Thursday, January 20, 2011

Clothing Storage & Access, Thinking Outside the Box

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. 


  1. Mrs. Shupe,
    That's so cool!!!
    We might do something like that for the A-Team's'll give us that whole closet space. Thanks so much for posting that info and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of your posts.

  2. Thanks Cady! This is so fun, huh? I'm glad you like the idea the Lord gave us. *hugs*

  3. Looks great! So clean and simple looking. Thanks for sharing your time and efforts. I have always enjoyed your ideas and tips.
    Julie G.

  4. Thanks Julie! I've loved sharing our home, family, and homeschooling ideas together with you. I have my little reading pile of great material from you here that I'll start reading again soon.

  5. So my wife is awake at 5:30am this morning--she is not a morning person. I have to work hard to get her up at 7am with coffee. She was up planning our new upper level storage and floor plan after I casually sent her this article yesterday as a result of Bob registering at .

    We're taking the upstairs play room and converting into a family closet. Take all the toys out and putting them in bins in the kids' closets. Taking the basement playroom and removing all toys to upstairs so that all desks in rec room can be put in there to convert the rec room back into an open rec room, etc.

    The furniture (bunk beds, entertainment centers with storage drawers, massive storage bookshelves with built in storage drawers have all been picked out--yes she had an intense hour of morning analysis--and the goal is to reorganize the house as such before #6 arrives in May Jubilee Arizona Seville :)


  6. I love the family closet. I makes life so much easier. I love your design here. I have a fetish for organization. Such clean lines. We rent so our "improvements" are limited.

    Beautiful family!!

  7. Thank you. =) Did you create a family closet in you home? I'd love to know how you did it if you made one. It can still be done easily in a rental. Thank you for your sweet words for our family.

  8. This looks do-able :) I have one question, where do you store clothing for passing down to other children? I live in a 106 year old farmhouse, closets are nearly non existent. No basement, attic, garage, etc. Id have to sacrifice a bedroom to do this but I think it would be worth it!

  9. BETH - Here's my post on garage organization where we keep the stored, currently-unused clothing. Scroll down to the section on the garage. All the bankers boxes you see are labeled with children's clothing sizes. This could be done in any room of the house, though. =)

  10. Hi Erika!

    I just discovered your blog a few days ago, and I love it! Your children are beautiful, and your home is lovely.

    I only have three kids at home now (my oldest has flown the nest!). I LOVE keeping things simple, streamlined, and orderly, and I think it is hard to do that with three kids. But here you are, with nine children (and less square footage), and are much more organized than me! :) I am so impressed (and inspired) with how you organize your large family in such a small space. I love your garage converted to a closet/mudroom!

    The fact that you know where everything is, and everything has a place - that is a long-time dream of mine, lol!

    The garage has always been my "catch-all" room. I have no problem keeping the house - the "living part" of the house - streamlined and organized, but when it comes to the garage, my method is just to stack boxes against the wall and hope I don't need anything out of them. I also know that we have a lot more things in storage than we really, truly need. I can't stand clutter and keeping junk, but somehow I am almost able to forget about it if it is hidden (in the garage!).

    I just wanted to tell you how much I have loved looking at your blog the past few days - enough babbling from me! Have a great day!


  11. TANYA - LOL You're sweet! =) You know, I bet if you jumped on your garage this summer and got it organized, too, you would be able to maintain it easily with your personality you've described. It's a big job, but like you said, it's SO REWARDING. And then it wouldn't be hanging over you the rest of the year. If your hubby isn't a handy man, you can work with just Costco plastic shelving. I'm confident it would make you smile every time you went out there, instead of feeling like putting your hand up as a blinder to your eyes. *wink* Then whenever you have things to put away you just decide where they go, or create a new clear box entitled, "Extra household decorations" or some thing, OR - it goes to the single Value Village box you keep going. When the VV box is full just dump that into a bag and drop it off at VV. Order maintained. =)

  12. Erika, you have inspired me! We just moved to WA state less than a month ago, so it's nice getting a fresh start. We have a huge amount of boxes full of "stuff" that we actually moved here. It is stacked in the garage (to the ceiling!), but I am planning on making our garage into a neat, organized space once the kids go back to school. We've already made about four trips to Goodwill since moving in, lol! It's amazing the amount of stuff one can collect over the years, and I don't consider myself a pack rat at all. We're also having Goodwill come and pick up a huge dining table and 8 chairs that we don't need. It was hard deciding to part with it, but when we finally committed to getting rid of it and not letting it sit unused in the garage, it felt great. Can't wait till they get here and take it off my hands!

  13. TANYA - Oh, welcome to our favorite state of WA! =D I'm excited for you that you have such a fresh start to work with! That is SO nice - and it sounds like you have a courageous start, parting with the table that you really liked but didn't actually have room for. We gave away a ton of stuff like that when we made our kids' closet in the garage and it did feel SOOOO GOOD! =) *Aaah* I'd love to hear more about what you learn and enjoy as you go. Of if you need any ideas for things!

  14. Wow what a fantastic job you have done! Thanks for sharing. We have just had our fifth baby and we are at the point where sorting the clothes into all the different locations is taking TOO much time and we can't keep up. I love the idea of one family closet and we do have a small box room that we could use. Ideas, ideas, ideas!

  15. Erika - love this idea! You organization ideas are so inspiring! Just found this article at the right time. How do the kids get their outfits for the day? Do they go downstairs and get them out, or do you? Just curious how it works. Blessings to you and your family!! Love your blog!

    1. Thank you! =) Having an all-kids clothing closet was the Duggar's idea, but this is how we pulled it off for us. And here's my post on "how it works". Blessings!

  16. Hi Erika, Thanks for creating thus blog and for also responding to so many comments! I was wondering how you use the playpen that I see set up with carseats in it. Do you put the twins in it while you get kids dressed, get kids ready to get in van or something?


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