The Best Ways to Survive with Only One Closet

Some of the most charming rentals in expensive markets like San Francisco and New York City were built at the turn of the century, which means they may come with only one closet (if you’re lucky) or none at all.

If your new place doesn’t have a closet, would that be a dealbreaker? There are ways to survive with only one closet or none at all — you just have to get creative with where you store your stuff. Here are the best ways to survive with only one closet (or none at all).

1. Get rid of unnecessary items

One in 11 Americans pays an average of $91.14 per month to use self-storage, which is a $38 billion industry. Save money and forget putting your unwanted stuff in storage — it’s time to declutter.

Infographic with some facts about decluttering and cleaning

Source: OfferUp

Thanks to the likes of Marie Kondo, the minimalist movement and reality TV shows that help families get rid of their junk, decluttering has become a cultural phenomenon. A 2019 Spring Cleaning Report from OfferUp revealed that 37 percent of Americans dedicate an entire day to clean and declutter and 61 percent do it to de-stress.

The general rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it or worn it in a year, get rid of it.

Here are some quick tips to help you quickly purge and free yourself of unwanted stuff.

  • Start with the bedrooms. Go through your bedroom closet and drawers and make two piles. One for donation and the other to sell online or at a consignment store. If you don’t have a consignment store nearby, consider ones that are online, such as thredup or Poshmark.
  • Then, go into the kitchen and make piles of unwanted kitchen supplies that can be donated or sold
  • Repeat in each room (attic, other closets, basement or garage)
  • Take advantage of apps and services, such as letgo, OfferUp, Craigslist or Decluttr

Freeing yourself from unwanted clothing, shoes, accessories and unused kitchen appliances can help you narrow down what you want to store in your only closet. Plus, you can probably make a few bucks along the way.

2. Create a capsule wardrobe

In keeping aligned with the purging theme, consider putting together a capsule wardrobe. This is a collection of 30 or so essential items that are classic pieces and won’t go out of fashion.

A capsule wardrobe will force you to focus on paring down your closet to just the basics, such as slacks, skirts, button-down shirts, trousers, coats, a few pairs of shoes and accessories. Even if you have no interest in creating a capsule wardrobe, you can still simplify your closet by starting with items you no longer wear or don’t fit you anymore.

Then, remove and store clothing that isn’t in season. For example, if it’s summer but you have fall and winter sweaters and jackets hanging in your closet, store those away in plastic storage bins and slide them under your bed.

Hopefully, you should have some extra space by now since you got rid of some items.

3. Maximize all vertical space

DIY shelves in an underutilized nook

Source: Hometalk (Pinterest)

A good way to create space is by building up. You can create more storage space by adding shelving towards the top of the closet. Use the shelves to store seasonal items that you may not need on a daily basis.

DIY closet in an unused part of a room

Source: (Pinterest)

If you don’t have any closets, hang a rack from your ceiling or frame a window with shelves and racks. Piping also makes a great place to hang clothing, like this example from Pinterest.

Take advantage of handyman services on Yelp or TaskRabbit if you don’t feel confident hanging shelves.

4. Utilize all nooks

Take advantage of oddly positioned or unused spaces around doors or corners. Get creative, like our friends on Pinterest.

You can hang a couple of floating shelves or hooks, depending on the size of the space.

5. Buy furniture with built-in storage

Getting furniture with storage can be a godsend. There are ottomans, couches and beds that come with drawers and storage. Use it to store your winter/summer clothing, blankets, towels, tablecloths and other bedding.

6. Purchase an external closet

Of course, there are plenty of options for useful standalone clothing racks and wardrobes, like this one from Urban Outfitters.

Freestanding clothing rack

If you’re OK with seeing your exposed clothes on a rack and have space for it, you can easily find one from Bed Bath & Beyond, The Container Store or IKEA.

You may even be able to find an inexpensive used one on letgo, Craigslist or OfferUp.

Plan and research beforehand

Having little to no closet space isn’t ideal, but with a little decluttering and planning, you’ll be able to store your stuff without making it look cluttered. Use Pinterest for ingenious ideas and create a DIY hanging rack, hang some shelves or upgrade to a simple standing rack.

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Claire TakClaire Tak is a writer who previously served as head of content and chief editor for FinTech companies in New York and San Francisco. Her work has appeared on FOX Business, Bloomberg and Forbes. She writes regularly about travel, money and being a good human. Traveling and snowboarding are her two favorite things to do.

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