As little girls, nothing excited us more than walking in Mom’s heels, layering on her jewelry and prancing around as if we were our own dress-up doll. Yet, that feeling of playing dress-up as an adult rarely goes away, and those little girls become women who love nothing more than a closet full of high fashion and lux pieces.
I was once asked if the same principles applied to designing your closet as they do to the rest of your home. What’s interesting is that there are no rules when cultivating your own personal space; however, there are some simple design philosophies you can follow to ensure your space is unique and perfectly tailored to you and your home.
Where to start? As most of us are tight on storage space, why waste valuable real estate? When it comes to a closet, one word comes to mind – purge. You may ask, why would your first step in design be a purge? Well, the truth is you can’t start any project without a plan, and this is ultimately your beginning step to creating that fabulous foundation that will soon become the perfect dressing space.
There are so many of us with overstuffed, neglected closets that are just begging for a good cleanout. You may recognize these closets where price tags are still attached, pre-pregnancy jeans are still hung (in hopes of one day being able to get back into them) and, of course, there’s the assortment of clothing being kept around “just in case” — we’ve all been there. Did you know that cleaning out your closets could actually save you money? It allows us to know what we have and, perhaps, what we have too much of. Like any good design project, make an inventory list and proceed from there.
Just over a year ago, while our firm was working with clients on their home remodel, we came across unused space that was meant to be recycled into a spare bedroom for the occasional overnight guest. After much consideration we made the decision to transform the vacant bedroom into the dressing room of any woman’s or man’s dreams. This was a quick alteration and easy enough to turn back if the homeowners were ever required to do so. The concept of turning a bedroom or any unused space into something more functional does not need to be considered a luxury; it should be thought of as a necessity. We decided that it would be a better use of space as an everyday utility rather than occupied sporadically.
If transforming a whole room is not possible, you should still consider non-customary closet options. Along with a professional — your designer, your closet organizer or your contractor — measure the dimensions of your space for either modular storage systems that can be custom- configured or for an actual custom closet. Many of these systems are adjustable and can be easily modified in the future if your needs ever change. The options are endless — decide what you desire and how you wish to use your space.
We opted against the standard built-in uniform of closed storage and went for a more open feeling, similar to a small boutique shop where you can see the entire inventory at once. The most popular everyday storage solutions will include drawers designed to fit within a larger double-rod configuration, hanging organizers for multi-length dresses or suits, separate displays for shoes or purses, and even adjustable pull-out drawers for jewelry and accessories. If you do have the option of incorporating personal belongings, like our clients did, then find the room for photo albums, memorable photography, even furniture like a seating area with decorative pillows, a blanket and maybe even space for a makeup vanity — this is the ultimate in closet luxury.
The real pleasure behind a good cleaning and organizing is the transformation. Don’t ever feel obligated to use the one- rod hanging system most homes are accustomed to. By the same token, just because something is custom-made does not mean it comes with a high price tag. Similar to designing the more public spaces in your home, explore your options, get creative and interpret your own style into everyday living. You use your closet everyday; you owe it to yourself, and your wardrobe, to invest in a great organizational system.
- Cleaning out your closet can be an emotional task; typically we have some kind of connection to a piece of clothing that justifies us keeping it around. My suggestion is bringing a trustworthy friend over to assist with your purge, one who’s non-judgmental and someone you trust.
- Try separating your clothes into seasons if you intend to keep some in storage. Otherwise, colour blocking your wardrobe is ideal and it will benefit you everyday to know exactly where everything is.
- Always opt for drawers over doors for easy access and visibility. Much more of your wardrobe can be folded instead of being hung — you never want to limit yourself.
By:Erica Gelman, Design Columnist inside the Spring 2014 issue of NICHE