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How to Organize A Closet: Renter's Edition

I am no stranger to struggles with organization of my clothes. Once hitting college, it has been 8 years of different residences from college dorm rooms to itty bitty college apartments, to moving to 3 different rental properties after being married, and now, in military housing.

Common factor shared by all the places I live? None have been a permanent residence that I can modify however I want.

I see endless ideas for decorating and organizing for homeowners like wall painting ideas and installing or anchoring furniture or shelving to the wall. For the majority of us renters, these ideas are not options for us. That's my biggest complaint is that there are not enough ideas for those of us who do not own the property we live on! We are allowed to make these modifications, but then we either pay the penalty upon move out for "damages" or have to repaint the walls back to their original color. No thanks!

I am getting the hang of organizing all of my wardrobe items into any closet I have. I never know exactly what the closet will be like, if there will be any shelving, or if I will have to share it with my husband!

I use fabric covered bins, stacking shoe racks, and the plastic drawer system. These things are not ultra durable nor very attractive looking, (well, the fabric bins are actually pretty good) but it gets the job done and they are guaranteed to fit any closet due to the customization they offer. Unlike "assembly required" closet storage solutions or built-ins, you can modify them to FIT ANY SPACE. Plus, if you decide you need more, just go back to the store and pick some up. No biggie.

Here is my closet:

(Ok, so I'm writing this post from my phone, and I haven't used this feature before, so I'm not really sure where photo will show up. I might have to modify this post the next time I'm on my computer. Bear with me, please! We are in the process of wiping it clean and reinstalling everything).

Let me explain the areas of my closet.

Starting from the bottom left of my closet, I have a drawer that I have mostly used for boot storage. This has fit about 5 pairs of calf-height boots in them. THEY DO NOT LAY FLAT. If you prefer to have your boots unfolded while in storage, do not expect this to work for you.
Next I have a drawer tower, as I will call it. Currently it has 4 drawers; the last place we lived I had it 6 high because I had a walk-in closet with a little open wall space where this fit perfectly. Try to keep an open mind for how many drawers will FIT, as opposed to how many drawers you WANT to fit. There is a difference. :) This time, I generously gave my husband 2 drawers for the bottom of his closet. I will say that while having 6 drawers in my tower was great, it put a lot of stress on the bottom drawers. Since they are made of plastic, THEY WILL CRACK IF OVERLOADED. It is important to keep heavy clothes in the bottom drawers (jeans) and light items at the top (swimming suits, scarves). I just switched out my summer clothes for my winter clothes, so right now my drawers have casual work pants, long sleeve shirts, and sweaters in them.

On the bottom right I have my shoes. THIS IS NOT ALL OF THEM. You are probably thinking "there's no way all my shoes would fit there!". Do not fear - under the bed storage containers are your best friend. That's where the other half of my shoes are and my summer wardrobe! Because my clothes hang down so low, I put one shoe rack up on top for flats that I wear often.

So, up to the top shelf - I stack my jeans and pants into two piles on the left. I used to keep them in drawers. I finally came to my senses and use that space for tshirts and workout clothes. The jeans are much easier to get to up here!

Then I have a few buckets. These are great catch-alls for whatever you want. I use mine for scarves and winter accessories, one for belts, the big one has bras, and the 2 stacked ones are empty. The great thing about these bins is the ease of taking them down, rummaging through it, and then shoving it back into your closet. And it's STILL organized!

I also have a hanging jewelry organizer that is handy for seeing (almost) all your jewelry at once.


I organize my clothes based on how much hanging space there is down below. I keep my long dresses against the wall on the left, followed by the rest of my dresses. You will need short hanging clothes to go above the plastic drawers, so my dress pants go here. I am sort of obsessed with cardigans, so I decided to put all of them together along with other layering pieces to wear on top of other tops. Then on the right is all the rest of my tops that I keep on hangers. No rhyme or reason to this area. Then on the far right is where I keep the jewelry and my hanging travel toiletries organizer.

It's taken me several years to figure out how to make this constant moving and relocating business work. I may not know how to organize the rest of my house to fit this lifestyle yet, but at least my closet is under control!

Hope this helps any renters and frequent movers (and homeowners) out there!

EDIT: Please know that I also use a dresser for tank tops, lounge pants, tshirts, and workout clothes. I just don't want anyone to be discouraged if they can't fit all their clothes in their closet - because I can't, either!


  1. A closet won't gather clutter if a closet system is place against the wall. Teens use these systems because the shelves have compartments for their shoes.


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