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How to Get Your Hall Closet Havoc Under Control

By Kerrie Kelly, ASID

Everyone knows that the humble hallway closet is a workhorse. From being used as a trash bin, stowage spot, and then tossed and turned when a certain pillowcase is nowhere to be found, the closet gets more than its share of abuse—and it shows. Are you ready to get that chaos under control? We’ve taken the liberty of rounding up a few of our favorite ways to organize the space using a system customized just for you and your needs.

Curate and Control

Possibly the most freeing exercise in all of closet cleaning is the purging. Grab a trash bag (or 10) and head to your closet to look closely at each individual item within. If it has sentimental or monetary value, stow it somewhere else. If you didn’t even realize you owned it, you probably don’t need it, and you can take it to your local thrift store. Do this with every item and we promise you’ll already notice a difference. And avoid taking breaks—we’ve learned that it’s easiest and most efficient to complete this step in one fell swoop.

Planning is Key

Now that you have a fresh, clean space, it’s time to decide what the closet is going to be used for. Is it for linens and towels? Do you need a second closet for your clothes and shoes? What about knick-knacks and arts and crafts? If you’re still unsure about what you’re using the space for, start grouping similar items together and you’ll inevitably see what makes the most sense for you. Group and regroup the selected items to organize everything as neatly as possible before you even think about putting anything back in the closet.

Very Vertical

For whatever reason, most of us try to stuff all that we can in the shelving we’re given. Usually that shelving isn’t very deep and doesn’t give us as much room as we’d like. By installing higher shelving or an extra rod or two, you can take advantage of unused space. This allows for you to store more items than you had originally planned, resulting in a more thoroughly organized unit overall.

Baskets vs. Boxes

Once you’ve gotten all of your shelving in place, it’s time to take a look at the subgroups you’ve created in the previous steps. If your closet is for extra shoe storage, group your shoes similarly and put them in baskets. Baskets are best for items you use regularly because they don’t usually have tops, and they’re woven and opaque—meaning it’ll be easier for you to spot the specific style you’re searching for. If your closet is for art supplies, opt for boxes or bins. Smaller items that can get lost more easily are best stowed in well-labeled plastic or cardboard boxes and bins because they won’t fall through any cracks or ruin fabric. Also, make sure the bins and boxes have lids so that you can stack them on top of each other, with the most rarely used items being at the bottom.

Doors and Floors

If you’ve finished curating, editing, and stowing, and you’re still left with a pile of stuff, look to the door and the floor. Try hanging an over-the-door plastic organization system to free up some space in your shelving. This is great for small items like toiletries and craft materials. If your space allows for it, add a few small boxes to the floor level of your closet that can be stacked or moved easily in case you need extra reach. Select a style that you don’t mind being on display, because you might have to move these smaller boxes around a bit.

Maintenance is a Must

Now that you’ve successfully maneuvered through the chaos and created a closet you want to keep on display, maintenance is crucial. We recommend going in monthly and checking to make sure items are in their correctly labeled bins and boxes, and maybe adding more if you’ve accumulated anything else. By maintaining the results of your hard work, you can rest assured that everything’s in its proper place—at least in your hall closet.

Professional interior designer Kerrie Kelly has been helping homeowners achieve beautiful closet designs while also providing wonderful storage capabilities. Kerrie writes about her blended design and organization expertise for The Home Depot. To view a selection of Home Depot's closet storage accessories, you can visit the company's website.

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