Closet 101: Understanding the Meaning, Origin, and Different Types

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 20, 2022
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A closet (especially in North American usage) is an enclosed space, a cabinet, or a cupboard in a house or building used for general storage or hanging or storing clothes.

Modern closets can be built into the walls of the house during construction so that they take up no apparent space in the bedroom, or they can be large, free-standing pieces of furniture designed for clothing storage, in which case they are often called wardrobes or armoires.

What is a closet

The Closet: More Than Just a Place to Store Your Things

When we think of a closet, we often think of a small room or space in a wall where we can store things such as clothes, sheets, and other materials. The word “closet” comes from the Middle French word “clos,” which means “enclosure,” and from the Latin word “clausum,” which means “enclosed.” In American English, a closet is often equivalent to an enclosure or a small room that has a door and shelving to hold things.

The Advantages of Having a Closet

Having a closet in your bedroom or elsewhere in your home has several advantages, including:

  • Giving you a designated space to store your things, which can help keep your home organized and tidy.
  • Moderately cutting down on the amount of floor space you need to store your things, as you can store them vertically on shelves.
  • Allowing you to hold more weight than a suitcase or other storage container, as shelves and organizers can be sturdier than the bottom of a suitcase or other container.
  • Cutting down on the amount of cutting and piecing together of different pieces of shelving or organizers you need to do, as a closet often comes with pre-built shelves and organizers.

The Different Types of Closet Organizers

There are many different types of closet organizers that you can find to help you make the most of your closet space, including:

  • Hanging organizers that hang from the closet rod and have pockets or shelves to hold your things.
  • Shoe organizers that hang from the closet rod or sit on the floor and have compartments to hold your shoes.
  • Drawer organizers that fit inside your closet drawers to help keep your things organized.
  • Shelf organizers that sit on your closet shelves to help you make the most of your vertical space.

The Fascinating Etymology of the Word “Closet”

The word “closet” has an interesting origin that dates back to the Middle Ages. It is derived from the Old French term “clos” which means “enclosed space.” The Latin equivalent of “clos” is “clausum,” which means “closed.” The term “closet” was originally used to refer to a small private room, such as a study or prayer room, which was solely used by the household lady.

The Jump to American English

The pronunciation of the word “closet” has also evolved over time. In Middle English, it was pronounced as “closset,” with the emphasis on the first syllable. The pronunciation shifted to “closet” in the 16th century, with the emphasis on the second syllable.

The word “closet” made its way to American English in the 18th century, and it became the usual word for a cupboard or wardrobe.

Robert’s Closet

The word “closet” has been used in various contexts throughout history. For instance, in the 14th century, the term “Robert’s closet” was used to refer to a small room where Robert could sleep. In the 15th century, the term “bowers and open closets” was used to describe the sleeping quarters of a household.

The Endless Possibilities of a Closet

From its humble beginnings as a small private room, the word “closet” has evolved to encompass a wide range of meanings and uses. Whether it’s a place to store clothes or a space to hide away and reflect, the possibilities of a closet are endless.

Discover the Different Types of Closets and How They Can Help You Organize Your Belongings

If you’re someone who loves fashion and has a lot of clothes, a walk-in closet is the perfect solution for you. This type of closet is typically large and spacious, allowing you to store all your clothes, shoes, and accessories in one place. Here are some features of a walk-in closet:

  • Plenty of hanging space for jackets, dresses, and shirts
  • Racks for shoes and boots
  • Drawers for folded items like sweaters and t-shirts
  • Hooks and pockets for accessories like belts and scarves
  • Deep shelves for storing bags and purses

Reach-In Closets: For the Practical Organizer

If you have a smaller space or don’t have as many clothes, a reach-in closet might be the best option for you. This type of closet is typically smaller and more practical, but still offers plenty of storage solutions. Here are some features of a reach-in closet:

  • Hanging space for jackets and shirts
  • Shelves for folded items like jeans and sweaters
  • Racks for shoes and boots
  • Hooks for accessories like hats and bags
  • Drawers for storing smaller items like socks and underwear

Linen Closets: For the Home Essentials

A linen closet is a great addition to any home. It’s the perfect place to store all your home essentials like towels, sheets, and blankets. Here are some features of a linen closet:

  • Shelves for storing folded linens
  • Hooks for hanging towels and robes
  • Deep shelves for storing larger items like comforters and pillows

Pantry Closets: For the Foodie

If you love to cook and have a lot of food items, a pantry closet is a must-have. This type of closet is typically located in the kitchen and offers plenty of storage solutions for all your food items. Here are some features of a pantry closet:

  • Shelves for storing canned goods and dry food items
  • Drawers for storing utensils and small appliances
  • Racks for storing pots and pans
  • Hooks for hanging kitchen towels and aprons

No matter what type of closet you choose, having an organized system in place can help you gain more space and make your life easier. So, take some time to figure out what works best for you and start organizing your belongings today!

The Art of Organizing: Closet Organizers

Are you tired of waking up to a cluttered closet every morning? Do you find it hard to locate your favorite outfit amidst the mess? If so, a closet organizer might just be the solution you need. Here are some reasons why investing in a closet organizer is a good idea:

  • A closet organizer helps you achieve a better storage setup, making it easier to organize your items.
  • It allows you to create a custom system that fits your personal needs and style.
  • A closet organizer can add value to your home and make it more appealing to potential buyers.
  • It saves you time and reduces stress by making it easier to find what you need.
  • It helps you hold onto your favorite items and prevents you from buying duplicates.
  • A closet organizer can lead to a more organized life overall, prompting you to organize other areas of your home.

How Closet Organizers Work

Closet organizers are designed to help you organize your items in a way that makes them visible and accessible. Here’s how they work:

  • They typically come with a combination of shelves, rods, and drawers that can be adjusted to fit your items.
  • Shoe shelves and other accessories can be added to hold specific items.
  • The system is set up in a way that makes it easy to see all of your items at once, so you can quickly find what you need.
  • Closet organizers teach you organizational skills that you can apply to other areas of your life.

How to Find the Right Closet Organizer

Finding the right closet organizer can be a challenge, but there are some things you can do to make the process easier:

  • Consider your needs and the size of your closet.
  • Look for leading experts in the field who can help you design and install the system.
  • Check online reviews and ask for recommendations from friends and family.
  • Contact a professional organizer who can help you determine the best system for your needs.
  • Shop around to find the best value for your money.

Benefits of a Well-Organized Closet

A well-organized closet can have a big impact on your life. Here are some of the benefits:

  • You’ll feel better about your home and yourself.
  • You’ll save time and reduce stress.
  • You’ll be able to wear your favorite outfits more often.
  • You’ll be less likely to buy duplicates.
  • You’ll be able to see all of your items at once, making it easier to plan your outfits.
  • You’ll be able to hold onto items that have sentimental value.
  • You’ll be able to create a beautiful and functional space that you’ll enjoy using every day.


So, that’s what a closet is. A place to store your clothes and other things, but the word has come to mean so much more now. 

Don’t be afraid to explore the possibilities with your closet. You might just find the perfect solution for your needs. So, don’t be afraid to explore the possibilities with your closet. You might just find the perfect solution for your needs.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.