The Cloakroom Comes Home

My husband and I struggle with hall closet storage in our apartment; our coat/shoe closet won’t stay closed, for jackets and footwear spilling out. Our 3-shelf closet organizer has no room for more shoes when people visit. My small collection of decorative shoes are kept in the bedroom closet, because they won’t fit anywhere else). Do you have tips for us? – Marianne C., Victoria, BC

This is a great question, and one I’ve been meaning to post about for a long time.

I had the exact same issue for months after we moved into this condo. Traditional front closets aren’t made to absorb the scale of items 5 kids and 2 adults throw at them.

The cloakroom I had built for the daycare “inspired” our current closet.

So I borrowed an idea I’d used years ago, when I started and ran a group licensed daycare in North Vancouver. Back then, we had eight kids in the centre and needed to recreate a “cloakroom,” such as you might have in an elementary school.

However, in our condo we don’t have nearly as much space. So while we could emulate some of the ideas (hooks, cubbies) we wouldn’t be able to do it on such a grand scale. We also needed a place to house our adult jackets and shoes.


The kids area of our cloakroom, complete with bench, cubbies and hooks for coats and backpacks.

What we had built was a custom solution for the space that included a low bench that kids could sit on to put on shoes, cubbies under that bench, and double hooks above each to snare their backpacks and jackets.

The adults got a rod above to hang jackets on, albeit positioned slightly higher than the original rod, in order to give the kids headroom beneath. We also put a high shelf above that and smaller shelves down the right hand side to store gloves, tall boots, gym shoes, kids sunglasses, and other random items.


Look, the doors can finally close! Success.

All told, the new closet cost us about $150 in materials.

While our closet does still overflow when guests come over, it’s now able to be effectively organized and closed, 90% of the time. Which is a huge accomplishment.

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Adrian Crook is a father of five living in beautiful downtown Vancouver, Canada. He's an advocate for rental housing and public transit.