Updated 10/12/16 from an article originally published on 10/7/14.
If you’re like me, your excitement over the change in seasons is kept in check by the ensuing cold weather clutter. From bulky boots and jackets to loose items like hats and scarves, our living spaces slowly become filled with the signs of the season.
Winter gear—especially with kids in the home—can really become a burden to keep organized. Usually someone ends up losing a glove or two, so you buy replacements, only to find the missing items a few weeks later. And suddenly, you have a pile of warm fuzzies and nowhere to put them.
How do you keep the clutter to a minimum during such an accessory-heavy season? Here is my three-step process for storing fall and winter accessories to keep them organized all season long.
Step 1: Sort.
Like most any strategy for organization, the first step is sorting. There are a couple ways to approach this task. One is to sort by type of item: put the hats together, the scarves together, and the gloves together. This works well for the fashionista who has multiples of everything and needs to find the best accessories for individual outfits.
The alternative, fitting for households with many members, is to sort the items by owner rather than type. Not only will this save your family time finding what they’re looking for, but it will also help the organization effort; rummaging through piles of each other’s gear is an easy way to create chaos from what was once order.
Another bonus of sorting through your cold weather gear is that you’re forced to take inventory of what you have. Donate items no one wears anymore, and toss those with holes. Have a list handy to keep track of what needs to be replaced. I like to start the season with two sets of everything for each person in the house. That way there is a backup if one set is wet or in the hamper after playing in the leaves.
Step 2: Designate space.
The best way to keep your fall cozies organized is to have a convenient storage area in the first place. Think easily accessible and primely located.
For outdoor gear like hats, scarves and mittens, this means by the coat closet or in the mudroom. Limiting the distance that household members travel through the house with winter gear in tow limits the locations where gear gets tossed or lost.
Here are some places to look for extra storage space near your entryway, even if your home is like mine and lacks an official mudroom.
In the Garage
Place a slim wire rack along the wall of your garage near the door for a quick drop station. If you’re using the organize-by-family-member approach, assign each member a crate or bin to stack along the top shelf. Make sure to keep boots and shoes on the bottom shelf so that slush and mud drips on the floor as opposed to your hats and scarves.
On an Open Wall
If you have the wall space, take advantage of it. Adding a shelf gives you another place to line bins or crates for designated outdoor gear. You could even hang a rod or hooks from the shelf to organize scarves and jackets.
Got a bench in your entryway? Don’t forget that space underneath. Grab a few bins and line them up below – one for scarves, one for hats, and one for gloves.
In a Cabinet
You can consider your accessory storage problem solved if you have room for a dresser-like cabinet in your entryway. You can buy one new, or add a little charm by restoring an antique — a relatively inexpensive option, and a potentially fun project.
Not only will the drawers serve as an out-of-sight sorting mechanism, but you also gain the space provided on the surface of the cabinet. Make your scarf and hat drop zone more inviting with a DIY picture frame or a welcoming scent from a natural potpourri arrangement.
Over the Closet Door
An over-the-door organizer with pockets extends the functionality of a coat closet. Most over-the-door organizers are intended to store pairs of shoes, but they make just as good a place to pair up mittens and gloves. Dedicate a row or two per person to keep your sorting technique in play.
Inside the Coat Closet
Stick portable drawers in an entryway closet for a quick, inexpensive, and easy organization fix. One drawer per family member, or accessory type.
An added bonus for this solution: when the cold months are over, you can tape the drawers shut and send your mittens and knit hats to your storage unit, organized and ready for next year.
Step 3: Determine a system.
Sorting your hats, scarves, and gloves and finding the right space for them in your home are big first steps towards a clutter-free fall and winter. But without a plan or a system to keep things in place, you may have to revisit step one multiple times throughout the season.
One way to help yourself stick to your organization plan is to label what goes where. Whether you’re using bins, columns of an over-the-door rack, or drawers in a dresser to sort items, having a label in place will give you a psychological push to put things where they belong.
Labels help family members know where to find their belongs, and where to return them when they’re done with them. With family organization plans, include members from the get-go for their input, as well as getting them to buy into the system. After all, they will ultimately be the ones in charge of maintaining it. Include them in the sorting and organizing process so they’re aware of the plan.
Set the standard that fall accessories must be taken off at the door and put away immediately. This will deter growing piles of miscellaneous items. Just remind yourself (or your begrudging family members) that it takes about 10 seconds to put things away when you walk in; it takes much longer to sort through piles that build up from not sticking to the plan.
Whatever sorting technique or style of organization you choose, the act of sorting will limit clutter and eliminate lost-glove frustration. And, once warmer days return, toss all that cold-weather gear in a tote and stash it in your storage unit until the leaves start to turn again.
Do you have an awesome storage hack for scarves, gloves or hats that we didn’t think of? Please share in the comments section below! We’d love to hear about it.