DIY Small Closet Makeover with mDesign Bins

See this DIY small closet makeover using clear mDesign bins for organization. Deeper shelves were installed to maximize space, and labels on the bins make everything easy to find! 

So…there’s a story to tell before we get to the actual small closet makeover that I’m featuring in today’s post. A few months before Christmas, I was whining to my daughter about my ridiculous broom closet, and how I couldn’t deal with the mess anymore. I must have sounded particularly pathetic, because she offered to help me with a closet makeover, and make it my Christmas present! I thought this was a brilliant idea, so of course, I agreed. The first thing we did was decide that the existing shelves weren’t deep enough, and before any organizing could happen, new shelves had to be made. Her handy boyfriend was pulled into the project, and on Christmas Day, lovely and deeper shelves were installed in this inefficient and small closet.

on sutton place back hallway doors

In the image above, you can see how our back hallway is set up. We walk in from the garage, right into our family room. Straight ahead is the back hallway, with the broom closet on the left, and the basement door on the right.

small closet makeover before organization

Small Closet Makeover Steps

Empty the closet.

The picture above is one of the worst “before” pictures I’ve ever shared…but it’s real life, and this is exactly what it looked like! Since the day we moved in to this house, I have hated this closet. The biggest problem was that the shelves weren’t deep enough. The closet is also extremely narrow. A few years ago I attempted to organize it, and installed the rack on the door. The rack has helped, but even that was unorganized, and the baskets weren’t being used efficiently.

Determine categories for items.

In order to truly optimize this space, I needed to decide what was going to be stored in the closet. I desperately needed storage for paper towels, paper plates & napkins, batteries, tissues, cleaning & sanitizing supplies, and a few other overflow items from the bathroom. By determining in advance what was going in the closet, we were able to better plan the organizational supplies.

The categories we ended up with are:

  • Cleaning (2 bins)
  • bulbs
  • bags
  • kleenex
  • sanitizer
  • batteries
  • first aid
  • dental
  • paper plates
  • napkins

Purchased clear mDesign bins and labels.

Once we decided on the contents, we purchased my favorite mDesign bins that would fit the width and depth of the shelves, along with labels for the bins. I used these bins in both of our upstairs bathrooms, and love the way they function. I had planned to make my own labels, but in the end, I decided to purchase what I needed from a cute Etsy shop. It would have been time-consuming to do my own labels, and I didn’t have any of the supplies. It made more sense, was cheaper, and was much more efficient to just buy them.

Installed deeper shelves & painted.

Elizabeth and her boyfriend arrived two days before Christmas, with all the closet supplies in tow. Darren worked a little bit on Christmas Eve, and then finished everything (including painting) on Christmas Day. Our Christmas was very quiet, with just the four of us, plus my Dad. It was fun working on the closet, and it gave us something to do!

Restore order.

Once the paint had dried, I gathered the bins, attached the labels, and restored order to this little closet. The adjustable shelves made the job super easy. The mops were relocated to the garage. I drilled a hole at the end of the yardstick, and hung it on a nail, just inside the door. The only dilemma was that the closet was very dark, so we had a hard time seeing the labels, and the contents of the bins. I solved that problem by installing two little touch-activated lights. (The touch-activated lights are battery operated, and are seriously the handiest things ever.)

Sometimes, when you have lived with an inefficient space for a long time, it becomes almost “normal.” That’s the way I felt about this closet. It wasn’t until the shelves were fixed, and the items organized, that I realized how bad it actually was. It’s such a pleasure (and a huge relief) to open that closet door and see order, instead of chaos!

*Affiliate links included. Click HERE for my disclosure statement.

Small Closet Makeover Sources

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55 Comments

  1. Where do you get the mDesign Bins? I noticed there wasn’t a link to them.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Florence…the links are at the end of the post under the heading that says “Small Closet Makeover Sources.” If you still need help, let me know!

  2. Great ideas here! Is this your former house or current house?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Yvonne…this is our former house.

  3. The clear bins are perfect! I have reorganized my closet countless times, but it keeps getting messy. The bins are the answer!

  4. Could you explain how he deepened the shelves? I’m no understanding the back wall of the closet being deepened. Thanks

    1. Gayle Minkus says:

      It appears the stationary shelves (resting on 1x3s nailed to the side walls) were removed and replaced with the adjustable shelving on which the newly cut shelves now rest. Cutting new shelves allowed her to make them deeper. (I have an exact type of closet and turned it into an appliance closet in my kitchen).

  5. Dee Blakeslee says:

    Your closet looks great! I have a question about your surface mounted drum light fixture in the hallway before the kitchen. Where did you find it? Brand name & number would be appreciated. You’re so great about sharing where you find things. Just thought I’d ask.
    Thanks so much,
    Dee

      1. That’s great Ann! Thanks so much!❤

  6. Your closet looks great, Ann! Sometimes those small projects are just as satisfying as the big ones….sometimes even more! I love the plastic bins, too. I use them in some of my kitchen cupboards and in the bathroom. Thanks for sharing this!

  7. Stephanie says:

    Ann,
    Thanks for sharing. Your closet looks fantastic and very inspiring. I have one of those little lights in one of my closets – which needs some organizing, by the way – and it has worked great. And, I have had the light quite a while – probably a couple of years.

  8. So neat and tidy!! Your organized vacuum cleaner bags caught my eye…mine are in the bag from the store and hard to get out when I need one!! So, may I ask, where do you store the vacuum cleaner? I keep mine in the closet like yours that you just organized.
    Thanks for some great ideas!
    June

  9. Thanks for sharing this practical and pretty closet makeover. It motivates me to think of doing something similar in our closets!

  10. 5 stars
    Hi Ann, Thank you for inspiring us to get busy organizing our storage space! Going to incorporate your ideas for my back closet cleaning supplies and linen closet. I have bought your suggested container ideas in the past for under my kitchen sink storage. You’re the best!! 💖 I always look forward to your daily/weekly postings! Love the Wednesday ideas!

  11. I am so going to do this. I noticed you gave three sizes. Which size did you use for the Sanitizing?

    Thanks

  12. I am desperate for organization ideas so I thank you! Your closet now looks fantastic and everything is visible! Wonderful!

  13. Ann, I have a closet similar to your before picture but mine is so deep. It seems things are lost or forgotten. Having seen your solutions, it’s back to the rethinking board.

  14. The deeper, adjustable shelves made a huge difference in your closets functionality!!! I looks great. I have found that putting a plastic bottom in those wire shelves is very helpful. Things don’t fall over as easily. I purchase 2pk clear, plastic cutting boards at the Dollar Tree & cut them to fit the bottoms.
    Can’t wait to see your next makeover.

  15. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    What a lovely gift, Ann! Those clear bins and labels are great!

  16. I’ve been putting off organizing my pantry because I just didn’t know where to start. I’m going to use your idea of creating categories first, then I believe I can get my project off and running. Thank you so much for your great ideas!

  17. Debra Matcovich says:

    Hi I love to organize, and the closet looks great. The only thing I would do different is move the cleaning products up since you use them more often, and swap for the light bulbs which are needed depending on the bulbs every 9 years. Just kidding , but you get what I mean.

  18. Do those stick up lights last for you? I’ve had some but I’d have to put new batteries in like every other day.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I’ve only used them a few times so far. The lights will be on for just a few seconds if we need to see something. Hopefully they will work out!

  19. It is the little things that can bring a smile to our lives. Love what has been done n this might be your best Christmas present ever! Lol

  20. Sue Daugherty says:

    I love when you share your organizational posts. I have discovered organizing is my happy place and have followed along with you as you have tackled your projects. One good thing that has come out of the pandemic for me is finally the time to do the organizing I haven’t had time for in the past. I did my kitchen along with with you (can’t thank you enough for the turntable inspiration. It’s a real game changer in my angled corner kitchen cabinet). It makes a world of difference to have an organized home.

  21. Stella Napier says:

    I have two of these closets. One I ended up making better the other I ruined by taking my large wooden shelves out and put in wire shelving. Oh well, we live and learn! Yours look gorgeous! God bless you!

  22. Catherine Wanich says:

    5 stars
    Thanks for the wonderful organizing ideas! I have some work to do on my front/coat closet. Currently, there are coats, a brown bag full of hats and scarves, table pads for the dining room and the extra leaf for the table, a vacuum, a bin on the top shelf with gloves, vacuum bags, and lots of games (on the top shelf). The games probably need a new home.

  23. 5 stars
    Great! You have inspired me to re-do my tiny pantry!

  24. The broom closet makeover is lovely! And to have such a thoughtful daughter is a blessing. I’m ordering all of it for my equally thoughtful daughter. ❤️
    Happy Valentine’s Day.

  25. Love the clear bins! Please share the label categories.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Liza…I added them to the post. Thank you for the suggestion!

  26. Wonderful…love to be organized! I love the fact that older homes built in lots of closets and storage areas in their houses. Unfortunately I don’t have it. But love how you solved your problem. Cheers to a wonderful “boyfriend”! He’s a keeper! 💖

  27. Great job. The only suggestion I have is to add another shelf to take up all of that dead “head” space you have. Allocate one shelf for taller items, but use that extra space that is doing nothing. The shelving looks adjustable, so easy to do. Voila, more storage.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Darren is bringing me another shelf next weekend! We knew we needed another one when they were installed.

      1. Looks fantastic Ann! Everything in place and the labeling is perfect.

  28. Your closet came out great.You are right about living with something for so long it becomes normal until you upgrade.Amazing how organization brings the stress level down.Enjoy your Christmas gift !!

  29. Nancy Pharr says:

    Ps where did you get the shelves? Thanks!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Darren, made them. He is a maker and a fixer!

      1. Nancy Pharr says:

        Awesome lucky you. 😊

  30. Nancy Sharp says:

    What a wonderful Christmas present!
    Your tip about deciding what’s going back in so you know the sizes for the bins and baskets is great. I think I sometimes leave that step out.
    I want to reorganize my kitchen. The top shelf of my cabinets is very high and I’m not short.(5’8”). That’s fine if my husband is around.😀 But at age 75 I don’t need to be climbing on a stool!
    Your blog is one of my favorites.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Nancy! I have two words for your top shelf. Lazy Susans. They changed my life when I put them on the top shelf of our pantry cupboard!

  31. Nancy Pharr says:

    Looks great! What kind of system did he use to hang the shelves inside of the closet?
    Thanks!

  32. Where did the brooms go?

  33. Love this Ann! It looks amazing. Nothing better than a reorganization project to lift your spirits. 😉

  34. Aren’t Daughters wonderful !! Your closet looks wonderful and very organized. I love opening my linen closet and everything looks so pretty and organized with my rattan baskets. SIGH!!! Yes, being organized is a wonderful thing but you have to figure out how to do it and that takes time and thought. I laughed when I saw your post and thought ..Ann, your cupboards, cabinets are getting organized one at a time…great feeling isnt it?

  35. Great job on the closet organization and I love the labels! During the past year, we have definitely had the time to reorganize and do those items on our “to do” list that we never got to …. and along the way we have learned new things and become more creative (which is a good thing 😉)! While organizing the pantry, I have now attached 1 inch label dots , on which I have written expiration dates, on cans, boxes and jars to make sure that pantry items are used before their expiration dates. My labels are handy after every shopping trip or delivery! Your closet rehab gift was definitely one of love and one you will cherish everyday….stay safe and stay well 💕

  36. It looks nice and I love bins and organization. But what happened to the mops and brooms? Did the closet witch fly away on them? LOL or do we have another closet to organize?

  37. 5 stars
    What a wonderful makeover! It makes such a difference to be able to sort and see what you have in an efficient and neat organized closet. I will utilize this for myself. Thank you!

  38. Looks great! I’ve often used the cheap clear plastic shoe boxes for these things too. Thank you for the closet organization inspiration! :)

  39. Such a lovely gift! My Molly and her family do similar treats for us! It’s amazing how a project can lift one’s spirits. This is a Christmas gift to treasure a long time. I would share that I am a big labeler. I label everything from opened brown sugar to containers of soup before refrigerating them. It really helps because I don’t realize how fast time passes by on that leftover chicken stock!

  40. Super job! You could even add another shelf to utilize that empty space above the shelf holding the Sanitizer bin. I highly recommend a long grabber so you can use it to reach the items on the top shelf so you don’t need a step stool. I love my grabber!!

  41. Wow, what a great closet now. There are a number of cabinets that are dark for me so I found battery motion detector lights that I installed with velcro tape on the back to light my cabinets. All I have to do is wave my hand in front of them and they come on. Check Lowes or Home Depot for similar items.