We purchased our current home when we had only 3 children (six years ago)…now we have 9! So we had to start thinking “outside the box”, or in our case, inside our box! This has resulted in the Lord showing us over time many different do-it-yourself and inexpensive ways to adapt our house to fit the needs of a large family, projects we’ve already done and ones we hope to do in the future (which we will be sharing with you!).
Our house is 1,100 sq. ft. It’s a 4 bedroom, 3 bath room – giving us the number of rooms we need, but they’re small. We do also have a 2-car garage which we used to park our cars in until we were blessed to be able to purchase a work truck and a 12-passenger van instead, but those do not fit in the garage. We have our master bedroom and then a girl’s bedroom and a boy’s bedroom, the fourth room is for playroom/computers/books. So! When we were expecting babies #8 and #9 – our most recent twin girls – we had to find a new way to fit more of the children into the two children's bed rooms, which meant clothes had to go somewhere else. (Watch for future posts on bedroom arrangement.) We reflected on how we’ve always admired the Duggar family and how they adjust their home to fit their needs, and we were especially intrigued with their one big closet for all of the children’s clothing. Ta-da! Our “Duggar Closet” was on its way.
My wonderful husband, Bob, envisioned finishing out a quarter of our garage and making it into one big clothing closet for all of the children’s clothes. So we did a massive garage clean out, and I mean massive, aggressive purging, which actually feels so good no matter how much you think you like your stuff! (Watch for future posts on de-cluttering!) We rearranged things, and cut the existing wood shelving to relocate them to a different place it in the garage. Our Costco food items storage had been kept in the garage and we moved that inside the house to our recently completed pantry conversion (watch for future posts on transforming a coat closet into a kitchen pantry). In the garage, Bob had replaced the single light bulb that lit that side of the garage with fluorescent lights when we first moved in, so the space is well-lit which makes a huge difference in how the space feels and looks. He then laid carpet (nothing fancy, no pad underneath even), framed, sheet rocked, and painted the wall that would divide the back quarter of the garage from the front quarter. To facilitate condensing half of the garage contents into a quarter of the garage space we purchased a small shed for our back yard to put all of the bigger, bulkier items in to: bikes, lawn mower, shop vac, etc. (watch for future posts on garage organization). Below are photos of the project in progress; then we’ll talk about organizing the closet.
After completing the construction work we moved the children’s shelving units (Ikea, $199 each, baskets $12 each) from their bedrooms out in to the garage. We had already purchased a commercial clothing rack (Amazon $71) for the girl’s dresses to hang on out in the garage when we needed the closet in their room for other things. The family’s coats are now hung out in the garage, and the family’s shoes are organized on shelves there, too. Next, we organized the children’s clothes into the closet including purchasing additional baskets for the shelves and adding in younger children’s clothes which had been previously stored in our bedroom.
The children each have one row of baskets or boxes for their clothing. Each row is organized left to right as follows: under garments, pajamas, short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, and the last basket for the boy’s church clothes or the girls miscellaneous. Since we do laundry 4x/wk we don’t need an abundance of clothes (watch for future post on doing laundry). Choosing clothes for each day is quick and easy, and putting laundry away is so much more time efficient – we all love it! Here’s a photo of the finished product!
BONUS: here’s an added blessing! When the older children desire a play space separate from small fingers, or a place to practice violin and have their lessons, they can wheel the hanging rack over to the other side of the garage to the mud room (watch for future posts on creating a large mudroom in the garage). There is now additional living space in our house with this closet. We do use a space heater in the winter when we can’t easily play outside as often.
Here is how we store shoes and coats in our garage "mud room" (just across to the other side of this garage from where this closet is built).
All of the children's coats hang on the hanging rack with the dresses, and their shoes are on large, plastic shelf unit. Mom & dad's coats hang on a bar, and our shoes are also on a shelf unit. These are the shoes we wear all the time, church shoes are up stairs in our closet, and out-of-season shoes are put away in our closet where we don't need access to them currently. This greatly saves space.
Here is our "mud room" from the other angle, and in this side of the garage is where we store the children's clothing we're not currently using either due to size or season. These bankers boxes are easy to stack, to lift, and to label (i.e. "boys, size 3T").
We praise the Lord for His enabling us – once again - to make our small home work beautifully for our growing family.
You may also be interested in reading:
Organizing a Home: Principles and Tips for Organization, Part 1 of 2
Organizing a Home: More Tips for Organization, Part 2 of 2
Our Home - A Virtual Tour of Our Favorite Place to Be
Large Family Laundry Strategies - How I Keep 9 Kids Clean and Why That's Valuable