Our year without a dresser

dressersAfter living in our new home for just under a year, my wife and I finally have a dresser. It has been a big adjustment to all the new storage space. The year without a dresser went by very quickly and it forced me to take stock of my clothes time and time again.

I purged unnecessary clothes from my wardrobe on numerous occasions last year because I didn’t have room for extra clothes. The first purge was our yard sale in preparation of our move. Then, I made a donation to the Vietnam Veterans. With just these two clothing purges, I easily cut my wardrobe by half.

Living without a dresser in our bedroom was a bit of a pain at times, but it did get my wife and I to live with less clothing clutter in our lives. Now, we’ll need to be mindful and remember not to let the clutter creep in just because we have more storage space than we used to.

39 Comments for “Our year without a dresser”

  1. posted by Taylor at Household Management 101 on

    I love having dressers with just a few clothes in each drawer. Just because we have the space doesn’t mean we have to use every inch of it.

    I have also found when my kids drawers are not very full having them put up their folded clean clothes themselves is really not such an ordeal. They don’t complain because they don’t have to shove stuff in there, or try to push the drawer shut while shoving parts of the clothes back in that have popped out. It makes life more pleasant for everyone.

  2. posted by Danny on

    Where *did* you keep your clothes if you didn’t have a dresser? Was everything hung in the closet? Even socks and underwear?

  3. posted by Chris Gee on

    I love this site, but articles like this point to a disturbing medieval asceticism as a goal in itself. Can self-flagellation be far behind?

    Memento vivere, folks. Remember to Live.

  4. posted by Celeste on

    What did you store your socks and underwear in, bins?

    I love dressers for storage of other items. I’ve got my eye on one for my sewing room. I much prefer being able to open a drawer rather than have to lift or uncover a crate or box. I can always repurpose the dresser as…a dresser.

    I don’t understand why you chose to go without a dresser. That would really not work for me.

  5. posted by Amy on

    We’re getting rid of our old ikea dressers prior to our upcoming move, and we plan to take our time replacing them. We want to replace them with beautiful, quality pieces, even if that means searching, saving up, and living without for awhile. I’d definitely be interested in hearing more about how you managed, since I feel like we’ve already purged our wardrobes ruthlessly… under-bed boxes, perhaps?

  6. posted by Jack on

    I don’t have a dresser right now because the room I’m renting is small and my old one fell apart when I moved. It’s not a decision I made for uncluttering purposes, but I didn’t have the cash to replace it at the time and I decided I’d rather have the space for books than a large dresser. I’ve got a bin for socks and underwear, and everything else hangs in the closet. I never thought of it as an uncluttering choice, though.

  7. posted by Shalin on

    I’ve not had a dresser in the last 7years – I just rely on a decent closet and a couple small drawer storage bins.
    Personally, I really look forward to not ever needing a dresser – it’s just a piece of furniture that I don’t have a compelling interest in owning…

  8. posted by JC on

    I don’t have a dresser. My sweaters/jeans are on a built in shelf in our closet and the rest is hung. I have a three drawer organizer on the shelf that holds socks and personals.

    My children’s closets are hung with double hanging racks and a shelf. They each have a three drawer organizer for socks and personals. Jammies, jeans and sweats are folded on the shelf. Everything else is hung. No rummaging through drawers for clothes.

    Hanging our clothing also keeps ironing to a minimum.

  9. posted by Matt on

    For those of you who asked: All of my clothes were in one closet. Most things were simply kept on the floor and in printer paper boxes(t-shirts, underwear, socks, and jeans).

    I’m not advocating going without a dresser. I just wanted to point out our experience and how it helped us cut down on our wardrobes. The reason it took almost a year was mostly due to laziness and not being able to decide on dressers that were right for us.

  10. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    I like shelves in the closet better than a dresser — it’s much easier to find what I’m looking for. I purchased a couple of fabric-lined baskets that hold socks and underwear, and that works fine for me.

  11. posted by Anita on

    I’ve never had a dresser growing up, but I do love having one as of 3 years ago! I’m moving into a bachelor apartment soon; it has lots of closet space (one of its big selling points with me!), but I’m still hoping I won’t have to get rid of my dresser… although it is in need of a bit of a purge, now that I think about it.

  12. posted by Jesse on

    I’ve been dealing with this for awhile now…If this link doesn’t work, I apologize:


    This is the extent of my clothing storage area, and as you can see, it’s not pretty. Since this photo was taken as the “Before” my uncluttering purge, it looks a bit better now, but that’s still all the storage I have. The drawer to the left is out of season stuff, and the three shallow drawers you see under the hanging rod is the extent of my folded tshirt and unmentionables storage.

    Really encourages no buying without purging!

  13. posted by allen on

    When i was growing up, I had shoved the dresser into the closet to save space in my bedroom for my toy collection. I was an industrious 8 year old. 😀

    Now, i’m glad i have my dresser in my room. it’s a good place to keep my wallet, keys, &c when i go to bed, so I remember to grabe them with the next day’s pants.

    Whether you have a dresser, or closet shelves seems like a silly “argument”; it’s really all about space. if you have a large closet, and a small rest of your room, then closet shelves/boxes makes sense. if you have a PUNY closet, and a lot of other space, heck, you might even buy a wardrobe. We all need to keep our cloths somewhere.

    The key to all of this, of course, is not WHERE you should keep your cloths, but how MANY do you need?

    Personally, i try to keep two weeks worth of nice shirts for work, and a rougly equal amount of nice t-shirts for comfortable wear. Once i realized how much less laundry i’d have to do, it was alot easier to let go of some of those cloths i’d been dragging with me for 10+ years from High School. 😀

  14. posted by Felicia on

    When we moved into our house almost 9 years ago, we did not have a dresser. All our clothes were hung or stored in bins in the closet. I have since purchased a dresser with my new bedroom set, but I used it to store my scrapbooking supplies, since the closet works well for us. All our clothes are handy after a shower, so there is no need to move any of them to the bedroom.

  15. posted by jgodsey on

    i got rid of my dressers years ago.
    i have 2 plastic bins on shelves for socks and undies.
    EVERYTHING else hangs in the closet.
    if it doesn’t hang in the closet.. it went away.

  16. posted by Marie on

    Clothing inventory has so much to do with your occupation. Someone in a formal business environment can’t be expected to keep as little as someone who can wear jeans to work. My husband has to wear a suit and tie, and he easily has three times as much clothing as I do. It can’t be helped.

  17. posted by Jen C on

    I lived with very little furniture for over six months – no dresser, among other things. I used shelves to hold folding type items that couldn’t easily be placed on a hanger. Now I have a dresser. For me, the dresser is really nice and helps in organizing but it isn’t that diffucult with just shelves – the socks kind of get a life of their own without something to contain them.

    I’m pro-dresser, but it isn’t a huge deal to live without one as long as you have shelves. I don’t want to contemplate it without shelves. Sounds like chaos.

  18. posted by Sapphire on

    My husband and I have a large dresser that I can’t imagine living without, but my hat is off to those of you you can live dresser-less. It would certainly save a lot of floor space in the bedroom!

    Just out of curiosity, those of you who don’t use a dresser; you say that you have bins for socks and underwear, but where do you keep things like pajamas or workout clothing? Or things like t-shirts that can’t be hung up without the hangers stretching the shoulders? Additional closet shelving?

  19. posted by Daryl at WhiteHatBlackBox on

    Does this mean you’re going to experiment with getting rid of other containers (maybe a hamper or even a trash can O_o) to see what kind of uncluttering will result?

    It sounds like a pain, but I can see value in being forced to deal with your stuff, rather than putting it in a box (both literally and figuratively).

  20. posted by Rue on

    When I moved from my 950 sq ft apartment to a 396 sq ft apartment with my husband, I lost my huge dresser and didn’t have one (because the one hubby had was full of his stuff). Plus, the closet itself was full of his clothes as well. I ended up getting two sets of storage drawers (they were actually drawers that were meant for a closet). I had to purge my wardrobe, and I was able to roll up what I had left and stash it in those drawers.

    Now, we’re in an 800 sq ft apartment and STILL do not have a dresser. It’s fine, because we kept the aforementioned drawers and now use them as nightstands, but they hold our socks and underwear, as well as swimsuits and my shorts. Everything else is hung in the closet. I do miss having a dresser (especially for storage), but you can definitely live without one with just a little creativity!

    @Sapphire: I have always hung up T-shirts and have no problem with the shoulders stretching out or anything. Maybe the problem for you is your hangers. >_> For workout clothing, we simply hung it up. PJs went into small bins on a closet shelf.

  21. posted by Carol on

    I’ve been without a dresser for a few years now and I hate it. My last dresser (an huge triple dresser I bought used for $50) fell apart so when I moved I got rid of it and never replaced it because my ex promised me he’d get a closet organizer to add storage in the closet. That never happened and I don’t much shelf space in my closet so to corral the folded items like t-shirts and underwear I went to Walmart and bought the plastic drawers they sell. I guess that’s like having a cheap plastic dresser. I hate them but they can fit in a walk-in closet. I’d really like to have a chest of drawers though, something with a smaller footprint than a triple dresser.

    The lack of a real dresser hasn’t helped unclutter my wardrobe. I try to purge out old clothes once a year anyway. I rarely buy new clothes unless I’m replacing something I’ve worn out. I don’t own seasonal clothing that needs to be stored (grew up in a cheap family). I always try to purchase mix and match items so that I can make a few different outfits out the the items I own.

  22. posted by Dave on

    Having no dresser de-cluttered my life. I was used to having only a closet in dorm, so when I got a dresser when I moved into a house I started hoarding stuff and basically didn’t care about what I looked like. I had so many pants and tees, it wasn’t really funny.

    Now I got rid of the dresser, I am always looking at my clothes when I put on new one so I am more self-conscious of what I wear and junking worn out ones. I have about three or four It was then I learned I am a visual person and if I don’t see it, I forget things.

    A dresser is a great storage unit, but it is not for everyone’s lifestyle.

  23. posted by Dave on

    Oops, I hit submit before I was done editing.

    I have about three or four tees and a few shirts now, oppose to having over twenty or thirty.

  24. posted by Sandra on

    I can’t imagine going without a dresser in my house, which has typical 1950’s closets that are about 3×3 feet big. I am jealous of those who have room in their closets for bins, etc. There is no way my husband and I could share a closet that small without a dresser.

  25. posted by Megan on

    As much as I try to purge clothing, my lifestyle still requires quite a lot of clothing (work clothes, workout clothes, out-of-work clothes, pajamas… throw in seasonal layers, and that’s a lot of stuff!).

    I love hanging as much clothing as possible, but as an apartment-dweller, I’ve yet to come across an apartment with enough closet space to go without a dresser.

    Intimates, socks, workout clothes, pajamas, sweatpants/shirts, and scarves/accessories are all housed in my dresser. Jewelry, perfume, a couple photos, and a much-needed lamp sit atop.

    Skirts, jackets/blazers, pants, and all non-workout shirts hang in my closet. Jeans and sweaters get stacked on shelves.

  26. posted by oklagirl on

    We don’t have a dresser, either. We live in a newish house with a walk-in closet. We have drawers in the master bath that we use for pjs & workout clothes. Socks & undies go in baskets on the closet shelves, and sweaters go in a hanging sweater organizer. I love not having a dresser–we like the uncluttered look of our bedroom. ALL of our clothes are within a three-foot radius, so it’s easy to keep track of everything and purge when necessary. Keep thought-provoking comments like this coming, please!

  27. posted by Sunny Paris on

    “Shelves in a closet?

    Happy though indeed.”

  28. posted by Another Deb on

    This post just reminds me that we are shamefully hoarding clothing. My husband has all of his memories tied up in heavy woolen socks he “used to” wear in an entirely different latitude over 8 years ago, concert Tee shirts that fill up two large shelves and several suits he never wears.

    I have my memories tied up in clothes that will fit again some day… at least two years from whenever I actually begin exercising again.

    This adds up to three dressers, a wardrobe and a very generous walk-in closet. It is time to purge but I am the only one who buys-in to that idea. Sigh.

  29. posted by Melissa A. on

    I haven’t had a dresser in nearly 8 years. I’ve got along fine without one. Though I do have a nightstand now with 3 little drawers where I keep my socks and undies. I got that second hand.

  30. posted by KW on

    Marie and others make a good point – one’s necessary wardrobe varies based on one’s lifestyle. How about an Unclutterer poll to get an idea of averages for different folks. How many pants, shirts, socks, etc do you have for different uses such as working out, casusal time, dressy office wear, etc?

  31. posted by LBell on

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who doesn’t miss having a “formal” dresser. I have two flat plastic bins for sweaters (which go underneath the bed); two large three-drawer plastic cabinets (one of which doubles as a nightstand) for towels, sheets, socks, and pajamas, and one small three-drawer plastic cabinet for underwear.

    Currently the only items I own that require more than one pair of hands to move are my bookshelves, my loveseat, and my washer and dryer, and I like it that way.

  32. posted by LBell on

    ETA: I live in an ancient cottage that has two tiny closets, both for things (coats, clothes) that require hanging. I do not have a linen closet.

  33. posted by Anita on

    LBell: you must have one light bed, if it only requires one pair of hands to move 😉

  34. posted by gypsy packer on

    No dresser for many years. Yes, the socks go in a bin of sorts.

    I did purchase an antique washstand recently, the kind with a drawer and a chamber-pot compartment beneath. The drawer holds my spare laptop and fan, and the stereo is below. Great setup for ripping the old vinyl to mp3.

  35. posted by Lori on

    We have not had a dresser for the past 3.5 yrs. Not by choice (our original set was flooded and we have yet to find *the perfect* replacement). We we live with boxes and laundry bins in the bottom of the closet to hold socks/undies/tshirts/shorts etc. The rest of the clothes hang in the closet. We purged a lot of things to get to where we are, but we still need to do more. I wonder if when we do get a new dresser, will it all fit!?

  36. posted by mary alice blommel on

    Before donating to “charity” thrift stores, check out where the money goes. Our local “Vietnam Vet” thrift shop is a for-profit business that pays a veterans organization a tiny percent of profits to use the name.

  37. posted by Erin Doland on

    @alice — Where the money goes is irrelevant. The point is to get clutter out of your house. If a for-profit group makes money off your things, well good for them! They were able to sell something that you didn’t have the time or desire to sell yourself. Your clutter found a good home where someone else can find utility in that object. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Unless the money is going to fund some illegal drug enterprise or something else nefarious, it doesn’t really matter as long as the clutter is out of your house.

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    […] on Living Without a Dresser: We lived without dressers for many years. It always seemed like a purchase we could put off. We […]

  39. posted by Kathy on

    I’ve not had a dresser for 15+ years now. I use closet organizers, which can be the kind you install yourself or just simple hanging sweater bags with a basket for socks and undies.
    It frees up a lot of space in the bedroom and keeps you from storing ugly knick-knacks on a dresser top. My husband initially thought it was odd, but now really likes the idea.
    I have to laugh when people I know “discover” this idea and then excitedly show it to me. :*)

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