Multipurpose 3'x3'...

entryway, pantry, coat closet, drop zone...

Our (third floor walkup) condo has no entryway, no pantry, and a single hallway closet. This tiny 3’8”x3’3” closet is the most utilized square footage in our home and has an enormous number of functions to fulfill.

Closet The current setup was failing our family and desperately needed some intentional planning to improve.

Kids’ independently get and put away

  • stepstool
  • their own backpacks
  • their own coats/hats/mittens
  • some food while helping in the kitchen

Adults’ (easy/fast) access requirements

  • coats/hats/mittens
  • get and put back cloth/plastic bags
  • know what food we have and what we are running low on
  • access and put away ingredients while cooking
  • grab broom and dustpan for quick cleanup (IYKYK)
  • pull out extra folding chairs for (sometimes spontaneous) guests
  • stash plastic packaging for eventual recycling

Additional storage requirements

  • backstock and overflow (bulk) food
  • oversized appliances and seldom-used cookware
  • extra paper towels, sponges, trash bags

That’s a long list! Space planning and optimization takes real effort, but the payoff is totally worth it for improving the efficiency of everyday life. Here’s how our closet looks now:

Closet WOOO we checked off ALL of our requirements (so far)!

The Details

Closet I hung the broom, dustpan, and Swiffer (used primarily to fish toy cars out from under couches) and a plastic bag dispenser directly on the back of the closet door.

Closet Installed two rows of hooks so that kids can reach the bottom level. These hooks fold back to save space and don’t clobber your back when you’re facing the other way. The stepstool is also accessible to our toddler and the folding chairs accessible for the grown-ups.


Bulk food storage was essential during the pandemic when the grocery options were buy (1) a restaurant-supply quantity or (2) nothing. These days, we’re using the bins for storing all sorts of dried goods, and they’re great! I cut some transparencies to make pockets (and cover the ugly “don’t fall in” warning labels), then slid labels in.


About the bins: I cannot think of a more effective solution for being able to immediately see what we have (and what we’re low on) than clear plastic bins. Also c’mon, don’t you love my labels with the little ICONS?! The idea came to me for organizing my (pre-reading) 2-year-old’s stuff, but these seem to be easier for me (and random guests) to read, too!


Reusable grocery bags: It’s easier to stuff ‘em in a bin or on the shelf than actually hang ‘em up. It became easiest when we pared down the bag collection (why does this happen).

Plastic bag recycling: Do you know the best/most intuitive spot for plastic bag recycling!? Me neither. This spot (in the pantry) was really our only option. Seems to be working GREAT so far to ditch (plastic #4) packaging promptly without getting in anyone’s way!

Process and Cost

I explored so many organizer options before finally settling on the Ikea Boaxel system, which seemed to maximize our specific space and included an option for a coat rod that did not span wall to wall. I prefer shelves attached directly to the wall, since standing units with front vertical supports block your view, access, and flexibility. The total cost for the entire shelving system was only $167 (plus $10.44 in tax and a drive to Stoughton for late-night pickup). My mom watched our kids for one weekend day, and it was surprisingly easy to take down the existing shelf/rod and get this new system installed in a few hours.

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