Declutter your coat closet and make space in your home

Pick a Declutter Deck™ Card: Organize Your Coat Closet

Prompt Card Example from Declutter Deck™: Coat Closet Decluttering and Organizing

Set your timer for 45 minutes and take a before photo.

Step 1: Take Everything Out of the Coat Closet

Coat closets are either large or small. Many under-stair versions do double duty. They are packed to the brim not only with closets. The contain overflow, too, like a garage. Or they’re small, with room only for coats. This prompt is designed for both. If you have a small coat closet, you should be able to perform this task in the 45 minutes allotted for this prompt. If you have a big closet and use it for coats and everything else in between (komono, in the KonMari Method™), you will need to spend extra time or do several days of 45-minute blocks to get the desired results and outcome.

Decluttering Small Closets

I have decluttered both kinds of closets. The small closet that I had in my previous house was easy. In it, I had a top shelf, on which my husband placed his baseball caps. I also stored one umbrella on that shelf. I was free to organize everything in the closet except for his baseball caps. I never decluttered or organized them because they were in the order he loved them. Off limits.

On the closet rod, we had coats. I separated his coats from mine. He typically kept lightweight jackets and one heavy coat in there. That was it. At an earlier time in his life, he had put his sentimental coats in that closet, too. Eventually, though, he decided to give them away and kept only his essentials. That made more room for everything, including my coats.

I had a few coats hanging on that rod, no duplicates, and a vest. I put them on wooden hangers that could withstand the weight of my heaviest ones. On the bottom, I placed extra shoes that I wore outside. It did not make sense to put them with my everyday shoes in the primary bedroom closet, since they always seemed to be dirty. Aside from that, the coat closet was organized.

Decluttering Large Closets

Now, let’s move on to the other type of closet. In other words, the vast closet that could house an entire family. I’ve found that some closets are just an invitation to store “stuff.” This is the closet that, for most people, will take longer than 45 minutes to declutter and organize. I decluttered one recently, so I can tell you that for a fact. Taking everything out of the closet took over an hour.

When we did this closet organization, we asked the woman to hire a babysitter so we could focus and time block. Inside the closet were three heavy boxes and tubs of books, fine china, coats, hats, decorator items, a printer, a baby wagon for outside, gifts for Christmas, house plants in various stages of dying, prints that needed to be hung, cat food, extra clothing, several diaper bags, a child’s bicycle, and a rug. Some of that stuff was hard to lift and a lot of it was damaged from being packed in so tightly. Some picture frames were cracked. As we pulled things out, we filled the entire adjacent den with the contents of the closet. There was little room to move. Let me just say, however, that this closet was much more organized than most closets I’ve seen.

Step 2: Group Your Coats

This is where the fun begins. Working at a fast pace, we grouped like items together. How many red coats does one person need? No judgment. And the proportion of men’s to women’s coats was skewed. For every ten coats the woman owned, her husband had one. If he had two coats for cold weather, she had twenty. And hats, lots, and lots of hats. Grouping showed us excess, and how many duplicates could be donated. In the event of a tornado (creating a tornado shelter was the purpose of organizing this closet) there would be no interior space in the house to take cover. This closet, for better or worse, had to be cleaned out.

Step 3: Edit

Keep only the essentials. Most things had to go. The objective was to discard a good deal of duplicates, broken items, and excess. Starting with books, we pared down from over two hundred to just a few. These two hundred books went to the homeless shelter, where they were either used or sold to support their services. A few were kept and placed on a shelf as decor. China was moved to a kitchen location where the cat could no longer make herself comfortable and use it for a litter pan. Some toys were put in the garage, along with the wagon. Extra clothes were returned to their proper place in the upstairs bedroom closet. The extra diaper bags were sent to a children’s shelter. And the cat food went into a storage container and was placed in the pantry.

Step 4: Return Everything to its Place

The best system, to begin with, is to refrain from using this space as a dumping ground in the future. One way to get around this problem is to designate certain sections of the house for the things typically dumped in a large closet. Another idea is to set up a shelving unit in the closet so that there is adequate storage space. In one of the many decluttering books I have read, I particularly liked their idea of making this closet into the overflow space. This is especially important if you lack storage around the house or an attached garage. I think that a closet build-out, if an affordable option, is also a great idea. It allows you to use your vertical space. When you walk in, everything is neat and tidy.

One idea that did come to fruition for this client was a child’s fort in the very back of the closet. She had a small nook at the rear and made it into a “fort” for her young son - a great idea. I’ve also seen Kate Albert @katealbertmua discuss making a nook for her daughter inside an interior closet.

Check out our client’s transformation on our Instagram account @lifehackdecks. In this cozy little nook, our client placed stars on the sloped ceiling, rug on the floor, reading area with a cozy chair in the corner, basket of toys, and adequate lighting. In the event of a tornado, her son could play for hours.

Final Step: Put everything back. Adjust as necessary.

Take an after photo. Then, call it a day.

(Instructions provided by professional organizers at The Uncluttered Life, Inc.)

About Life Hack Decks™ and Declutter Decks

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Designed to improve your life through little “life hacks,” the collection of Hack Decks™ includes:

Date Deck™ to help you and a partner stop doing the “same old thing” and go exploring, learn more about each other, and have fun together. Fosters connection.

Declutter Deck™ organizing prompts to help you get and stay organized at home. By breaking down decluttering and organizing into bite-sized pieces, you will eventually declutter and organize your entire home.

Dorm Deck to send along to school with your first time college student. This deck provides subtle reminders of things that will make their lives that much easier when it’s their first time away from home. Includes reminders to call and text often.

New Mama Deck helps new mothers and new parents ease into the transition of parenthood. The deck helps reduce isolation and manage the stress that comes along with having a newborn.

Random Acts of Kindness Deck to help you discover kind things to do for others who either play a significant part in your life, or with whom you’d love a deeper connection.

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Order your Declutter Deck™ to get your coat closet in order. $19.95 plus shipping. And don’t forget to tag us and a friend at @lifehackdecks to show us your before-and-after photos.

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