Ask Design Mom Week: Closet Organization on a Budget

March 30, 2009

We have too much stuff and a small ranch with closet space that doesn’t meet our (hanging) clothing needs. I have no ideas for storage solutions and no budget to buy anything. Do you have any suggestions? — Kymberlie


I’ve been there, Kymberlie. Ready to tackle a project, but without the ideas, or the funds, to make it happen. If I were you, I would head straight to your local freecycle site. Let the group know you’re looking for closet organization help — hanging rods and hardware, or stacking bins. I’ll bet you’ll get a positive response right away. As I’ve been preparing for my move, I’ve been freecycling like crazy. Clearing out closets. And asking for spare boxes. It’s the handiest thing ever.

What about you, Dear Readers? Do any of you have some solid MacGuyver skills? Can you recommend a budget closet hanging solution made from simple household materials?

image from Container Store

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 emily March 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Hanging up an additional rod halfway down is really easy. All you need is a drill and a studfinder, and you double your hanging space. You can buy rods very cheaply at Home Depot.


2 Anonymous March 30, 2009 at 2:17 pm

If you can find the long, short (in height) plastic bins, use them to put seasonal clothes in and they slide right under the bed.


3 Lauren March 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm

You may have already done this, but when I am looking for some extra cash for an organizing project, I find some things to sell in my apartment and sell them on ebay, craigslist, or in a garage sale.

The bonus? Ridding yourself of excess stuff means you’ll have fewer things to cram in your closets.


4 Molly March 30, 2009 at 2:38 pm

I buy 12″ x 12″ x 20″ wooden crates (about $5 from the hardware store), sand them down to get rid of rough patches, and stack them like a bookcase. They’re attractive, lightweight and sturdy. You can store clothes or whatever inside them and attach hooks($2-3 from Walmart) to the sides and hang clothes as well. They last a long time too – I’ve had mine for 8 years, and whenever I have to move, I can pack them like boxes.


5 resa troyer March 30, 2009 at 3:13 pm

growing up i had a 1″ rod tied with ropes on each end that suspended from the top rod in my closet. it doubled my hanging space and as a kid i could actually reach everything on the bottom. we still use this technique today in all our closets. works great!


6 Kate The Great March 30, 2009 at 3:19 pm

I use fruit boxes. From the grocery store. They’re usually apple or orange boxes. Each box is solid and clean and has a lid that’s solid too. And the words and graphics don’t ever have ugly labels and look vintage-y. I have a box sitting in my bathroom that says “Washington Apples”,

Obtaining them is tricky. You have to figure out when your local grocery stores have their truck days/nights, and then pounce right away. Because these boxes go fast when everyone’s looking for boxes.

Ask the customer service desk. You can figure out when truck night is by observing when the aisles are crowded or blocked with merchandise that is waiting to be stocked. I love these boxes because they’re pretty, they’re simple, and it takes quite a lot for kids to get the big lids off. And they’re free, if you’re strategic about it.


7 tawnya March 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm

We had this problem and put in two free standing IKEA wardrobes in our bedroom to help. I would look on freecycle or craigslist (or a thrift shop) for some that won’t cost a lot.


8 Em March 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm

The very cheap plastic-coated wire shelves that can be found at target/walmart are a great organization option. they’re worked wonders on my pantry, laundry cupboard, linen closet, etc… and they’re about $3 each. Like this:


9 wide open spaces March 30, 2009 at 4:51 pm

this may not be a popular answer, but are you sure you need all the stuff? maybe this situation could me good motivation to pare down. you could even bring a bunch of stuff into a consignment shop and use whatever $ you make you could buy storage stuff with.
hope this is helpful!


10 Sandi March 30, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Online…I love and purchased many items from the Container Store


11 Sandi March 30, 2009 at 7:05 pm

In my entry closets use a hanging shoe holder, the kind that hangs on the back of the door, to hold scarfs andvgloves


12 Erin {PlinkPlink} March 30, 2009 at 10:05 pm

The Container Store is having a sale right now on Elfa shelving systems (through April 13th).

Also, ShopSmart magazine just had a feature on “the best free and low-cost organizers for every room in your house.” You can download the feature in PDF format on the magazine’s homepage:

Just wrote about these on my blog if you feel like stopping by (link above).

Good luck!


13 pve design March 31, 2009 at 5:53 am

The best solution are shelves and baskets or boxes. I made shelves, painted them and love it. I only need a little bit of hanging space, but love bins, baskets and boxes. One color or a few make it look easy.
Under bed bags are easy too and keep seasonal items out of the way. Seasonal changes are also important.


14 March 31, 2009 at 6:44 am

Those big Ziploc bags are great for storing seasonal items and they are dirt cheap. Much cheaper than plastic bins. I also bought a tension curtain rod and put it in an old armoire to create more space to hang stuff. The same might work for a small alcove or cubby space in your home.


15 Beth March 31, 2009 at 9:38 am

I would first be ruthless about what you actually need to keep in your closet. Are you over-buying clothes, shoes, toys, stuff? Are you keeping certain items just for nostalgic purposes? Do your kids have more clothes than they can possibly wear, and more toys than they can possibly play with? Loan hand-me-downs you’ll need later to friends who can use them and return them when it’s time. You’ll get tremendous peace of mind by doing a massive clean out before you try to organize anything at all. Make sure you really need all that you have.

I cleaned out my daughter’s closet last week, and cut her wardrobe in half. She still has plenty of clothes for spring and summer. That cleared up one half of the closet, where I was able to put all of the toys and games that were constantly cluttering her floor. I put clothes to-grow-into in cheap Ikea containers that fit under her bed.


16 Sarah March 31, 2009 at 10:03 am

Maybe this is too cheap, but in my hall closet I used full boxes. (They hold 6 #10 can’s) one on each side of the closet then put up unused pergo flooring. Then put another box on top of each box and another few pieces of pergo, then, because I wanted smaller spaces between the shelves I put 2 #10 cans next, then more flooring wood, then another set of cans and the last bit of flooring. Now I have 4 shelves in what used to be an almost useless closet. We use the bottom for a laundry basket, then I can store blankets on the big shelves and games and littler things on the smaller shelves.

I also have taken 2 sets of closet rod hangers, the cheap ones and screwed them in under my daughter’s hanging rod, about 3 feet off the ground on the back and front wall of the closet. Then I bought pvc pipe and cut it to the right length. Now my girls can hang up their own clothes. We can also still hang things in the middle section too.


17 Tricia March 31, 2009 at 10:54 am

We ended up getting an extra chest from ikea, which cut down on the number of clothes that needed hanging. I also found it helpful to just purge my closet quite a bit…it’s amazing what all is in there!


18 Neas Nuttiness March 31, 2009 at 11:47 am

I had never heard about freecycle. I just checked them out and I’m gonna sign up.
Thanks so much for this info!

PS – The area between Denver and Boulder is just beautiful. So many lovely communities…Thornton, Broomfield. Northglen, Westminster. Boulder itself if a great city.
I have two daughters in Thornton, and another up in Cheyenne. I’m sure that you will love it there!


19 cabinets NJ February 9, 2011 at 1:44 am

This is a perfect example as how people can maximize even a small space.
Getting organized doe not have to be costly. With the help of this post, we can save a lot of time and money at the same time have a customized storage space for our belongings.


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