Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Just Leave It Empty!

Sometimes just because it is there, doesn't mean you have to use it.

I'm talking about shelving in particular but this also applies to closets and drawers that may be inaccessible, difficult to reach, or unneeded as storage space.

I know it is hard to imagine, but, yes, you can leave things empty or unused. Whenever I mention this to clients, they get a very scared look on their faces. Their eyes get all big and they look at me like I'm a 3-headed alien. Don't feel like you have to use space that you have UNLESS you need it and the space works for you.

Case in point: a top-floor rectangular bedroom closet built into a slanted roof. There is one closet rod for hanging clothes with a top shelf. Built around the perimeter of this closet are two levels of 10" deep wood shelving that go around 3 sides (the accordion doors of the closet make up the 4th side -- hope you're able to imagine this by my description!). Anyway, when a normal amount of clothing is hanging from the rod, the clothing hides the long back shelving as well as obscuring some of the side shelving. You literally have to push the clothes aside, scrunch down, and lean back into the back of the closet to reach anything. The shelves were populated with random items, mostly non-wearable things not really meant for a clothes closet. Was the space accessible? No. A pain to get things? Yes.

I told the client who owns the above scenario that we were no longer going to use the shelving -- just the rod and the top shelf above the rod that runs the width of the closet. Now the closet holds only clothes and shoes, with a few handbags on only the left sides' shelves -- all the rest of the shelving is empty and hopefully will stay that way.

Another case in point: a huge 4-story house with a gazillion closets. The client used all of them, even if it meant like items were spread out throughout and among various floors of the house. If you were looking for clothes, for example, they could be in any of 13 places. This was a case of too much storage; the client felt that because a closet existed, she needed to use it. Like a gas that spreads out to fill its container, the clutter spread out and took over every nook and cranny.

For that client, we first had to do sorting/purging, then establish where we'd keep what and have only 1 place for a category. She had to learn to keep some storage places closed/unused lest she fill them. We kept it simpler and thus more organized.