life in a tiny apartment.

September 11, 2013

Tip #78: Remove the closet doors, hang a curtain instead.

It’s been my experience in rental apartments that doors that have been added to closets are typically of the cheap variety. Installed as a nod to privacy and decorum, the hollowed out shells are usually more trouble than they’re worth. If they open out into a room they take up precious floor space, and if the landlord was thoughtful enough to install the sliding, hanging variety, they’re almost certainly hanging all wonky on the tracks. To say nothing of the fact that sliding doors obscure fully half of the closet at any given time.

Enter the curtain and the tension rod. It took me a full two years to make a curtain that actually fit correctly in the space (a cut-up linen shower curtain served in the interim) but there’s no reason you should wait as long.

Here’s how I managed sans sewing machine: Last week I had to trek to the fabric store for a different project, so I took the opportunity to buy some extra yardage. I kept the selvage ends of a 54″-wide swath of fabric and lopped off the bottom with a pair of scissors. To make the curtain rod pocket, I folded the top edge as straightly as I could manage, pinned it up, and sewed by hand. The whole thing took me about an hour and I earned Laura Ingalls Wilder points to boot. We have a super simple white tension rod that we picked up a the hardware store down the street (it’s like this one); but if you want to get fancy, this one looks nice, too.

I’d ask your landlord for permission on this one (ours is storing the sliding door in the basement for now), but don’t delay. A simple linen curtain looks worlds better than the cheap wooden alternative, and makes access to an over-stuffed closet much more manageable.

Tiny Apartment Survival Tips 1-77.

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  • Reply Annabel Vita September 11, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    We did this! Our teensy closet is covered by a French flea market curtain I bought a lifetime ago for €1 and the door is under the bed:

    Ours was actually a really nice door, but our bed is super long (husband is 6ft 8) so it had to go…

    • Reply Erin September 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      Yes, the perfect spot for a curtain instead of a door!

  • Reply Rebecca September 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Seems like a nice solution!
    I currently have some ikat fabric in front of my ikea closet, hanging with clothespins on a thread of twine butcherly attached to the sides of the closet…! But I actually quite like it 🙂

    • Reply Erin September 13, 2013 at 1:21 am

      Sounds perfect.

  • Reply Mae Chevrette September 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    This post made me think of viewing my apartment for the first time. The previous renters agreed on the folding door issue, took them down and hung curtains instead… but they were thick, billowy, bright purple velvet! Maybe the brick walls in our place made them think "medieval castle chic" would work? A nicely hemmed linen curtain would probably have worked much better 😉

  • Reply Mary Schaubert September 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    This is a facepalm moment for me – my bedroom is so crowded that I can't open one of my closet door so I just reach really far behind to to get to half of my clothes. Unsurprisingly, those don't get worn much! I am literally going to take these down tonight. Thanks for the idea!

    • Reply Erin September 13, 2013 at 1:20 am

      Good! Hope you make a curtain work in your space!

  • Reply Linda Zimmerman September 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Nicely done…a sewer is born! Yay!!!

    • Reply Erin September 13, 2013 at 1:20 am

      So much to learn!

  • Reply Rebecca Alexis September 11, 2013 at 5:00 pm


  • Reply for the love of pictures September 12, 2013 at 3:55 am

    Excellent idea 🙂

  • Reply Dinah L September 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    I have been considering taking my wardrobe doors off because they open into my room and get in the way of the door. It's a real pain. I might just take your idea on board!

    • Reply Erin September 13, 2013 at 1:21 am

      Hope you do!

  • Reply Isabelle Dervaux September 15, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Rods are great for rentals. I used them in my previous apartment. The problem was that the linen was much too heavy and sometimes it would spring back and fall. There must be a way clever to avoid that.

  • Reply Niki September 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I just moved into a student dorm of 8 square meters.
    I think I'm going to keep reading these tips.

    dreaming is believing

  • Reply Jasmine Brink-Li September 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Definitely doing this. I took off the closet doors immediately and are storing them behind the bedroom door. Not ideal, but it's in a space that isn't being used anyways. I can now access the entire closet with no issue!

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