Our coat closet has been the bane of my existence this past winter. I can’t even tell you how frustrating it was.
We have one downstairs closet for 7 people (my brother is living with us.) We don’t have room for an entryway storage area or a “mudroom” (as they call it here in New England.) Just one closet for all those hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, coats, snow pants, sweatshirts, and more.
It’s been a disaster.
The Main Purpose
Before I tell you how I organized our coat closet, I have to share my new organizing philosophy. It’s been the key to my success at finally getting our home more organized in a way that actually works.
Ask yourself: what is the main purpose of this space?
That simple question will help provide clarity as you tackle your organizing projects, both big and small. Your answer will define what your priority should be. Organize with that in mind and keep everything else secondary.
When it came to our downstairs closet, I determined that it’s purpose was to store coats and winter gear.
But we had so much stuff crammed in there, it didn’t do a good job at anything.
Everything else had to go.
Things like a large plastic drawer set for toys like Hex Bugs. (The kids never played with it because it couldn’t be reached.) A smaller plastic drawer set for miscellaneous things, like dog leashes, vacuum attachments, hats, etc. My yoga mat, an old backpack we only used for the occasional summer hike, Nate’s work bag, his school bag, and Joshua’s preschool backpack. Games. A box with stickers.
I cleared put the entire closet and went back to square one: coats and winter gear only.
Hats, mittens and gloves.
I read a tip that pocket over-the-door organizers are a great way for storing hats and mittens. So I bought one from Amazon. And it really does work.
Each person has their own row for hats, gloves, mittens, etc. I plan to use my favorite printable labels and attach one with each child’s name next to their row. (Since it’s spring now and I’m putting the winter gear away this weekend, that can wait until fall.)
Coats and Snowpants
We adults could hang up our coats, but the kids aren’t tall enough. So that’s four bulky winter coats and four snow pants that didn’t have a place.
As you can see in the first “before” picture, the kids just tossed their coats and leggings on the closet floor. That disorganized chaos caused a lot of issues. It was messy and we couldn’t find things. Sweatshirts would get lost in the bottom and dirty. It didn’t work.
After I cleared out all the junk from the closet, I discovered we had room to put hooks on the wall.
I hung Luke and Joshua’s at a lower level because they are smaller.
Nathan and Emily’s coats are hung on nails (we’re replacing them with hooks soon) on the opposite wall inside the closet.
Normally, you wouldn’t think it was important to keep sweatshirts in a coat closet, but we need to in our house.
That’s because my kids wear their sweatshirts a lot and with their bedrooms upstairs (and sometimes Luke napping), I found it wasn’t practical to expect the kids to run up and down the stairs for their favorite hoodie.
So I had to find a way to organize that too.
As the weather is getting warmer, I’ll be putting the winter coats and snow pants away soon, freeing up space on the hooks. But I needed a solution for the winter time when we had all the cold-weather gear out.
At the suggestion of a good friend, I settled on a canvas hanging closet organizer. I bought mine at Target, but you can find them at Amazon and other places online too.
Our new organizer is perfect. There’s space for each child to store 1-2 sweatshirts. Not that everything’s always folded neatly; usually the kids cram the sweatshirts in their cubbies, but it’s a huge improvement from the past method of throwing everything on the floor.
There’s also space for nicely storing hats and the vacuum attachments.
Room for Extra’s
Now that I had the necessities (coats and winter gear) organized, I actually had room to bring back a few secondary things.
I really wanted to keep my vacuum and steam cleaner in the closet and now I have room.
(Seeing these pictures reminds me that I need to repaint the closet and repair some of the cracks in the old plaster (oh how I hate plaster!) but that’s another project for another day.)
There’s also room for hanging my purse, my thirty-one bag (which doubles as a diaper bag), two dog leashes, and finally Joshua’s preschool backpack which is low enough for him to hang himself.
Because I cleared the floor, I even have space for Nate to put his heavy work and school bags. They simply sit in the back corner on the floor.
The top shelf of the closet now stores a small box with vacuum cleaner bags, games, and a couple fleece blankets for curling up with on the couch.
After a few weeks with our newly organized closet, I’m happy to say it’s working quite well. We can find what we need quickly and just as easily, put it away again.
Of course I still have to remind the kids to hang up their coats, but that’s life with kids, right? And the important thing is there’s now a place for each child to put their things.
That’s what organizing is all about!
And all the rest of the junk I cleared out of the closet? We don’t miss it one bit. I threw out a ton of it and other things, like their Hex Bug sets are now more accessible in another area of the house.
Organizing the coat closet? Success!
Do you have a favorite coat closet organizing tip?
I’d love to hear it – leave me a comment!
My next project is organizing my spices. I can’t wait to share how that turned out!