Whether we reside in a roomy mansion, a cramped apartment, or a comfortable house, we all seem to share one common complaint: there just isn’t enough room for all our belongings. Upsizing or downsizing, living alone or with roommates or a family of four, it’s a constant juggle to squeeze everything we own into an orderly, attractive and livable space.
“I think it’s in our nature as humans to collect stuff,” says Benjamin Limo, owner of Tailored Living. “Even with a bigger space, you just tend to collect more stuff.”
Let’s face it: getting rid of things is hard. Sure, purging is therapeutic and in some cases absolutely necessary, but many of us really struggle to pare down our belongings. That set of golf clubs willed to us 15 years ago that we’ve never used? That red dress we wore once and plan to wear again…someday? The list is endless and, often, overwhelming.
Fortunately there are companies out there whose sole purpose is to make getting organized a little bit easier. “Why spend money to store things you don’t need?” says Vanessa Crisci, owner of Miss Fix It. “You’re housing belongings that no longer have a purpose.”
In short, people are using their closets to store the wrong types of things. Crisci suggests taking items such as suitcases and long dresses — items not used on a regular basis — and packing them away, maybe to a storage room or unused spare closet, in order to make the most of a smaller area. “Eliminating extra items that don’t belong in the closet can definitely free up more space for clothes,” says Crisci.
Once you’ve paired down belongings, it’s time to assess the limitations to your space. “Windows, vents, angled walls – there are many challenges and limitations within the closet space,” says Limo. He suggests browsing closet spaces online, and looking at the different options for what can be done in spaces and layouts similar to your own.
Next, you’ll want to review your storage needs so you can customize a closet design best suited to your lifestyle. “Closets are personal and should be designed to meet the individual’s needs,” says David Shaw, owner of The DAS Group General Contracting. “A person who wears a suit everyday will have a very different layout from someone who has a more athletic wardrobe.”
It really comes down to accessibility within the space, Shaw explains. “Usable space and organization can be maximized by simply being able to have full access to the entire closet.” Adjustable shelving, drawers and baskets go a long way to making items that you do use more accessible without taking up any additional space. “The two things today that really stand out are the use of pivoting and sliding shelving units,” says Shaw. “They really help maximize space, especially for people with shoe and hat collections.”
While it pays to be practical, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Perhaps you’re looking to completely remake a closet into something else, a small office for instance, or a storage pantry for shoes or dry goods. “We have been asked to use traditional closet space for a variety of things over the years, from dressing to makeup rooms, wine cellars and wet bars, to personal spaces for pets,” says Shaw. “If you can dream it, there is a way to redesign the space to suit your needs.”
Still, the most effective way to gain space is to get things out of your house, so consider holding a garage sale, or hauling goods to The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, or the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness. And once things are gone and your space is organized, vow to keep it that way! After all, less really is more.
The DAS Group, Newmarket
Tailored Living, Newmarket
Miss Fix It, Newmarket
The Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness, Aurora
Habitat for Humanity