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High Ceiling Closet Storage Ideas

High ceiling closet storage ideas with built-in ladder

Ceiling heights have grown in recent years. Eight feet used to be standard in American homes. But ten and twelve-foot ceilings are now commonplace in newer construction. And vaulted ceilings continue to gain in popularity. So what are we doing with all this vertical space? The openness may add to a feeling of spaciousness throughout your living areas but ignoring this square footage in the closet creates wasted space. Take a look at these high ceiling closet storage ideas and learn to make the most of your closet's potential.

If you’re feeling cramped, it is always best to take a look at how you are using the space you already have before embarking on a major renovation project like a home addition. Ask yourself, do you really need more room, or do you just need to better utilize the space you already have? If your home features high ceilings, chances are they offer a lot of untapped storage potential.

Storage Ideas for Closets with High Ceilings

High ceiling closet storage can be added in several ways. The most practical solution involves simply adding extra shelves to the height of the closet. This will get you a lot of extra storage and is all many people need. Additional hanging space for garments stored on hangers can be gained by raising the position of the upper clothes rods within four-inches of the ceiling. Overhead storage cabinets can also be added, but make sure to choose the right door if you want to be able to open them without a ladder.

High Ceiling Shelves

Shelves should be one of the first high ceiling closet storage ideas you try. If your closet has a ceiling over eight-feet, you don't need to stop your shelving at the traditional height. You can run banks of shelves floor-to-ceiling for maximum storage. This can add an average of four extra feet of storage all the way around your closet. The shelves are great for shoes or items that can be stored in boxes, baskets, or folded on shelves. However, the top shelves can be difficult to access. Use these upper shelves or upper cabinets predominantly for out-of-season footwear and clothing or other items you use infrequently.

Master bedroom closet with shelves that extend to top of 10-foot ceiling
This closet features 10-foot ceilings. That's 2-feet higher than standard. In order to have enough shelves for the owner's entire shoe collection, shelves were run all the way up to the crown moulding on the ceiling.

Closet Ladders

Additionally, some sort of a closet ladder is recommended. Either a rolling ladder that is permanently fixed to the shelves or else a lightweight step stool that can be kept inside the closet will offer your best option for easy access. The rolling ladder is always out, and some people find this a nuisance. On the other hand, certain step stools are designed to mount to the closet panel when collapsed with special hooks for out-of-the-way storage. Sometimes the simple solution is best. Step stools are a straightforward and inexpensive option when it comes to high ceiling closet storage ideas. But make sure you choose a high-quality model with a non-slip base and treads. Three steps are adequate for closets with ceilings up to 12-feet.

Rolling ladder and stepladder for high ceiling closet storage
Use either a rolling ladder or a step stool to access the upper shelves in your high ceiling closet. The step ladder also works for out-of-reach cabinets.

High Ceiling Closet Hanging Rods

Adding hanging space to your high ceiling closet often necessitates mounting a clothes rod close to the ceiling. Rods can be mounted as close as four inches from the ceiling when needed. The four-inch clearance offers just enough space to conveniently remove the hanger from the clothes rod. A greater problem is trying to reach the hanger. Luckily, there are more options for hanging garments from a high ceiling closet than with shelves. Pull-down rods that lower to eye level and shepherd's hooks to extend your reach can make these high clothes rods accessible and convenient.


A clothes rod that mounts close to the ceiling but lowers to eye-level when needed is called a pull-down rod. They are available in either manual or electronic models. The manual units come with a handle you tug to lower the rod. But these rods don't hold much weight and are not recommended for loads over 25 pounds. Use them for storing swimsuits and other small, lightweight clothing.

The electric rod, on the other hand, works by remote control to raise and lower your clothing. It can generally hold around 75-pounds of garments. Use this type of rod for storing those suits and dresses you only wear occasionally to events like weddings and funerals.

Manual pull-down rod for closets with high ceilings
This master bedroom closet uses cubes for storage of small purses and items kept in boxes.

Shepherd's Hook

A closet shepherd's hook is a long pole with a small hook on the end for grasping hangers one at a time. This simple and inexpensive option is a good alternative to fancy pull-down rods. Of all the possible high ceiling closet storage ideas available, this is the simplest. It allows you to use standard clothes rods overhead in your high ceiling closet. Many clothing boutiques use this tool to increase their display area. Try this handy device in your own closet to access the clothing hung on your upper rods without resorting to a ladder. It stores when not in use by simply hooking it over an empty section of the rod.

Lady retrieving clothing hung on overhead rod using a shepherds hook
This woman is using a shepherd's hook to access the upper hanging rods in her closet.

Flip-Up Cabinet Doors

Cabinets that are out-of-reach near the ceiling can be difficult to access without a step stool. This makes them less convenient for the storage of everyday items. But it is possible to open many upper cabinets without a ladder by simply being careful in your choice of the cabinet door hinge. Flip-up doors are hinged on the top rather than the side and are a good option for overhead upper cabinets in closets because you don't need to be extra tall or standing on a ladder to open them. If you can reach the bottom of the cabinet, you can probably open a flip-up door.

closeup of hand raising an overhead flip-up cabinet door
Flip-up cabinet doors open from the bottom. It is easier to open overhead cabinets with this type of door than those using traditional side hinge doors.

Try these high ceiling closet storage ideas and free up space inside your home!

Don’t let your available space go to waste! If you have vaulted or ceilings greater than 8-foot, try building out your closet storage to the ceiling. High ceiling closet storage ideas in the form of ladders for shelves and cabinets, or rods and hooks for hanging areas will help you get the job done.

These are just some high ceiling closet storage ideas. There are lots more to consider. When you’re ready to start, contact us for a complimentary in-home consultation! If there's one thing we know it's closets. Our designers can steer you to the best possible use of your space.