Got an under-utilized hanging locker that's just not organized? Here's how we improved ours!

Improve Your Storage Space

Que Tal, our Tayana 37, had one hanging locker that was over three feet wide and another just over a foot wide.  But we didn’t have any hanging clothes aboard!  What to do with this space?

Got an under-utilized hanging locker that's just not organized? Here's how we improved ours!I do understand that if you’re living aboard while working, you probably do have some hanging clothes.  But many weekenders or full-time cruisers don’t.

For a year, we just sort of stuffed things in both. I don’t have any “before” pictures, but I had a few milk crates on the bottom with canned goods, then a layer of paper towels and bags of rags, then some t-shirts hanging on the rod.

It was hard to find items and I kept thinking that if we converted at least part of that space to drawers, I could rearrange a bunch of other things so that everything would be easier to get to.  The only problem was that the space wasn’t really square and neither Dave nor I would ever be mistaken for a fine carpenter.  It had to be easy!

I also didn’t want to use wire shelves or drawers as they are prone to rust in salt air, and also can leave marks on clothes.  Small items will also drop through.

Got an under-utilized hanging locker that's just not organized? Here's how we improved ours!I was able to find a bunch of heavy-duty plastic dish pans that were just slightly narrower than the locker.  They were sized so that I could put two deep.  The front one wouldn’t slide out easily (particularly with the emergency tiller in there on the left side), but with a bit of wiggling it could be removed so that I could get to the back one.  Due to the hull curvature, I had one bin on the floor too.

Because they were harder to get to, I used the back ones for things that we needed to have aboard but didn’t get out that often such as guest towels, extra PFDs, and old tax records.

Dave got a bunch of furring strips and put them along the sides (yes, if you’re working in a locker like this, it helps to be skinny and a bit of a contortionist).  The bins just sit on the wood pieces.

Using plastic bins like this, you can’t put heavy items into the bins or they’ll warp or break.  But generally you want the heavy stuff as low in the boat as possible, so it’s not really a problem.

While you might not be able to exactly duplicate this in your boat, it just might give you an idea for converting an under-utilized locker to an efficient storage space.

Got an under-utilized hanging locker that's just not organized?  Here's how we improved ours and made it super-usable!

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  • Allan Cobb
    Posted at 27 February 2013 Reply

    One thing that found that is great for storing clothes in a hanging locker that isn’t deep is closet hanging organizers. I found one at Target that I use but it looks similar to this one from Amazon.
    Great for storing t-shirts, shorts, pants, towels, sheets, light blankets, ect.
    Look for mesh or other breathable material to help with air circulation.

  • Sarah and Ben (@BlueWaterDreamn)
    Posted at 27 February 2013 Reply

    Storage is a big problem on our boat, I’d love to be able to do something like this or at least find ways of using what space we have more efficiently!

  • Waterwoman
    Posted at 01 March 2013 Reply

    I feel for your dear hubby in that tight space, amazing he was able to attach those furring pieces! A very good idea and one I might use in our stern locker that is supposed to hold wet foulies. How one is supposed to go through the aft cabin with dripping foulies & neatly hang them in an undersized locker defies reason.
    We installed a clothes rod that is about 5′ long above the aft settee. We hang the type of storage hanger that Alan Cobb (above) mentioned and also hang throwable PFD’s and extra jackets. No one uses the aft cabin, so this works well for us. I also have a cotton (plastic gets hard & cracks)shoe bag (has about 20 pockets) that I store lightweight items in the pockets like mosquito netting hats, socks, old panty hose that is useful onboard for straining fuel to hanging tiny tupperware containers near the freezer to freeze for individual ice cubes. Very useful for all sorts of odd items.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 01 March 2013 Reply

      Great ideas — thanks!

      And BTW, it wasn’t as tight in that locker as when Dave had to go into the chain locker . . .

  • Vala
    Posted at 01 March 2013 Reply

    great idea!
    moving onto our boat we gave up two 8 ft closets for 24 inches of hanging space, with two built in shelves in the back, behind where clothes would hang. since I still work I need some hanging area and couldn’t convert it all into shelves. I had an old hanging shoe bag that I decided not to toss as I packed, and that saved the situation! I now have a 6 inch shoe bag hanging on one side and 8 inch wide bag on the other, then room for hanging clothes in between. I can have just enough room to shove the clothes aside to reach the back shelves which hold jeans, sweaters and bulky stuff. The shoe bags hold all the underwear, socks, t-shirts and fold-able stuff, and the shoes get stacked between under the hanging clothes. I can’t believe the amount of stuff I’m able to cram into that little space!

  • Stephanie Hamilton
    Posted at 05 March 2013 Reply

    First…LOVE LOVE LOVE the picture of Dave. It is just PERFECT! Thanks for all the tips…going to use this one right away in our land yacht which has MUCH less storage than our boat did. Keep up the great work…awesome website!

  • Donna Cantwell
    Posted at 08 April 2013 Reply

    Does anyone have a solution to soggy clothing that hangs in the lockers along the hull? I am tired of one soggy sleeve and one dry sleeve this winter!

  • Lynn Kaak
    Posted at 27 October 2013 Reply

    We used IKEA metal baskets like that… they take a little more weight that plastic. We also save space by storing linens, t-shirts and stuff like that in pillow covers, then use them as throw pillows on the settees. We can live with a few wrinkles!

  • Robin
    Posted at 10 April 2014 Reply

    I bought the rubber covered wire shelving like this from Amazon and stacked them into four shelves for all my folded clothes. They come in 3 different widths too…

  • Ted Reshetiloff
    Posted at 28 September 2014 Reply

    We’ve turned our haunting lockers into shelves but bins make more sense otherwise you just end up with a very deep shelf and kids stuff it full. Curious where you found the bins you used?

  • Melissa Feinmel
    Posted at 28 September 2014 Reply

    We are in the process of that right now. Problem is we cannot find bins that fit well enough.

  • Debbie Bowen Crawford
    Posted at 30 December 2016 Reply

    Love it! Guess what we are doing this weekend.

  • Dorothy Rogers Marusak
    Posted at 30 December 2016 Reply

    I thought this was the pressure fit shelves project. Which worked so well in the “pantry” (stbd aft cabin) we’re going to do it on the other side

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 30 December 2016 Reply

      Nope, this was a little bit different project on our previous boat. But the pressure fit ones are good too!

    • Dorothy Rogers Marusak
      Posted at 30 December 2016 Reply

      I put dividers in the bottom for the bar bottles, shelves for canned goods and such above

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 30 December 2016 Reply

      Love it!

  • Nuala Gaughran Kaeding
    Posted at 05 January 2017 Reply

    The more information on this subject the better!
    Love this!

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