Behind door number one

September 3, 2011

When the summer heat occasionally chases me indoors into the A/C, I often get the organizing bug.

A while back, just such a thing happened to me, and I got the brilliant idea to tackle the “office” in my house, and try to make it more functional and inviting as a relaxing den by tucking all the office-y stuff out of sight – but not out of mind.

If you are able to have your home office in a bedroom with a closet, like I was fortunate to be able to do, make the most of that closet. I replaced the standard clothes-hanging bar with more functional shelving. You can do anything from a free-standing shelving unit to an installable, modular shelving system – which is what I recommend. That way, you can move the shelves around as your needs change depending on your office activities/hobbies/etc. I used some Closet Maid shelves to augment the closet layout, staggering the new shelves to accomodate all of my different sized boxes and bins.

When it comes to closet contents, forget about spending a lot of money on pretty containers or making everything look the same. No one sees it but you! I re-purposed a hodge-podge of empty file boxes and storage containers that I already had in the house. The key is to label everything with big, clear labels. I love the 3M or Postit varieties that remove cleanly, because I change out my projects often and re-label my containers.

An outlet immediately outside of the closet allowed me to tuck in the printer, and the 16″ depth was just enough for a lockable file cabinet – great for storing long-term paperwork and seldom-accessed documents (like IDs, passports, favorite momentos, etc.).

The set up is perfect for me – it’s not the type of space I would ever pull a chair up to and be able to work at – but that’s not what I need. I need a place to store things and occasionally access them. This does that for me. and I love that I had plenty of space to tuck my wrapping paper and gift bags/bows/ribbon/etc. (since I do gift wrapping in the den) AND, there is enough space to roll the vacuum cleaner in. Every little square inch of space is utilized without feeling overstuffed.

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Closet case

October 31, 2010

Considering closet shelving. It’s been one of the most difficult decisions we’ve been putting off since before we moved in.

There are TONS of closet and wall-mounted shelving options to consider and it’s totally overwhelming.  I’ve been trying to find comparison reviews by searching for “closet systems,” “closet system reviews” and “closet system comparisons.” There isn’t a comprehensive list out there anywhere that I can find. Argh.

I ended up individually researching companies I’ve heard of from magazines or word-of-mouth.  Let me just say this – closet systems are unbelievably expensive. Seriously. But I honestly believe that you get what you pay for.  We got a quote for doing Elfa in our master closet. I took measurements into the store and an employee sat with us for nearly two hours helping us design what we thought would be the perfect set-up for our lifestyle.  And the system is such that you can start simple and add pieces over time as your needs change.

We also got a quote from a private company – akin to California closets, called Crooked Oak. They have BEAUTIFUL products, similarly priced to Elfa, but that are MDF rather than wire, and have the look of built-ins.  The upside to Crooked Oak is that they have customizable options that you can add to over time as well, unlike California Closets, which are built in.  And a service rep came out to our house and talked to us about our needs within our own space. She took the measurements and did the drawings, and I had to do nothing other than give her my wish list.

But given our (very) tight budget, and my organizational proclivities (who, me?) we went to Home Depot and got ourselves some good old Closet Maid pieces and combined those with existing furniture we already had from our previous homes.

What I like best about this solution is that it’s a sturdy rail system – nothing needs to be screwed into the wall except the foundational structure.  Everything is an add-on and customizable.  We can go all the way to the floor (like I did in one area on Ayesha’s side) or layer more shelves above the hanging section (like I did on mine).  And I can do it all myself – so I have the freedom to combine stand-alone pieces, and odd sizes, and whatever I want whenever I want, easily.

It totally works for us and our master closet.

I’m working on the home office closet now 🙂


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