How to Organize Your Utility Closet

Because you can't utilize a disaster area.

Utility closet
Photo: Jonny Valiant

Looking to transform this neglected catchall into an accessible arsenal of home maintenance? Clutter coach Chip Cordelli has the right tools for the task.

01 of 10

Real Simple 2013 Organizing Challenge No. 4

Utility closet
Jonny Valiant

Small space makeovers can often require large efforts and loads of time. Already overwhelmed? Coach Cordelli advises us to rethink the space so it's more than just a broom closet. For example, maybe you want to stash supplies in case the power goes out or add a spare first-aid kit. Start by following these tried and well-tested techniques.

02 of 10

Plan From the Bottom Up

Double Hang for O-Box 1 Drawer
Jonny Valiant

Start by designating a parking spot for the vacuum. Then add a freestanding drawer, which can hold items you need at a moment's notice, like batteries, matches, and a hand-cranked radio.

To buy: Double Hang for O-Box 1 Drawer, $110,

03 of 10

Create Eye-Level Access

Hanging shoe organizer holding cleaning supplies
Jonny Valiant

Keep everyday essentials, like wipes, all-purpose spray, and a whisk broom, within sight and easy reach.

04 of 10

Utilize Overhead Space

Humidifier and blankets on the top shelf of a closet
Jonny Valiant

Specialty cleaning products, seasonal appliances (like the humidifier), and oddball items (like moving blankets) should be kept up top, with a wall-mounted step ladder nearby.

05 of 10

Forage for Storage

Over-the-Door 24 Pocket Canvas Shoe Organizer

The pockets of a canvas shoe wrangler are just the right size for spray bottles, cleaning wipes, and small items like grout brushes, which tend to get lost on shelves. Tailor storage to your space and needs—consider cutting off the bottom half of a caddy, as Coach Cordelli did for this closet.

To buy: 24-pocket shoe organizer, $15,

06 of 10

Turn a Sweater Organizer into a Mini Basement

Real Simple 6-Shelf Sweater Organizer

Deep cubbies provide nesting spots for paper towels, recycling bags, and microfiber cleaning cloths.

To buy: Real Simple 6-shelf hanging sweater organizer, $20,

07 of 10

Get Creative with Shoe Storage

Heeled Shoe Boxes

Maintain collections of similar items (lightbulbs, extension cords, rolls of tape) in clear, lightweight containers.

To buy: Small mid-heeled shoe boxes, $8 each,

08 of 10

Organize Your Manuals—and Your Mind

Binder holding instruction manuals
Jonny Valiant

Streamline the search for warranties and other paperwork with clear pockets; use tabs to separate appliances and gadgets by room.

09 of 10

The Writing Is on the Wall

Stick It! silicone monthly planner

Let's face it: You won't remember every trash-pickup and donation-collection date. Keep track of them with an adhesive dry-erase calendar.

To buy: Stick It! silicone monthly planner, $13,

10 of 10

Who You Gonna Call?

Calendar and brooms
Jonny Valiant

When appliances or fixtures are on the fritz, you'll want backup fast. Next to the calendar, post contact info for household-maintenance pros, like plumbers, electricians, and contractors.

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