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How to Make a Small Walk-in Closet Amazing with IKEA Billy Bookcases

With the help of IKEA’s Billy bookcases, it’s easy to whip up a stunning, organized but small walk-in closet on a budget. Check out how to transform a builder-basic ugly closet into a space that’s both stylish and functional.

With limited space and budget, it can be tough to make a small walk-in closet look great.

Especially if it’s a square, builder-basic kinda closet.

That’s only 5 x 5-1/2.

With an awkward bump out.

And a fluorescent strip light.

When we moved in, the original layout was a U-shaped formation of wire hanging shelves around the perimeter.

Messy small walk-in closet with plastic drawer units and clothes falling over on the top shelf.

The space just didn’t work.

And I might have been a bit of a slob…

AnnMarie mentioned that her sister had used Billy bookcases in her closet.

I had some narrow Billy shelves that we’d recently moved out of my son’s room so I decided to give them a try.

A small walk-in closet with wire shelving, Billy bookcases, plastic drawers, and suitcases.

They helped, but this layout still didn’t work well.

Then AnnMarie used some Billy bookcases to redo her husband’s small closet and I got inspired.

Of course, it took me another two years to actually do something.

Life is busy!

And somehow making over my closet felt selfish.

Who else would ever see it?

But now that my house is emptying, it felt like it was time to get this space under control!

I put together a vision board with all the things I wanted to do.

It took me way longer than I thought, but it’s finally done!

Come check out how I used IKEA’s Billy bookcases as the foundation to transform my small closet.

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How to Make a Small Closet Look Stylish

I didn’t want my closet to just be functional.

I wanted it to look pretty!

After all, if it looked good, I was more likely to keep it tidy.

Gold pendant chandelier hanging in a small walk-in closet with white shelves and gold and white wallpaper.

So I painted the ceiling white instead of the builder-basic beige it used to be.

Then I followed AnnMarie’s instructions to replace the fluorescent light strip with a pretty gold pendant chandelier.

Here’s a little tip for you: when you buy lighting from Amazon, look for the “used, like new” option.

I bought this fixture for half price!

Its box may be a little banged up because someone returned it, but it’s a new fixture.

Just be sure to check that all the parts are there before you go to install it.

The next thing I did was to hang some glamorous looking peel-and-stick wallpaper.

It was pretty easy to do, but I learned some things that will make it easier the next time!

I reconfigured the layout of the closet and the back wall was begging for a mirror.

I found an oval mirror with a simple gold frame from Amazon that added some nice curves in the space.

Can You Use Billy Bookcases in a Closet?

IKEA makes a variety of closet systems that include all kinds of organizing bells and whistles.

But those systems took up too much space in my tiny square closet.

The Billy bookcases gave me shelving for folded clothes and shoes.

Small closet with white and gold geometric patterned peel and stick wallpaper and discolored Billy bookcases.

Especially when I discovered that you can purchase additional shelves!

These extra shelves meant I didn’t need to stack my folded clothes as high.

When I first put them in my closet, I placed them next to each other, but for this closet makeover I spaced them apart.

I also ended up needing to paint my Billy’s because their warm white tone didn’t work with the bright white of the wallpaper.

I used the same method as I did when I painted the laminate cabinets in my laundry room.

Billy bookcase with added shelves in the corner of a small walk-in closet and black hanging rods attached to the sides.

Then I attached two hanging rods between each set.

This simple change gave me over four more inches of hanging space!

That may not sound like a lot, but it really made a big difference.

Small walk-in closet with IKEA Billy shelves on edges and hanging rods attached between and another shelf attached above.

I’ve got 9-foot ceilings and decided to make use of that extra space to give me more storage.

How to Add More Storage Space in a Closet

L-shaped upper shelf in a small square walk-in closet supported by L brackets with wood crates for storage.

It was so easy to add this upper shelf in the closet!

I started with some white laminate closet shelves and then used white steel L-brackets from Crates and Pallet to install them.

The steel brackets are so strong and sturdy, and since they’re white, they blend right in.

How Can You Lay Out a Small Walk-in Closet?

Remember that awkward bump out on the back wall?

It provided some challenges in laying out this closet.

Small square walk-in closet with IKEA Billy shelves, hanging rods, upper storage shelf, and rod to hang jeans with S hooks.

I love that you can add doors to the Billy bookcases because it makes everything look so neat.

When you’re working with a small space, that really helps to make it look better.

Unfortunately, because of the bump out, I couldn’t put doors on all four shelves.

I placed the bookcases with the doors in the corners closest to the closet’s door.

The open shelves will be mostly hidden by the hanging clothes.

Besides, I’ve got a plan for that wall with the bump out!

The Best Way to Hang Jeans

Gold framed oval mirror on a closet wall covered with white and gold geometric wallpaper above a gold curtain rod.

When AnnMarie and I went shopping at a local boutique, I noticed that they hung their jeans with S hooks on a rod.

Folded jeans took up so much space on my shelves so this was exactly the solution I needed!

I hung a gold curtain rod below the mirror, just above the bump out.

Gold curtain rod on a wall to hang jeans with S hooks in a small walk-in closet.

The great thing about this solution is I can easily see how long each pair of jeans is.

Whether they’re cropped or not.

And I can also tell whether they’re distressed without having to unfold them!

Overhead view of jeans hanging with S-hooks through the belt loops on a gold curtain rod.

To hang the jeans, simply fold them in half and slip the S hook through the two back belt loops.

It’s so easy!

In fact, it might be one of my favorite things in this closet.

How Do You Maximize a Small Closet

All you need to get the most out of a small walk-in closet is a little planning.

Small square walk-in closet with shelves and hanging rods on the sides and a bar to hang jeans on the back wall.

I measured the length of my clothes and placed the hanging rods so that there was a spot for everything.

The upper shelf is where I’m storing out-of-season clothes and shoes, and other things I don’t need to access regularly.

Using slimline velvet hangers helps me make the most out of the hanging space.

Small walk-in closet with Billy bookcases to hold hanging rods on the sides and a bar to hang jeans on the back wall.

I’ll be sharing all the details of how I’ve organized everything on the shelves soon.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss seeing all the rest of the details of this project, plus all our other simple ideas!

Before and After

There’s nothing like a good before and after to see how much a project has helped a space!

So here’s mine.

How do you think I did?

Side by side comparison of a small walk-in closet before and after reconfiguring it.

With the right tools and some creativity, you can totally transform a small walk-in closet into something amazing with IKEA Billy Bookcases.

Simply try these ideas and you can create a new and improved closet space without breaking the bank.

Now that you know how to transform your small walk-in closet with IKEA Billy Bookcases, it’s time to get started!

Tag us in your photos when you finish your project using #simply2moms and we’ll be sure to check them out.

Resources & Shopping Links

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Collage of products used to improve the function of a small square walk-in closet.

Sources: Fabric Drawer Organizers | Gold Clip-on Basket Tags | Gold Chandelier Pendant | Billy Bookcases | Hanging Rods | Melamine Shelves | White Steel L Brackets | Gold Curtain Rod | Steel S Hooks | Small Unfinished Wood Crates | Gold and White Peel and Stick Wallpaper | Large Unfinished Wood Crates | Oval Gold Mirror | Black Velvet Hangers with Gold Hooks | Gold Cabinet Knobs

Anne's small walk-in closet was unfunctional, crowded, and ugly. Follow along as she turns it into a well-organized space that's pretty too.

More Closet Ideas and Inspiration from Simply2Moms

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