Coat Closet Organization

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What’s in your coat closet? Aside from the obvious (coats), probably a lot. Coat closets are one of those places that collect household items that may not have other obvious homes. No two coat closets are the same, but regardless of what you keep in there, there are certain tips and tricks to help you maximize and organize your space. Let’s talk about coat closet organization, shall we?

Coat closet organization can be a challenge, but this guide will help you maximize and organize every inch of your space!
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The Problem with Coat Closets

I have a bone to pick with home builders… well, I have a few, but the one I’m talking about today is the single 5′ tall shelf/rod that builders seem to think is sufficient in coat closets. One rod in a coat closet is not sufficient.

First off, the single shelf and single rod are barely enough space to keep the basics.

Second, the tall rod can really hinder kids’ independence. One tall rod doesn’t allow kids to get their own coats or backpacks in and out of the closet without an adult’s help.

Third, one rod/shelf combo in a coat closet doesn’t maximize the space.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to get more bang for your coat closet buck. The first step is ALWAYS purging excess, then we’ll talk about ways you can increase storage in your coat closet.

How to Organize a Coat Closet

Coat closets are a great place to organize because they’re usually pretty small and they have a distinct purpose.

Step 1: Empty the Closet

When organizing the coat closet, don't be surprised if things get worse before they get better.

As with any organizing job, it’s always beneficial to empty the space fully before you attempt to organize it. Emptying the space allows you to evaluate the space and evaluate the STUFF.

Don’t be intimidated by all the things in the closet. Just take it all out.

It also provides you with a blank slate for putting things away and eliminates the temptation to just leave things where they are assuming you’re keeping them.

Step 2: Purge & Sort

An essential step to organizing minimizing your belongings. You can have your stuff or you can have your space, but often, you can’t have both.

Having fewer items in the closet makes organized it and keeping it organized so much easier. Having fewer belongings makes life easier, too, but that’s beside the point.

Common Coat Closet Categories


Look through your coats and find a few to get rid of. I’m sure there are some in there that you haven’t worn for a while. If it’s itchy, ill-fitting, or no longer matches your style, let it go! Someone else will be grateful to have it — there are many people in need of a warm coat.

Winter Gear

Look through any winter gear you have and evaluate it. Use the same criteria as above and let go of what no longer serves you.

Winter gear is best kept in a bin or baskets. If you have many people in your family, consider one bin per person.

Household Items

Coat closets are often located close to the door and their purpose is to hold items you need when you’re leaving the house. It’s also usually a central location in the home, making it a convenient place to store items you may need in a pinch.

Here are some other categories of items you may keep in your coat closet:

  • lightbulbs
  • flashlights
  • vacuums & accessories
  • umbrellas
  • reusable bags
  • purses
  • backpacks
  • camera & gear
  • suntan lotion
  • hats
  • leashes & pet waste bags
  • shoes
  • batteries
  • small tool kit

Coat closets can cover a lot of ground, but it’s also quite likely that there are things in there that may be happier living elsewhere in your home.

Can you move anything to the garage, basement, or laundry room instead of keeping it in your coat closet?

Some items will probably need to stay, and that’s okay, as long as you’re intentional about your space.

Step 3: Look for options to maximize your space.

While your closet is empty is a great time to evaluate your space. Is it being used as efficiently as possible? Are there any empty spaces you could use better? Continue reading for some simple solutions.

Ways to Maximize Space Entry Closet Organization

One coat closet organization solution I propose in many client’s homes is to add additional shelving. Adding shelves in a coat closet provides you with more space to store your items, but rarely does it affect your existing storage, unless you’ve got a lot of long items hanging.

Related Post: How to Maximize Space in a Small Pantry

Adding Shelving to Organize Your Coat Closet

Adding additional shelving can be a really great way to add functionality to your coat closet.

Shelves on the Bottom

Leave your one 5′ tall shelf where it is and add a lower shelf along the bottom of the closet about 16 inches off the ground. While the coats will still be high (potentially still too high for kiddos to reach them), the new shelf is a great space to store shoes, backpacks, winter gear, or even board games.

Shelves on the Top

Another option is to lower your rod and add additional shelving above the original shelf. Lowering the rod will allow children to reach their coats and snow clothes independently. It will also provide you with additional space above the shelf for the household items you need to store.

This is the option we went with. We now have 3 shelves within our coat closet. The bottom shelf is 48 inches off the ground and the other shelves are 15 inches apart.

Add a few more shelves in to your coat closet to maximize functionality.
The middle shelf pictured here was the original shelf in this closet. We added a top and a bottom shelf for more storage.
Adding Hooks to Organize Your Coat Closet

Another great way to maximize space in a coat closet is to add hooks. Hooks can be installed on the walls or the doors of an entry closet.

They’re perfect for hanging jackets, backpacks, hats, umbrellas, leashes, purses, reusable grocery bags, or keys.

Hooks are a great tool for organizing your coat closet.

Hooks are inexpensive and you can hang them at any height to make the space accessible for all members of your household. If the idea of tools and drills is intimidating for you, consider Command Hooks — go for the heavy duty ones that hold a lot of weight.

Now that we’ve maximized the space in the entryway closet, let’s get back to the organization.

Step 4: Contain, Hang, and Place

Once you’ve sorted your items into categories, you’re going to want to decide how you’re going to store them.

Some items, like coats, should be hung up. Other items, like flashlights or gloves, would be better stored in bins. Then, there are some items that will probably just need to be placed on shelves with intention.

Some options below are a bit of a splurge, but if you’re going to splurge, the coat closet is a great place to do it. The small size will limit your spending, and the nicer finishes will give guests a nice impression when you hang their coat.

Once you’ve decided how to store your items, you can place them back into your space.

Storage Solutions for Coat Closets

Hangers for Coat Closet Organization

Clothing is probably the easiest part of the coat closet organization process.

You can hang coats and snow pants on hangers. I suggest investing in some heavy duty wood hangers because the weight of winter coats can cause hangers to bend and break. The hangers go on the closet rod.

Investing in matching wooden hangers is a great splurge for your coat closet organization project.

Hooks for Entry Closet Organization

Remember those hooks you installed? Whether you installed them on the door or the wall space, you can use them now.

Hooks are perfect for hanging leashes, backpacks, purses, and keys. Command hooks can easily hold any of these items.

Hooks are perfect for umbrellas and leashes when you're working on your coat closet organization project.

If you store sports equipment in your coat closet, a hook could work for certain items such as tennis rackets.

Containers for Coat Closet Organization

Often, it’s helpful to use bins, baskets, or other containers to hold like items within a space. The coat closet is a great place to splurge on upgraded bins that match — but if you’re on a budget, you can definitely get organized without them.

When using bins, try to use a bin to match them to the size of what you’re storing — too big of a bin will waste space, too small of a bin will overflow and be messy.

Bins up on the top shelf of a coat closet are great for organizing smaller items.
These white bins are my favorite for organizing.

Store hats, gloves, and scarves in a bin. You can separate them by type if you like, but sometimes it’s just simpler to toss them all in a basket together.

Household items such as flashlights, lightbulbs, and vacuum accessories are also helpful in a bin.

Matching bins upgrade the look and organization of a coat closet.
These hyacinth baskets are great for an upgraded look. Upgrade them with these labels.

Hobby items that you often take on-the-go such as a camera and accessories can also be contained in a basket or bin.

How about those extra bags? I like to file fold extra bags and stick them in a bin or another bag, which then goes on a shelf.

Careful Placement for Coat Closet Organization

There are probably some items in your coat closet that cannot be binned or hung. When it comes to those items, you just have to place them with some intention.

Line up boots and shoes on the floor, or on a low shelf you may have been inspired to install. A simple shoe rack tucked behind the jackets is another good option. Just remember to measure before you buy!

Ideally sporting equipment would go in a garage or shed, but if that’s not available, the coat closet might have to do. Baseball or lacrosse equipment in bags could be stood up in the corner, laid on the floor, or put on a shelf. It should contain loose balls in a bin.

A step stool can be tucked along one side of the closet between the coats and the wall.

Coat closet organization: stash a step stool between the coats and the wall.
I see you, step stool.

No other spot for your vacuum? Slide it between a few coats.

Step 5: Label (optional)

The last step to organizing your coat closet is to label your bins. Skip this step if you didn’t use bins or if you used clear bins and you wouldn’t like to use labels.

Contain small items in a basket when organizing your entry closet.
Don’t forget the label if you’re using opaque bins or baskets!

Labels help you know what’s in a basket quickly and simply. They also serve as a reminder for where things should go when you’re done using them.

Here are some of my favorite ways to label for organization.

My Organized Coat Closet

Our coat closet is in the front of our home and stores household items, plus coats and winter gear for our family of five. We also have a mudroom, so our mudroom takes the brunt of the winter mess, as well as all the shoes.

A few years ago, we installed two additional shelves in our coat closet and it’s been amazing. It tripled our shelf space while maintaining all our hanging space. None of us own any long coats, so hanging those is not an issue for us.

An organized coat closet is a great first impression for guests!

We hang our coats and snow pants in the winter.

I purchased matching hyacinth bins and bin clips for the shelves. I could only fit five, so while it was a bit of a splurge, it was still affordable and it looks great in this space.

The bottom shelf has three small bins, which hold flashlights, vacuum attachments, and a basket of gifts that I buy in advance or just keep on hand.

Hyacinth baskets with bin clips contain the random items that live in our coat closet.

The middle shelf has two larger baskets of less-used items — another basket for gifts (which is going to be repurposed for winter accessories) and our camera.

The top shelf hold is not very accessible, so I store items I rarely use up there. We have a few baby toys and a folding baby seat for when young nieces and nephews come visit. Our snow pants also go up there in the summer.

I keep the floor of our coat closet as clear as possible because pet hair gathers down there, but I slide my vacuum between the coats and hide my step stool against the wall.

Coat closet organization can be a challenge, but this guide will help you maximize and organize every inch of your space!

Coat Closet Organization

Coat closet organization doesn’t have to be difficult! Just empty, purge, maximize, contain, and label! Have I inspired you to get organized or given you any ideas for maximizing space in your entry closet? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below and let me know!

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