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How To Organize a Closet in a Non-Permanent Way (No Drilling and Perfect For Renters!)

Over the years, I have done my fair share of closet organizations. My favorite ones to date have been ones where we changed the layout of the closet and added in built-in shelves and installed hooks and hangers for all our items (like this hall closet and our easy built-in closet DIY, and divided closet DIY).

But, what do you do when you either can’t or don’t want to add permanent shelves or drill into walls (or that’s just not a skill set that you have)? Do you have to miss out on all the organization? I’ve got some good news for you … you don’t!

I’m not a renter at the moment, but I have a closet that either may not be a closet in the future (we may move a wall when we do a bathroom renovation) or we may need to switch the function of the closet (more of a linen closet than a broom closet). So I didn’t want to commit to building out a permanent structure that would be hard to disassemble or change in the future.

Thankfully, there are several ways to build out your closet with non-permanent items that will last for as long as you want them (from months to years) and you can take it all out in a snap when you move out or don’t need it anymore. These tips are great for both renters and those who aren’t handy with tools since there’s no drilling involved. Here’s how I optimized my space:

Organized closet with hanging cleaning items and baskets
Before and after of an organized closet

You can see how the closet was basically just items stacked on each other when we first moved in. To get this dingy closet to a starting point, we did some painting and removed the old hardware that was in awkward spots or that we weren’t going to use (like the closet rod).

Even though it’s kind of an annoying job, I love a good closet refresh when you start with one that’s pretty dingy and musty (had to remove some mold too—ugh) and get it to a fresh blank slate.

Storage boxes on a shelf

Make full use of existing shelves: A lot of closets will already have some sort of an existing shelf or two that you can use to organize a portion of your items. You can add dividers like these that can be easily taken off or moved or these stackable shelves that allow you to stack items on top of each other to get more space (these are great too!).

And of course, organizing all your items into storage boxes allows you to keep items contained and separated into categories (these woven boxes were the perfect size for my shelves). Make sure to add a label when you can so you can find things easily (this is my fave label maker!).

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