Elegant, Practical Closet Storage

If you are still relying on the shelf-and-pole assembly in the closets in your home, you have probably been staring with envy at closet systems at your local home center. These not only maximize the storage space in a closet, but allow you to customize the space for how you like to store and pick out your clothes.

Basic Options

There are two kinds of closet fixtures: coated wire systems that became so popular in the 80’s and 90’s, and their sophisticated cousins that imitate cabinetry – laminated fixtures. Today’s Bath has both types. The hall linen closet – a 2-ft. wide and 2-ft. deep reach-in has wire shelves. The walk-in closet on the other hand, has His and Hers cherry laminate fixtures.

There are also two approaches to organizing your closets this way. First, there are companies who give you a turn-key system – for a price. They come to your home to measure and then come up with a plan, get your approval, and install it. The same kinds of fixtures and accessories are available in home centers

Planning and Purchasing

Converting closets to either of these systems can be a little intimidating at first, but there is lots of help and no right or wrong way. First, you need to take a detailed inventory of your clothes and shoes.

Ignore for a moment how you store them now, and consider what would be most convenient. For instance, you may have sweaters in a low drawer now, but putting them nearer eye level in baskets will allow you to locate the color you want faster and give them a chance to air out after a wearing.

Next, figure out how much hanging space you need, and how much of it is full length and how much half length so you can double up. Then figure in shelves, baskets, shoe racks, etc. Before you get too far into this process, take a trip to your home center or get online and familiarize yourself with the different accessories available. You might also consider a bare essentials system in the attic for out-of-season clothes if you live in a climate where that’s necessary.

If you are setting up a larger shared space like the walk-in closet in Today’s Bath, it makes sense to establish real estate claims early – there’s an irrefutable logic to His and Hers that allows you to customize each area for the clothes and shoes that will be stored there. This also helps keeps you and your closet mate from stumbling over each other during the critical morning rush hour to get ready for work.

The manufacturers of these products are experts in how to use them most advantageously and they are delighted to share this expertise. Most have extensive explanations where they are sold at retail, and all have software programs online to help you design a system for your things. Most also have professionals who will create a custom plan based on what you submit.

Professional installation help is also available -for instance, the fixtures for Today’s Bath closets were manufactured by Closetmaid and can be installed by teams from The Home Depot Home Services in some areas. These installers can make short work of all these pieces – because they do this every day–even if walls are out of plumb and floors are out of level.

Bottom line

Patience and planning before you order is even more important with closet systems than in other areas of home improvement. You really need to assess what you are storing and how you use it. Then familiarize yourself with the different components of the system you choose and take advantage of the services offered.

Quality is important. With laminated fixtures, judge as you would a set cabinets. Look carefully at how things are joined. Are the drawer guides well rated for the weight they will carry? Are they full extension so you can see at the back of your sock drawer? How are the edges of the veneer wearing on the display (rounded corners look and wear better than square ones)? Does the decorative hardware (drawer and door pulls) look cheap or classy?

Finally, get a written contract and rudimentary drawings describing the installation and set a date and time. Although all the decisions will be made before the installation crew shows up, it still pays for you to be around so you can inspect the work and ask questions before the crew leaves. Since these crews work a large geographic area, it will be difficult for them to return another day.