ideas with this drawer set. We are building a new home and we won't have a lot of closet space. The thought of having walk in closets is definitely out for us. The other night my husband asked our son about closets for his bedroom... you might know that he said he didn't want any! LOL.
I can envision his clothes being draped all over the bed, tossed on the floor and everywhere else. But I could do this drawer thing in all the small closets in our home. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 7:08AM
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Is there any chance that your small closets back up to each other? We created a master bedroom "step in closet" by combining two small room closets and a too deep linen closet in the hall into one closet for our master bedroom and a normal depth linen for the hall. It's amazing how much more efficient the space is (the whole is much bigger than the sum of the parts). Of course the downside is that we lost a closet in one of the other bedrooms but we have plans to build a closet into the room one of these years.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 10:23AM
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In a house we had I put 4 wooden hooks painted the same color as the walls behind each bedroom door. The doors were open most of the time, and the hooks couldn't be seen. If you don't pile too many things on each hook it works out okay. Also, in our tiny bathroom I discovered there was just room next to the sink for a stack of wire baskets. Placed sidways they stuck out from the wall exactly as much as the sink. I had a stack of four of them, which equaled the height of the sink. I put bath towels (folded small), hand towels, washcloths and a few other folded things in them that looked colorful and okay even out in the open.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 1:11PM
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