21 Coat Closet Organization Ideas You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

Keep your coat closet tidy with these need-to-know organizational tips and storage ideas.

Do you need to duck every time you open up the door to your coat closet from fear that a stray tennis racket or golf club might come crashing down? When well-organized, a coat closet can work as a de facto mudroom where you store not only your coats but also those essential items that help you get out the door quickly. Yet, all too often, coat closets become catch-alls for items that don’t belong there. How to best organize your closet? You may find that you benefit from some closet organizers that help to create a place for everything and you’ll also want to do a closet cleanout to make sure you’re not needlessly storing coats that no longer fit or gear for sports that are no longer played. Once you’ve tried these coat closet organization ideas, you just may find you’re ready to organize your utility closet.

What to store in your coat closet

The first step in your path to coat closet organizations is to decide what to store—and not store—in it. The answer will depend on how much space you have, but in general, aside from the obvious, in-season coats and jackets, you may also store hats, gloves, and other outerwear accessories, umbrellas, footwear, and dog-walking supplies. To ensure entry closet organization, keep only the items for the current season in the closet. Do not overcrowd the closet, coats can wrinkle, and zippers can snag the fabric, give them some breathing room.

If you must keep out-of-season coats and accessories in your coat closet year-round, at least move them out of the prime real estate in the front to a less accessible spot. And, unless your closet is especially large it’s not the best spot to store sporting equipment, toys, snow shovels, or gift wrap. Whenever possible move those items to bins in a different part of your home, like the garage or basement.

The next step in your coat closet cleanout is to identify what can be passed on. Look for coats, boots, scarves, gloves, and hats that no longer fit, aren’t a favorite, or not used. After checking the pockets, add them to a bag earmarked for donation. Consider leaving a to-be-donated bag standing on the floor of the closet, so whenever you come across an item you no longer need or want, put it in the bag. When the bag is close to full, schedule a pickup by a charitable organization or drop the bag off at a local thrift store. A good rule of thumb when it comes to coat closet organization: don’t keep anything that is stained, torn, or anything in disrepair. Discard worn-out boots and sneakers. Let go of single gloves or mittens, well-worn scarves, and broken umbrellas.

How to organize your coats and jackets

Aside from moving out-of-season coats to a different closet or to the back of the hall closet, coats are best stored by length, longest to shortest, with the longest coats to one far side and shorter coats and jackets towards the middle. This provides the most wall space for shelves on one side and under-hanging storage bins on the floor under the shortest items.

vacuum seal garment bag in coat closetvia containerstore.com

Save space

One of the biggest issues with coats, especially those puffy winter coats, is that they’re big and bulky. You can save space and safely store less frequently used jackets in a garment vacuum bag.

Add more hanging space

Another advantage of organizing coats by length is that you may have room for a second, lower hanging rack. Most closets are tall enough to have two hanging racks and still have space towards the floor. The adjustable lower rack puts jackets at the perfect height for children to reach independently, making it one of the best kid’s closet ideas.

organizing the coat closetOleg_Ermak/Getty Images

Use the right coat hangers

A wooden hanger is sturdy enough to hold even your heaviest winter jacket without bending or breaking. We like these Basic Walnut Wooden Clothes Hangers from The Container Store because they’re made of solid, renewable, lotus wood, have a swivel neck so you can grab your coat without removing the hanger from the rod, and the ribbing on the hanger bar grips coordinating accessories, like a scarf, to keep matching sets together.

How to organize your shoes

The shoes you wear most often are best stored in the coat closet, where they are convenient to grab on the way out the door. The idea is to store just the ones currently in rotation because you’ll quickly run out of room if you store every pair here. Reaching for the pair you want is easy when you use shoe racks to display them. You can give each family member a section or shelf of their own, so they know right where to find theirs.

Shoe rack for coat closetvia containerstore.com

Store sneakers smartly

Our pick for storing sneakers is this Bamboo Stackable Shoe Shelf from The Container Store. Made from renewable, hardy bamboo, this two-shelf system solves the “I can’t find the other shoe” problem. At only 28″ x 11″ it fits most closets and holds 6-8 pairs of shoes, depending on the size. Add on a rack if you need even more storage. If your walk-in closet organization ideas include storing shoes this is a great option for that closet as well. Pro tip: Place a throw rug underneath the rack to catch any dirt or debris, then shake out as needed.

Fabric baskets for closet storagevia containerstore.com

Toss flip-flops and sandals in a basket

When the weather turns warmer your choice of footwear might change. Thin flip-flops and flat sandals can easily go missing in the closet. Keep them matched up by storing them in a fabric-lined basket on the shoe rack or on a shelf above. At the end of the season launder the liner, then re-purpose the basket as storage for colder weather accessories.

fodlable boot rackvia containerstore.com

Keep boots upside down

Bulky snow, rain, and fashion boots take up lots of space and can be a coat closet organization challenge. Storing boots upside down is a little-known trick to preserve the boot’s shape; if the shaft isn’t straight, it can develop a crease. A foldable boot rack like this one from The Container Store means you can tuck it away during those non-boot-wearing months. Simply slip taller boots over the back wooden pegs and shorter ones in the front.

How to organize miscellaneous items

Purge old umbrellas

Broken umbrellas belong in the trash, not in your closet. Make space by paring down to just the umbrellas that work. To ensure you’ll have one when you need it, keep an umbrella in the car. Oversize golf umbrellas fit in the car trunk and slide compact ones in the console. When storing them in the closet, hang umbrellas with wrist straps from hooks. Longer styles work best in a narrow holder with a heavy base which will prevent it from tipping over.

Reusable bags hangingLinda Raymond/Getty Images

Round up reusable tote bags

Before you stow those bags away inspect them to ensure they are worth keeping. Some may be too flimsy to be useful, others may have tears or broken handles. Once you’ve pared down to the ones you like enough to keep, store them by nesting the smaller ones inside the largest one. Leave the bag of bags on the floor of the closet, hang it from a hook, or tuck them in a rack hung on the back of the door.

Pack seasonal items

Unless you live where it is mostly the same weather year-round you will have some seasonal items—winter gloves and scarves, sun visors, gardening hats, and the like—to stow away. Use breathable stacking fabric bins with attached lids to keep the items dust-free. The attached lid means you’ll never misplace it, and the clear windows allow you to view the contents without unstacking them. Measuring just under a foot, this Mdesign bin fits on most shelves or on the floor of the closet. They can collapse flat when not in use.

Row of coat hangersLarry Washburn/Getty Images

General organizing tips

It’s not only the coats and shoes that take up a lot of space, it’s all those bags, accessories, dog gear, and more that tend to get strewn around. Adding in some smart organizers will help to give everything its own place.

Add modular drawers

Once you know the length of your coats, calculate the reachable floor space. Assess how much room you have for additional coat closet organization solutions, like a drawer system, by measuring from the bottom of the hanging items to the floor. You may be able to add drawers across the entire width of the closet or just on one side. Give each family member a drawer (labeled with their name!) so they’ll have a spot to keep all their odds and ends.

Doorn rackvia thecontainerstore.com

Maximize vertical space

One of the best small closet ideas is adding a customizable rack on the back of the closet door. The answer to many of your storage woes, this versatile organizer has hooks, small cubbies, racks, and mesh baskets allowing you to store all kinds of odds and ends—keys and hats fit on the hooks, sunglasses, and wallets can be tossed in the small bins, while umbrellas, flashlights, a dog leash, re-useable bags, and your purse can go in the sturdy, mesh baskets. It’s customizable to your needs as the baskets and hooks can be easily repositioned.

Consider a closet system

Closet systems are built-ins for your closets that come in all shapes and sizes. This one from Elfa Decor can be used in a small closet or placed in an entryway as a makeshift closet if your home doesn’t have one. We like that it has a hanging rack for coats, a gliding, fold away ventilated shoe rack, and two shelves for other accessories.

Hang an accordion hook rack

Why install just a single hook when you can have ten hooks in about ten inches of space? This accordion hook rack gives you lots of storage in not a lot of space to hang your everyday jacket, purse, tote bags, scarves, baseball caps, umbrellas, lunch boxes, and even backpacks.

stackable box for the closetvia containerstore.com

Use clear stackable bins

Borrow one of the best linen closet organizing ideas for your coat closet: clear bins. These stackable sweater drawers from The Container Store mean no more searching for those grab-and-go items, such as scarves, face masks, or flashlights. These work well as overhead bins because storage on higher-up shelves isn’t as easy to see into; with these, you can just find what you want at a glance. These are the must-have organizers from The Home Edit.

Make the most coat closet shelving with fabric cubes

Make smart use of any upper shelving with these fabric cubes from Mdesign. The cutout handles make them easy to pull down and the clear panel means there is no mystery as to what’s inside. These square-based bins maximize your storage space, unlike those with narrow, tapered bases. Save these for lightweight items, like scarves, that are not difficult or dangerous to lift overhead.

Install lower shelving

You don’t need carpentry skills to install bracket coat closet shelving towards the floor. Screw L-shaped brackets into the wall, about a foot off the floor (for added security make sure they screw into a stud). Place a board on top of the brackets and the shelf becomes instant storage. Lower shelves are ideal for heavier items that would be dangerous to store overhead in case they fell.

motion sensor light in closetWafue/Getty Images

Add lighting

Not typically considered an organizing tool, lighting can be just as important as any hook or basket when it comes to coat and utility closet organizing. Think about it: finding what you want in a dark closet is time-consuming and keeping a dark closet neat isn’t easy. Illuminate the closet interior with this no-wiring-necessary, battery-operated, stick-up light bar. Motion-activated lighting, like this stick-on, LED light from Motion Brite saves on battery life, because it automatically turns on when you open the closet door and turns off after a few seconds of no movement. Here are more of the smartest closet lighting ideas.

Next, read up on these DIY closet organizer ideas that help you get ready faster.

Popular Videos

Jamie Novak
Jamie Novak is a globally recognized professional organizer who regularly contributes to RD.com. She has more than 20 years of experience covering the home-organizing industry. Novak wrote Keep This Toss That: the practical guide to tidying up, a top selling book for Reader's Digest. She’s been seen on HGTV, QVC, and national morning talk shows. Her work has appeared in magazines from Better Homes and Gardens to Real Simple. Connect with Novak at JamieNovak.com, @JamieNovak, or using the hashtag #KeepThisTossThat