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”…
How did you get in there?!
Oh no! You weren’t supposed to see this!
I married Fred Sanford!
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.
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.
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…
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…
So. Much. Better. Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up…
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.