Sunday, January 13

7 Coat Closet Organization Tips (from our family of 6!)

Something about a new year always has us itching for a fresh start!  I'm ready to organize, declutter, and simplify (along with another huge overhaul you can read about here). And I started with this little coat closet that sits just inside the door. 


Two years of coats on the floor and piles of shoes was all this momma could handle. I did some very basic "organizing" last year with a few baskets I brought in the move plus a couple empty diaper boxes (yup.). It was enough to get us by for a while, but I finally had to face the fact that it just wasn't serving our family as well as it could. The good news? It was a super simple fix and it didn't cost much!



the "before"

The single best move we made in this closet was abandoning the rod. I mean, it's still there, (you can see it below) but we just have a couple hangers at the side for guests and it gets zero daily use. We've found a few huge perks to using wall hooks instead of coats:
  1. Hangers are another mess that end up all over the floor.
  2. Hangers are a pain. We're much less likely to actually hang coats if it takes that much work.
  3. The kids can't reach the bar, but we can install hooks at their level. 
  4. Coats at the sides of the closet don't block the shelves so we can get to shoes and hats easily. 
We installed the hooks on the right last year and added more on the left this time around.

So my #1 tip for coat closets?
1. Say Goodbye to Hangers

There are all kinds of coat hooks with all kinds of price tags, and I might choose something different for hanging coats in a visible space (like our DIY coat racks here and here), but for this space we opted for a heavy duty, utilitarian product that can really meet our functional needs. It actually came from the garage organization section at Home Depot, but it's perfect for this. And was only $12 per rack.

2. Add Shelving 
If coat racks are the superhero, good shelving is the side-kick! We were lucky to already have shelving installed in this closet and it has been a game-changer! It's amazing to have all the shoes, hats, scarves, etc. in one place. If your closet doesn't have any shelving (yet) take a good hard look at it. Try taking everything out and starting with a totally empty space. Is there a better way you can use it? Think outside the box and see if you can free up any space for some super handy shelving! Even if you can just squeeze in a shelf or two at one side or along the bottom, I bet you can put your closet to work in a whole new way!

3. Keep Things Off the Floor
This is much easier once you have a good solution for coats and some shelving for all the extras. I can tell you from experience that once your floor is clear, it's much easier (and you'll be more motivated) to keep it that way. Then when you see a jacket on the floor, you take two seconds to pop it on the rack and your closet is beautiful again. But this only works if you have a place for everything that is easy to use. So really think through your storage needs and make the most of your space.

We also make the most of this space by keeping bulky winter coats in our back hallway since we don't use them often.

4. Give Everyone their Own Space
Your life will be so much easier when everyone can take care of their own coats and shoes. We had been using a large diaper box to corral all the boys's shoes and, while it did the job, the boys had trouble sorting through the box to find their own. I mean, have you ever met a five-year-old? It would take them about five years to find their shoes if they were the only pair in the box. Momma needs her patience for other more important matters, thankyouverymuch. So we went to Meijer and got four basic clear plastic boxes for $2.50 each. One for each boy. I feel like these are the forgotten weapon in the age of #basketsofinstagram, but they are affordable + durable + washable = perfect for shoes! We also gave the boys their own space to hang jackets, but we'll talk more about that in a minute.

5. Banish Odors
Lots of little boys means lots of little stinky feet! And a very stinky closet. We ordered these charcoal bamboo air-freshener bags and tossed one in each box. I was skeptical to say the least, but after a few weeks the smell is gone!


6. Put Things in Reach
Especially for the kids. We've always put coat racks where the kids can reach them (like the DIY coat rack at our last house and the super-size DIY coat rack in our back hallway) and it's a mommy game-changer to have kids that can hang their own coats. But we realized we still made a mistake in this closet when we hung their rack right below ours on the right-hand wall. We hung it too high and our grown-up coats covered the kids' hooks. Not a big deal, right? Apparently it is for small boys. They almost never got their jackets onto those hooks. So when we did this little organizing update, we added a kid-height rack on the left-hand wall without any obstacles. And guess what? They hang things up now!

No kids? The rules still apply! Put the things you use most where you can reach them easily. You're much more likely to put your shoes away at the end of the day if you have a convenient spot right by the door. And you're more likely to get you hat back in a hat basket if you don't have to climb to the top shelf to reach it. Remember to make your closet work for YOU!

7. Minimize
There are two ways that minimizing can actually maximize you closet space! First is the more obvious route - to minimize the actual amount of things you need to store. Keep what you need and get rid of the rest! Like they say, "owning less is better than organizing more." And it's certainly easier to clean up.

The second is to minimize what you keep in this specific closet. You shouldn't get rid of things you need, but you may not need to keep them here. If your coat closet is a work-horse for daily use like ours, try to stick to daily-use items. Don't clutter that precious space with items you'll use once a year unless they tuck into an out-the-way spot that won't interfere with your ease-of-use on a daily basis. We save a ton of space in here by keeping things we don't use often - like heavy winter coats and snow pants - in our back hallway. Our racks in here just keep the lighter jackets that we use regularly.


That's all I've got! And if you don't have an actual coat closet, don't sweat it. We've been there, too. And these same tips still apply to a mudroom or a simple "drop zone" by the door. Put it to work!!

I'd love to hear your best closet-organizing tips!

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