Sometimes a coat closet seems to be a repository for everything but coats — while coats themselves get strewn about an entry way or wherever they are shed.  What really should go in a coat closet, and how can it be organized? The answers, of course, will vary depending upon the space available as well as the needs and habits of the people using it.  But here are some general guidelines to consider in your quest to spiff up your coat closet this spring

  1. A bin for each person.  In winter, these bins might hold each person’s hat, mittens, scarf, and other cold-weather gear.  When the weather is warmer and those items are packed away, the bins might hold swim goggles, ball caps, or other warm-weather accessories.
  2. A bin for seasonal items.  In summer, this bin might hold bike helmets or beach towels, while in winter it might be a place for ice skates or other cold-weather gear.
  3. Grab-and-go items.  This might include sunscreen, reusable shopping bags, or water bottles.
  4. Extra hangers.  Have a couple hangers available for guests, while resisting the urge to have too many — it’s surprising how much space empty hangers can take up!
  5. First Aid Kit.  It’s nice to have first aid basics (bandaids, Benadryl, Tylenol, etc.) at the ready right where littles come in the door. This reduces the chance that your home will look like a tiny crime scene while on the hunt for a bandage.
  6. Vacuum Cleaner.  Like it or not, it’s reality:  the coat closet is the best space most of us have for a tall, bulky item like a vacuum cleaner.  Robot vacuums may seem to be changing our need for these items, but until they are able to get out the edge tool they won’t completely eliminate our need for old-fashioned vacuums.

Notice that shoes are not on the list. A lot of people will not use a two-step process for keeping shoes organized: first step is opening the door, second step is putting shoes inside on a rack. You may be thinking okay, we won’t use a rack, we can just toss our shoes inside on the floor. It’s still two steps, and shoes not on a rack tend to get lost in coat closets.  Instead, consider setting up a landing place right when you come inside the house.  This might be a bench, with a place for shoes underneath or in a nearby cubby. If you find that two steps is too much for coats, it can help to have a coat hook designated for each person.

As a general rule, remember M.L.E.: Make Life Easy… make organization as simple and convenient as possible.  The more steps, the more opportunities there are for something not to happen.