December 11, 2013

Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom

The last week of November was a busy time in my household. It was Thanksgiving. It was Hanukkah. And it was also my birthday. Lots of food and festivities. Not a lot of downtime.

But, my hubby and I carved out a small amount of time that weekend to make our home more organized. The colder weather was upon us and we had to create a solution to a recent organization problem.

We have a front door and a closet next to that door. Coats, shoes, umbrellas and accessories are kept in that closet.

Problem: My children and I enter and exit our home most days through the garage. No closet next to that door. Instead, we have a tiny laundry room with an even tinier broom closet that we converted to a storage closet years ago. We installed a row of hooks across the top and at the bottom of the closet we store shopping and recycle bags of varying sizes.

On this closet door, we installed a 4-pocket organizer from Babies R' Us which has proved to be an extraordinarily helpful organizing product. Each of us has a pocket to store accessories and one is for infrequently used items like snow gloves.

This worked well for a while. My children were young and had little coats and my jacket fit just fine next to theirs. Now, my kids are bigger and so are their coats. They have more hats and mittens, too. With all three of our winter coats in there, the closet door no longer stayed closed. And the hooks were so high, I was the person in charge of hanging everyone's coats.

What to do?

I had suggested a hall tree for the room adjacent to the garage which just so happens to be my home office. It wouldn't thrill me to have coats and backpacks hanging in my work space but it was better than having them spill out of the storage closet--especially when I was doing the laundry.

My husband did not like the hall tree idea for two reasons:
1) He thought a hall tree would have looked messy. (I agree)
2) The hall tree would have to stand in the space currently occupied by his grandmother's table which he loves and it would not fit in our attic.

So, for a while we thought about it, spent the summer leaving camp bags in the garage but then Autumn came and the problem was back. Backpacks and diaper bags were dropped as we entered the house and coats were dumped on a couch that sits opposite my desk in this room. (No picture is available--too embarrassing for this Professional Organizer to admit!)

Besides the fact that it looked terrible, it didn't exactly instill the importance of being organized to our two young children.

Once again we asked ourselves, "What to do?"

Solution: One day, my husband looked at me and said, "What if we move the ironing board and vacuum cleaner out of the laundry room and use that space as a mudroom? I measured the space. It was 24" wide. I was skeptical but I grew up in a 5'x12' bedroom. I knew I could make this work.

Challenge accepted!

I'll give my husband credit for thinking of utilizing this space. I probably never considered it because my husband likes to iron despite the fact he doesn't do it much anymore (Yes--he does laundry, too. I'm a lucky lady...). We had not hung an iron in the iron holder since our first child started crawling six years ago. It was a great iron/ironing board organizer from Rubbermaid but it's time was up. We relocated the real vacuum to the garage with the ironing board and the toy vacuum went to the basement playroom.

I thought to myself, "Where am I going to find what I need to fit into a two-foot wide space?"

I looked in Home Goods and online and didn't see much that would fit my tight secifications. Then one day, I was in Target and went to check out their Closetmaid collection. I've used their products in the past for organizing my kid's toys and got to check out their new products at the NAPO Conference last year.

I walked down the aisle and not only did I see what would work for me, it was on sale!

The Closetmaid 24" Horizontal Stackable Organizer
Twenty four inches wide, too! What luck! My plan was to have the boys keep their backpacks on the top shelf, store their sneakers on the middle and bottom shelves and since their feet aren't too big, maybe there would be room for a basket to hold accessories.

Now, I needed to figure out the second half of the mudroom--a place to hang coats. There are so many hook choices out there from the simple to the whimsical. We just needed simple. And, we needed more than one set of hooks. One was to be placed at the top of the space for my coat/handbag/hat and the other was to be placed so my kids could hang and retrieve their own outerwear.

Before Thanksgiving, I attended the holiday party for the local organizer group I belong to--NAPO-NNJ. Besides a lovely dinner, we had a Yankee Swap. The table was filled with gifts and I had pulled the last number for picking. By the time it was my turn to pick, there was one gift left on the table. You'll never believe what it was?


What else do you think Professional Organizers would bring to a Yankee Swap??? It was meant to be!

And, the person who bought the hooks hadn't removed the price tag entirely. They were from Bed Bath and Beyond. You can't imagine how giddy I was over a set of hooks!

The next day with my trusty 20% coupon in hand, I bought another set. I was ready for construction to begin.

We charged our electric drill, connected with our inner Bob Villa, and made Mudroom Magic. Hubby and I put together the Closetmaid shelf in less than ten minutes. We measured and hung the hooks making sure they were straight with the iHandy level on my iPhone.

Measure twice, make hole once!
My kids tried putting their backpacks on the bench--plenty of room!

Hooks were hung and so were the coats. The laundry room is tight--here'a a few pics of what it looks like now.

My kids have been using it everyday--I am so proud of them! Sometimes I find my husband staring at this space with a big grin on his face. I love it, too. No more coat clutter. It looks great. It keeps us organized. Twenty-four inches of space. Challenge accepted. Challenge met. Challenge complete!

What organizing challenges have you resolved in your home recently?


Neat Nest Organizing said...

Stacey, this is awesome! You really thought "outside of the closet" on this one :) I loved reading this post -it was so engaging & I couldn't wait to see what you guys came up with. Glad you're enjoying your newly organized space! :) Robin

Stacey Agin Murray, Professional Organizer said...

Thanks for the compliment, Robin! This has been a troublesome organizing hot-spot in our home for a while. Sometimes it just takes a little time and a little bit of change to figure out a good solution!