It’s a chaotic world. No matter who you are, chances are you’re always busy. Probably too busy. Meeting the demands of work, home, friends, and family while still maintaining time for yourself can be tough. But did you ever wonder how some people seem to take it all in stride? The secret is organization. Everything is easier when you’re organized. The good news is that you too can follow the path to a more organized life. And a good place to start is learning how to organize closet shelves.


Take a good hard look at your closet. And I don’t mean just any closet. You need to look at your bedroom closet where you keep your personal things. Chances are, the state it’s in is a good reflection on the level of organization elsewhere in your life. If you feel overwhelmed by clutter, have trouble getting out the door in a timely manner, tend to forget things, or simply can’t find what you need when you need it, those difficulties will probably be visible as a chaotic mess inside your closet. The good news is it’s relatively easy to straighten out a closet. Start with the simple things, one step at a time, and the organization is bound to spill over into the rest of your life. One good place to start is by organizing your closet shelves.

Ideas for organizing closet shelves.

  1. Clear out and empty what’s there:

    The first step is to take everything out of the closet. You want to start with a clean slate. Wipe it down, sweep, and vacuum. Place the contents on the bed or floor and cast a judgemental eye over what’s there. If you see items you don’t need or use, now’s the time to pack those things away. Donate them to charity or find another place like the attic or basement to keep these excess possessions.
    Empty closet

  2. Determine what should be hung vs. stored on a shelf or in a drawer:

    Not everything should be stored folded. Hang your fancy/formal clothes like dresses, suits, dress pants, and silk shirts from clothes rods rather than folding them on a shelf because they are less likely to wrinkle that way. Knit sweaters, on the other hand, should always be folded to prevent them from stretching and losing their shape. Store your jeans and shorts either way depending on your available space.

  3. Adjust your shelf positions:

    Most closet shelves are adjustable and can be easily moved. This is so that you can change the spacing between shelves depending on the type and amount of contents for each shelf. Shelves that store jeans and sweaters should be about 14 to 16-inches apart. That allows for 12-inch-high stacks of clothing with enough room to easily grab what you need. Space shelves that store boxes or footwear to suit those items leaving about two to three inches for grasping room above the item. That way you’ll have an easy time grabbing what you need without wasting any space. Add additional shelves if you can. Remember, no one can have too many shelves or too much storage.
    Move adjustable closet shelves

  4. Group like items together:

    The secret to an organized closet is keeping similar items together. Keep your jeans with your other jeans and your sweaters with your sweaters. Break it down even further by storing your winter sweaters together versus your lightweight shrugs. Keep cardigans in one stack and pullovers in another. This way, you’ll always know where to find what you’re looking for.

  5. Organize by color:

    After grouping like items together, further divide them by color. This not only makes it easier to pick out an outfit, but it adds pizazz to the closet as well. That’s because there is simply no other closet that’s as visually pleasing as one that has been color-coordinated. If you want to go a step further, you can even organize by colors of the rainbow. I do this for my husband’s polo shirts. It’s easy to memorize the order — just remember the letters in the name Roy G. Biv. That’s reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos, violets. (Some people group those last two together and call it purple).
    Closet with shelves organized by color

  6. Don’t let your stacks get too high:

    12-inches is the maximum stack height for clothing. That’s because if they get much higher than that, the clothes tend to topple over creating more mess than organization. This means a very bulky sweater or comforter may be the only item in its “stack.” Ditto for books or other items you have stacked. Piles over 12-inches in height are too unwieldy, making it difficult to extract items from the bottom without messing up the whole pile.
    Stacks of sweaters on closet shelves

  7. Use shelf dividers:

    If you are worried about your piles falling over, use shelf dividers. These snap-on pieces of plastic slip over the shelves and act as bookends for each pile, keeping stacks of clothing from falling into each other. (They’re also a great way to keep handbags and purses standing upright on a shelf).
    Closet shelf dividers separate stacked shirts from purses

  8. Keep small items and accessories in storage boxes:

    Anything that you keep in a drawer can also be stored on a shelf. Even tiny items, accessories, and stretchy leotards or swimsuits can be stored on a shelf when they’ve been gathered in a box. Use matching decorative boxes that are sized to the width of the shelf for the best presentation. After you’ve gone through all the trouble of sorting and organizing, you deserve a nice-looking closet as well as an efficient one.
    decorative storage boxes for closet shelves

  9. Keep frequently used items at eye level:

    No one wants to climb a step stool to get what they need when in a hurry. That’s why you should store your most used clothing and accessories where you can see them. Rotate these shelves on a seasonal basis. That way, you always have the clothes you’re currently wearing most within reach.

  10. Consider slanted shoe shelves:

    When considering how to organize your closet shelves, shoes deserve special consideration. If you’re running your shelves to the ceiling, as you should for maximum storage, there will be some items that are difficult to see. Shoes stored on upper shelves can be viewed without standing on a ladder if you use slanted shoe shelves. Just be sure to add a shoe fence at the edge to keep the footwear from sliding off the shelf.
    Shoes lined up on specially slanted floor-to-ceiling shelves in a closet.Slanted shoe shelves for closet

Shelves vs. drawers.

Shelves and drawers often store many of the same things. Both are an excellent choice for keeping folded clothing. Drawers offer a little more protection, but shelves are generally much cheaper. If you have a lot of delicate items that are folded, consider placing them in decorative storage boxes on a shelf. That way, you’ll get the best of both worlds — protection from the box with the economical price of the shelf. Just remember to sort first. Keep like items with similar ones within the box so that you enhance, rather than lose, organization.


Ready to get started with how to organize your closet shelves?

Taking the time and learning how to organize your closet shelves will save you hours in the long run. If you count all the minutes you probably spend looking for things, you’ll be surprised at how it adds up. And more time means less stress. That’s because life moves at a more leisurely pace when you’re organized. Think of closet organization as an investment. By setting aside an afternoon and following a few simple guidelines outlined above, your closet shelves can be the first step to transforming your life into organized bliss.


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