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Family Catchall Closet

When the family coat closet becomes the equivalent of the junk drawer, it's time to reorganize.

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The closet by the back door ended up being a catchall crammed so full that homeowners Beth Eslinger and husband Brian Button often lost things. The cramped closet reached the ceiling but was so narrow and poorly planned that the overhead space was wasted. Mops, brooms, and cleaning supplies shared the space with coats and boots. In the made-over space, daughter Eva helps by keeping her hat and scarf on pegs set low on the door.

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Problem

Too much height -- too little width.

Solution

Build tall. Start with a unit that takes up only 1 square foot of floor space yet has 10 square feet of usable shelf space. Add an overhead shelf for rarely used items.

Problem

Need a spot to put outdoor things away.

Solution

Hang coats on a wall-to-wall rod. Use the back of the door to hold messages, mail, and keys that would end up on a messy counter. Keep outdoor shoes on shelves until they dry.

Problem

Too many items on too few shelves.

Solution

Install vertical supports in an L shape along two sides of the closet. Choose wire shelves in the maximum width to fit each space, positioning them at various heights. Store cleaning supplies, extra linens, and items in labeled boxes on separate shelves, and hang mops and brooms from hooks.

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