Guest Bedroom Organizing

ORGANIZING THE MONICA CLOSET

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

That closet. Everyone has one. The one you’d be mortified for your mother-in-law to see. The closet where everything ends up… things that need to go to the Goodwill, that picture frame you don’t know what to do with, wrapping paper, coloring books for when your friend’s kids come over, that candle holder you love but just don’t have a place for it yet, the Christmas ornament that rolled under the sofa and you didn’t find until after all the Christmas decor was packed and back in the attic… Yeah, THAT kind of closet. Well, that’s what happened to our guest room closet. Being fans of Friends, the closet became known around here as “The Monica Closet”…

Cleaning the Monica Closet / "No, honey you’re not sick! Look, I don’t love you because you’re organized, I love you in spite of that."

Monica
How did you get in there?!

Chandler
You’re messy.

Monica
Oh no! You weren’t supposed to see this!

Chandler
I married Fred Sanford!

Monica
No Chandler, you don’t understand! (Chandler starts singing
the theme forSanford and Son) Okay! Okay! Okay!
Fine! Now you know. Okay? I’m y’know…I’m sick.

Chandler
No, honey you’re not sick!
Look, I don’t love you because you’re organized,
I love you in spite of that.

No, I don’t have a photo of what it looked like before, but just trust me, it was really that bad. The pile didn’t quite reach its way up as far as Monica’s, but it was getting close. Even though I would feel slightly really embarrassed to post it, if I had a before photo, I’d definitely have posted it.

Before we painted the guest room a few weeks back, Greg and I spent a few hours going through everything, purging what we didn’t need anymore and taking a trip to the Goodwill. After the paint had dried and all of the touch-ups had been made, I refused to put anything back in the closet unless it was organized and had a place… and was labeled, of course. Here’s a photo I posted on Instagram of the newly-emptied closet.

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Yep, one happy camper. Now that the closet had been completely cleared out, we were able to make a more focused plan of what we wanted it to be. The idea was to take the closet and make it serve a total of 5 purposes: 1) A spot for our overnight guests to hang their clothes, 2) A place to store gift-wrapping supplies, 3) A “secret” hiding place for hostess gifts and future birthday/christmas presents, 4) A place to store candles, vase fillers, etc. and 5) A place for the emergency “oh my goodness, we have kids in the house and no toys” box. Sounds like a pretty hefty load to put on the shoulders of a 76″ x 31″ closet, but we were optimistic we could make it work.

First thing, we needed shelving. When shopping for shelves, we had three requirements: 1) White, 2) Solid (as in, not wire) and 3) Adjustable. I checked all the usual online resources and wound up having to decide between this option from The Container Store and this one from Home Depot. While each had its own pros and cons, we decided to go with the Rubbermaid option because Greg could just pick it up after work, rather than having to order them online and waiting a week for them to arrive (the nearest Container store is almost 2 hours away). While looking for reviews on these particular shelves, I came across this post over on Young House Love. The installation process seemed pretty painless and the “after” looked like what we were going for, so it was a done deal.

In order to save some time and make Greg’s trip to Home Depot as hassle-free as possible after a long day at work, I went ahead and placed the order for everything we needed online and scheduled it for in-store pickup for when Greg got off from work. We’ve done this a few times before, and it always works out really well. No need to sit and stare at all the options for 20 minutes–just do your research online, order, and pick everything up when it’s ready. We ended up with four shelves (36″ x12″), eight brackets, two upright tracks (47″) and two hardware packs; totaling around $70.

The installation process exceeded our expectations because it was super, super simple. So simple in fact, that I didn’t even manage to get a “process” photo. Basically, as long as you have the two upright brackets perfectly level, you’re golden. All of the anchors and screws you need are in the hardware packs, so there’s no wondering if you’ll have enough hardware to do the job. After about 15 minutes, they were installed…

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Even though we knew we wouldn’t be hanging a shelf past the brace holding up the existing closet shelf (the one that goes across the entire closet), we still mounted the brackets all the way up, right against the molding. By mounting the brackets perpendicular against the molding, we got a more streamlined and less cluttered look.

The shelves add a ton of extra storage, and our overnight guests will still have a good 40-ish inches to hang their clothes and stash their luggage. (There’s also a place in the corner, next to the dresser for luggage if need be.) After a few hours of labeling and putting things back in place, the closet now looks like this…

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

So. Much. Better. Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up…

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

For the bottom of the closet, I really wanted to add long shallow drawers here, but we couldn’t find quite the right kind. Everything we found was either too long (we’re wanting them to be about 36″ wide) or permanently-installed cabinets. Until we find another solution, we bought three clear under bed storage containers. The top one is for keepsakes. Once in a while, we come across something we want to keep, but we don’t have time to pull down the attic stairs, find an empty keepsake box, etc. This box is there to corral the things that we want to keep so they aren’t floating around the house until we find the time to get them into a box in the attic. The second one down is for unused picture frames and wall art. The bottom container is for gift bags/small gift boxes and “back up” rolls of wrapping paper (if I find a design I really love on sale, I always buy an extra roll or two). They aren’t the “prettiest” containers in the world, but the long, narrow design is works well for our purposes, and the clear tops help us see what’s in them without pulling them out each time. They might not be the perfect solution, but they definitely get the job done.

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

As for storing the wrapping paper, I brought in the vintage umbrella stand from the foyer. Once we actually start keeping umbrellas in it, I’ll put it back in the foyer and replace it with a floor vase – I just haven’t found the perfect floor vase yet. This was a good solution for this space because it’s slender enough to leave ample floor space for guests’ luggage, and it can easily be moved if it’s in the way for some reason. I’ve seen a lot of wrapping paper solutions on Pinterest that include hanging the wrapping paper rolls on the inside of closet doors. I think that’s a great idea, but for these particular doors (which don’t close very smoothly), it would drive me crazy to have rolls of wrapping paper banging, swinging and possibly falling off the door every time they were opened and closed.

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

A friend of ours was just at Ikea last week and asked if we needed anything while she was there (like the Container Store, it’s almost a 2 hour drive from here). Knowing that this closet organization process was coming up, we asked her to pick up three sets of white Kassett boxes – which happened to be on sale for $4.99 a set. Score! I have a love/hate relationship with these puppies. They’re inexpensive, convenient and easy on the eyes with their included bookplate labels, but they are a pain to put together. The little, tiny, Polly Pocket-sized bolts and copious amounts of white cardboard punch-outs laying on the floor afterward make me cringe… ugh.

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Instead of stacking two rows of boxes on top of each other, we added another shelf so we wouldn’t have to take out a top box just to get to a bottom one. I used my handy dandy label maker to mark each box with its contents. For the top shelf, we have ribbon, tissue paper and Christmas (gift tags, ornaments to tie on to the ribbon, etc). For the second shelf, we have candles, vase fillers and the “Kids Box” (which is filled with a few games, books, coloring books and crayons for when our little cousins and friends’ kids come over).

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Above the two shelves of boxes, on the top shelf, I made a little designated area for cards and gift prepping. On the right, we have our greeting cards box (check out the blog post about that here), and everything else I need to get a gift party-ready is on the left.

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I picked up three clear canisters from the kitchen section at Target to house paper tape, scotch tape and gift tags. In the coffee cup is a double-duty thin/medium Sharpie, gold, copper and silver Sharpie paint pens, and a regular ink pen. You might notice we happen to be missing pair of scissors. That’s because my new pair of ridiculously glorious scissors haven’t been delivered quite yet. Once those are in place, this area will be ready for present-wrapping action.

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

On the very top shelf, we have three large Kassett boxes. We use one for Christmas gifts for family/friends and another for hostess or last minute gifts I pick up throughout the year. I can’t show you what’s inside because the Internet (and my family) will see the gifts we’ve collected for Christmas, haha. If for some reason something is too big to fit in the box, we have a designated Rubbermaid container at the top of the attic steps that’s easily accessible. The third box is where we keep backups for the “guest room welcome basket” we keep in the room (we’ll be sure to post more about that later).

Guest Room Closet Organization / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Having a place for everything and everything in its place is like a “natural high” for me. Every time I go in there to get something, it makes me happy. Our favorite thing about the closet is that it houses so many different things and still gives overnight guests enough room to hang their clothes and stash their luggage away. Now that the “Monica Closet” is history, we can mark this big task off of our ‘ole To Do List.

Friends image from here.

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    Amy
    October 17, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Love it! As always, another job beautifully done 😀 Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Sara
    October 17, 2013 at 11:26 am

    This is EXACTLY what we need to do to our guest room closet. I think it’s about the same size so your plan will probably work. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    Fagan
    October 17, 2013 at 11:26 am

    It looks so neat and organized. Totally jealous!

  • Reply
    Amy
    October 17, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Yes. Just…yes. We have a closet roughly this size in our currently empty, soon-to-be guest room and this is the perfect solution. I love it! I’m really digging the paint color in there too. We entertained the idea of just keeping everything in our closet white, but this has swayed me to go with the same gray that we have on the walls. So inspirational!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 17, 2013 at 11:30 am

      Thank you! Glad it helped : )

  • Reply
    Melissa
    October 17, 2013 at 11:29 am

    We have a “Monica Closet” too and it is awful!! I’m totally sending this post to the hubby to show him what we need to do this weekend. I love how organized you are!

  • Reply
    Megan S
    October 17, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Love what you guys did! We have a huge walk in closet that is a bit awkward but that is where our gift stuff goes so this is very inspiring. Curious, what size scissors did you end up getting?!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 17, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      Thank you! I got the large pair because I thought the smaller pair would be too small for lots of paper-cutting. I can’t wait to get them in!

  • Reply
    Elena @ The Silberez Life
    October 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I love it so much I just want to curl up and hang out in there. Our Monica closet exists in my craft room. It is literally a hazard if you try and walk in. This gives me some hope…I hope.

  • Reply
    Karen
    October 17, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Inspiring post. I think the under bed containers are a perfect solution. Totally off topic – what brand labeler do you have?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 17, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks! I have an Epson (this one). I’ve gone through a few in the past, but I love this one because it has a lot of features and font sizes and styles to choose from.

  • Reply
    Karen
    October 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks! Ordering from Amazon as soon as I finish this comment. 🙂

  • Reply
    Lori H
    October 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    I love your organizing posts almost as much as the His and Hers! Your organizing skills are inspirational 🙂

  • Reply
    Savia Jane
    October 17, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Ashley, that room looks spectacular!
    But I was wondering how will you wrap the gifts in there? Maybe a slide-put table top from one of the shelves or a foldable table would do the trick.

    P.S. I love visiting your blog. I’m moving to a new city soon and take inspiration from your projects.

    Luv,
    Savia (Mumbai)

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 18, 2013 at 12:31 am

      Thank you, Savia! The dresser in the room (which we normally keep pretty clear of accessories and such) is a good-sized space for small/quick gift wrapping jobs. However, the dining room is literally 8 steps away. So, if I have a few things to wrap or something pretty large, I just grab what I need and take it in there to work at the dining table.

  • Reply
    Amanda
    October 18, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Great job on this closet! I love your organization skills. I’m wondering if I should just bite the bullet and do something similar to my walk in storage unit in my rented apartment. There’s some shelves in there right now, but they’re not placed very well and I could make it so much better. I just hate to put that money in there; though I could take the shelves with me if I bought the same ones you did. … hrrm.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 18, 2013 at 12:34 am

      We’re thinking about adding some to our storage closet in the utility room. They would be easy to take down. All you’d have to do is detach the upright brackets from the wall, patch the holes and you’re good to go!

  • Reply
    Laur Ann
    October 18, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Thank you for NOT being perfect – with all your wonderful house blogs, I was starting to think I was the only person with a mess to hide! A closet system for my master is on deck for the weekend and a guest room renovation is next…we really appreciate the boost of inspiration.

  • Reply
    Michele
    October 18, 2013 at 9:31 am

    OMG I was laughing out loud when I read this! That’s one of my favourite scenes.

    Confession…I would LOVE to see what in Monica’s “Monica Closet”. I bet there are some fun things in there. 😀

    Your newly organized closet is AMAZING!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    October 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Consider me to be more gutsy, because I did post our embarrassing closets! But your closet is looking fabulous. We’re taking some waayy small baby steps at a time with our closets, like cleaning. 🙂 http://www.fallfordesign.com/2013/10/11/chloes-closet-clean-out/ Can’t wait to paint ours and add some sort of organizing system!

    BTW, I can’t stop starring at your closet floors. How the wood comes right up the white trim with the gray walls = heelloo gorgeous!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Thanks, Autumn! We’re big fans of the floor/trim/wall combo too! SO glad we painted!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    October 18, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Wow! Your cleaned out, organized closet is absolutely gorgeous! I am seriously jealous. I was just thinking that my whole bedroom is a Monica Closet. I definitely need to get some cleaning and organizing done. 😀

  • Reply
    Deirdre
    October 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Yowsa, that’s a beautiful closet! The paint, the floors, those shelves- I’m such as sucker for a well-organized closet! My husband and I just splurged on the IKEA closet system, with drawers and all sorts of doo-dads (we had something similar at our last apartment, and we wanted that to be one of the first things we did when we moved in). I let him talk me into having them come and deliver and install everything, which feels decadent, but not having five giant, 90-something-inch wardrobes flat-packed and awaiting assembly in the garage feels great.

    I’m really in love with that closet – I’ll definitely be trying something similar in our guest room closet. What is that paint color?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 18, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Thank you! It’s Anonymous by Behr (at Home Depot). The color looks even cozier in person – it’s our favorite color in the house!

  • Reply
    Jackie
    October 20, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Omg you’re a goddess

  • Reply
    Rosie
    October 20, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    That looks fantastic. I have an understairs cupboard that is my Monica cupboard (it’s called ‘The Cupboard of Doom’ here because no matter how often it’s tidied, you shut the door and everything throws itself about the place!)

    I’m so envious of big American cupboards/closets, I have nothing that big and I LOVE storage!

  • Reply
    Suzie
    October 22, 2013 at 4:26 am

    Thanks guys! It looks awesome. We have recently moved (3months ago) & I have already developed a ‘monica closet’. Your post has inspired me to get going on sortinging it out before it becomes even worse.

  • Reply
    Anna
    October 23, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I love the way you used one of the Anthropologie mugs for Sharpies. I love the look of those mugs but find the little handle to be quite strange for drinking.

  • Reply
    Dacia @ Lemon Drop Life
    October 29, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Holy moly, you made that closet WERK! Way to go, girl!!

  • Reply
    viv c
    November 6, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    thank you! I am in the middle of organizing a closet and this was exactly what I needed. Thank you so much for the idea of how to organize my gift wrap and such!

  • Reply
    Kerry
    November 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Haha, I have the exact same three wrapping papers shoved in a corner of my office. I’m so jealous of your organized closet!

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