Recently I was listening to the Happier podcast and heard "The Happiness Project" author Gretchen Rubin address a listener question about reclaiming the chair in the bedroom. You know the one—perpetually buried in clothes. Being intimately familiar with the unsightly dilemma myself, I leaned in. Apparently, the problem may be rooted in something other than the obvious: Not (or at least not only) in bad habits and sheer laziness, but also in the universal concept of "gray space" clothing.
The term refers to items that are neither "laundry fresh" and ready to be put away in the closet or dresser, nor sufficiently worn as to be considered "laundry ready" and tossed into the dirty clothes basket. The theory surrounding the gray space concept suggests that clothing in this category makes up the bulk of what ends up on the chair.
A quick assessment of my own chair provides support for the theory. Though I also found the clothing there tends to meet an additional piece of criteria as well: Most of what is piled up are pieces I put in heavy rotation, and keeping these items at the ready just makes sense for me. This includes things like the lightly worn sweater that I'll pull on again first thing tomorrow, and the yoga pants that I don't wear to yoga but do regularly wear around the house after work.
All this in mind, the solution leading to a clear chair seems to involve first identifying the "gray space" clothes as a distinctly important sub-species of ones wardrobe, and then designating a specific place for this category to live. A more neat and orderly place than the bedroom chair, and a place where you are not likely to also want to sit.
So we've collected six catch-all options worth considering if you want to reclaim your seat, none of which involve using a hanger—or worse, folding.
Leaning Clothes Ladder
I've loaded one of these into my virtual cart on numerous occasions in the past, and one of these days I'm planning to follow through on the transaction. It seems practical and versatile — equally capable of managing clothes, towels, magazines folded over the bars or even a twinkly light arrangement. Urban Outfitters Leanera is similar but also offers shoe storage on the bottom.
Functioning similar to the ladder, and looking every bit like a glorified laundry drying rack, this stylish piece could work beautifully in a bedroom where you have a little extra floor space to work with.
Hooks are everything. They make entry ways manageable—wrangling everything from coats, hats and scarves, to just about anything with a belt loop—and can do the same in the bedroom. Get one with a shelf option, and they do double duty in creating a place to display artwork.
Another idea borrowed from the entry way. A coat tree is as functional as hooks on the wall, but no power tools or marred walls involved, making this a better option for some renters. An airy one like the spindle tree from West Elm could easily make the transition from entry to bedroom.
Seating and storage is a win/win. Whether at the foot of the bed or under a window, this can be a perfect "gray space" storage option. Unlike a confined dresser drawer, a storage ottoman or bench has enough room inside to allow a loose drape of clothing or flat lay of a sweater or jacket - meaning it can get tossed in easily, and accessed quickly- yet it's all out of sight. Plus, you can sit atop it without compromising the storage aspect—that is unless you max out the inside and proceed to drape things atop it!
And finally, a chair-shaped clothes rack for those who want to "own" the fact that the whole point of keeping a chair in the bedroom is to give you something to drape your clothes over and not to sit on. It's a bedroom after all.