Before & After: A Pretty, Organized Hallway Closet

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This hallway closet needs some serious assistance! Being the only closet in our apartment other than our bedroom closet, I need to utilize every inch of space here. And, as you can see in this before photo, there is all sorts of wasted space that can be reclaimed with a little reorganization.

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When we moved into this apartment, the hallway closet was set up as seen in the "before" photo above — a few high shelves positioned over the clothes bar with wasted space underneath. To get new life out of this closet I decided to take out the old shelving completely and start over.

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Having shelves at the top of the closet was practically useless because the closet is so narrow that it was impossible to actually put anything on them. I decided to move the clothes rod higher in the closet, about nine inches from the ceiling. This served the dual purpose of utilizing wasted space while also raising the coats to allow for more storage room below. My husband and I are both roughly 5'9" so hanging coats and jackets at this height is still comfortable. We do have to reach up but we don't have to stand on tippy toes. I had actually planned on raising the bar even a little higher but we tested it at that height and it was too much.

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Below the coats, I added my own shelving using wood I picked up at the hardware store. The wood for the shelves was already the width of the closet (otherwise I would have had them cut to size at the hardware store) so all I had to do was create braces in the closet for the shelves. I did this by attaching pieces of 2’x4’ to the wall – one short strip on each side and one long piece on the back of the closet. The wood shelves firmly rest on these wood support pieces. To give the closet a more finished look, I covered the wood shelves in contact paper leftover from another project.

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Adding the shelves below the hanging clothes gave us a lot of additional space in this closet but I knew I could take it one step further. By converting the bi-fold door, just as I had with our bedroom closet, I was able to hang a shoe organizer on the back of the door. This shoe organizer has become a practical and space-saving way of storing a lot of the small items that would otherwise clutter the shelves.

This closet now serves all of our storage needs. There's a space on the floor for the cat's litter box and supplies, the shelves are sturdy and deep enough that I can stow away the vacuum cleaner and still have room for other stuff, and with the shoe organizer on the back of the door we finally have all the small stuff put away in an organized manner.

I'll admit that I went a little skimpy on the details in this closet project. I was a bit sloppy with the paint and I had only enough contact paper to cover the tops of the shelves. But the way I see it, it's a closet for Pete's sake. Of any place to get a little sloppy, it's the closet where our cat uses the bathroom.

Images: Jason Loper

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