Interior Storage

The Biggest Mistakes You’re Making with Your Coat Closet

If the mess is leading to stress, it’s time to clean it out and get organized.

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Rethinking Your Space

A coat closet serves a very important role. It keeps outerwear, shoes, and other accessories within easy reach to slip on or take off as you come and go. Furthermore, it keeps these bulky items out of your everyday bedroom closet. Yet despite its purpose, the coat closet usually ends up being so overstuffed that your arms get a workout just trying to push items to the side to find what you need. Sound familiar? Then it’s time to get your coat closet in order. But before you start, take note of these common pitfalls to avoid, so you can keep your coat closet shipshape throughout the year.

You’re Not Swapping with the Seasons

One of the biggest mistakes you’re making with your coat closet is not swapping out what you store there based on the seasons. Down jackets and snow boots take up a lot of space. While they’re great for storing in the coat closet during winter, they do nothing but create clutter during the other three seasons of the year. When assessing your closet, take out anything that’s not in season and stow it away in labeled, sealed containers in the garage or other utility storage space.

You’re Not Hanging Coats by Length

Intentional hanging makes a huge difference in the closet. If you hang coats randomly, shorter ones can get buried in the mix and you’ll find yourself never wearing them. You’re also missing the opportunity to double up short coats on multi-garment hangers, which creates more room for a section of longer coats.

You’re Not Using the Inside of the Door

The inside of the door is begging to be utilized. If you’ve been stuffing smaller items on a shelf in the closet, or tucked in a basket in a dark corner, consider adding an over-the-door storage solution with compartments for items such as umbrellas, hats, gloves, and purses.

You’re Not Using a Shoe Rack

Despite your best efforts, organizing shoes directly on the floor or on a high shelf is a recipe for disaster. Shoes get shoved aside, fall over, and end up in a big, messy pile. Instead, install a shoe rack, which keeps your footwear neat and organized. It will also free up more space for bulkier shoes like rain boots.

You’re Not Making the Most of Shelving

Vertical space is often overlooked in tight and spacious closets alike. If you already have a shelf above the closet rod, use clear bins or labeled decorative bins to store like items. You can pull down each basket when needed for easy access as opposed to rummaging through loose items grouped on a shelf that will likely fall and create a mess. If you don’t already have a shelf, there’s a good chance you can find plenty of vertical space to install one (or several).

Related: The Best Storage Bins for Getting Organized

You Store Wet Items in Your Coat Closet

Don’t let your impatience get the best of you! When you take off wet or damp coats and shoes, avoid immediately placing them in the closet. This can dirty or dampen dry items and could even cause mold or mildew growth. Plus, when you slip on your go-to footwear the next day, you’ll be frustrated to find it’s still wet. Be sure items are completely dry before stashing them in the coat closet.

You’re Not Using Quality Hangers

A hanger is just a hanger, right? Not exactly. Wire hangers lose their structure. Plastic hangers often break. Look for a durable hanger with a slim profile that can withstand heavy garments. Non-slip velvet hangers are a great option.

Related: 8 Notorious Closet Problems, Solved

It’s Doubling as a Utility Closet

The coat closet may be the only place in the home to store the mop, vacuum cleaner, or ironing board, but if it’s also holding the toolbox, a bulk supply of toilet paper and paper towels, wrapping paper, etc., then you might be going overboard. Be choosy with the extras you store in your coat closet. Keep it to items that you use often, and consider hanging them on a heavy duty wall-mounted organizer.

Related: 12 Storage Solutions for the Utility Closet

There’s No Lighting

Not every coat closet comes equipped with an overhead light, and yet a narrow hallway closet needs it most. Consider investing in a visit from an electrician to install a light, or try out bright, battery-operated, stick-on LED light strips. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can see—and how much mess there is to clean up!

Related: The Best Closet Lighting for Illuminating Your Coats and Clothes

There’s No Step Stool

If you’re truly making the most of your coat closet, you’ve taken advantage of vertical space. But if you can’t reach high-up items, you risk everything tumbling down as you make an attempt on your tippy toes. A simple, foldable step stool is the perfect solution.