Knowing how to organize a hallway closet is the key to a clutter-free entryway. And, if it’s the place to put coats, shoes, bags, keys, and the mail, a well-organized hallway closet can help make getting in and out of the house a smoother experience – especially if there are kids involved.
Of course, a hallway closet could alternatively be the home of the vacuum and cleaning supplies, or a place for linens or other items for which there isn’t space elsewhere. But whatever you keep there, an interior designed for the contents is crucial so what you need is to hand quickly.
Here’s the best expertise on how to organize a hallway closet to put together with your other hallway ideas for a space that looks elegant and welcoming and helps life at home run more smoothly.
How to organize a hallway closet
To create the right solution for a hallway closet, begin from a consideration of what you need to keep in there, like good hallway shoe storage. A great design ensures everything is easy for its owner to find and reach, and in good condition.
Decide on what you’ll use the closet for
Before you think about how to organize a hallway closet, take a step back and think about the best way to use it.
‘Consider the placement of the closet,’ advise Pamela Meluskey and Larisa Bright of NYC-based luxury home organization brand Settled. ‘Close to the laundry machine? Let it serve as a laundry backstock and linen closet. Next to the back door or front door? Be sure to include a sampling of what you need as you head out for the day.’
It’s also important to think about who need to use the contents. ‘Identify who is interacting with the closets. If kids will be accessing, ensure essentials are at an appropriate height,’ say the pair.
Declutter before organizing a hallway closet
There’s another process that’s vital before you embark on the nitty-gritty of how to organize a hallway closet – and that’s tackling what’s already in there.
‘When starting the process of reorganizing a hallway closet, take the time to go through all of the shelves, bins and bags to eliminate clutter,’ says Kristiana Laugen, home expert at Handy.
‘If you’re someone who has a hard time letting go of mementos, your kids’ old drawings or your own childhood belongings, move those items into a storage room or closet where they won’t monopolize your hallway closet’s limited open space. The decluttering process can be very tedious and time consuming, but it can score you a shelf or two for higher priority items.’
There are likely items you can bid farewell to as well. ‘Categorize by putting things like-with-like and sort for donate, garbage, must keep, and can go elsewhere in the home, say Ann Lightfoot and Kate Pawlowski, co-founders of Done & Done Home. ‘Once those decisions have been made and everything that’s going back into the front hall closet really does need to live there and there’s some thing that you use it will be much easier to organize it.’
Think about the design of the closet interior
A well thought-out hallway closet interior can win you a whole lot of extra space.
‘When designing the perfect hallway wardrobe, we first prioritize long hanging space for coats, shoes below (there are lots of organisation options to choose from such as fixed rails and pull-out drawers) and we include a top shelf which is a great space for sports bags that can otherwise clutter a hallway floor,’ says Phillipp Nagel, Director of Neatsmith, which creates and installs bespoke wardrobes.
‘Then, if space allows and to maximize that which is available, double hanging rails are great for smaller coats/jackets and allow you to fit in twice as many items.
‘To keep things organised, internal drawers with dividers for hats and gloves are a great addition and scarf rails are also good to include. They’re small and hold a lot but it’s important that they are installed somewhere they don’t get in the way.
‘The best finishing touch is to include internal mirrors to the back of a couple of doors – these can often be overlooked but are incredibly useful.’
Create organizing solutions
Of course, there’s plenty you can do to improve existing closet interiors. ‘Use cube-like shelving and clear bins – things have homes, which makes it easier to find things and put things back,’ says certified professional organizer Lynne Poulton of Wholly Organized!.
Although you can use baskets and other containers, clear bins mean no one in the family can fail to see what’s meant to be put there, and finding the right item when leaving the house is easier.
Add in shoe racks along the bottom of the closet, Lynne advises, to keep footwear in order and easy to locate. She also prefers slimline velvet hangers to maximize hanging space.
Labelling is also a great strategy. ‘Label everything for easy maintenance, so every family member knows where to find what they need – and return it to the proper home,’ say Settled’s Pamela Meluskey and Larisa Bright.
‘Buy a label maker and it’ll become your new best friend,‘ agrees Katie Thomas, founder of interior design company KTM Design. ‘Label all your boxes clearly and make sure everything has a place.’
She also favors creating hanging space. ‘Peg boards are an easy way to make the most of unused wall space,’ she continues. ‘You can hang your keys, cleaning utensils or tools at the back of the closet, out of the way.’
Make a calm impression
It’s inevitable that a hall closet will be home to a lot of items, and that these will be of different types. And because it’s a mixed-use space, professional organizer and master certified KonMari consultant Emi Louie focuses on calming the visual noise of the closet.
‘I like to hide “busy” items and bring “pretty” items to the forefront in a way that looks streamlined,’ she explains. For example, loose tools and light bulbs tend to look more “busy”, and are good candidates for a cabinet, drawer, or a bin. Linens, paper towel rolls, candles or books tend to look more “pretty”, and can be displayed at eye level or higher depending on frequency of use.
‘Cleaning supplies and large toiletries work well lined up and displayed as you would see in a store, and small items such as tools or small toiletry items are best contained in streamlined bins or boxes,’ she adds.
The experts also find that a great looking closet interior can inspire the whole family to be neater. ‘We encourage matching containers as much as possible because when things look nice, psychologically, we are much more likely to keep them tidy,’ says Mary Cornetta, founder and co-owner of professional organizing company Sort and Sweet. ‘The containers don’t have to be exact matches but they should mesh aesthetically together.’
Minimize space occupied by cleaning essentials
You may need to stash the items required to keep your home spick-and-span in a hallway closet but they can hog it. ‘If vacuums and cleaning supplies are taking up a lot of space in a hallway closet, think of the ways you can incorporate bins and racks to increase your storage space,’ says Kristiana Laugen, home expert at Handy.
‘It can also be helpful to take a minute to look at your cleaning supply stock and think about which items you’re only using once in a while. For items that you use infrequently, you may want to find a different storage space that doesn’t take up prime closet real estate.’
Be prepared to make a seasonal swap
Rotate what you keep in the hallway closet in order to say organized. ‘It’s a good idea to move seasonal items out of the hallway cupboard and store them away in the attic, under the bed or above a wardrobe,’ says Helena Myers, interior designer at The Myers Touch.
‘There’s no benefit in cluttering up valuable hall space with thick winter coats in summer or with sandals and beach bags in winter. This seasonal switch out will allow you to use your hallway space more effectively and get a clearer picture of what you need to store there.’
Organize a hallway linen closet
Wondering how to organize a hallway closet that is home to linens? ‘A well-designed linen closet uses vertical and horizontal storage to hold everything from towels to bed linens,’ say California Closets experts.
‘To keep it organized take everything out. While it might sound overwhelming to clear out your entire closet, this step is indeed integral to the organization process. This encourages you to be a bit more discerning about what you put back into your closet.
‘Divide your items into three groups. Sort through the contents of your closet and create three piles: one for items to give away or consign, one for sentimental items that you can place in long-term storage, and one for items that you need every day.’
Lynne Poulton recommends adding helper shelves, which add intermediate shelving between shelves. ‘Shift some items to under the sink in the bathroom and use helper shelves there also,’ she says.
But address the contents of the closet, too. ‘Consider housing sheets in the rooms where they are used, that is guest sheets on the bed or in a dresser drawer,’ she recommends. And ask, how many towels are enough? ‘Consider scaling back how many towels you own,’ she says.
The same goes for sheets. ‘Consider one set for a rarely used guest bed, and two to three sets for regularly used beds.’
For what remains, tackle stacks of towels and sheet that spill over on one another with shelf dividers which are slim uprights that can be slipped on to a solid shelf and hold piles of items in place, she advises.
Meanwhile, avoid a pile up of old meds by taking them to an authorized drug collection site and, to ensure items are put back where they should be, Lynne says: ‘Use clear acrylic bins and label them in a way that you and the family know what is in them – “Meds”, “First aid”.
Linen closet with deep shelves? ‘Installing the Elfa pull-out shelf make these hard-to-reach areas more accessible; it’s easier to find things and put things back where they live,’ she says.
Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart,
decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in
furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For Realhomes.com, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.
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