In cold or messy weather, the coat closet may be the first thing visitors see. Yet many entryway closets are not a welcoming sight. In addition to coats, these closets are often crammed with everything from luggage and laundry to vacuum cleaners and sports gear — leaving you afraid to even open the door. Fear not: your overstuffed closet is not a lost cause. Clear the clutter with these clever organization ideas:
1. Use every inch of space. The coat closet is often the most under-utilized and overstuffed space in the house. “To make a typical coat closet more efficient you should remove the existing rod and shelf,” advises California Closets designer Lisa Lennard. This will make use of space that was dead before. “Then measure your longest coat and add two or three inches,” she instructs. “Reinstall the hanger rod at this lower height. In most cases, there will be room for two or three shelves above it where you can put baskets or boxes for small items.”
2. Double up. If your closet is wide enough, Lisa suggests installing a double closet rod. Hanging a second rod below the existing one will enable you to store another level of clothes, such as shorter jackets. Make sure to allow at least 36 inches between the top and bottom rod. An easy drill-free approach to achieving a double-hanging system is to use hanging rods that hook over existing rails. These nifty rods provide instant space for short-hanging clothes (Double hang closet rod, $10; The Container Store).
3. Make room for drawers. Remove the top shelf and raise the existing closet rod to uncover valuable vertical storage. In the space below the rod, install a chest of drawers for storing small items. Hang jackets or sweaters you’re using regularly on the rod above the chest. Longer coats, such as trench coats, can hang to the side of the small chest. Reserve the floor space below for weather boots.
No room for a chest of drawers? Buy a set of hanging canvas shelves. They are perfect for stowing everything from gloves and scarves in winter to sandals and caps in summer.
4. Purge. Determine clothing and accessories you wear and items that you need to give away. You can save more than a foot of space by donating three old winter coats. That’s enough space to install modular storage cubes, which can store gloves, scarves, and mittens.
5. Think outside the closet. Place a coat tree or a wall-mounted rack in your entryway for the outerwear you use every day. These organizers are great for grab-and-go items, such as jackets, scarves, umbrellas and hats.
6. Invest in space savers. Install an inexpensive over-the-door shoe organizer to store small winter necessities like gloves, earmuffs and knit caps. You can also keep keys, wallets, lint brushes and flashlights in this handy organizer.
7. Rotate seasonal clothes. In the spring, move winter coats to other storage places, such as less crowded closets, underbed storage units and unused suitcases. This will make way for lighter jackets, sweaters, warm-weather sports equipment and beach gear. The same goes for footwear: the boots of winter should give way to the sandals of summer. You can also try your local dry cleaner for more storage options. Many store out-of-season garments as a part of their service to customers.