As fall brings cooler weather, I realize that my kids’ coats and shoes are completely out of control. The haphazard pile of cold weather necessities is taking over my house.
You see, there is no coat closet at the door where my children enter our house.
There is a foyer by the front door, but they never make it that far with their garments, preferring to shed them as they enter the house. Also, I prefer that the kids don’t track mud and wet snow through the entire living room to get to the foyer. Instead, my children just dump their things behind the baby gate that surrounds the entertainment center. My children throw their gear down willy-nilly and mornings are hectic when my son can’t find his rain jacket or my daughter can only find one of her shoes.
Finally, I have had enough. Since my children are now five and seven years old, we don’t need a baby gate anymore. It’s an eyesore that takes up too much space. My daughter’s toys have taken over the space under our stairs, but I decided to evict them back into the playroom. I’m going to turn this space into a DIY coat closet. Here are my tips for creating a functional space for your children’s cool-weather gear.
First, every coat and pair of snowpants needs a place to hang.
There are a wide range of ways to hang children’s coats and snow pants. If you are feeling creative, you can create your own hooks out of tree branches. I visited a hardware store and picked out my own hooks. Then I had my husband screw the hooks onto a board and mount it the wall. Stores also carry pre-made boards with hooks. Just make sure to mount them on a stud in the wall, or else the weight of the coats or your children’s pulling will yank the rack right off the wall. If that is too intimidating or you don’t have space, a free-standing coat tree is also an option with older children. (Toddlers or babies might pull a coat tree over.) The most important thing is to ensure that your children are able to reach the hooks themselves.
Next, you need a way to organize shoes and boots.
I bought an inexpensive plastic tray for wet boots. Now I won’t have wet carpet spots to avoid in my bare feet. For sneakers and sandals, I bought a shoe rack. They come in all shapes and sizes. I chose the one that fit best in the small space under my stairs. If you have a door, an over-the-door shoe pouch is a great space saver. The most important part of a shoe organizer is to keep pairs of shoes together and clearly visible to and within the reach of your children.
Finally, a Vermont coat closet needs a place to store mittens, hats, and scarves.
My children’s hats and mittens were all mixed together in a giant pile. Needless to say, it was difficult to find matching mittens and getting out the door in the mornings was stressful. I didn’t have a lot of space left in my coat closet, so I simply let each child pick out a bin for their own hats and mittens. Hopefully, their items won’t get mixed together anymore. I also bought another bin for miscellaneous items such as umbrellas. At least mittens will no longer get lost underneath the entertainment center or pile of shoes.
After your coat closet is complete, you need to sort through your children’s belongings.
I was amazed by how many shoes, hats, and coats that my children had outgrown. They never tell me when that happens, so old gear tends to just stick around and accumulate. If I wasn’t sure about an item, I made my children try it on. Through this process, I discovered that my son’s only rain jacket was full of holes and my daughter no longer fit in any of her snow pants. Good to know! I also found many random objects buried in the pile of shoes and coats. It felt really satisfying to give away all the old gear and to have much less volume to fit into the new coat closet.