Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Coat Closet Challenge: Four Weeks to Clutter-Free Closets

It's Wednesday, and time for a Four Weeks to Clutter-Free Closets Update!
I have to start by saying that I'm a total procrastinator. I did the bulk of the work on my coat closet yesterday (Tuesday), but didn't finish the full re-org until this afternoon. Then I had a dear friend over for a visit, followed by Pioneer Girls, and now it's time (at 9:52) to edit some pictures and write this post. This is the closest I've cut it (11:57 p.m.) to meeting my self-imposed deadline. 

Unfortunately, part of that is because of the cruel trick our weather played on us this week. Sunday and Monday were gorgeous, and I just wanted to be outside. Tuesday was yucky and rainy, but still fairly warm. I guess I was in denial when it came to the forecasted wintry mix for last night, because I removed all the winter coats from our closet. And then I woke up to this...
Picture me using my best two-year-old voice whining, "But I don't want it!"
Yup, that's snow. Along with the dusting of white stuff came below-freezing temperatures. It was 26 degrees when I got up! So, guess who had to haul out all the warm coats again? Fail!

Anyway, on to today's project: the Coat Closet. With Spring's (very hestitant) arrival, this closet was in serious need of a re-do. It's actually the reason I started this whole Four Weeks to Clutter-Free Closets challenge. I've been itching to dig in there for a few weeks, but I wanted to wait until I had a good blogging opportunity. #blogger problems

The Before:

I knew this closet was bad... but taking a photo really shows how much disarray was in such a small space! All kinds of shoes and bags were randomly tossed onto the floor because they either didn't have a home, or their home could not be reached. No wonder the door was always closed!

What Was Working:

  • Over-the-door Hooks. I really like having the Diaper bag on the door. It makes it so much easier to grab when we are on the way out the door, especially since this closet is directly across from the door to the garage.
  • The shoe rack, when we actually use it.
  • The closet bar and coat hangers for coat storage.

What Wasn't Working:

  • Too many shoes. Way more shoes than there was room for on the white wire shelf you can barely see in the picture.
  • The top shelf of the shoe rack wasn't visible. Because of all the coats, I couldn't see which bags were on the shelf, so I had to dig to find them.
  • Too many coats. Fall coats were still in there, as well as winter coats and a few spring coats. I'm going to try to limit us to 2-3 coats in that closet at a time (windbreaker, rain coat, and heavier jacket).
  • Too many bags. Just wait until you see how many were hiding in there.
  • The wire bins on top. With the lip in front, it's hard to get things in and out. Plus, they really had no designated purpose, so things just got randomly tossed up there. 

Starting Fresh:

I took everything out and vacuumed the floor. It definitely needed it! When I was done, I was left with this beautiful blank slate.

And a whole lot of stuff! Coats on the couch, bags against the wall, and piles on the floor. I made a good dent in it before Kiddo woke up from his nap, and then I threw what was left into a laundry basket to address later.
Just call me a bag lady! I found 15 bags of all kinds in the closet, two of which are not pictured above. Several bags had gotten buried behind the coats or tossed on the foor. It turns out I had 4 "trip bags" with magazines and knitting or crocheting projects, ready to take in the car on our trips to visit family anywhere from one to six hours away. That was an easy fix. I purged the magazines and gathered my handwork into one bag, and I will donate or re-purpose the extra bags. The rest of the clutter either found new homes, was discarded, or was returned to the closet.

Putting It All Together:

Even though the wire bins didn't work the greatest, I decided to keep them for now. Eventually, I'd like to add shelves to both the top and the bottom, similar to this, but until then we'll make do. So everything had a home, I made some quick and easy labels out of index card halves and twist-ties. At least now I'll know what goes in each one. :)
Top Left: Winter Gear, Top Right: Hats
Bottom Left: Stickers & Paper, Bottom Right: Art Supplies

When I put everything back in to the bottom of the closet, I took time to think about where everything should go. I put the shoe rack in first, added as many shoes as would fit on each shelf, and moved the rest to our bedroom closets. Then I placed my MOPs/Bible Study Bag, my purse, and my "trip bag" on the top shelf, and to prevent them from getting hidden again, I hung Kiddo's coats over the shelf.

To the right of the shelf is a little vacuum perfect for quickly cleaning up small spills, and hanging from the shelf from an s-shaped shower hook is our little cooler bag for snacks or picnics.

The last major issue to address was Hubby's sweaty running gear. Hubby's watch, vest, and hat (with a light for early morning runs) were all being stored in this closet. Amazingly, the closet doesn't stink, but these items will sometimes drip sweat right after his run, which is pretty gross. I wanted to find a way to keep them in the closet, while at the same time separating them from everything else. Originally, I was going to use a command hook like I used for our closet baskets, but there weren't any left. We did, however, have some small hooks left over from hanging measuring spoons inside a kitchen cabinet.  I hung them on the wall just inside the door, added an s-hook to each one, and voila!
I was very pleased, and I hope Hubby is too! I seriously love those s-hooks for hanging pretty much anything.

Finally, the Diaper bag, an umbrella, and Kiddo's backpack went on the door. With that, my project was complete!

The Final Product:

I think this re-organization has produced a very liveable and maintainable coat closet. I really took the time to think about the space and our needs. I hope to report back to you with success when I switch seasonal clothes in the fall!

Let's see the before and after together. What a difference!

This coat closet definitely won't be making it onto the glossy pages of Martha Stewart Living, but it's a functional space for our family. And for $0, you can't beat the price!

Our coat closet was definitely the messiest space in my house. Which closet needs work in your home?


  1. These are some great organization ideas! Thanks so much for sharing them with us!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a kind comment! :) Glad to participate in the Show-licious party!


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