Essential Tips for Designing a Small Walk-In Closet: Do’s and Don’ts

a small walk-in closet with dresses and shoes

We would all love to have a large walk-in closet, it gives us the chance to explore multiple design choices and keep our home clutter-free and tidy. However, many homes do not have the space to make this a reality!

Designing a small walk-in closet can be a challenging yet rewarding task. With limited space, it’s crucial to make the most of every inch while keeping the area functional and stylish.

For instance, you could have a small closet specifically designed for footwear where you air and display your favorite pair of feet slides. Or you could dedicate a corner in your bedroom with a small walk-in closet.

Small Walk-In Closet

Either way, designing a small walk-in closet can be a challenge. With the right approach, even the tiniest of spaces can become a stylish and functional haven for your wardrobe.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the dos and don’ts of small walk-in closet design.

Do’s of a Small Walk-in Closet Design

Whether you’re building a new closet or revamping an existing one, following some essential tips can help you achieve the perfect balance of utility and aesthetics. They include:

1. Do Measure Your Space Accurately

person writing on white paper
Photo by Karolina Kaboompics

Why It Matters:

Accurate measurements are the foundation of any successful closet design. Knowing the exact dimensions of your space helps you plan appropriately and avoid costly mistakes.


  • Use a Tape Measure: Measure the length, width, and height of the closet space. Note down any obstructions like electrical outlets or vents.
  • Consider Storage Needs: Think about what you need to store and how much space each item will require.

2. Shelf Height Smackdown

organized womans wardrobe
Photo by Rachel Claire

Don’t let your top shelf be a lonely island. Place it at the perfect height, around 7 feet from the floor, to double your hanging space. Think of them like bunk beds for your clothes.

You can stack them high by double hanging and conquer the vertical frontier, doubling your hanging space.

3. Wall-hung vs. Floor-based Closet System

clothes on shelves in a small closet

Wall-hung systems are great for creating a sleek and modern look. They also keep the floor clear, which can make a small space feel larger. However, they might not support as much weight as floor-based systems.

Considering a floor-based closet system? It can add some snazzy counter space, but it also eats into precious floor real estate. Wall-hung shelves maximize your square footage and keep the floor clear for victory dance celebrations after you pick the perfect outfit.

4. Drawer Power

brown wooden shelves
Photo by Max Vakhtbovycn

Drawers are like tiny clothing condos. They are perfect for storing delicates, undergarments, or that awesome socks collection. Plus, they add a touch of sleekness to your mini-wardrobe.

Selecting the right storage solutions can maximize efficiency and make the most of your small walk-in closet.

  • Custom Shelving: Customizable shelving units can be tailored to fit your specific needs.
  • Drawer Units: Drawers are perfect for storing smaller items like underwear, socks, and accessories.
  • Baskets and Bins: Use baskets and bins to keep similar items together and reduce clutter.

5. Organize by Category

pink sandals beside a pink cardigan
Photo by Ron Lach

Organizing by category helps you find items quickly and keeps the closet tidy.

  • Group Similar Items: Keep shirts, pants, dresses, and accessories grouped together.
  • Use Labels: Label shelves and bins to identify contents easily.
  • Create Zones: Designate specific areas for different types of clothing and accessories.

A well-thought-out flow can make your closet more efficient and enjoyable to use and this is why organizing by category is important. Arrange items in a way that makes sense for your daily routine and frequently used items are the easiest to reach.

6. Use Adjustable Systems

Adjustable systems provide flexibility as your storage needs change over time.

  • Adjustable Shelves: Install shelves that can be moved up or down as needed.
  • Modular Units: Use modular storage units that can be reconfigured.
  • Expandable Rods: Opt for expandable rods to accommodate more clothing.

Don’ts of a Small Walk-in Closet Design

Just like there are things you can do to maximize your small walk-in closet space, there are some don’ts that you should avoid:

1. The Corner Conundrum

design of modern white wardrobe with shelves
Photo by Max Vakhtbovycn

Corners may seem like storage gold, but those angled shelves can be awkward and leave dead space. Skip the corner clutter and focus on maximizing usable wall space.


  • Easy Reach: Keep everyday items within easy reach.
  • Step Stools: Use a step stool to access higher shelves.
  • Sliding Doors: Consider sliding doors to save space and provide easy access.

2. Fall for the Shelf Trap

a cluttered walk-in closet

Filling every inch with shelves can make your closet feel even smaller. Leave some breathing room for easy movement. You don’t want to get tangled in a clothing web every time you get dressed.

A cluttered closet is hard to navigate and can damage your clothes. Regularly go through your items and donate or discard what you no longer need.

3.  Shallow Shelf Siesta 

Those 12-inch-deep shelves? More like a storage siesta for folded clothes that get lost in the back.

Shelves that are too shallow won’t provide enough storage space and can be a source of frustration. Go for shelves at least 14” to 16” deep to hold your folded clothes and other items with ease without everything toppling over.

4. Don’t Ignore Lighting

house interior with wardrobe with cabinets and shelves
Photo by Max Vakhtbovycn

Good lighting is essential in a closet to ensure you can see and access everything easily. A bright overhead light fixture can illuminate the entire space.

Also, use LED strip lights or puck lights under shelves and inside drawers for better visibility and if possible, incorporate a small window or skylight for natural lighting.

5. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Color and Design

wallpaper backdrop in an oak walk-in closet

The right colors and design elements can make a small closet feel larger and more inviting. Use light colors to make the space feel larger and brighter.

Stick to a consistent theme or color palette for a cohesive look and consider an accent wall or decorative wallpaper to add interest.

Even the most miniature wardrobe cave can be transformed into a stylish and functional fashion fortress! Here’s the battle plan: utilize those wall-high spaces and pick shelving that’s not a total snooze. With a little creativity, your small walk-in closet will be both efficient and charming.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These links help to pay the editorial costs of writing a blog. For more information, please read my full affiliate disclosure here.

I also use Artificial Intelligence Image generators to create some of my images. These are to show you examples of my ideas and inspiration when I cannot produce the real images myself.

Essential Tips for Designing a Small Walk-In Closet: Do's and Don'ts Pinterest pin

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *