Entry way closets are what we looked for when we were house searching- but then we got one and it was odd shaped and not at all functional. So how do you fix it? Talking all the tips to organize an entry way closet for a busy family.
An entry way closet was always a goal for us. We lived 5 years in a split level entry (cathedral entry) and although we made that entry work really hard for us– we knew we wanted a real entry way closet in our next place. So when we moved last year, we were excited to have one. But after moving in and using it for no time at all, we realized it wasn’t even that useful for us. Sure- it was somewhere to hang a few visitor’s coats and to shove all of our shoes, but that’s about it. The top shelf was a mix of grocery bags and long forgotten things. Plus, the closet was so oddly shaped- it was really long but there was no way to centre the door (it’s a good two feet longer to the left than you see!).
I honestly had very few ideas so called my friends at Imagine the Room Kamloops for some expert advice. I’m so glad that I did- as always, they gave some great advice and we ended up with such a functional closet. I thought I’d share some of their tips for how to organize an entry way closet!
Big thank you to Imagine the Room for partnering on this project!
1. PRIORITIZE YOUR ENTRY WAY STORAGE
The first thing Imagine the Room asked us is what we wanted to store in here. It was clearly a dumping ground when they came in. Since I read Design Mom (the book) a few years ago (totally recommend!) I haven’t kept most of our jackets here. Any jackets are in our own bedrooms. I wanted a place for guests to hang jackets but didn’t need that much hanging space.
I wanted lots of space for shoes. There are 6 of us in our family and that makes for a lot of shoes. We live in Canada which means four full seasons and we don’t wear our shoes inside. We do keep our ‘fancy’ shoes in our bedroom closets since they don’t typically get tracked through the mud and only get pulled out occasionally (if you’re thinking we don’t have many nice shoes- ha!). I also wanted storage for kids backpacks. Since the kids started school in the fall, we had been tripping over the bags and I really didn’t want them hanging on hooks in our public space (our entry opens right into our living room) since they’re so bright and colorful… they were at school when I photographed this, so I threw mine in there to show you what the basket is for!
Lastly, there are some things that I find really handy to have by the door. Grocery bags, sunscreen, shoe spray, and bandaids for clumsy bike riders. I also like to keep a big basket for ‘give backs’- things that aren’t ours that need to be returned to their owner (the grey felt basket).
Once you prioritize what you really want to store in your entry way closet- you can better plan out your storage solutions. Entry way closets aren’t one size fits all and you’ll probably be disappointed if you settle for a closet organization system that works really well for someone else… but not your family.
2. MAKE IT EASY TO REACH
This is one of those tips that seems so simple but until you are explained it, you probably don’t realize you’re not doing it. Where do you typically keep jackets? On the standard height rod. And what about shoes? Well, you have to bend down and dig those out of the bottom of the closet, right? Why not flip it on it’s head? One of the first suggestions was to put coats on the bottom. You can stand up straight and still get your coats from the bottom (think of a walk in closet with two bars), easy peasy. And then shoes will be eye level.
This is great, but wasn’t perfect for us since the closet was such an odd shape- shelves down that end wouldn’t have been too easy to get to and our priority for the lower space was things kids needed to access. So since making ‘it’ (the important stuff) easy to reach is the goal, for us that meant having kids stuff down low. These pull-out wire baskets are honestly the best part of this whole makeover for me. The top one fits all four backpacks perfectly and the bottom one fits all of the kids many, many shoes. I like that when the shoes are damp, they’re not trapped in a drawer, but the wire basket helps air them out and I like that my kids find it really easy to put their shoes away- this basket makes clean up such a breeze. I didn’t realize you could get wire baskets on drawer slides like this until seeing it in the Imagine the Room showroom when I was planning Aubrey’s closet!
3. KEEP DOOR OPENING IN MIND
So this closet is a big entry closet… if we had a bigger door to it. But there’s no way to make that happen (the exterior of the house jogs out, which is why the closet can be deeper, but not the door). So what is easy to get in and out of that deep reaching space? Jackets. That’s why we chose to have our jacket hanging space there. What can you definitely not have hitting the edges of your doors? Drawers. Center those babies. This might seem like common sense but when I was planning Aubrey’s closet on Instagram Stories I got SO MANY messages with stories of closets being installed and having the issue of not being able to open them fully because they hit the door frame. That would be THE WORST!
We chose to line the left side with shoe cubbies to maximize that space that we couldn’t have the drawers extend to. This is perfect for Shane and my shoes. We then have additional shoe storage for my gumboots and any guest shoes on the bottom.
4. THINK OUTSIDE THE CLOSET
I know this post is about organizing a closet. But one of the biggest changes in organization for us was thinking outside of what we grew up doing. And thinking outside of what is generally accepted as ‘entry closet’ storage. I mentioned the ‘Design Mom’ book before and that’s probably what started this change for us. The idea is to put things where they’re used the most. So you can apply this to your linen closet too. Why not keep your master bedroom sheets in your master bedroom closet? And why not keep guest towels in the guest bathroom instead of the linen closet? And why not keep your fancy shoes in your master bedroom closet where you will be trying them on with your fancy clothes?
And what other spots could you put those items? Kids items are what we have the most of and what we have the hardest time storing. That’s because we want them to be able to be independent- we want them to be able to grab their own hats on their way out the door. But there’s only so much ‘reachable’ closet space for a 3 year old. Our solution was finding an entry storage bench. These drawers house hats, splash pants and sunglasses. For you that might mean hooks or a basket by the door. Or it might mean turning part of your garage into a mini mudroom if you have a cramped entry.
Alright… I hope these tips have been helpful for you! I really found that considering these things helped us create an entry closet that is totally functional for us- even with it’s odd shape. If you don’t want to plan your own entry closet, finding an expert like Imagine the Room would be such a help for you!
I can’t wait to show you guys the whole entry… it’s coming together so nicely. You can see all my plans for the space and the ‘before’ right here if you like!