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Ask Maeve: My Hall Closet Items Keep Tumbling Down!

UntitledI’ve got a good sized closet in my front hall but boxes are stacked so high on the top shelf. It’s easy to get stuff up there but when I need something it all comes tumbling down. I’ve tried to pare down but I still have to stack a few boxes. Any thoughts?

Great question! The best fix for this situation is to introduce a second shelf into your closet, placed 10-12 inches above your current top shelf. You might think there’s not room, but if you are already stacking boxes one on top of the other, then you likely have the space.

Front hall closets are often designed with only a single shelf above the closet rod. This is done to allow room for large items, like suitcases or storage boxes. But the reality is most people prefer to store bulky items on the floor, or in basements, attics or storage rooms, as they can be awkward to lift. Without large items to anchor the space between top shelf and ceiling (sometimes up to three feet) small items quickly get stacked, and when we reach for them, we experience the “tumble down” effect.

A second shelf will put an end to this, as top-most items will have their own shelf to rest on, no longer dependent on items below for support. Keep in mind, however, that adding a shelf means no more room for tall things. So measure what you wish to store carefully, and if you need space for tall things, trying introducing a shelf riser or stacking shelf instead. These sit on top of existing shelves, come in a range of widths, and with no installation required, leave plenty of flexibility for shelf arrangement. The best of both words is a riser on one side of your shelf, leaving the other side open for oversized things!

Whichever option you choose, I strongly recommend adding a stool that lives either in or within easy reach of your closet. With average ceiling heights at 9 feet, most of us can’t reach top shelf items without a stretch, even on our tippy toes. A stool makes pulling down items and putting them away again simple. It’s also best for back and body, as it can be unsafe to pull weight down from above your head.

I added a shelf (and nearby stool) to own front hall closet years ago, and it made a world of difference! It allowed me to shift deep storage items to the top, freeing up the easier-to-reach shelf above the closet rod for everyday items, like my hats and bags.

I hope this idea helps. Let me know how it goes!

Do you use a double shelf in your front hall closet? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo Credit: The Container Store

Maeve Richmond is the founder and head coach of Maeve's Method, a home organization system based in New York City. She specializes in parents & kids, couples, small space solutions, space planning and decorative elements for the home. Contact her at [email protected] or @MaeveRichmond.

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