Small Coat Closet Storage Solutions

Fall is officially here, which means winter is right around the corner. As the temperature cools down, now is a great time to tackle coat closet organization to save time and stress when you're trying to find a matching pair of gloves on your way out the door. 

Last year, I whipped my coat closet into shape and shared lots of coat closet organization ideas that can be applied to both large and small spaces. But since I'm lucky enough to have a larger than average closet, I realize that the photos of my closet might not have seemed practical to those dealing with a more cramped quarters. So today, I want to show you an example of a small space I recently redesigned using some simple small coat closet organization ideas!

When a friend asked if I could help organize a few spaces in her home, I was excited to show her how much function we could pack into her small coat closet, and how we could even add some extra storage to her small mudroom.

Here's how the mudroom looked before we got started...

That door on the left leads to the backyard and the family's detached garage... so this is where the family comes and goes from the house most of the time. Across from the door, notice the tray of shoes on the ground. The tray was doing a good job off keeping the wood floor dry, but it wasn't doing much in the way of actually giving the family an organized shoe storage solution.

Taking a closer look inside the coat closet, you can see that the small baskets on the top shelf were overflowing with hats and gloves, and the floor space had become just a drop spot for random items. I took the below photo a few days after the photos above, and you can see that even more items made their way to the floor in the meantime.

This closet is actually a little bigger than it looks, because it extends behind the wall on the left... but that extra space, while nice isn't all that usable because it's so hard to reach. My goal was to make the absolutely most of the easily accessible space, and then find a way to take advantage of the hidden corner without things getting lost back there forever.

To get started on this organized coat closet challenge, I first took measurements of the space and drew up some plans. 

Plans for organizing coat closets
In the plan, you'll see that I labeled the door opening, and the diagonal lines represent everything that's hidden behind the wall. To take full advantage of the entire top shelf, I decided to add baskets all the way back into the corner. In order to reach the extra baskets beyond the door opening, the homeowners will need to remove the first two, and then slide the others over. To make this practical, we'll use the hidden baskets only for items that are used much less frequently.

Down on the floor, I proposed adding some stacking drawers. Drawers are perfect at the bottom of a closet because they allow you to use the full height below the coats while keeping things organized and contained.

To address the issue of shoe storage, I proposed adding a shallow shoe cabinet in the mudroom, right across from the back door. I also recommended adding a shoe bag to the inside of the coat closet door... but not for shoes {more on that in a minute}.

Once my friend approved on the plans, I was ready to get busy organizing. I've said it before, and I'll say it again a million times over... before you start reorganizing, it's best to empty the space completely! {This is one of the 10 steps I share in my organizing e-book "How to Get Organized and Stay Organized, Once and For All"; be sure to grab your free copy if you don't already have it.} 

By taking everything out of the closet, we were able to talk through what should go back in, what should be donated, and what might be more logically stored in a different location.

I swept out the the back corner and wiped down the top shelf for a fresh start, and then I started to put our new organizing system in place. This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something I recommend, you'll pay the same price, but I may receive a small commission.

I hung the shoe bag on the inside of the door {I don't like those over door hooks because they make the bag hang too high on a tall door, and they scratch up the front of the door; instead, here's a quick, damage-free solution for hanging shoe bags on doors.} I sat the empty baskets on the top shelf, stacked the drawers on the closet floor, and hung some new, wood hangers from the clothing rod.

How to Organize a Coat Closet

I chose the linen-colored shoe bag to coordinate with the neutral color of the mudroom walls. I selected deep baskets with handles to make them easy to lift down from the top shelf. The drawers on the floor are my favorite ever {the same ones I used in my pantry and under my kitchen sink} because you can create so many different stacking configurations. I love that I was able to put two wide drawers on the bottom, and three narrower drawers {of varying widths} on top, but they all interlock together. In the right corner, I even added a narrow bin to corral extra paper sacks. 

Here are the products I used in this organized coat closet {click on any image for all the details}:

After filling up the closet and adding labels, here's how it looks now...

Organized Coat Closet - Small Coat Closet Storage

The shoe bag on the back of the door holds all of the family's scarves, gloves, and winter hats. I used the lowest row of pockets for hats and mittens belonging to their preschool age son so that he can reach what he needs and help put them away.

I transferred all of the coats onto wood hangers. Not only do the matching hangers make the closet look more cohesive and organized, wood hangers are also more durable and won't bend or break under the weight of a coat the way wire and plastic hangers do. I hung all of the young son's coats on the far right, mom's coats in the middle {grouped by color}, and then the dad's coats on the left.

The drawers on the floor are so versatile, and will provide the family with easily adaptable storage as their needs change over the years. Right now, the use of the drawers reflect this family's busy life style.

Use drawers to organize coat closets

The top three drawers are being use for his and hers golf shoes, umbrellas, and water bottles. The two larger drawers on the bottom hold the young son's backpack and other school items, and all of their reusable grocery bags {which were previously taking up valuable cabinet space in the kitchen}. And the narrow bin next to the drawers keeps paper grocery bags contained and in easy reach.

Organize with Stacking Drawers

The adhesive labels holders I used on the drawers came from the clearance section at The Container Store. I love that the labels just slide into the holder, so they can be easily updated over time. Unfortunately, TCS doesn't carry them any longer, and I can't find these same label pockets anywhere else, but these simple clear pockets are a good alternative, or these bordered adhesive labels provide a similar stylish look. 

I filled one of the baskets on the top shelf with baseball caps, and the other holds the family's camera bags - making them quick to grab on the way out the door so they never forget to photograph those family adventures. Another basket tucked behind the wall to the left holds less frequently used items.

Coat Closet Baskets

I can't stress enough the importance of labels! Baskets are great for stylish organization, but only if you know what's inside, and this is especially important on a high shelf. These clip on basket labels are a perfect solution, and so easy to update if the contents change over time.

I placed an additional basket tucked into the back corner of the closet on the floor next to the drawers. We are using this basket to keep items like rolled up yoga mats and foam exercise rollers upright so that they are easy to grab out of that blind corner. 

Let's admire the before and after, shall we?

Coat closet storage before and after

Be sure to pin the image below so you can find your way back to these simple tips for how to organize a coat closet, but don't go away yet... I still have to show you the shoe storage!

Coat Closet Storage - Small Coat Closet Organizing Ideas

Once the coat closet was organized, I was ready to deal with the piles of shoes in the mudroom. I know you've heard me talk before about my love affair with IKEA shoe cabinets, but let me sing their praises once again! These things really pack so much organizing punch into a small space, and they look good doing it!

Mud room shoe storage and organized coat closet

Now when you enter the mudroom through the back door, you are greeted by this stylish white cabinet, which provided the perfect spot for me to add a little decor to the space as well.

A couple of framed art pieces from Target and a few inexpensive candle holders from IKEA give the mudroom a whole new personality.

The shoe cabinet is so shallow that it doesn't impede the flow of the mudroom or block access to the coat closet at all. When it's closed, the shoe cabinet just looks like a nice piece of furniture, and it coordinates so well with the white doors and trim in the mudroom.

But those tilt out doors hide so much shoe storage! Plenty of room for mom, dad, and son. Plus that drawer at the top provides a perfect storage spot for keys, wallets, and sunglasses.

Ikea shoe cabinet - shoe storage

Have I sold you on the wonder that is the IKEA shoe cabinet yet? 

shoe storage in mudroom

Guess what? These slim cabinets are also good for so much more. In fact, I wrote an entire blog post about 20 other ways to organized with a shoe cabinet. Here's just a peek at a few of those ideas...



  1. This looks awesome, so inspiring for tight spaces!

  2. Love that just organized Feeling! Just came back from Ikea myself. I got enough to update 3 rooms. I could never use the shoe organizers, I have giant feet and wear the big Sketchers runners. I bought a 2 x 2 Kallax it fits perfectly in my coat closet. There is one basket for each of our outside shoes (holds 4 pair of big runners), one for inside shoes and one for my purses/bags. Works and looks great and easy to clean