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By Ellen Sturm Niz

Are you tired of wrestling clothes from the grip of your packed closet or cowering from a handbag avalanche as you try to pull a clutch from the overhead shelf? Quit fighting with your closet and get more visible, accessible and usable space right now with these tips from professional organizers.

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1. Get rid of empty hangers and ditch the thick ones.

Often we will pull a shirt off of a hanger and forget that there is now an empty hanger tucked away on the closet rod. Do this several times and suddenly, your closet rod is wasting space with empty hangers. 

“You'll be surprised at how much space hangers that have nothing hanging on them occupy,” says Barbara Reich, professional organizer and author of "Secrets of an Organized Mom." 

Go ahead and move empty hangers to the front of the closet. "This way, you can access them easily when you need to hang something up," Reich says, "and your closet isn’t unnecessarily stuffed with empty hangers."

And if you haven’t already swapped out your thick hangers for a thinner style, consider making the switch to double your hanging space, Reich says. “A typical wood hanger is almost a half inch thick while the Joy Mangano Huggable Hangers are 1/4-inch thick.”

2. Group short and long clothing.

Simply being aware of how you organize your hanging clothing can help open up space. 

“Separate short-hanging stuff — tops, skirts, folded pants — from long-hanging — dresses, coats — and put short at one end of rod and long at the other end,” says Julie Morgenstern, professional organizer and author of "Organizing From the Inside Out" and "Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life." "The more short-hanging space you can create, the more space below it you have to work with," she says. 

Use that newly-found floor space to install stacking shoe racks for more levels of shoes, or add a small dresser for folded T-shirts, pajamas and workout wear.

3. Maximize the inside door space.

That closet door can do more for you than just open and close. It can also be a go-to spot to store accessories. 

“Stagger a bunch of individual hooks in one or two rows for belts, scarves or handbags,” Morgenstern says. “Staggering them enables you to use every square inch of the door.” Morgenstern also recommends using the hook system to hold necklaces, bracelets and other jewelry items.  

4. Add shelf dividers to the upper shelves.

“Upper closet shelves are usually a mess for most people, but it can be very valuable space,” Morgenstern says. “Slide shelf dividers onto shelves and create subdivisions to stack folded clothes — jeans, sweaters, sweatshirts. It keeps them separated and neat and keeps things from toppling when you pull something out.”

Morgenstern prefers clear acrylic shelf dividers because they are sturdy, as opposed to coated wire styles that bend and wobble, creating more of a mess. They’re also super easy to slide in. If reaching those upper shelves is a challenge, Morgenstern suggests buying a small step stool so you can access the higher areas with ease. 

Ellen Sturm Niz is an editor and writer living, parenting, and working in New York City. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+.