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Organizing a Closet Too Shallow For Hangers

4 minute read, by Closet America, on May 19, 2021

One of the problems with living on the East Coast, especially in older metropolitan areas like Washington DC, is the small closets. At least, that’s what the transplants from the wide-open spaces to our west would have us believe. We have to admit that we see those tiny closets fairly often at Closet America—but we don’t see them as a problem so much as a creative challenge. And who doesn’t enjoy a good challenge?

A closet too shallow for hangers, for example, can be tricky to organize—but all it really takes to figure out how best to use this storage space is a little creativity. (And a bit of customization.) Let’s take a look at some shallow closet ideas for maximum space usage.

What to Do with a Closet Too Shallow for Hangers

Let’s start with the drastic option: you could always make more room in your closet by taking a rectangular chunk out of your room and adding it to that closet space to get a reach-in closet that you really can reach into. It will look a bit odd, but you can create exactly the closet you want. The downside, of course, besides the spoiled symmetry of your room, is the hefty price tag to reconstruct the closet and then customize it. But it is all possible.

 Now let’s go over some things that may look good at first glance, but aren’t very promising. You may be able to install rods across the short length of the closet at appropriate intervals to hang clothes on. You need to consult with a professional designer to find out how practical that is in your specific case (and how satisfying it would be in actual use). In our experience, it’s a long shot. 

You may find gizmos that are meant to help—wall-mounted hangers that hold clothes hangers sideways or closet organization hangers that hold your garments parallel to the rod. You are unlikely to have a good experience with them. The wall-mounted hangers are flimsy. It won’t be long before they give out, and you’ll be lucky if they don’t take a chunk of your closet wall down with them. The twisty clothes hangers are far less convenient than they sound. You can fit a few pieces of clothing in that way, but not many. And don’t even try small hangers. If they hold your clothes at all, they’ll tangle and wrinkle them. They’re pretty much worse than nothing.

 So what should you do with that closet instead?

Pros and Cons of Custom Closets

Your Best Option for Shallow Closet Storage, According to the Experts (Us)

A high level of organization and a good storage system is needed in your closet to really make good use of it. This can take a little work and some ingenuity, but it will be worth it in the end, we promise.

Let’s start from the top.

 Since you are short of space, you will certainly have an overhead shelf in the closet. It should be over your head, but only barely. Fill it with whatever you don’t need access to very often. Maybe you have a very large collection of shirts, for example. You may even want to put shoe shelves up there.

 Next, install a large, sturdy chrome hook, or two or three if you have space for more, at a level that is easy for you to reach up to—probably around an inch or two above eye level. If you have more than one hook, they should be spaced so that it is convenient for a hanger with your next day’s outfit to hang on them, because that is exactly what is going to happen. They will be the only clothes that hang in that closet.


In the lower part of the closet, you can install adjustable shelving and customized drawers or chrome baskets. These closet accessories will all be somewhat shallow, but they will provide the main storage in the closet. Don’t underestimate the utility of baskets here. They are ideal for lightly folded and stacked clothing. Shelves work better for wrinkle-free items like pullovers and jeans. 

 A steam iron is likely to be a permanent fixture on that countertop. But there’s your system—out of the basket, onto the hanger on the hook, steam it, and out the door you go. If you have the space for it, you can even get a little fancy here. How about a fold-out ironing board

 As for special occasion outfits—well, honestly, there is no good way to fit suit jackets in this custom closet. There may be questionable but workable ways (see gizmos above), but then there may be evening gowns to consider, too. Instead of storing these in your shallow closet, maybe the linen closet needs to be reconfigured for the jackets and gowns, and half of the big closet in the kids’ room that they hardly use can be turned into a linen closet. Even if this doesn’t exactly match your situation, you get the idea—chances are you have multiple closets to choose from, so be sure to consider them all when planning what to organize in each.

Originality and Quality Go Hand in Hand

 To be perfectly blunt, a closet too shallow for hangers is one of the bigger challenges in the closet design world. That’s why it is crucial that you get professional advice when planning and organizing a closet like that. We have design experts at Closet America who can come to your home for a free design consultation to tackle the thorny questions of closet optimization and find the perfect option for you. You’ll even be able to visualize it ahead of time with an interactive 3D model our experts can provide using CAD technology. That is the first step in our four-step process that guarantees you the highest quality materials and engineering—and complete satisfaction. Our closet hardware systems are so well made that they come with a transferrable lifetime warranty and a lifetime service guarantee.

 If you are ready to put that shallow closet to good use, contact Closet America today and we’ll set up your free design consultation to show you our shallow closet solutions right away.


Lead image: Shutterstock

Closet America was able to work with my unique circumstances in order to give me the best use of my space.

Amy B.,
Fairfax Station, VA

Let’s Start Your Project

Whether you’re interested in a custom-designed closet, office, pantry, or garage, starting your project couldn’t be easier. Just fill out the attached form or give us a call to schedule your free in-home design consultation. You can download our brochure and you’re welcome to visit our Landover Maryland showroom, to see how beautiful our custom-designed organization systems look in person. We want you to experience the Closet America difference and see how we build organizing solutions for life.

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