Asked on Oct 20, 2013

How to organize and odd shaped closet

Patti Nicholas
by Patti Nicholas
We live in a small, older house on the gulf coast of MS and apparently it was quite common years ago to build very deep, but narrow closets. This works fairly well for a storage closet, however it's not so great for a bedroom clothes closet. The over all dimensions are 6' deep x 3' wide. There are 3 deep shelves in the back and two rows of hanging rods. I would love to close off the 3' end and put double doors on the 6' side, but unfortunately that is not an option. The major issue is trying to get to the clothes hanging on the middle racks on a daily basis and nearly all the clothes need to be removed in order to get to the shelves in back. Does anyone have any experience or ideas for organizing a closet like this to make it more user friendly?
  7 answers
  • Z Z on Oct 21, 2013
    Not sure this will work, but here's an idea, though you will lose rod space. If I've got the measurements wrong, let me know and I'll see if I can come up with any other idea.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Oct 21, 2013
    I just measured my closet. What I would do is take out the shelves in the back. Repaint and then build out my closet on 1 side with 5-1/2 ' of handing space with a shoe rack at the bottom under the clothes and 1-1/2' of cubby holes...a few just designed for shoes at the bottom. At the top, I would put 2 shelves with baskets for sweaters, pants, etc. (rote seasons and use lower cubbies) On the other side of the closet, I would build in 6" deep shelves to store supplies...toilet paper, shampoo, first aid supplies, extra canned goods (2 cans will fit on 6" or 1 large coffee can), small baskets for scarves, costume jewelry, your fancy evening bag, etc. We had a house one time that had a 4" deep cabinet built in behind where the bathroom door opened into the bathroom. It was fantastic!

  • Patti Nicholas Patti Nicholas on Oct 21, 2013
    Jeanette, I'm not sure I understand, if I have 5-1/2' of hanging space then only 6" is left for the cubby hole area and if I allow 18" to 20" for the hanger (with suit coats) and a 6" shelf on the other side, that only allows for 10" to walk into (I haven't been that thin in decades and my 6' husband would never fit lol). I may be able to do just the one side though without the narrow shelf, but I would then loose any seasonal clothing storage (which is now on the top deep shelves in the back). This is just such an oddity and I've seen them in a number of homes here. We have 3 such closets in our house (and no other storage area). The one in our living room stores all our seasonal decorations as well as coats, etc and the one in our 2nd bedroom has to deal with the plumbing access for a bathroom. I'm not sure how the architects ever thought you would use these closets, they were quite obviously men. Thanks so much for your ideas though, I think if I combine all the ideas everyone comes up with we might just get a working design.

  • Patti Nicholas Patti Nicholas on Oct 21, 2013
    Thanks for the answers, but I'm still hoping for more ideas.

    • See 2 previous
    • Z Z on Oct 21, 2013
      @Patti, so the shelves are not built in?

  • Patti Nicholas Patti Nicholas on Oct 21, 2013
    technically yes. they are built ins, but we used to own a construction company. so I have no problem w/ a little drywall or plaster repair. The landlords don't have a problem with us reconfiguring the inside of the closet, but not the actual bedroom. I think it's more a fear of construction than anything else and maybe down the road they will allow it, but I have to go on the assumption that it's not gonna happen. There are also other more pressing repairs that they are faced with right now ( the roof just sprung a leak in the last big storm), so to take on something that they don't deem as necessary is just not in the cards. They don't mind if we paint or anything like that, so I can't really complain, it's just so hard to get anything out of this closet. we've got pants and shirts and short things hanging on the double rods in the middle and long dresses, suits, etc in the front, but the shelves are only holding things that don't get used often (seasonal stuff basically) because you have to empty at least the bottom rod so that you can remove it to get to the shelves. And we are constantly knocking clothes off the front rod, when trying to get to the stuff on the back rod. I've even given away an entire wardrobe full (let's hope neither of gain weight, cause all the fat clothes are gone).

  • Z Z on Oct 21, 2013
    Okay, I think I have another idea that could work for you and still keep some storage shelves. Without photos I'm only guessing and this will have to be my last try as I'm sick right now and need to get to bed. More storage can be added if you need it in the corner where the rods overlap by adding a "wall" as I have in my closet shown here: and cleats to hold up the shelves. You'd have to move clothing away from it on the rod to get to it, but it's doable.

  • Patti Nicholas Patti Nicholas on Oct 22, 2013
    ya know that just may work. I have know idea why I never thought to switch it around like that. I knew another set of eyes was the best solution. I was just so stuck in the rut of moving the door that when that was nixed, I was stumped. Now go to bed and get better. As soon as my camera is up and running again I'll post some pix.

    • Z Z on Oct 22, 2013
      @Patti, knowing you were able to move the shelves around opened up more options. I'm glad to have helped. If you find you have too many cloths you can always purge as shown in the post I linked in my last comments. With this last idea I drew up you're only losing a foot of rod space for pants and dresses.