First we installed a simple wire shelving system, you can buy packaged systems, rubbermaid makes a good one. Or you can buy the individual pieces like we did, from stores like Home Depot and Lowes.
I usually don't like the wire systems but I chose one for our coat closet for a reason. Because our coat closet on the main floor is where we keep all of our "everyday" shoes. There are no high heels, or men's dress shoes in our main coat closet, just runners, and boots, shoes that Lee wears to work (a cross between hiking shoes and dress shoes), and flats. Our everyday shoes get dirtier than our dress shoes, and if I had chosen solid shelves (either wood or MDF) they would get muddy and dirty and I would have to clean them off. Wire shelves don't leave a lot of surface space to get collect dirt. The wire shelves also allow the circulation of air around the soles of the shoes drying off wet bottoms.
After we installed the wire shelves, I was able to organize the closet in 4 steps:
Step 1: HooksEvery well organized closet needs a couple of hooks. The back of the door would have been wasted space. I usually have a tote bag and a scarf hanging from them
Step 2: Seasonal StorageI think all coat closets could use a basket or box for seasonal items. In the summer we keep our snow boots, and all of our mittens and toques, knitted scarves . . . and a couple of Max's winter sweaters (don't laugh he's very tiny and needs a little sweater, the fact that it has a monkey on it is just for fun). In the summer we keep our flips flops and sunscreen in the basket . . . because we live in Canada and there is NO need for flip flops in the winter unless you wear them with socks . . . so classy.
*basket is from Michaels.
Step 3: BasketsThese two little baskets are from The Real Canadian Superstore. They are the same baskets from our townhouse bathroom. They are the perfect addition to our coat closet. They catch all the hats, and mitts, and toques, all the essentials for a Canadian winter. In the summer we use them to hold a cotton scarf or two, sunscreen and our ball caps.
Step 4: Somewhere to store re-usable shopping bagsWe all try to use our re-usable bags and storing them can be a bit awkward around here. I use to store them in the car . . . which was great but while they were in the house they would always be sitting on top of the front hall console, or in the mudroom on top of the machines. They aren't the prettiest of things and I didn't like seeing them on the counter or table tops.
This little wire basket is meant to work with the wire shelving systems, and we use it to hold our shopping bags! Because I have to go into the coat closet to get my shoes before I leave the house . . . I never forget my re-usable bags!