DECOR: A Dream Closet

by Barbara Deppisch

Some dream of exotic holidays in far off lands, luxury vehicles, dining at five-star restaurants but for others their idea of paradise is a dream closet ““ a private oasis in the heart of their home.

A meticulous closet can transform your living space whereas a disorganized one can equal chaos. “The main problem is the inefficiency of the use of the space. A typical closet having just a shelf and a hang rod is really not utilizing all of the space properly. So many people just overflow their closets quite easily and that's when the need for us comes in,” says Samer Rahwanji, owner of Oakville's Closet & Storage Concepts. “Our forte is being able to maximize the use of the space as efficiently as possible.”

Many closets are designed by builders to be cost effective and functionality is not necessarily a top consideration. Home organization and storage products companies design, manufacture and install custom closet and storage organization systems that will maximize closet space to its best potential.

These companies will schedule an in-home design consultation with a professionally trained storage system designer. They will take measurements, perform an in-depth wardrobe analysis and make recommendations for maximizing the space to best fit a customer's lifestyle. The result will be a customized closet system plan that provides functional and fashionable organizational solutions that craftsmen will then manufacture and install.

Design options include such features as jewelry drawers, wall safes, wall-mounted ironing boards, valet rods, belt, tie and shoe racks, shelf dividers, built-in drawers for undergarments and socks and pull-out baskets for storage or laundry. Adjustable closet shelves and poles also allow for flexibility of changing needs. The choice of long, medium and double hang areas increase closet space as well.

There are things one can do and avoid, to ensure their closet is practical and organized no matter the size. “High shelves or drawers are not a good idea. A lot of people think that a deeper drawer or high drawer is really better for storage. It can take a lot of stuff but it is not easy to use. And if there is stuff that you haven't used for two years, most likely you aren't going to use it,” adds Rahwanji. “Everybody is different, they have things they like, they don't like so I find that in order for people to stay organized they have to forget about what they should do and see what they like to do and organize it that way. Whatever works for them. A double hang is the easiest thing to do because you are basically doubling the size of the hang space that you have.”

Baskets and drawers can be a great asset. Items such as shoes, scarves and handbags that tend to be cumbersome to arrange in a drawer might be better off in baskets. Undergarments, T-shirts and sweaters can neatly be placed on shelves or in drawers rather than on hangers to better utilize space.

Chris Legein, president of California Closets believes that a closet makeover is an ideal time to purge items of clothing and accessories that haven't seen daylight in years. It is also important to not allow things to pile up and prioritize what needs to be in and what doesn't need to be in a closet. “You need to understand your own habits and the way you like to do things. For example, do your shoes need to be in the closet or do they need to be somewhere else?” Legein remarks. “We need to create seasonality in our closets. So that we move things in and out of the closet as seasons change. And then have the closet properly designed so that it meets specific needs.”

The trend nowadays is for capacious and more extravagant closets. “As you get to bigger spaces then it becomes a room. As it becomes a room then we want to now start to incorporate aesthetics into the closet as well,” says Legein. “So we look at different colours of material, hardware and design of drawer spaces. It is getting to be a little bit like kitchens. We are not just about functionality anymore. It's also about aesthetics and the personal satisfaction people get when they look at it and say “˜That looks great'. Not only is it functional but it looks great.”

One of the more lavish closets, Closet & Storage Concepts created would be a fantasy for many. They had a request from a homeowner to compose many closets within an exorbitant space. “Closets inside of closets, which was the first time we've done that. They had a huge dressing room that was configured into specific closets. So we had a closet for shoes, a closet for pants, for dresses, casual clothing, undergarments, robes”¦it was a whole suite,” Rahwanji adds. “On the smaller side, we do many in older homes that have little nooks here and slanted ceilings.”

People want the modern closet to be a lot more utilitarian. “They also want the closet to take on some new roles that it maybe wasn't designed for. They want to be able to eliminate furniture in the bedroom and create space in the closet to take care of things,” says Legein. “So the addition of drawers into the closet to take care of things that aren't traditionally put on shelves. Drawers for socks and undergarments to eliminate a dresser in the bedroom. People are looking for a much cleaner look in their bedrooms and by eliminating dressers and wardrobes we can create that clean look. More space in the bedrooms by better utilizing the space in the closets.”

“When closets were designed years ago, people didn't have 30 or 40 pairs of shoes. People didn't have the extensive wardrobes that we have now. Really, what they are asking us for is “˜can you create unique spaces so that I can put my shoes, long dresses and slacks in the way I want them and so that I can have room for things over hangers and room for T-shirts and sweatshirts?' It's really more that customization that they are looking for.”

There are many advantages to the realization of an attractive closet. “The benefit of having a dream closet I think is less stress. You are a happier person,” Rahwanji muses. “So maybe it's not something that a lot of people think about ““ the closet ““ but it makes a difference where it matters because it is in use every day. When it's nice and organized and you can find everything and you don't have to look under the bed for shoes or search through drawers it saves a lot of time.”