How to Organize Your Utility Closet
Real Simple 2013 Organizing Challenge No. 4
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.
Plan From the Bottom Up
Map Out the Floor
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, wayfair.com.
Create Eye-Level Access
Keep everyday essentials, like wipes, all-purpose spray, and a whisk broom, within sight and easy reach.
Utilize Overhead Space
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.
Forage for Storage
Transform a Shoe Bag into a Cleaning Caddy
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, bedbathandbeyond.com.
Turn a Sweater Organizer into a Mini Basement
Deep cubbies provide nesting spots for paper towels, recycling bags, and microfiber cleaning cloths.
To buy: Real Simple 6-shelf hanging sweater organizer, $20, bedbathandbeyond.com.
Get Creative with Shoe Storage
Maintain collections of similar items (lightbulbs, extension cords, rolls of tape) in clear, lightweight containers.
To buy: Small mid-heeled shoe boxes, $8 each, containerstore.com.
Organize Your Manuals—and Your Mind
In a Bind(er)
Streamline the search for warranties and other paperwork with clear pockets; use tabs to separate appliances and gadgets by room.
The Writing Is on the Wall
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, shop.threebythree.com.
Who You Gonna Call?
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.