Samantha Marcus Yanks has always had a thing for coats. She once owned a whopping 40 of them. But for years, she was afraid to open her coat closet, which housed not only her beloved outerwear but also bulging laundry bags, bath towels, hostess gifts, and wrapping supplies. And somehow a vacuum cleaner balanced on top of the entire heap.
By donating extraneous objects and categorizing what was left, order was restored.
What Samantha Has Always Loved
The closet’s nine-foot-high ceiling, which is tall enough to accommodate two rods of clothes.
Well-lit built-in shelves offer plenty of storage.
What She Wanted to Change
Not being able to reach the upper levels. Samantha, who is five-two, literally used to climb the shelves to retrieve items.
The black-hole factor: “I had to hunt for everything I needed,” she says. “And I had no idea what was on the bottom shelves―none.”
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1. Whittle down. It’s a classic principle: If you want an organized place, you have to eliminate clutter. Samantha donated seldom-used tote bags, old books, and 30―yes, 30!―treasured coats, along with the mammoth vacuum cleaner, to charity.
2. Reduce bulk. A compact vacuum cleaner replaced the original one. A sizable stepladder was junked for a low-profile wall-mounted version. Dirty mops and dusty brooms were tossed for one tool with three removable heads (mop, broom, duster).
3. Invest in stuff that improves accessibility. An extendable metal hook allows Samantha to reach high-hung coats. A collapsible canvas hamper stowed in the closet can be rolled out in a snap come laundry day.
4. Designate a purpose for each shelf. Samantha loves to give presents and write notes, so one shelf on the left side of the closet became a gift-wrap station. Two coat hooks mounted to the wall hold rolls of paper, round glass containers store ribbons, and fabric-covered boxes stash stationery. Since Samantha and her husband, David, travel frequently, a shelf on the right side puts in-flight essentials (blankets, neck pillows, earplugs, eye masks) at their fingertips. Suitcases rest on the top shelf to utilize the empty area between the shelf and the ceiling. This side of the closet also holds David’s toolboxes and an array of caddies for around-the-house must-haves, like cleaning products, lightbulbs, and cords.
5. Use every inch of space. Mounted on the back of the door, a brass rod with sliding hooks offers stylish refuge for hats, keys, or an armful of dry cleaning.
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More Organizing Strategies
Minimize toppling: Samantha keeps room sprays, candles, and perfumes on hand to give as hostess gifts. The goodies stay in place, thanks to acrylic shelf dividers.
Opt for space savers: Putting jackets on identical thin hangers creates a uniform look and multiplies closet real estate.
Grab and go: The couple used to buy new towels rather than dig through the closet to find ones they already owned. Now canvas bins keep linens close at hand.
Protect those valuables: After excavating the closet, Samantha found her long-lost wedding photos. These sturdy units will keep them safe.
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"For a long time, our home was very organized, except for this one spot―the closet―that created stress," says Samantha. "Not anymore. And I love that it's a walk-in closet again." David loves it, too, she adds: "Now he looks forward to going in there, even just to throw his laundry into the hamper."