Closets 101

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A local expert helps you organize even the smallest of spaces

dec-19.jpgWhat a difference a day makes. That’s about how long it takes to refurbish your closet. So why keep putting it off? This month, New Orleans Living speaks to Metairie-based Paul Corona of California Closets who shares his tips for total organization.

Benefits of organization
The key to a spectacular closet is a perfectly designed space. The infrastructure of your closet should accommodate your clothes and other items so that they’re visible and accessible. It should also be flexible enough to change as your wardrobe changes.

“Most closets have wasted or inefficiently used space,” says Corona. “A custom-designed system will maximize use of the space to allow you to store more items.”

Custom closet systems can provide many benefits to your home as a whole. “Many times furniture can be eliminated from the bedroom by freeing up space and adding drawers in the closet,” Corona says. “This also allows you to have everything together in one place.”

Begin by sorting your clothes into shirts/blouses, pants, skirts, sweaters, jackets, long dresses and so on. Estimate both the amount and type of storage you need—shelving, drawers/cubbyholes for foldables, rods for hanging items, and assorted accessories like tie hooks and shoe racks.

Corona says that with a California Closet, “the closet system is adjustable.” Shelves and rods can be moved up or down, added or removed, so that the system can be reconfigured for your changing needs.

“Organize your wardrobe and storage items with a place for everything,” says Corona. “Organize your wardrobe so that you make more use of everything you own and you’ll save time finding and coordinating items.”

You can also sort your clothes by color, season (store off-season items elsewhere), use (work, casual, formal) and person (for shared closets).

Corona says that “the closet system is designed to accommodate each person’s individual needs and the proper size space is provided for each person’s mix of items.”

Clean it out After you decide on the proper closet space and assess your needs, it’s time to get your wardrobe down to the size you need. That’s right, it’s time to get rid of that pink bridesmaid dress that no matter what you say you will never wear again, and those acid-washed jeans you last wore to a Flock of Seagulls concert.

List the categories of items that will go in your closet. If there’s anything that doesn’t fit in that list, it’s time to pitch it. Be ruthless. Did you know that women wear only about 20% of their wardrobe? We tend to wear clothes that are comfortable, make us look good, or just plain fit. Yet many of us keep clothing that doesn’t fit, we don’t look good in and that isn’t fashionable. If you have trouble tossing older items or giving them to charity, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I feel comfortable/good in this?
  • Does it fit?
  • Does it make me look good?
  • Is this still stylish or does it accurately represent my personal style?
  • Is this easy to maintain?
  • Does this suit reflect my lifestyle (for instance, if you’ve had a career change or become a mom)?

If you answer no to any of the above about a piece of clothing, let it go.

“When you buy something new, get rid of something old,” Corona says. “If you haven’t worn it in a year, store it in another closet, and if you haven’t worn it in two years, get rid of it.”

Keep it up every year if the structure is working and your closet is meeting your needs. If you’re more ambitious, do it twice a year when you’re switching seasons.

Closets on a budget
But what about those of us who can’t afford a Mariah Carey–size closet? There are custom closet systems available in the market for every budget, says Corona. “From ventilated wire systems [least expensive] to high-end millwork.” California

Closets also offers less expensive options such as laminated wood systems in various colors. There are also many accessories available that can cost much less than extra closet space, such as drawers, baskets, jewelry trays, hosiery organizers, tie racks, belt racks, scarf racks, valet rods and so on. Closet systems can be designed with the customer’s budget in mind. Pricing is largely determined by the size, color and design of the system. “Hanging sections are the least expensive sections,” says Corona. “The system can be designed basic, for a tight budget, with allowances to add shelves, options or accessories in the future. Financing is also offered.”

Although small spaces usually have limited size options as far as shelving and hanging space go, they can usually still be improved. “The amount of improvement depends on what is already existing in the closet,” says Corona. “Maximizing the use of the space is even more important in a small space.” But no matter what, Corona says, a great closet of any level can add significant value and appeal to a home. Surveys of home purchasers show that storage space is a very important factor in the decision process of buying a home. ”Often it can be the deciding factor,” says Corona. “Many times we see real estate ads listing California Closets as one of the features of a home.”

Tips for organizing
If you just can’t get a custom-built closet yet, Corona offers some great tips on how to keep your regular closet organized, enhancing its look and overall function.

  • Do a little every day: Take five minutes to hang up clothes and throw the laundry in a hamper (preferably in the closet).
  • Keep the things you use the most in your primary closet. Store little-used or off-season items in other closets.
  • Hang pants and skirts separate from their matching jackets. You will see more combinations that way.
  • Stuff purses with tissue or newspaper so they keep their shape.
  • Space shelves only as far apart as necessary. You will fit more in the same space.

To get your own custom closet today, visit Paul Corona at California Closets, 3334 Severn Ave., Metairie, or give him a call at 885.9775.