How to Organize a Master Closet (on a Budget)

Yes, master closet organization…the chore most of us put off until items start crashing down on our heads!

In our home, my husband and I each have our own master closets.  Somehow, he has always been great about keeping his closet neat and organized.  On a regular basis, he gets rid of things he no longer uses and I guess he doesn’t shop quite as much as I do!  I, on the other hand, tend to hold onto things and well… my closet can get a bit messy.

Recently, I organized my closet and here is a peek at how it turned out…

Bins and baskets on wire shelves

But my closet wasn’t always this neat and orderly!

Our closets aren’t huge and unfortunately, I still have the builder-grade wire shelving.  Of course, I have tried hard to be somewhat organized but after so many years, the mess has gotten worse and worse.

Then a couple months ago,  I went on a cleaning rampage…

Today, I’ll share my master closet organization tips you can use without spending a lot of money:

empty closet

Tear every single thing out of the closet. 

Probably not what you wanted to hear, but it is the best way!

Vacuum every nook and cranny and wipe down the shelves and baseboards.

(Originally, I had no plan on posting this cleaning frenzy on my blog so I don’t have a true “before” to show you!)

clothing on bedroom floor

But I can show you what my bedroom looked like during the closet purge!  How scary is this?!!  As you can see, I was not proud of what came out of there!

Emptying the closet is a must according to all those master-organizers out there.

As you can guess, this is not a fun activity.

After emptying the closet, lay everything out and reevaluate every item.  

Although, some things were hard to part with, I ended up donating quite a pile!

Purchase some inexpensive bins and boxes to help with the closet organization.

closet bins and boxes

In my closet, the toile boxes up top hold little things like cards, pictures and items that have nowhere else to go!

closet bins with labels

My navy Walmart bins are a lifesaver when I want to just grab something and go.

navy storage bin with label

Labeling the bins makes life even easier.

This may seem like a frivolous step but it is an important key to keeping things where they belong.

scarves in bin

Fold scarves in the bins.

I used to hang my scarves, but they would get all tangled up.  I found it easier just to fold them in the bin.

Closet Storage

Use the bins for items you don’t need everyday.

Fancy little dress bags don’t get used much…

So putting them neatly in the bin keeps them out of the way and in one place.

handbags on shelf closet

Keep everyday items in sight and easy to reach.

My larger handbags just line the shelf.  Not the neatest arrangement but they are displayed where I can see them when I need to grab one to match an outfit at the last minute.

Storage on back of door

Hang the belts and hats.

In my closet, belts, hats and robes hang on the back of the door where they can be grabbed easily.  To me, it’s not worth it trying to neatly roll up a belt and put it in a bin or a drawer.  I’m sure it would unroll itself like a snake and flop all over the place!

closet shoe rack

Organize shoes to alternate between facing forward and backward.

Yes, I read somewhere that this trick is a space saver.  It really does seem to help free up some space!

stacking jeans in closet

Stack jeans on the shelves.

For me, it is more convenient to stack jeans on shelves instead of in my drawers.  One shelf holds the capri jeans and the other has the regular ones.

closet organized by color

Keep clothes hung together according to item and color.

(I am still working on perfecting this…usually things get a little mixed up.)

Also try to use the same hangers to keep things uniform.  

For now, I just use the white plastic ones for most items and clear pants/skirts hangers for the rest.  After all, this is a budget makeover.

closet with wire shelves

Separate the seasons:

I keep mostly my winter clothes on the left side of the closet.  Winter clothes bore me, so there is not much to show there!

master closet organized

So, there you have my tips for an organized master closet…on a budget.

Someday I would love to install a nice built-in closet system.  For now, I think this inexpensive option works just fine for me.

If you are looking for even more organizing ideas, be sure to read Thinking Organization – Working on One Space at a Time.

What are your tips to organize a master closet?

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inexpensive tips to organize a closet

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  1. My closet is a disaster! It has built ins but they aren't very practical. And then I have a pile of house stuff that I love but haven't found a place for. AND I have a desk in there that holds the printer and all that fun stuff. When the boys outgrow the playroom we'll have a real study room/office. Love how neat and organized yours is.

    1. Thank you! Your closet must be HUGE to have a desk in there! I wish I had more space!

  2. Wow, your closet threw up! Mine would be much worse and we share a small closet. How nice to have your own.

  3. My husband and I use to share a "tiny, tiny" walk in closet (as one might be able to call it.) But when all my kids moved out I moved my clothes to one of their old rooms. I really need to do a re-org in mine too. Yours looks good. Tammy

  4. I have a very similar size closet i share with my boyfriend, same type of shelving as well. He only gets a small sliver though for dress shirts. I organized it when we moved in, but it's so hard to keep it that way! Also we live in an apartment so that same closet is where all coats go as well which is a space-sucker. We have no entry-way closet, well not that I would keep coats in at least? Any advice?

  5. Oh I think this turned out great. You did a beautiful job, and such common sense! I love it. You just gaveme some great ideas. Instead of just throwing things on to the shelves put them in pretty canvas containers. Love it.Blessings,Debbie

  6. Boy, I really need to do this myself. Great job organizing your closet and thanks for sharing this at your Open House party.

  7. Oh this has C.A.L.M. written all over it. Well done, my friend. I always freak out in the stage where it is all over my room! And then your after is so awesome. Thanks for linking up!

  8. Wow Shelley, I'm impressed! I'm the worst at purging and keeping sentimental items of clothing, I have to have a friend come over and help! Awesome job, I bet it feels great.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it was pretty scary taking it all out. There’s no turning back at that point!

  9. Shelley, I love seeing how other women arrange their closets! My latest “system” is to hang up absolutely everything. Everything goes on a hanger–dresses, skirts, blazers, jeans, workout pants and tops, scarves, belts (except winter coats and sleepwear). This post motivated me to go measure my actual hanging space, and I learned I have 99 inches–so perhaps a 99-item year-round (I can’t be bothered with storing out-of-season clothes elsewhere) wardrobe will be my goal! Pinning this post.

    1. That’s a great idea. I agree, it is helpful to see how other people organize their closets. I used to think I could just go in and rearrange but realized how much it helps to just completely empty the closet. Believe me, it was torture but it forced me to really organize and get rid of things I wasn’t wearing. Thanks for commenting – and for pinning!

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