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Entryway Organization Tips for Winter Wear

mudroom with winter coats and boots

January and February weather can get nasty in Chicago. Treks through the snow mean there are plenty of coats and boots covered in salt and slush coming through our homes' doorways. And all that wet outerwear needs to dry out before you put it away. That's why entryway organization can be such a challenge in the winter. But no one wants an obstacle course of drying boots and parkas sitting in front of their door. So what do you do with the piles of wet jackets, scarves, mittens, and footwear? Use these tips to get the mess under control and spruce up your entryway no matter what the weather.

How to organize your entryway to get those snowy parkas and boots under control:

Ditch your old closet:

All those wet clothes need to dry out and that definitely won't happen if hung on hangers inside a traditional closet. They need air circulation. If you have a back door or rear entrance, that's the perfect spot for a mud room organizer. Chances are you already have a standard reach-in closet for coats near this door. Turn that closet into an open mud room system using a series of built-in cubbies, hooks, shoe shelves, cabinets, and baskets to organize your winter wear. This modern, open concept storage system typically consists of a bench/seating area with shelves or drawers underneath and cubbies for jackets with cabinets above. The built-in bench offers a place to sit down while removing snowy boots. The mud room concept allows winter clothes to be neatly organized while also providing enough space for air to flow and dry everything out.

Open mudroom cubbies for entryway organization
Mud room organizers like this one can easily replace a reach-in closet. The built-in bench with shelves and baskets below is about 20-inches deep. The upper cubbies and cabinets are usually 14-inches deep. This easily slips into typical 24-inch-deep footprint left by your old reach-in closet.

Assign everyone their own cubby:

If everyone has their own area to stow their gear it is easier to stay organized. It also helps keep the peace in the family when space is tight. There won't be any complaints about one family member hogging all the room. Plus, no one will take anyone else's stuff when their own is at hand and easy to find. Include a shelf for baskets, drawers or both in your design. This will hold the small stuff like gloves and keys. Make sure each person has more than one hook to organize jackets, scarves, purses, and backpacks. The cubby should be used for everyday items. Extra coats that are only used occasionally or in a different season should be stored elsewhere in the home. If you have a second closet for out-of-season coats, then great use that. Otherwise they belong with the family member's other clothing in the bedroom closet to be pulled out when needed. Use the top shelf of the closet for out-of-season clothing and shoe storage.

Mudroom cubbies plus a big shoe cabinet organize the rear entrance
This mud room uses custom built-in cubbies next to the back door. Each family member has their own hooks for jackets plus a shelf above containing an open basket for mittens and small items. Shoe shelves below the cubbies and with a drawer for each person help keep everyone organized. A separated shoe tower handles the boots.

Invest in wire baskets:

Baskets offer versatile and attractive storage. There seems to be no end to what you can do with them. When it comes to entryway organization, fill them with gloves, keys, mittens, and other small items you use every day. One basket for each family member is ideal. Wire baskets that slide out like a drawer are best for air circulation. Dry your children's wet mittens (also works for socks) in pull-out wire baskets right under their snowsuits so that all the snow clothes stay together and are ready the next time they go out to play. Use them with canvas basket liners in the summer months so that keys for the bicycle lock and even ear buds can be safely stashed in the basket without falling through the slats. Remove the canvas liners in the winter to allow for better air drying of wet clothes. Plastic bottom liners are available for the wire baskets if you're concerned about drips.

Wet mittens drying in a wire basket as part of mudroom organization
Pull-out wire baskets are mounted on drawer slides. They slide in and out like a drawer but cost less. The open weave allows items to dry more thoroughly than you'd find with items stored in a drawer.

Use lots of hooks:

entryway organization using hooks and built-in cabinets
This mud room uses a long cleat with hooks placed below a row of upper cabinets for entryway organization.

The secret to hanging wet coats and scarves is hooks. Use hooks rather than hangers so that parkas and other winter wear can dry out in an open area while also presenting a tidy and organized appearance. Hooks are also ideal for accessories like handbags, backpacks, scarves and more. They are more convenient than hangers and much easier for children to use. Even young children have been known to hang up their own coat when hooks are provided rather than hangers. There's a reason they are so popular in schools. That's why good entryway organization always includes some well-placed hooks. And you can never have too many. Use them on the wall behind the door as well as inside your mud room cubbies. Or try rotating under-shelf hooks to organize your masks and smallest accessories so that they don't get forgotten when you leave the house.

face masks organized on rotating under cabinet hook next to back door
These masks and keys are stored on rotating three prong hooks under the cabinet next to the back door.

Add a pull-out sweater drying rack:

There are a lot of laundry drying racks on the market. The problem with most of them is that they take up a lot of floor space and don't look very nice. A discreet, pull-out model is so much better — especially if you're tight on space. Some accordion style models drying racks attach to the wall. Folded up, they remain small and inconspicuous. When you need to dry your knit sweater or scarf, just pull it open to reveal multiple hanging bars. Even better is the drawer drying rack. If you have a waist high drawer nearby, it can be converted into a drying rack that offers the ultimate in scarf drying. The rack is basically a "bottomless drawer" that contains a series of rods for hanging wet clothing. When closed, it looks like any other drawer. When open, however, you can drape wet towels, scarves, or any type of clothing over the bar to let it dry. The individual bars are removeable to allow for bulkier items like your favorite heavy winter sweater as well.

hidden sweater drying rack inside a drawer
If you have a slide-out pant rack like this one you can also use it for sweater storage, shawls, your tallit, and more! The delicate knits should be folded and draped over the hanging bar in the same manner used by the dry cleaners.

Winter Entryway Organization is Easy!

No need for bad weather to spoil your day. Let your home be your sanctuary and haven from the outside world. That means keeping everything in its place so that your home is calm and relaxing rather than chaotic. And that includes entryway organization. Try using a mud room organizer near your back door. Assign every family member their own cubby for jackets and backpacks with a basket for smaller items. Use plenty of hooks so that hangers aren't necessary and think about adding a pull-out drying rack for sweaters and scarves. That's all there is to it. Try these tips and within no time at all your coats, boots and mittens will be perpetually dry and ready for use without mucking up your home's entrance.