How to Best Use Your Hall Closet

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Wondering how to best use your hall closet?

Does your hall closet function link a junk drawer?

Many people have the hall closet equivalent of a junk drawer. You know the junk drawer. The dreaded junk drawer Stuffed to the brim with random things — pens, receipts, swag from that last corporate event you attended two years ago, random cables (what do these even go to?), kids toys, business cards, you name it… you get the picture.

Often our homes have a hall closet that functions in the same fashion. It’s filled to the brim with a random assortment of winter coats, shoes, board games, extra toilet paper or cleaning supplies, sports equipment, luggage, and who knows what else. Just cracking that closet door makes your head spin.

There must be a better use of this space, you think to yourself.

And you’re right.

So what is the best use of this space?

The best use of your hall closet really depends on your lifestyle and the inhabitants of the home.

If you’re a family of seven that’s constantly going through toiletries, maybe you’d benefit from having easy access to backups when you need them. As a young couple in Chicago, living in a small apartment with limited closet space, the best use of the space could be to hang your bulky winter coats. Say your twin daughters play tennis every afternoon and don’t have a place to drop their rackets when they get home from practice, you might consider using the hall closet as a designated space for sports equipment.

Questions to Ask Yourself

As you begin to pull everything out of the closet, you’ll want to start asking yourself some questions. This will help you figure out what the best use of the space will be. I’ve brainstormed a few below to get you thinking.

  • What’s the best use of this space for my lifestyle?
  • What do I need access to on a daily or weekly basis?
  • Do any of the current items in this closet have another home somewhere in my house?
  • Do I want to use this space as backup storage for my kitchen? 
  • Is it best used as a linen closet? 
  • Since I like to entertain, should it remain clear so my guests have an area to hang their coats?
  • Where will I store the miscellaneous items that I pull out of the closet?

Next Steps

  1. Group like items together. This is one of the most fundamental rules of organization. As you pull things out of the closet, group like with like. Grouping things together will allow you to inventory what you have, and take note of what you have in excess and you’re running low on.
  2. Determine whether you will keep, donate, trash, or recycle the items.
  3. Assign a new home for the items that you’re keeping. Think back to the question – does this item have another home somewhere in the home? Things begin to feel cluttered when we have multiple homes for the same item. (For example, cleaning supplies under the sink, in the hall closet, in the pantry, and in the laundry room.) Whenever possible, assign one home for each item, rather than housing that item in multiple places. This will reduce clutter immediately.
  4. Designate new homes for all of the items.

Client Case Study

This past week I had the chance to work with my client Ashleigh for the second time. During our first session, we decluttered and transformed the master closet entirely.

For our second session, Ashleigh knew she wanted to tackle her hall closet, but neither of us were aware that this project would also end up involving the garage, other storage closets, and the kitchen pantry. But sometimes it works like that.

hall closet cluttered with jackets, board games, cleaning supplies, catering supplies, shipping boxes, etc.
Before: hall closet with a random assortment of things

Prior to my arrival, this hall closet was a catch all for random things: catering trays and disposable food ware, coats, board games, extra water jugs, dog food, shipping boxes, DVDs and a handful of other miscellaneous items. Aside from the dog food, which she’d access on a daily basis, nothing else in the closet was needed on a daily or even weekly basis.

The first step, as it always is, was to purge things that are no longer needed.

With the closet conveniently located close to the kitchen, I initially considered using this closet as a backup pantry and an area for their cleaning supplies. But after some further questioning, we realized, they don’t keep much extra food on hand, so an additional pantry wouldn’t make sense. And they have a cleaner come on a weekly basis who brings her own cleaning supplies, so no use wasting this space for cleaning supplies that wouldn’t even get used.

The Result

I thought back to our first session and something Ashleigh shared with me in the beginning. She said the living room always felt cluttered because her one and a half year old son’s toys were always all over the place.

So I suggested we designate the closet entirely to her son. We could store his books, some of his larger toys, and even his snacks in there for easy access. My client loved this idea.

There’s evidence that shows that when kids have access to more toys at one time, they may touch more toys, but their engagement is lower. By putting all of my client’s kid’s toys in and books in the closet (with a child lock on it), it would allow them to make play time more of a ritual. One that involves selecting the books he’d want to read and toys he’d want to play with in a given time frame.

After we finished the project, my client texted me that night saying her son loved picking out his toys. This was a huge success.

So what did we do with what was in the closet beforehand?

The jackets moved to another hall closet that’s almost entirely designated to coats and outerwear. The cleaning supplies moved to the cleaning closet, near the laundry area. The dog food moved outside (where the dogs get fed). And the rest have a new home in the garage.

Check out the after picture below and let me know in the comments what you think about this project.

After: hall closet devoted entirely to client’s son

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