One of the Best Closet Organizers Costs Less Than $6 at IKEA
Plus DIY and custom designs our editors love.
Published Dec 28, 2021 1:00 AM
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A good closet organizer does more than just corral your clothes and clutter; the right design helps curate your most-loved items and can even bring a sense of calm to a chaotic morning routine. In the words of Elaine Welteroth on her own custom closet reno, “You have to systemize your styling situation to avoid the mania about dressing every day.”
Selecting the right storage system depends on your room, budget, and style. For example, a simple clothes bar might be a good affordable solution if you need to maximize vertical space, whereas a custom walk-in is a luxe option for those who are looking to invest in a completely personalized design. To simplify your search, we categorized a few of the best closet organizers into three categories: freestanding, wall-mounted, and built-in. Let these expert-approved choices (and some accessories and DIY ideas) inspire your dream space.
- Best value: IKEA Mulig Clothes Bar
- Best built-in: California Closets Custom Closet
- Best freestanding: Whitmor Freestanding Garment Rack
- Best hack: IKEA Pax Wardrobe
- Best industrial design: Oropy Industrial Pipe Clothes Rack
- Best customizable: Container Store Elfa System
Best Value: IKEA Mulig Clothes Bar
Type: Wall-mounted | Material: Powder-coated steel | Customization: Adjustable bar
What we like:
- Adjustable from 23 to 35 inches
- Utilizes vertical space
- Can be used in damp areas like a bathroom or balcony
- Drill required
Why we chose it: A sleek wall-mounted bar that costs less than a bagel and coffee.
You don’t need to splurge on a custom built-in to create a functional, design-forward closet—just ask Domino’s associate style editor, Julia Stevens, who installed six IKEA Mulig clothes bars to transform a hallway into a walk-in (or rather, walk-through) closet. The sturdy U-shaped bar extends from 23 to 35 inches, so there’s no need to worry about whether it will hold all of your favorite pieces. Your clothes and accessories will be the star of the show, no matter how you style them.
A word of caution before you install the bar: Check to make sure you’ve got the appropriate tools and anchors required to fasten it to drywall or brick. At a minimum, you’ll need a drill, hammer, anchor, and screwdriver.
Best Built-In: California Closets Custom Closet
Type: Built-in | Material: Particleboard and reclaimed wood | Customization: Yes
What we like:
- Custom design and build
- Free consultation
- Many finishes to choose from
- Professional installation
- Not available in every state
- Can be costly
- Not rental-friendly
Why we chose it: A completely customizable system tailored to your space, style, and budget.
California Closets is an industry front-runner for good reason. To start, you’ll receive a free consultation with one of the company’s in-house experts to determine your budget and needs. Then comes the fun part—the design! California Closets now offers more than six collections and 20 finishes, including variegated grain and velvet matte.
If you need inspiration, follow Domino contributing editor Benjamin Reynaert’s lead and consider what items you reach for regularly. “If you can’t see it, you can’t find it,” he says. So each shelf in his entryway closet was custom-sized for specific items. And the best part? Professional installation is included with the white-glove service.
Best Freestanding: Whitmor Freestanding Garment Rack
Type: Freestanding | Material: Epoxy-coated Steel | Customization: No
What we like:
- Tools provided
- Top bar stoppers prevent hanger slippage
- Only comes in one color and one size
- Not eligible for shipping outside the U.S.
Why we chose it: An easy-to-install, minimally designed rack that let’s your favorite clothing stand out—as it should.
If 13 Going on 30 shaped your belief about what a dream closet is supposed to look like, let us reassure you that anyone can create a walk-in on a budget. Take it from interior stylist Courtney Favini, who transformed a spare room into a color-coded closet. With only four garment racks from Amazon, Favini personalized the space in her rental apartment by letting her clothes double as decor. This freestanding garment rack is incredibly easy to install (all of the tools are provided) and has an intuitive design to prevent hanger slippage.
Best Hack: IKEA Pax Wardrobe
Type: Freestanding | Material: Particleboard | Customization: Add hardware and fronts to tailor it to your space
What we like:
- Unlimited potential for customization
- 10-year warranty
- Made from recycled materials
- DIY can be time-consuming and require additional materials
- Comes in limited finishes/colorways
Why we chose it: The perfect, simple base for your DIY closet project.
Domino editors love a good Pax hack—In fact, it’s one of the most popular DIY projects on our site. Our latest obsession? New York–based creative Jordan Ferney’s transformation of the basic flat-pack unit with custom doors and a fresh coat of Valspar’s Oyster Shoal paint. “The way you make IKEA look higher end is luxe-feeling hardware that plays the part,” she says.
Unlike other basic units, IKEA’s Pax is adaptable. It’s a basic shell, with as much or as little structure, like shelves and bins, as you need. Think of it as the closet equivalent of a house with good bones. Roll up your sleeves and grab a paintbrush—your imagination is the limit.
Best Industrial Design: Oropy Industrial Pipe Clothes Rack
Type: Wall-mounted | Material: Iron | Customization: Limited
What we like:
- Holds up 135 pounds
- Potential for DIY paint job
- Some reviews suggest additional adhesive/tools are needed
- Drill required
Why we chose it: A sturdy, industrial-style bar that won’t buckle when you hang winter coats.
While Rachel Stevens’s custom candy-colored pipe racks aren’t available Stateside, this sturdy Amazon alternative is a great dupe. The retro-inspired staple holds up to 135 pounds, includes two types of wall-mounting materials, and has hundreds of glowing reviews. You’ll need anchors and a stud finder if you’re mounting it on drywall. Thank us later when your heavy coats come out to play.
And if you want to emulate Stevens’s colorful coordinated look or customize it to better fit your space, consider using spray paint for a pop of color or a simple white base. Industrial spray paint, like Rust-Oleum’s multipurpose enamel paint, resists chipping, fading, and peeling so you can avoid any unnecessary upkeep.
Best Customizable: Container Store Elfa System
Type: Wall-mounted | Material: Epoxy steel/birch | Customization: Yes
What we like:
- 3-D online modeling tool to design with exact measurements
- Free consultation with experts
- Can hold up to 500 pounds
- Can be configured as a closet or bookshelf
- Limited finishes
- Drill required
Why we chose it: A heavy-duty, versatile system with lots of configuration options.
Domino’s former managing editor, Liz Mundle, swears by the Container Store’s iconic Elfa system as a durable, easy-to-install option that can be reconfigured as a closet, bookshelf, and more. “As renters without an idea of how long we’ll be in the apartment and no interest in forfeiting our deposit, splurging on custom built-in bookcases wasn’t an option,” she says. Mundle and her boyfriend have since disassembled and reused it in multiple apartments. The base rack is the only part that’s wall-mounted, saving you time and effort if you move out.
The Container Store also offers a 3-D modeling tool to help you envisage the system using your room’s exact measurements. On the downside, the palette and finishes are somewhat limited; wall racks are only available in white, black, and graphite with white, birch, gray, and walnut shelves. However, consider a DIY shelving option with custom-cut boards. Sand, stain, or paint them any way your heart desires.
How We Chose These Products
The Domino archive is a treasure trove of inspiration, so we sifted through our favorite projects to find spaces with clever storage solutions. Then we narrowed products down to three types—freestanding, wall-mounted, and custom built-in—and weighed the pros and cons of each system, taking into account design, price, assembly process, and scope for customization. All options have either been tested by our editors or recommended to us by friends of Domino; they are closet organizers we’ve bought, built, used, and swear by.
Our Shopping Checklist
Freestanding vs. Wall-Mounted
Freestanding closet organizers tend to be more renter-friendly because they are impermanent, cost-effective, and easier to install. On the other hand, wall-mounted clothing organizers often have more options for customization and can be sturdier than freestanding designs when installed correctly. So take into account the space you have to work with and your budget. Are you likely to move homes in the near future or rearrange your room? The IKEA Pax Wardrobe might be the best option for you. Are you ready to invest in a quality closet that perfectly fits the specs of your bedroom? California Closets Custom Closet should top your list.
Take inventory of what tools you already have and be realistic about your experience with building furniture. If you’re comfortable with an Allen key rather than a power drill, a freestanding closet system may be the right choice for you.
If you’re installing a wall-mounted closet, you’ll need a drill and a level. Determine what kind of wall you’ll be installing the system on: Is it brick, drywall, or a load-bearing wall? For brick, you may need masonry drill bits. For drywall, you may need heavier duty wall anchors. And for load-bearing walls, get a stud finder to help you determine the right spot to drill into.
Alternatively, outsource the process by enlisting the help of experts via TaskRabbit and Thumbtack. Third-party apps like these can save you time and energy with building your closet system, so there’s no added stress.
If you value storage optimization and visibility over everything else, consider built-in custom systems. You can specify shelf size for certain items, add closet accessories or clothing bars, and choose from multiple materials and finishes for a more personalized look. Most of our picks can be customized if you’re willing to DIY with a coat of paint or additional hardware.
Q: What’s a good alternative to storage baskets that won’t snag delicate items?
Open Spaces’s wire baskets are a great option for when you want your things in plain sight. The grid-pattern design is sleek and minimal, providing easy access to smaller things like scarves and hats. The smooth finish on these enamel-coated steel bins won’t catch on fluffy sweaters.
Q: What’s a creative way to display (and organize!) shoes and small accessories?
Alyssa Coscarelli’s closet is a beacon of inspiration for anyone who likes to keep their favorite accessories on display. She transformed IKEA curtain rods into wall-mounted shoe racks and utilized the transparency of these acrylic floating shelves from Amazon to let her sunglasses stand out.
Q: What’s the best way to maximize a tall and narrow closet?
If your closet is starting to look more and more like a scene from Hoarders, take note of Hallie Gould and her $17 closet hacks. Consider a riser system above your hanging items, like this one from Lowe’s, or a hanging clothing-rod extender, like this one from Amazon. You’ll get more bang for your buck by optimizing your vertical space.
Q: Can I install a closet system on my own?
Of course! Most of our picks are straightforward and beginner-friendly. Plus our freestanding options come with all the tools and accessories needed for assembly. You’ve got this!
The Last Word
The best closet organizers can be compiled into three types: freestanding, wall-mounted, and built-in. To determine which kind of closet system you’d benefit from, make sure to set a budget, measure the space you have to work with, and ask yourself: Am I willing to make this a DIY project? Either way your clothes will thank you.