No closet? Make up storage space with a little creativity

  • Taupe rowan storage bins ($9.99 to $17.99, containerstore.com). The Container Store via Washington Post

  • The Newhouse bed by Charles P. Rogers ($1,499-$5,897, charlesprogers.com) offers storage underneath. (MUST CREDIT: Charles P. Rogers)

  • Lattice storage bins ($9.99 to $24.99, containerstore.com). The Container Store via Washington Post

  • The Pax Wardrobe (from $155, ikea.com). Ikea via Washington Post

Washington Post
Friday, July 28, 2017

A bedroom without a closet doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker, but it can pose a major design challenge if you love and have a lot of clothing.

Fortunately, there are many ways to compensate for the lack of storage space – yes, even for renters – as long as you’re willing to get creative. Whether you are building your own system or sharing a tiny closet with a significant other, here are some solutions to help you maximize your space.

Before you buy any storage furniture, take a close – and honest – look at your closet. “It’s a great opportunity to scale down what you already have and figure out what you want to keep and wear,” Bethesda, Md., designer Erica Burns said.

Find the items that you rarely or never wear because they are damaged, unflattering, ill-fitting or worn, and then repair, consign, donate or discard them.

Once you’ve pared down your collection, you can determine how much additional storage is really needed and how to best use it.

If your bedroom is more bed than room, built-in storage is key: a bed frame or nightstand with drawers, a headboard with compartments, or a storage ottoman for shoes and folded clothes at the foot of the bed.

Designer Barbara Hawthorn suggests the Newhouse bed by Charles P. Rogers ($1,499 to $5,897, charlesprogers.com), which pairs a Belgian linen headboard and a mahogany bed frame, with two or four drawers (and an optional safe in the footboard).

No budget for a storage bed? Tuck away luggage, shoes and less-used or seasonal clothing into organized sliding plastic bins or fabric drawers and boxes. If your bed sits too low to the ground, consider elevating it with frame risers or bed lifts (they aren’t just for dorm rooms!). They can be concealed with an extra-long bed skirt. Airtight vacuum storage bags will help protect seasonal clothing from dust, moths and odors.

Other space-saving solutions include a portable stainless-steel rolling rack for garments; over-the-door hanging organizers for purses and scarves; pin boards with hooks for jewelry; wicker baskets, shelved racks and organized shoe boxes for shoes; and vintage trunks and bed benches for bulky or offseason goods.

Burns recommends lattice storage bins ($9.99 to $24.99, containerstore.com) and taupe rowan storage bins ($9.99-$17.99, containerstore.com) for an easy and stylish way to stow T-shirts and accessories on top of shelves or bookcases.

Skip nightstands and instead place identical wardrobes on either side of the bed for a cozy, built-in look. Burns and Hawthorn recommended Ikea’s Pax wardrobe, which can be customized to suit your closet needs. Budgetwise, it’s significantly less expensive than other custom closet systems, starting at $155. (Just be prepared to assemble it yourself.)

A wooden dresser, extra-wide cabinet or seven-day semainier is a great solution for everyday outfits. Secure the furniture to the wall, even for the short term, and fill the drawers from the bottom up for safety.

“The patch-up work for anchoring a piece to the wall is minimal, but the consequences of saving it from falling on top of a child, or you, is monumental,” Hawthorn warned.

Want to personalize it? Add removable wallpaper to the interior surfaces, fun drawer pulls and knobs, and art above the piece for some flair.

Hawthorn recommends Wayfair (wayfair.com) for well-built, affordable furniture. She also suggests exploring Craigslist and vintage and antique shops for used furniture that can be inexpensively transformed with a coat of paint.

Custom closet systems, such as the Container Store’s Elfa (which runs $100 to $5,000, depending on customizations), are a great long-term solution, Hawthorn said, and can be designed by a professional with your dimensions and clothing needs in mind.

It’s an easy way to elegantly maximize the space in your apartment, Hawthorn said. “They are incredibly attractive,” with polished chrome steel for a modern look. The steel is also easy to maintain – it doesn’t break or bend – and has the strength to hold lots of clothes.

As a bonus, it can be uninstalled to follow you to your next apartment or home – or stay with you until you have the walk-in closet of your dreams.