October 29, 2022  

How To Declutter & Organize Your Coat Closet – 20+ Ideas For Families!

An organized coat closet does wonders for getting you out the door quickly! Here’s how to do a closet cleanout and make the most of your storage space even if you have a small entry closet.

I recently decluttered and organized my small entryway coat closet and am blown away at just how much storage I was able to fit into this small space. Our messy coat closet always felt cluttered and way too small. But once I took the time to properly declutter the space and put some thought into a few strategic closet organizers, I was able to maximize the storage space in our small hall closet and make it a whole lot more functional for our busy family.

Keep reading to see all the organization I packed into our small closet and I’ll share plenty of organizing ideas as we go so you can tackle your coat closet, too!

Looking for more closet organization ideas? Take a look at these blog posts:


This project was sponsored by The Container Store. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for details.

Our Small Coat Closet Makeover

We’ve lived in this house for five years and our coat closet has pretty much been a mess that entire time. The problem is that I never took the time to think about how we could best utilize the space so things just got shoved inside haphazardly. Over time, our closet attracted more clutter and it always felt so jam-packed.

Our closet is located in our entryway near both the front door and the garage door. It’s a very standard small hall closet with a basic closet rod and wire shelving up top.

Our “entryway” is really just a little area by our front door and the closet needs to store a lot of items because we do not have a mud room or a lot of room for coat hooks or anything beyond the closet itself. I have a small console table near the closet where we drop keys in a bowl and there’s a big basket underneath for our kids’ shoes.

Check out our small entryway organization to see how the layout flows.

With the Midwest winter just around the corner, I decided it was time to give our little entry closet some proper attention and get it all organized and ready for winter coat season. With two adults and now two kids, our family needs this closet to function better for us.

So I cleaned out our entire coat closet, purged a lot of things, painted the walls a pretty blue, added a few new closet organizers, and filled it back up in a more thoughtful way this time.

And WOW am I ever happy with how this quick organizing project turned out! Check out the before and after:



Closet Source List

Here’s a list of all of the products I used in our closet:

How To Declutter Your Coat Closet

With any home organization project, it’s always best to begin by decluttering the space. There’s no sense in organizing items you don’t need! The less stuff you have, the easier it will be to create a functional coat closet.

So before we dive into ideas for organizing your closet, let’s take a minute to run through a few tips for decluttering a coat closet.

Step 1: Set Up A Donation Box & Trash Bag

Before you start decluttering, set up the following things so you’ll be ready to sort items as you clean out the closet.

  • Donation Box – Grab an empty cardboard box that can be used to collect all items you plan to donate.
  • Trash Bag – Get a trash bag or garbage can ready for all of the trash you’re bound to find.
  • Relocation Basket/Box – Get something that can be used to collect all of the things you find that need to be relocated to other areas of the house. A laundry basket works great for this but any cardboard box or plastic bin will do the job.
  • Sell Bin – If you expect to find numerous items you plan to sell on Facebook Marketplace or similar sites, you may want a box or bin to put them in.

Step 2: Declutter In Sections & Sort As You Go

If you’re a busy mom like I am, you probably don’t have time to devote to a lengthy decluttering spree. And that’s why instead of taking everything out of the closet first like a lot of advice tells you to do, I recommend focusing on one small section at a time.

That way when you undoubtedly get interrupted, you aren’t left with a giant mess of things you didn’t get time to deal with. When I was cleaning out our entryway closet, it really did it in several small chunks of time spread out over the course of a weekend.

Choose one small section of the closet and remove each item one by one. For example, when I was decluttering our closet I treated hanging items as one section, the top shelf as another section, the floor as another section, and so on.

As you pick up an item, decide what to do with it: keep, relocate, trash, donate, or sell. Put it in the corresponding box or basket and keep going until you’ve cleared everything out of that section.

Step 3: Clean & Put Things Away As You Go

Once you’ve cleared out a section, take a minute to do some light cleaning. Sweep the floor, dust off the shelves, dump the crumbs and dirt out of the bottom of storage baskets, that sort of thing.

Then go ahead and put everything in your keep pile right back into the closet. Yes, you heard me right! Don’t go find new closet organizers just yet, instead let’s stay focused on decluttering your whole closet. And the easy way to do that without making a huge mess in the rest of the house is to declutter one small section at a time and put items back inside once you’re done.

If your boxes are full or you are done for the day, go ahead and take a couple of minutes to take out the trash, load donations into your car, and walk around the house putting away all the items you set aside to relocate.

Before Decluttering:

After Decluttering:

Helpful Small Coat Closet Organization Ideas

Once you’ve finished decluttering the closet, I recommend assessing what categories of items you have and considering how they could best be stored in the closet space you have to work with.

This could mean purchasing a few new closet organizers, but always start with the containers and organizers you already have and go from there!

1 | Organize Your Hallway Closet Into Zones

Take inventory of the different categories of items you store in your closet. Do these categories make sense to store in the coat closet?

Are there other items you’d like to make room for? What do you reach for on a regular basis that would be convenient to keep in the front closet? Are there things that could find a new home in the linen closet or a bedroom closet instead?

Here are the categories of items we currently store in our small entryway closet:

  • Coats
  • Hats & Gloves
  • Everyday Shoes
  • Snow Boots
  • Dog Food
  • Pet Supplies
  • Reusable Shopping Bags
  • Paper & Plastic Grocery Bags
  • Sunscreen
  • Umbrellas
  • Sunglasses
  • Spare Change
  • A Few Cleaning Supplies

Other ideas:

  • Sports Equipment
  • Backpacks
  • Purse
  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Cleaning Caddy
  • Pool Bag
  • Gift Wrap
  • Home Maintenance Tools/Supplies
  • Board Games
  • Toys
  • Inbox For Mail/Paperwork

2 | Add Shoe Storage

Shoe organization is critical for many families, and the good news is there are tons of options! I added a shoe rack to the floor of our closet as a designated spot for our everyday shoes and love that there’s just enough room for our winter boots on the bottom.

Other options for shoe organization include over-the-door shoe bags, cube shelves or some sort of cubbies, building shoe shelving along the bottom of your closet, and more.

You can also add more shoe storage outside the closet by utilizing shoe cabinets and shoe organizers that often look like furniture with shelves for shoes inside. IKEA has a tilt-out shoe cabinet that’s very popular and takes up little space!

In addition to the shoe rack in our entryway closet, I also have a big wicker basket under our entry console table where our little kids can toss all their shoes. It’s easy for them to access their shoes this way and something they can maintain.

3 | Limit How Many Pairs Of Shoes Are Kept In The Closet

If you’re working with a small space, it’s a great idea to keep the bulk of your family’s shoes somewhere else.

For example, David and I each keep a couple of our everyday shoes in the entryway closet and the rest of our shoes are stored in our bedroom closets.

If shoes are a huge problem for you, implementing a rule on the number of shoes each family member keeps in the entryway or coat closet can help a lot.

4 | Utilize The Back Of The Door

One of the most overlooked spots for storage is behind doors! I added this Elfa door organizer from The Container Store to the inside of our closet door and I cannot get over how much those wire baskets hold!

I was pretty worried about finding room for all of our things, but this organizer created a lot of space for smaller items like hats, gloves, and dog supplies.

The great thing about the Elfa door organizer is that all of the components can be moved around so you can reconfigure it however works best for your family.

I ordered this Elfa organizer and added one additional large mesh basket. There are several variations of this organizer to choose from and you can also customize the design and order the exact pieces you want. I’m excited to use the Elfa gift wrap door organizer on another door in our home this fall, too!

Other options for the back of your closet door include hanging organizers like this canvas one with compartments, a hanging shoe organizer, or even a few Command hooks on the door can create a great place for hats, purses and backpacks.

5 | Add Storage To The Bottom Of The Closet

Don’t forget about the space on the floor of the closet! I tried out a few options before landing on the shoe rack with a dog food container next to it. These felt like the best use of our floor space right now and I’m so happy that they happen to fit side by side so well!

You can also make the most of that floor space by adding large baskets, shoe shelves/cubbies, stackable drawers, a small mobile cart for gift wrap, etc.

6 | Add Baskets Or Fabric Bins To The Top Shelf

A couple of storage bins on the upper shelf of your coat closet can be a great way to store lesser-used and off-season items. Lightweight bins or baskets with handles make it easy to pull them down off the shelf and grab what you need out of them.

These beautiful baskets are the perfect size to fit two on our closet shelf. One holds dog supplies like grooming items and medicines, and the other basket is currently empty!

We’ll see what we end up storing in the empty basket, but right now I’m thinking it might be a nice spot for out-of-season items. I like the idea of stashing winter hats and gloves in the basket during the warmer months so they’re up high and out of the way. And we can rotate summer items like sunscreen and bug spray in the basket while it’s cold outside.

Measure your shelf and look for baskets or bins that will best fill up your shelf space (don’t forget to shop your house first!).

For upper shelves, I like using opaque storage bins that hide some of the visual clutter–just be sure to add labels so you know what’s inside!

7 | Add More Hanging Space

If you have the standard single hanging rod, you might want to consider adding another rod. This isn’t something we need in our closet, but a second rod hung lower to the floor can be a great spot for kid coats. You can mount another bar across the entire closet or use something like this closet rod that actually hangs from your existing closet rod.

8 | Make The Most Of Unused Vertical Space

Think about ways you can strategically use vertical space in your closet. If you have a standard closet with the basic rod and shelf up top, you’ll definitely want to make the most of the bottom of the closet underneath your hanging items.

Our family’s coats only take up about half of the hanging rod which leaves a lot of open space on the left side of our closet. I originally added this freestanding tower of drawers which was a great use of that empty vertical space, but ultimately decided we needed the shoe rack more than the drawers. But drawers are something you may want to consider!

Hooks, peg rails, wall baskets, magazine bins, and hanging closet organizers are all great ways to utilize the vertical space you have.

9 | Use Wall Hooks & Organizers To Fill Dead Space

Similar to the last tip, don’t overlook dead space on the back wall and sides of your closet. Many closets also have blind corners that can be great candidates for hooks, magazine files for paperwork or shopping bags, and more.

These Command broom holders are an awesome way to fill wall space and store cleaning tools with long handles. And my vacuum even works in one!

10 | Categorize Small Items By Family Member

One of my favorite parts of our closet organization project is the mesh baskets on the door organizer. I added designated one basket for each family member to use for their hats, gloves, and other accessories.

11 | Rotate Seasonal Items

Consider options for keeping things you use in the current season within easy reach and utilizing other storage space in your home for items you don’t need right now to free up prime clsoet space.

For example, you can move out-of-season coats and gear to another closet. The guest bedroom closet might be the perfect spot to store winter coats and winter accessories during warmer months. And maybe backpacks can live in bedroom closets during summer break so you have extra space for pool bags and summer essentials.

12 | Upgrade Your Hangers

Matching hangers create a more cohesive look in your closet. I chose these pretty wooden hangers that are sturdy enough to hold heavy winter coats. Velvet hangers are also a nice option.

13 | Hang Coats By Length

Organize your coats and jackets from longest to shortest. By placing the longest coats closet to the wall, you’ll open up more vertical space toward the middle of the closet.

14 | Add A Pegboard For Smaller Items

Pegboards can be a useful way to organize all sorts of spaces, closets included. The door organizer I added to our closet came with a pegboard and hooks and they’re great for keeping umbrellas, dog leash, and more within easy reach.

15 | Store Pet Food In Easy-Open, Airtight Containers

There was just enough space next to our shoe rack to slide in a dog food container. The wheels make it easy to roll out and access, plus the airtight latch on top is easy enough our toddler can open and close it.

16 | Add A Rug Or Boot Tray

If you don’t have much space in your entryway (like if your door opens up right into the living room), you can add a boot tray or rug/doormat inside your coat closet. This gives you a place to put your wet snow boots and rain boots so they can dry without making a big mess.

17 | Designate A Spot For Shopping Bags

I added this cool plastic bag organizer to the side of the closet. It’s the perfect spot for plastic shopping bags! I also plan to mount a file box or magazine rack to the side wall for reusable bags and paper bags.

18 | Invest In Item-Specific Organizers

I’m always an advocate for using containers and organizers you already have. But if you have the budget, sometimes it can be worth it to look into products designed with a specific purpose. Plastic grocery bags is a great example of something I haven’t found a great way to organize until I found an organizer meant just for that purpose.

19 | Consider Installing A Closet Organizer

The ideas I’ve shared so far are all items that can easily be added to your existing closet. But if you have a larger budget, you might also want to look into replacing the existing closet rod/shelf with a closet organizer. There are many store-bought closet kits that will allow you to maximize your closet with extra shelving. You can even build your own closet cubbies/shelving if you’re handy (similar to the DIY closet shelving I built in our nursery closet).

20 | Use Bins Inside Bins

Sometimes it’s helpful to add smaller bins inside a larger basket or container. This creates compartments that will keep items separated and easier to locate.

I added a couple smaller white bins inside the door organizer to further divide the baskets into sections.

21 | Add Labels

Labels are really important for knowing what’s inside all of the baskets and bins!

Clip-on labels work awesome for a lot of containers (I used these on the door organizer and these on the woven baskets). A label maker can be helpful for labeling smaller containers. And you can make vinyl labels with a Cricut machine if you want to get fancier.

Looking for more closet organization ideas? Take a look at these blog posts:

Have a fantastic day!

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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a working mom juggling two young kids, a corporate job, and all that goes into managing a home. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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