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How We Maximized Space in our Small City Closet (Big reveal–Before + After)

How We Maximized Space in our Small City Closet (Big reveal–Before + After)

I’ve been waiting SOOO long to share this big reveal with you guys! Our new master bedroom closet that we re-organized this past fall! 

Not only is it perfect timing with the New Year (I know I’m not the only one with a resolution to be more organized!) but the biggest reason for the wait is because…ba da daaa… My closet makeover is in THIS MONTH’S issue of HGTV magazine that hit shelves today! (Okay, it’s like…1/4th of a page…but still. If you see it, would love for you to tag me on insta!) So, we wanted this post to coincide with the new issue! (PLUS–The Container Store, where I got my entire new closet system, is having a huge 30% off sale on all Elfa products. So yes, my entire closet system you see here is 30% off right now!

When we moved into our condo a few years ago, we knew the biggest negative was storage space. [It has virtually none]. To give you some perspective, the master bedroom closet is best suited to a couple who is perhaps just moving out of a tiny house and own about 20 items to their name? ?(Granted, I’ve dealt with smaller closets in my life. I know I’m still very lucky! City sized closets are verrryyy tricky!) 

Whenever people come over, they say, “but where are all your clothes?!” (Answer: I have to purge several times per year to keep my closet lean, because there isn’t room for any other option!)

The other issue:

I have a husband who owns more clothing than I do, and was adamant about us sharing the master closet–which required him to have overflow into the guest bedroom and office closet as well as clothing in our dresser. (Though I managed to scavenge two small drawers in said dresser for my underwear and pajamas.) He got about 4 places to put his clothing…I got one. And it was our tiny closet. Half of which he commandeered. (Who is the fashion blogger here?? ?) 

So, in this re-organization, I finally convinced him that it was best for us to re-organize his office closet too, to turn into HIS closet, and finally secure the master closet for myself. (I’ll be sharing that at a later date! ?) He wasn’t necessarily EXCITED about it, but… I think now that he’s seen how neat and organized both of us are able to keep our closets, he’s into it! 

So…let me tell you how this all began. 

I’ve been a huge fan of The Container Store for a very long time now. (You may remember my Kitchen Reorganization project from last year? If you don’t, it’s absolutely worth the read. You won’t believe the transformation!) Ever since then, they’ve remained one of my favorite places to shop, but also, one of my favorite partners to work with as well! 

Fast forward several months (back in the fall of this year) HGTV magazine reached out about a potential partnership with them (uhh pinch me?) and The Container Store, as the two were teaming up together and looking to bring on an influencer partner who was in need of a closet re-do. They actually had no idea I’d already worked with The Container Store, but I sent them my “before” photos of my existing closet and they were like, “OH YEP. WHAT A DISASTER. THIS IS PERFECT” (Okay, they didn’t SAY that…because they’re super nice. But they totally THOUGHT that.) Then HGTV floated the idea by the team at The Container Store and they were like “OH! YAY! JESS! WE KNOW HER!” and it was fate. 

Anyway–the project kicked off and once again, my expectations were blown out of the water. I was so surprised at how quickly it was all finished (just a couple of days!)  I am absolutely horrible at spacing, organizing, you name it–this is not my cup of tea, which is why I was so thankful to be working with the pro’s–I would HIGHLY recommend doing the same. Here is what the process looked like step by step. 

First, the before. 

OYYYYY. Our old closet was SO. POORLY laid out. It was truly awful. It was a horrific use of space, there was no way to keep anything organized (and as you can see, we just gave up. I can’t believe I lived with this for so long! Or that I’m publishing these photos on the internet.) Whatever. Don’t say I’m ever not real! 

How We Maximized Space in our Small City Closet (Big reveal–Before + After) How We Maximized Space in our Small City Closet - Big reveal–Before

Issues with our current closet/wish list for new closet:  

1. Very poor use of space for shelving/ folded clothes. I personally have no dresser (because Neal’s clothes take up our entire dresser and we don’t have room for more than one). So I only had the closet for folded items. (“Make your husband get rid of more clothes!” you say? Well, yes. I’ve tried that. Maybe you’ll have better luck with him.) 

2. There was a lot of hanging space, which I didn’t need as much of, but half the hanging space was in this little hobbit corner that was super hard to reach, so that space was basically wasted and therefore dedicated to Neal’s suits/jackets. (Which was also not a smart decision, because he only packs one suit at a time while he travels for work most weeks and that space could be dedicated to more everyday items.) 

3. I have no place for my jewelry. Since we also have no storage in our bathroom and zero counter space. There wasn’t room for it there either. Granted, I don’t have a lot of it, but it needed a home SOMEWHERE vs just shoved in a bunch of jewelry pouches scattered around the house. 

4. There was no place for me to put shoes. They were all shoved at the bottom of my closet on a yucky wire shoe rack (which all of them would fall off of) and I wanted a place to keep them where they were all on display and I could actually find the shoes I wanted without digging through a dark hole. 

5. I have a lot of scarves and I had no good way to store those in a way where I could see all of them clearly and reach them. 

6. I needed space for out of season clothes, as well as bags in a way that didn’t look super messy (purses, totes, duffle bags, etc.) 

Working with a Contained Home specialist

Like I mentioned above, nobody should trust me as far as they can throw me with ANYTHING that requires spacial awareness or measuring. I was really nervous about this element and was so relieved to find that The Container Store has “Contained Home” specialists–or, local professional organizers that they pair you up with to assist with your project. 

Honestly, I cannot TELLLLLLL you how big of a difference this will make. I got paired up with the FABULOUS Shellie and Hannah from Chicago Organized Home (Shellie actually happened to read my blog already. SO COOL!) and we had a little face time consultation. Also, I showed them the closets (the master bedroom and Neal’s closet) and they made so many suggestions that I never would’ve thought of. (See below, you’ll see!)

If you live in Chicago I HIGHLY recommend hiring Chicago Organized Home on to help with any of your organization needs! They are phenomenal! 

Meet with an in-store designer: 

After chatting with Shellie and Hannah, I went into my local store and met with an Elfa designer named Paul, who was wonderful. We walked through all the design options, I provided him the specs/measurements, as well as what I had discussed with Shellie and Hannah (Hannah also happened to be in the store too, so she popped over into our meeting and it was super helpful!) 

YOU GUYS. I was floored. I couldn’t believe how much space they found in my little closet. Paul found a way to give me tons of drawers for my clothes AND a drawer for my jewelry! He also placed the whole order for me right there (so I didn’t have to deal with it!) and you can schedule installation as well. It’s so fast–usually in just a couple of days! 

Shopping with your Contained Home Specialist: 

After our meeting with Paul, Hannah and I perused the store for other essentials I needed that weren’t part of the Elfa closet–like baskets, organizers for my neck scarves, boot inserts to make sure my boots stopped falling over, etc! I would’ve been so overwhelmed without her–I can’t stress enough how easy they made the decision-making process. She basically made recommendations and I got to choose the design style I liked. 


Then came installation day–where they took care of ripping out my old crappy closet shelving, and installed the new shelving. It only took a couple of hours. Obviously I had to get everything out of the closets, so Neal and I used this as an opportunity to go through everything we owned and purge as MUCH as humanly possible. (This helped a lot ?).

The following day, Shellie and Hannah came over and went to town putting everything back into the closets–they even taught me how to fold my clothes the Kon-mari way which totally prevents me from messing up an entire drawer of shirts trying to find what I’m looking for. They arranged everything BEAUTIFULLY–walked me through how I use all my items so they could customize the best flow that worked for my lifestyle. 

The end result: 

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves ?(and if you’re wondering–does my closet still look like this several months later? YES. It’s SO easy to keep organized now! I honestly never thought a well-organized closet like this was in the cards for me!) FYI, you can totally go in-store and show any of these photos to a TCS employee or to your designer. They’ll know what you’re talking about!

How We Maximized Space in our Small City Closet - Big reveal– After

How We Maximized Space in our Small City Closet - Big reveal– After

How We Maximized Space in our Small City Closet

My favorite closet features + organizing products: 

The jewelry organizing drawer that is part of the Elfa system is truly a dream come true. Prior to this, my jewelry was strewn everywhere in random places, little jewelry pouches crammed into my drawers or in jewelry dishes haphazardly distributed all over our bedroom. I never knew where anything was. It’s SO nice now for it to have a home! 

Something I never would’ve thought of–this rack of hooks that slides out, which is part of the Elfa system (so you can easily access the hooks in the back too) is perfect for hanging tote bags (that aren’t structured enough to stand up on the shelf OR that I want to access every day, so it wouldn’t be ideal to have them in a basket). 

Elfa closet door rack: 

Elfa closet door rack: 

This might be the MVP of the entire closet re-do–this little rack is SO amazing. It was the perfect thing to display and store all of my scarves, hats, and other little loose ends. (Never would’ve thought of this on my own without Shellie and Hannah!). Before, they were in a messy pile on my closet shelf, and now they’re so easy to keep neat and tidy, and I can always find the exact one I’m looking for! 

Even better–I loved this rack SO much, I got two more! One for our laundry closet door to hold detergent, stain remover, all our household cleaning supplies. And one for the furnace closet to hold tools, nails, etc! They are LIFESAVERS. Seriously. You need one in every room of your house! 

Elfa closet door rack

Elfa shelves for sweaters, purses, shoes, baskets and storage boxes

Elfa shelves for sweaters, purses, shoes, baskets and storage boxes

Elfa shelves for sweaters, purses, shoes, baskets and storage boxes:

By removing some of the hanging space and putting in better shelves, it allowed me to store sooo much more stuff than I was able to in the other closet. I love the ELFA shelves because the height is customizable. So you can fit a lot more shelves than you normally would be able to. For the higher shelves (that contain things like swimsuits, off-season clothes, overnight bags, straw hats, etc–things I don’t need every day!) we purchased these woven baskets and these storage boxes to use. 

Drawer organizers for neck scarves and underwear

Drawer organizers for neck scarves and underwear:

We got these little organizers for my neck scarves and they are PERFECT! No more digging through a bin trying to find the scarf I wanted. Also, not pictured, for obvious reasons, but they are perfect for your underwear drawer too. They hold a ton of pairs and really maximize space! 

Drawer organizers for neck scarves and underwear

The Golden Girl

THAT’S IT! What do you think!? Can you believe it’s the same space?

A huge, HUGE thank you to The Container Store, HGTV magazine, and Chicago Organized Home for making this such a dream come true! Make sure to check out the new issue on newsstands now!

Remember, if you’re also looking to get organized in the new year, all Elfa organizing solutions (for closet, pantry, garage, etc!) are 30% off right now–including installation! 

This post was sponsored by The Container Store, but all opinions are 110% my own! Thank you for supporting my dream partnerships and brands who make it possible for me to create the best content for YOU, my girls! ❤️