Little closets have become a big thing. Consumer culture has swollen our collection of stuff far beyond previous generations. Home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot have added whole departments dedicated to organizing closets. And Closets Magazine (yep, there is one) did a study in February that showed a 10 percent increase last year in bedroom closet renovation projects. “The nicer the closet system, the more ooh and ahh you get out of clients,” says Nancy Lingle of Davidson, who sells real estate around Lake Norman. While location, kitchens and bathrooms remain the make-it-or-break-it factors in sales, she’s had potential buyers turn down homes they otherwise liked because master bedroom closets just didn’t measure up, particularly in high-end homes. “At a half million and up, they’re fussier about closets,” Lingle says. One entrepreneurial couple on Lake Norman has made closet and cupboard organizing into a business. Kurt and Tina Krohn launched StorageMotion after she was complaining about a lack of storage space in the kitchen of their 1980s-built Mooresville home. He built revolving shelves for the pantry that took advantage of the 9-foot-ceiling, and soon they took their AutoPantry invention to a home show in Charlotte. “Every other person who came through said, ‘Do you have one for shoes?’” says Tina. That led to the ShoeSelect, a vertical carousel cubby that can pack four pairs of shoes on up to 10 shelves and sells for around $2,000. One was even included in an episode of ABC’s “Extreme Home Makeover” taped in Georgia. Now they have a small factory turning out products, including an automated wardrobe lift in Mooresville, and have gotten inquiries from as far away as London and Dubai. A Hollywood celebrity ordered a custom shoe carousel that holds 1,200 pairs of shoes. Tina says their business grew by six times last year. “If we can continue to grow in the recession, when it’s over we should really go,” she says. Mark Aspland, who launched Hands-On Woodworking in Cornelius in 1988 and was one of the first closet-system specialists in Lake Norman, sees a trend nowadays toward smaller and more practical houses. That means there’s pressure on closets to be more efficient, particularly for those customers who have 150 pairs of shoes to store. “We’re going from the McMansions to smaller homes. People are moving down in space. They have to use what they’ve got and make better use of the space,” he says. Pantries and cabinets for home entertainment systems are also being designed with space-savings in mind. “A lot of storage is about being able to find what you’re looking for in the space you have,” he says. Mary Turner, a designer for Hands-On, says customers can get a custom closet for as little as $1,500 to $2,000 “that would still have some of the bells and whistles like tie racks, belt racks and jewelry inserts.” Other popular closet accessories are hampers or sliding laundry baskets, fancy countertops, shoe shelves and glass doors for cabinets. She knows of one closet renovation so opulent, it cost $35,000. “Efficiency is my key word,” she says. “I want your wardrobe to go in there first. With the room left over, we can look at accessories. “A lot of people are getting away from furniture in their bedroom. They just want that peace and quiet of the beautiful bedroom and maybe a sitting area, and they want their drawers and dresser and everything else in the closet.”
Wire racks? Ugh. Commonly installed by builders even in high-end homes, wire racks are unpopular with buyers and rarely survive a renovation.
Cut the clutter. Empty your closet once a year and go item by item, deciding which ones deserve to go back in. Then donate to a charity or hold a yard sale.
Identify unpopular outfits. Hang all your clothes with the hook facing out. When you hang something back up after wearing it, hang it with the hook facing in. At the end of the year, you can quickly spot the clothes that are taking up space but not getting any business.
Keep current. Pack away winter clothes in see-through containers every spring and bring them back in the fall.
Think function. Group things together by theme so they can be easily found: work outfits, sportswear, casual, fancy occasion. If you’re a thorough organizer, you can even group them within their categories by color.
Ice cream rule. This one is from Fran Harris of HGTV: “If you walk into your house with a pint of ice cream, you don’t leave it on the counter for an hour, do you? No. Apply the ‘ice cream rule’ to everything in your house and life. Doing so will minimize the likelihood of creating a cluttered space.”