By Shelby Deering
In your home, do closets tend to be afterthought areas? Perhaps they’re the spaces that don’t receive a lot of aesthetic attention and are simply places to hang clothes or store rarely-used items. Remedy that through these nine tips in which experts weigh in, giving your closets some much-needed attention.
Instead of turning to the typical rod-and-shelf format, there are ways to keep the future in mind. Chris Schmidt, who handles design and sales for Cabinet City by Dream, says it’s wise to install an adjustable closet, for a child whose clothes will get bigger or for your needs (i.e., the option to hang long items as opposed to shorter ones). Schmidt says that his team can adjust it, or they’ll provide a tutorial. This also appeals to future buyers. “When people sell their home, the next buyer can adjust it to accommodate them.”
Whether you have a walk-in or reach-in closet, you can make the most of your situation. “Great closet organization starts with maximizing the space,” says Sue Tinker, a designer with Closet Works. “A typical closet features one shelf and rod, which wastes space above and below the hanging clothes. A closet system will raise the top shelf enough for a double hang—one rod above the other for short items and separates. The closet is divided into sections that are adjustable. There can be a section for single-hang items, shelving and even drawers for items that need to be contained.”
A closet is a pragmatic place, but it can be a chance to show off your personality. Tinker says that “decorative details such as drawer and door styles, crown molding, backing and decorative hardware can make it look like millwork.” Tim Woollen, owner of Tailored Living featuring Premier Garage, is partial to woodgrain or colored materials, integrated lighting and hardware finishes in oil-rubbed bronze, brushed nickel or chrome. Schmidt enjoys crown molding. “We’ll put in vertical panels from the floor up to the ceiling, and we’ll put crown molding across the front as well as a toe kick,” which is a recess seen on cabinets.
Woollen says that a closet should be a “stress-free space that is efﬁcient and functional.” This can be achieved through several avenues, but one important thing to do is visualize how you will utilize the space on a day-to-day basis. Woollen recommends, “Create a closet that is based on your lifestyle and how you like to do things.” Think practically and look for inspiration that appeals to you on “Pinterest, Houzz or other online sources,” he says. And, “work with a closet designer who understands all of your goals.”
It’s imperative to be practical about size constraints. Tinker calls herself a “creative problem-solver,” and says, “Do a wardrobe inventory to determine how much space is needed for each category of clothing.” You may have to accept that you’re working with a small area. “Most closets are not the size of whole rooms,” says Woollen. “Think outside the closet. Being organized is not just relegated to the one closet you use every day. A general lack of storage in other areas can be addressed to improve the main area.”
Materials can make a difference for the quality and appearance of a closet. Tinker says that most companies have many colors in laminate to choose from, along with painted or stained wood. Schmidt’s company offers around 20 colors. “What’s nice is that we can get close to matching the bathroom that’s on the other side of a doorway or match trends in the home.” He recommends looking beyond white, noting that unique colors tend to look a bit more upscale. “Quartz or marble tops is another way to make the closet look more elegant,” adds Tinker.
Drawers provide the opportunity for additional storage for those hard-to-hang items. Although shelves have their advantages, Tinker recommends drawers along with open shelving. “When something is in a drawer, you can only see the top item. Everything is visible in a stack of sweaters on a shelf.” She adds that drawers are “great for items that need to be contained like socks and underwear, things that won’t fold or stack well on a shelf.” Woollen says that drawers are also décor opportunities, saying that drawer fronts can be decorative, along with the handles as well.
Once your closet is designed and in place, it’s helpful to commit to organizing and purging items that take up room. Cleaning things out once a year, or once a season, can work wonders. Woollen offers his words of wisdom, saying, “We all use our closets two or three times a day. Don’t waste space with items that either don’t need to be in the closet or are not used frequently. Most clients I meet with admit that they could purge at least 10 to 15 percent of what’s in their closets. Don’t overcrowd the closet.”
Nowadays, there are several bonuses and subtle, yet transformative, features that can be added to closets. Woollen says that these fixtures include shoe and jewelry storage, laundry solutions, baskets and belt, tie and scarf racks. Something as simple as tucking away a not-so-visually-pleasing hamper can make an impact. Schmidt says, “We can put doors over hamper baskets, which is much more appealing to the eye than having a wire basket full of clothes.” Adding shelving can increase the efficiency of the space. Tinker says, “Small closets can benefit from simple combinations of shelves and hanging.”
“You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a space that you don’t go into that often. It’s not a space that you’re presenting to your friends and family. Individualize how you want to see it.” –Chris Schmidt
“The one thing I suggest is to only keep the clothing for the current season in that closet and having the out-of-season items in another closet.” –Tim Woollen
“Avoid putting shelves in a corner. Take advantage of the multiple walls in a walk-in, but don’t cross the rods or do corner shelves. It wastes space.” –Sue Tinker
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