{organizing with style} Coat Closet Part 1: The Before, My Inspiration, and Deciding Whether to DIY

This post is sponsored by Closet Factory, but, as always, all opinions are my own. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

A coat closet organizational makeover has been on my to do list for quite some time, and with winter officially here, there's no time like the present! I started working on the plans last month, in partnership with my friends at Closet Factory, and now that everything is starting to come together, I'm so eager to share it with you in a three part series!

Coat Closet Organization Part 1

Today I'm cringing as I show you the scary before photo - but you need to see it so you'll understand what was working and what wasn't. I'm also sharing some inspiration photos today, and talking about how I decided whether to DIY or not to DIY. Next week, I'll walk you through the planning process and show you the detailed plans for the space, and then the following week I'll finally be ready to reveal the completely made over coat closet in all its organized glory!


We are fortunate to have a fairly large coat closet, but it's your builder-basic model with just one shelf and one clothing rod. This set up worked ok when it was just Scott and I, but as a family of four, the closet doesn't function well!

Coat Closet Part 1

When we first moved in to our home, I hung shoe organizers on the inside of the coat closet doors to hold all of our scarves, gloves, and other accessories. This has continued to work well for the last seven years, so these over door bags will remain as part of the new organizational plan... but that's the only thing that will stay the same.

As you can see, the floor has become a dumping ground for shoes and just about anything else. And did you notice how much space there is above that top shelf?! There's even more than you can see in the photo...four feet to be exact! Talk about wasted space! These are two of the key items that I'll be addressing in the new coat closet plan!

The most important goal of the new coat closet, however, is to make room for the kids. In the photo above, all the coats and accessories belong just to Scott and I, and the boys' items are stored upstairs in their bedroom closets, but this results in too much time wasted running up and down the stairs on our way out the door. The new coat closet needs to have plenty of room for the boys coats and accessories, and, ideally, I want them to be able to reach these items on their own!


I see a lot of coat closets on Pinterest that look beautifully organized, but most of them are lacking one key thing...coats! Even after extensive searching, very few coat closets images I found on Pinterest hold more than one or two jackets for each person in the family. This looks nice, but living in Colorado, it's just not realistic!

I own a lot of jackets and coats, and I get plenty of opportunities to wear them all throughout the year, because just like it might be 60 degrees in December, it might also be snowing in May. Dressy, casual, light weight, heavy, rain, snow...Scott and I have jackets for every occasion, collected over many years, and that means we need the space to store them all! And that's not to mention all of our scarves, hats, gloves, earmuffs, and other cold weather gear! 

Add to that our two sons, and all of their stuff, and this has to be one hard working closet!

When I start any new organizing project, I always like to sketch out some ideas of how I might use the space, and in that process, I find it helpful to do a Google Image search and to browse Pinterest for inspiration. After weeding out the pretty pictures of the coat closets that are big on style but small on function, I finally found some images that got my gears turning!

Coat Closet Inspiration

This closet from I Heart Organizing is small and doesn't hold many coats, but thanks to the drawers, it is super functional for storing other winter gear. I like the idea of having one drawer for each family member!

Coat Closet Inspiration

Again, this closet is pretty limited on actual coat storage, but what caught my eye about this image from Mini Manor Blog are the shoe shelves. Shoes have previously taken over the floor of our coat closet, and while I no longer want to store shoes in this closet {I have a different solution in mind}, it does make sense for us to keep our winter boots in this space. A couple of shelves for boots is a definite must!

Coat Closet Inspiration

Finally, this photo from the Closet Factory image gallery is clearly not a coat closet, but since our coat closet is essentially just a reach in closet, similar principals apply. In this photo, the use of the different clothing rod heights is similar to what I envision for our coat closet - with higher hanging space for my coats and Scott's; lower hanging space for the boys smaller coats; and another space to accommodate longer coats.


Once I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted our coat closet to function, the question became "to DIY, or not to DIY?" 

While I share a lot of do it yourself projects on this blog - some simple and some that stretch my skills - not every project makes sense for me to DIY. My skills are limited, my tools are limited, and my time is limited. 

I considered what I wanted to accomplish with our new coat closet. Since the closet is right at the front of our home - visible from both the front doors and the living room - I really want the new closet to be both beautiful and functional {no wire shelving here}. I also want the new system to be adjustable, allowing it grow with our family as the boys get bigger and their coats get longer. Finally, I want to be able to take advantage of the full height of the closet, but this requires that the upper shelves {above the height of the door frame} be shallower than the lower shelves - making it hard to simply install an off-the-shelf solution.

My friend Melissa, of Polished Habitat, recently created a completely DIY closet system in her master bedroom, and she's totally my hero for that! She shared a detailed post about what the project entailed, and in reading her list of the tools necessary for the build, I quickly realized that we just don't own everything we would need to create the closet I want! Not only would tackling the closet project as a DIY require me to buy new tools, it would also be a very time consuming project, and with a two and a four year old running around the house, complicated building projects are hard for me to get done. I do much better with smaller scale DIY's that can be done during nap time or after bedtime. 

Taking all of those limitations into account, considering my goals for the coat closet, and factoring in the value of my time, I decided rather quickly that this is one project I'd rather leave to the professionals at Closet Factory! Once that decision was made, this project quickly went from stressful to so much fun! And I soon learned that there is a big benefit to working with a trained closet designer! I enjoy creating organized spaces, and I'm good at roughly sketching up what I think might work, but sitting down with a trained closet designer who can create scaled renderings and propose proven solutions to best utilize the space gives me great piece of mind that this closet solution will continue to serve our family's needs for the long-term!

Next week I'll tell you all about the process of working with Closet Factory to dream up our perfect coat closet and I'll show you the plans we came up with. And let me just say, for a girl who loves to organize, visiting Closet Factory Colorado's showroom was like being a kid in a candy shop!

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