The Danger of Coat Racks

It's an unpopular view in the organizing industry, which thrives on product sales, but most professional organizers warn against owning things like coat racks. 

Imagine if your employer proposed putting your paycheck in your office mailbox every other week. Sounds okay, right? The mailbox, though, has a lock on it with a constantly changing code. Human Resources promises to tell you the code at their convenience.  Would you accept that deal? Of course not. The check is written out to you but who knows when you’ll have access to it? In the meantime, you’ve got no funds to pay your rent. 

The point of a paycheck is for money to enter your possession. A way station may be helpful for your employer’s cash flow but it does you no good. 

Similarly, the point of having a coat closet is to store your coats. A “temporary” place to put your coat may be a shortcut for your tired family at the end of the day, but it does you no good. In fact, that holding place gives everyone in the household a certified excuse not to hang up their coats. 

After some time, the coats pile up and start falling. It’s hard to get to the one you want. So, you spend twenty minutes one afternoon hanging them up in the closet. Congratulations, you’ve taken the longest possible amount of time to achieve your end-goal, without having enjoyed the benefits of that goal (a tidy entryway and easy access to your coats). 

The first part of organizing is, of course, dedicating a “place for everything.” But even the best system is useless if you don’t maintain it. If you struggle to put “everything in its place,” consider what shortcuts you’ve built into your home that enable bad habits.

Coat racks, entryway wall hooks and console tables are common examples, but there are less obvious culprits, too. And, frequently, they're marketed as organizing products. Be wary of products that allow us – encourage us, even - to delay tasks. Often, these items are clutter creators masquerading as solutions. 

Drying racks often become substitutes for kitchen cabinets because they offer a sanctioned alternative to simply using a dish rag. The same is often true for bedroom chairs, which beckon us to toss our clothes upon them. Not only do we then not enjoy a peaceful place to sit, but we also have to deal with the tumbling mess that accumulates. 

Removing “shortcut” pieces from your home may not prompt you to start putting things away, but it will at least remove the excuse for the behavior, which is a first step toward eliminating clutter. 


“My kids can’t reach the closet rod.”

Add a second, lower rod or set of hooks inside the closet or on the back of the closet door. Your kids will be less dependent on you in the short run, which is good for you – and for them. Bonus: they’ll learn to take responsibility for their belongings from a young age. 

 “What about guests’ coats?”

Extra. Hangers.

“I live in an apartment. I don’t have a coat closet.”

Welcome to New York…? Congrats on prioritizing lifestyle over closet space. You’re making do with your small home. Carry on!

“Who cares if my coats pile up! Get a life!”

Good for you! But why are you reading this blog? Seriously, this blog is not for you.