Thursday, November 5, 2009

Closet Envy

You know things have gotten pretty bad when you envy the closet of an imaginary character. Make that the doll version of an imaginary character. Sharpay of High School Musical fame has a prettier, more well-organized closet than I have had in years. And I'm a bit envious of her ruffly handbag and pink "leather" ottoman too. And, yes, I can see she only has one dress (or is it two?) hanging in her curvy closet/wardrobe—which makes it so much easier to be organized—but that's not my point. My point is that her closet looks like that and mine looks pretty much like this:

Multiply this pic by four or five, and you'll have some idea of the state of the master closet my husband and I share: nearly fourteen linear feet of reach in space with an old-school single rod, single shelf set up. I'm embarrassed to admit how many years it's been this way. Not always so messy and crowded but always so inefficient and uninspiring. And always near the bottom of the home improvements priority list. Until a few days ago. When it fell down. Yes, that's what I said. Fell. Down. Finally succumbing to the weight of too many unnecessary things, the shelf and rod as one unit pulled from the wall and crashed to the floor. Inside the closed closet, the contents were squashed to a 30" high heap. Pushing the doors open against the pressure of all that stuff proved daunting enough. The excavation process was just ridiculous. That was a fun day.

Over the next few days though, we did have some fun and our closet is shaping up nicely into something along the lines of this, above. Towers and double rods and a shelf up high for long-term storage in plastic boxes and bins. Or maybe I should shop around for a vintage suitcase or two. That's pretty cute. It needs a bit of fine-tuning and a few organizer-type accessories, but it's already so much better than it was, I'm actually grateful that gravity forced our hand.

One of the details that drove the design of our new and improved closet system is the fact that we have sliding doors—two sets—on this closet. I'd love to have bi-folds like in the photo above, so I could whip them open and view my entire wardrobe at once, but that's just not practical for our space. I'll show you our fancied-up sliders when this little project is complete.

In a previous home, I hung double swing-out doors on my 6' wide reach-in closet (after installing a very efficient system similar to the one above). Not only was I able to view and access the entire contents at once, but I had the backs of the doors available for goodies like hooks and shoes racks as in the photo below.

And once, in a very tiny apartment, I had a surprisingly decent walk-in closet. Because it was a temporary rental, I didn't think to decorate it with pretty things hung on the wall or throw down a runner, but I did hang a mirror on the back of the door. A classic choice.

For a brief moment after our closet crash, we entertained the idea of breaking through the wall to the newly empty bedroom next door and converting it into a closet/dressing room/bathroom space. (Sorry, K, I know you've been gone only a few months!) That moment passed, however, when the dollar signs started ca-ching-ching-chinging in our heads. If I did have the luxury of an entire room, I imagine my closet might look something like this:

I don't know exactly what's going on with those slide-out baskets, but I sure like the way they—and the glass doors above them—look in this sunny yellow room. And then there's this wallpapered, chandeliered beauty, below. But I don't believe for a moment that the girl who owns this closet has so few items of clothing. Or only three pairs of shoes.

If I was forced to used dark wood, I'd most definitely accessorize with brightly colored storage boxes and use lots of glass and white paint like in the closet below. But I would never buy a yellow hat. Not even as a prop.

My inner control freak really likes the idea of coordinating my wardrobe with my closet system and room decor, but I simply couldn't live with myself if I let things go this far:

What I could live with, given the luxury of space (and dollars) with which to create the closet of my dreams, is something like this:

Click on the pic above to see the entire post Joni wrote about the home wrapped around this perfect, girly dressing room. As you might imagine, it's quite a house.

Those of you who appreciate a sleeker, more contemporary aesthetic, might prefer this look, below. And while I would like to be able to see the entire contents of my closet all at once, I think this is taking things a bit too far. Only the super-freakiest control freaks among us could keep this always-on-view closet in order. Though I suppose my well-trained staff could take care of it. (These are fantasy closets, remember? I can have fantasy staff if I need them.)

And speaking of freaky—or at least outlandishly lavish—check out these closets I found at Exotic Interiors.

Holy cow, right? And did you notice that they all have seating? Do you think that's simply because they have the space and so they can? Or do you think, just maybe, having all that stuff can be a bit overwhelming and that it would be necessary to take a break now and then from the pure sensory overload of it all. Probably though, if you're in a closet this big, it's just too darn far to go back out into the bedroom to find a place to sit down and put your shoes on. So that green velvet dentist's chair is absolutely practical.

Let's get back to reality now, shall we? Since I don't have this many shoes. . .

. . . or a wardrobe the size of Ms. Bradshaw's (I mean, Mrs. Preston's), I don't really require an entire room.

However, I do have sufficient closet space so as not to require doing this to my bathroom (but wait, there's not enough room in my bathroom for my bathroom so I guess this was never going to happen anyway).

What I really need is stuff like this

and this

to make the most of the space I do have. I thought about adding some bag hangers like these, below, but they take up too much prime clothes-hanging real estate. I will add one or two of those shoe stacker thingies though. And my handbags will live quite happily in the cubbies we've installed.

All of this introspective thinking about my closet and its lack of efficiency (crashed to the floor being at the extreme end of impractical), got me wondering about the rest of you...

What are the best and worst things about your own closet?

What would you change today? (given the time and the cash)

What does your dream closet look like? Go ahead, be a diva.

If you find yourself, as I did, "closet challenged", here are a few links to help you out:

Closet Organizing Checklist at Real Simple

31 Ways to Make Over Your Closet at Real Simple

Top 10 Organizing Tips for Closets at BH&G

And if you have a moment to read what two other bloggers have to say about their closets...

Tracey at Notes from a Cottage Industry wrote here about how much she loves her closet... and its contents. But she's moved recently so I hope she'll love her new closet just as much. And show us the crazy-creative things she does to spiff it up. Hand her a paint brush and she could work wonders giving Sharpay's curvy wardrobe the vintage cottage look she loves.

Janet at The Gardeners Cottage showed us her closet here. And while I may not envy its tiny dimensions, I do love her beautiful home and her attitude about living well and within your means and without so much "stuff". She would never in a million years have a green velvet dentist's chair in her closet.


Pigtown-Design said...

I have an 11.5' wide house with two teeeeeny closets. I have to be super creative about how I store my clothes. My last house was 9.5' wide and didn't have any closets. They are both circa 1880, so closets weren't too common. At least this house has a linen closet!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Love the one with the green chandelier {although I don't think I'd pick green ~ probably pink for me}! We originally had a cramped walk in closet, but when we added on a room we got a sitting room AND an open closet area. We decided not to put an extra wall up to separate the two, which keeps the whole area open and roomy. I love it. While I do have some junk on the shelves that could be gotten rid of, it definitely keeps us organized. Can't wait to see yours!

the gardeners cottage said...

Hi Tracey,

As I recall you called me a brave, brave woman for showing the inside of my closet. And look at you now! Somewhat liberating, huh? Well I wish you would have taken a pic of the crash debris. That would have been fun. I can't wait to see the finished project.


Averill said...

I need more open shelving for my shoes (and to a lesser extent, my purses and small accessories). Builders always seem to include an inordinate number of hanging rods, but I suspect that I'm like most people in that I have more need for shelves than hanging space.

And speaking of Barbie envy, have you seen Jonathan Adler's accessories for Barbie? Fabulous!

maría cecilia said...

Hi Tracy... well, I have a huge walk- in -closet but I would never dare to do a post about it... it´s a mess filled with lots of things that don´t know where to keep.
Would love to see how your new closet would be like.
María Cecilia

Anonymous said...

When one door closes (or crashes in your case), another opens- what a great excuse to create the closet of your dreams.

I wish my closet was bigger- my husband and I SHARE a 7 foot closet (I've given him 3 feet). Oh well, it forces me to be well-organized and donate clothes every season when I rotate clothes from the storage bins under my bed.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog said...

I'm still hard at work trying to create my dream closet out of IKEA wardrobes. I love all the organizers they offer, but I want to make them blend into the room more.

soodie :: said...

my closet literally collapsed last december (i posted about it) in the middle of the night. so i do share your pain. 11 months later -- (that's right i've been THAT lazy and unwilling to spend the $) -- i had california closets outfit me a new closet just today! i am over the moon! i have a mirror, pegs to hold my chunky necklaces, grey cerused finished drawer fronts with brushed chrome knobs... it is only a reach in, if i had a walk in i would add a couple of chairs, lamp and a little wheeled drinking cart.

but as i fill up my little reach-in closet i feel my dog-fur covered black clothing is ruining the design.

Anonymous said...

OMG. I can't believe it crashed! That probably was NOT a good day, huh? I love your comment about the huge closet and needing that chair to sit in because it's so overwhelming and too far to walk. :-) We have a decent size closet now (in our previous home it was so small we could barely get our clothes in it and neither of us really have that many). In this house, we did a closet plan ourselves, purchased all of the components from Lowes and put it together. I love how it's worked out and am thankful every day that I have it! having the other one for so many years makes me extra grateful I guess. :-)

Cote de Texas said...

What a fabulous story! I loved this!!! I can't wait to see what you do. I saw an Ikea closet in there. funny how many closet you recognize. loved this!

Maria Killam said...

I would so love to have a walk in closet like the ones you've shown! Such a luxury!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

What a fun post! My house was built in the 1920's and has teeny tiny closets. I believe clothes were not a priority then and most people had only a few good garments that they took meticulous care of.

To remedy that for modern times we had a closet built in our bedroom. It took up valuable space but it has been a godsend in adding space for our modest wardrobes. When we had our basement finished we had a large close built in there. I reverse wardrobes every spring and fall and what is out of season I store in the basement closet. Lots of laundering and dry cleaning go on before and afterwards but it's the only solution we could come up with.

I'd LOVE a large walk -in closet with many drawers and shelves for organization, but that will have to happen in a future dream house in the

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

What a fun post! Got a kick out of seeing Sharpay's closet. Ha. I'd love to have a beautiful, well-organized closet like one of these. Someday I'll get around to doing something about mine! :-)

Nouveau Stitch said...

Will work for closet! I'm putting together the signboard as we speak. Some amazing inspiration you've given us. Loved the post!


Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

Those are such great inspiration pictures! Re-doing my clothes closet is on my list of projects (but not a priority).


sallymandy said...

Oh, my goodness. You just spoiled us with the riches of so many photographs. Now I really have closet envy. Mine are such a far cry I won't even start--house built in 1929 with closets under the eaves that I can't stand up in.

I have also noticed, as you pointed out, that a lot of pix of those gorgeous closets don't have that many clothes in them. Just a few artfully arranged garments of coordinating colors set up at equal distance from each other. Hmm...interesting!

Anyway, this was a great post.

Design A-Peele said...

I have closet envy as well. I'll take a little of each!

Cristin said...

closet envy is right! I love a designer that loves organization too! Need to add you to my blogroll.

cristin @ simplified bee

Struggler said...

What a fun collection of pictures! Some of the huge closets are tempting at first glance but I think I actually quite like the space I have (maybe 8 linear feet?). It's big enough to realistically hold my stuff, but small enough to force me to be just a little disciplined. Similar to your (pre-gravity!) arrangement, when we moved in it was a single bar and single shelf, but I found some nice basket/drawer things at Ikea which work really well to make use of the space under things that hang.