Ask Unclutterer: Coat control

Reader Stacy submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:

I live in Brooklyn on the top floor of a Brownstone and have NO coat closet, which is killing me this winter because our coats just end up all over the kitchen table. Do you have any ideas/suggestions for coat/hat/gloves/boot storage for a small apartment? Also, I’m broke. Thanks!

I’m sure you have figured out that the reason your coats, hats, and gloves are winding up on the dining table is because you don’t have another place for them to be stored when you’re home. You need to determine a location and create a space for these items to live, and it should be near the main entrance of your apartment.

You can repurpose a decorative container you already own to hold hats and gloves. Wrap a cardboard box in decorative contact paper that matches your decor if you don’t already own something that will work.

You have many options for coat storage, but probably the easiest is to install hooks near your front door. For just $1.66, you can relive your elementary school days with these simple Coat and Hat Hooks:

If you can’t put screws in your apartment’s walls, consider an over-the-door hanger for less than $13:

As far as boots are concerned, get an inexpensive tray from your local home supply store and leave your boots out to dry on it. Since you live on the top floor of your building, you could even leave the boot tray out in the hallway. Your shoes are probably at little to no risk of being stolen, and it will keep their dampness and mess out of your place.

Thank you, Stacy, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. I hope this advice helps in some way!

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20 Comments for “Ask Unclutterer: Coat control”

  1. posted by Onlinehandyman on

    Some excellent ideas – I am going to bookmark and Tweet this, I really hate when people pile all the coats up on a bed – good info! THANKS

  2. posted by Jen on

    One thought re coat hooks: they will be more secure if you screw them into a piece of wood first (or get one ready-made); that way they will all be secured to studs instead of some of them. Also makes for less holes in the wall (four to six total instead of two to three per hook).

    If you can’t hang one on a door or put screws in the wall, a hall tree with a bench would be a great solution if you have the space. Something like these:

  3. posted by Missy M on

    I use a fabric over-the-door shoe holder (in a fabulous leopard print!) to hold my hats, scarves (roll them up), gloves and mittens(and canister of anti-static spray). I place it on the inside of the door to my apt during the winter months; off season, I move it inside a closet door (or it could be rolled up and placed in a box along with winter wear ’til next season).

  4. posted by Sarah on

    We use an old towel to put wet boots on when we come in the door – with another hanging nearby (in our case, in the coat closet) to wipe up the inevitable tracked-in snow. Cleanup is easy – just grab both of them when the regular load of rags goes in the laundry.

  5. posted by Jane on

    We have the same problem in our current rental. The door leading to the basement is the first thing you see when you come in, so we use that door to hold EVERYTHING. First I put an over-the-door shoe bag with 24 pockets on the door. The bottom 12 pockets are used for shoes, the top 12 pockets are used for gloves, scarves, etc. Then I put an over-the-door coat rack over the shoe bag. That rack is used to hold coats and bags. It’s not pretty, but it’s functional and keeps everything off the floor. That being said, I can’t wait to move into a place with a coat closet!

  6. posted by Kirstin on

    Ikea to the rescue?

  7. posted by Dawn F. on

    This one is on sale today for $29!

    I think a floor coat rack would be nice because it could be moved around or used in other spaces/apartments/etc. and it wouldn’t require permanent installation on a door or a wall. Plus, it looks like this model has 8 hooks for coats. You could use clothespins to attach the gloves to the bottom of the coats for better drying…


  8. posted by Jane on

    P.S. If I had the floor space, I would definitely go for cubby bench/coat rack unit like this one from C&B:;f=35180

  9. posted by Rue on

    I don’t have a coat closet in my new house, which kills me! Fortunately I do have two spare bedrooms with closets so I just hung up the coats in one. Scarves/hats/gloves went in a milk crate-style box on the closet floor. It rarely snows in this part of Texas (and even more rarely accumulates at all), so we don’t have to worry about items being wet when they go into the closet.

    I think the over-the-door rack is probably the best bet for you. You’ll get more hooks with less work that way (no having to worry about screwing them into the wall). Just make sure if you are hanging up wet winter gear that you have a floor you can simply wipe up, or put something beneath the rack for the items to drip on. 🙂 As far as boots go, when we lived in Michigan I always kicked mine off in the kitchen (the first room you came into), where the floors were hard and I could just wipe up the water after the boots dried.

  10. posted by Rosa on

    Depending how much winter gear you have and how many people, an over-the-door hook is going to warp the door hinges & eventually make the door not close.

    We live in Minnesota, have had up to 5 people living in the house, and don’t have a coat closet – a wooden tripod coat rack from Ikea (that it looks like they don’t sell anymore) has held up for 5 or 6 years now. It has a total of 18 pegs, and the space underneath is a good size for 2-3 sets of boots.

  11. posted by MsDasha on

    I live in Brooklyn too! Yey!

    But I have to disagree with this post – my friend had the same over the door hook thing to hang coats and purses on, and I happened to be there when it broke off… a week after she bought it. If you have the space for it near the door, I live the Ikea thing that Kirsten linked to- I’ve been drooling over it for ages, but I have a coat closet. IT EVEN HAS A MIRROR!!! Otherwise, install some hooks in the wall (Ikea has cheap wood things with hooks on them, as does the home depot). Or put a standing coat rack (Gothic Cabinet Craft has some nice ones). If you do go the over the door route, make sure that whatever you get is super, super sturdy. Or have replacements handy.

    For gloves and scarves, I prefer a “hard” tote (from LL Bean) that stands up on its own and has a zip top. It sits on top of the air conditioners in my closet You can leave it out all winter and it looks cute, and when summer comes, zip it up and stick it in the back corner of a closet. We also had a post on this recently on the forums, people had great suggestions.

    For wet boots, we just leave them outside the door overnight until they are dry. We live in a 4 unit house and have that entire part of the hallway to ourselves, so my rainboots actually just live there year round.

  12. posted by Loren on

    I’m living in a tiny apartment without a coat closet too. We snagged some decorative hooks from hobby lobby (for like 2$ a piece) from Hobby Lobby. I managed to find a tiny telephone chair for 20$ at an estate sale that fits our narrow hallway like a glove. I bought a little wooden Ikea box that holds boyfriend’s keys and the mail. There is a little shelf for gloves and hats, (I think I will steal someone’s basket idea and find a small basket to house the gloves that are kinda stuffed willy nilly right now).
    I use the chair to sit and take off my boots, which live under the chair, and my purse sits in the seat part. I’d like to get a few more hooks for hats (we love hats). Works great for the two of us. There is also a cheap vintage umbrella stand in another corner for umbrellas, my boyfriend’s grandfather’s cane, and the walking stick my father carved for me. It’s really the only section of our apartment that is neatly organized.

  13. posted by Handy Man, Crafty Woman on

    We don’t have a coat closet either, which KILLS me because we live in New England! We bought a wooden shelf with pegs under it, that we hang coats on. Its on the wall near the front door. I’d really rather have an actual closet, but what can you do?

  14. posted by random on

    I use an old school movie screen. The tripod legs are very sturdy, stands up the right height for long coats, and when it’s time for a movie, voilá.

  15. posted by Gillian on

    I’ve got to say that I can’t imagine a house or apt without a coat cupboard. I guess I’m very lucky. Mine is right by the door with a broom closet next to it. I’ve got a set of drawers in the cupboard for hats & mitts, and have covered the walls and door of the broom closet with pegboard so I can hang more things. Keys go in there, the dog leash and pick-up bags, a towel rack also on the door where I can clip wet mitts and gloves. Opposite the door is the boot tray on which I have a rack with dowels, and I set all boots and shoes upside down to dry/air. I’m fussy that way.

  16. posted by Soccerdawg on

    I have a very tiny house, and the only closets I have are two small ones in the bedroom.

    I went to an antique store and bought a metal rack that was meant to hold decorative plates (I think it cost about $5-$10). It was old and black. I spray-painted it silver (to match my decor) and hung it on the wall. Now it holds my coats and scarves and it’s pretty!

  17. posted by Heather on

    For small stuff like gloves and scarves I like this skirt hanger from container store (I’m sure there are similar versions elsewhere) which I hang from an over the door hook — the clips can be slid from one side to another so that you can easily see everything placed on it and the clips help for things that don’t have hanging loops (like gloves.)
    They also have one over the door hook that is a very slim piece of metal (I couldn’t fit a standard one because the space over the door was too tight).

  18. posted by Richard | on

    If you have a little cupboard at the side then it’s always a great idea to put them in their. People feel safer than if they’re in the open too. Good point about the shoe rack too.

  19. posted by Ish on

    If you can’t put holes in the walls, 3M makes beautiful metal hooks that are removable. The large ones will hold up to 5 pounds. I use them in the bathroom for towels because I hate re-painting the gloss surface.

  20. posted by D on

    IKEA makes tip out boot/shoe racks that are ideal for small things like gloves, hats, shopping bags and rolled up snow pants. They are very narrow, adn don’t require the space a drawer does, and hide the clutter better than a rack.

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