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How To Organize a Shared Closet

Thursday, February 20, 2014
his hers shared closetThe “His” and “Her” sections of a closet ( or His/His or Hers/Hers) come up frequently in a design consultation. Honestly, it's often a 2/3 Her and 1/3 His division.

But once you get past that, what about getting a handle on all the items you're hoping to store in this shared walk in closet?

Here are some ideas for creating harmonious space (and maybe even a better love connection).

If you're a husband and wife ensemble, you need to go through your “ensembles” together.

neatly organized shared closetsYour colorful fashion doesn't always allow enough space or access for his fundamental function. So, try on the clothing in question and get that second opinion. And be open. If your spouse hates the sorority/fraternity party shirt that looks like it  came from the movie Flash Dance, you should toss it. Same goes for his version of that.

Here's the upside of going down that path. It facilitates communication between the two of you. You can be honest with each other and avoid future arguments as you're ready to walk out the door. It also might shed some new insights on what your partner thinks is “hot”. How cool could that be (or hot?)?

As for specifics, focus on one person at a time. Allow a certain number of veto votes for those items you just love so much you can't dream of parting with them.

shared closet storage ideasAlso, put some “storage structure” into the closet. If you have a column of shelves for shoes and it allows a total of 24 pair until it's maxed out, then you now have a set number of shoes that are allowed in the wardrobe. If you buy a new pair, an old one needs to go.

Also, if you have double hang rods, consider having the top rod be “his” and the bottom rod be “hers”. The taller the person, the easier it is for them to reach the upper rod.

And be respectful. Don't just throw things on the floor that your partner has to step over when they enter the space. Either install some hooks somewhere or make it a point to either put things back on the hanger, folded back on a shelf or tossed into the laundry bin. The floor is no longer a choice!

By incorporating these strategies and putting in a few hours of time, you'll not only save yourself a ton of time over the long haul, but you'll likely improve your relationship. Sounds like a win/win!

2013 Angie's List Super Service Award

Monday, January 20, 2014
Closet Organizing Systems has been awarded an Angie’s List 2013 Super Service Award for a fourth consecutive year. We have been selected for achieving and maintaining stellar service ratings by customers in the Closets category.

Our top priority continues to be providing superior service to back our quality organizational products throughout Chicago and the surrounding areas. We pride ourselves in maintaining positive customer relationships which have resulted in this honor once again for a fourth year. 

Less than 5% of thousands of businesses earn this award which honors excellence among service. Angie’s List Super Service Award winners have to meet strict eligibility requirements, including earning a minimum number of reports, a pristine rating from their customers and following Angie’s List operational guidelines. 

We would like to thank all of our customers for your continued support and feedback. As our promise to you, we will continue to learn from our experiences together to keep on creating positive customer experiences. Thank you!

Six Design Trends to Keep Your House in Style

Friday, December 20, 2013

Have you've looked around your house lately and thought things needed an update? Maybe the pillows are tired and the accessories have been the same for years. Here are six trends to jump start your style.  Adding any of these elements will give both you and your space a lift.

brass fixture tie rack and knobselegant print interior design trend

The Big Brass Band we want to say “say it isn't so” - but it's true. Brass hardware has returned and is showing up in the latest home projects in a variety of way. If you like it, it's a pretty easy transition. You can switch out some handles, perhaps get a brass lamp and vase or candle holder. It will give you the update without the long-term commitment. Here we're showing the brass look inside a closet – just in case you want to make a longer term commitment!

Simply Elegant – think classic kinds of prints. These are great if they match your personality. They have good staying power, as anything classic does. Pictured here are window coverings from Home Decor.

gloss cabinet and table trends

Gloss – love this trend. Technology in material development allows for using gloss materials that don't require as big of a financial commitment as they used to. A great way to incorporate a small amount is to just do a few doors or drawers. Then in a few years, if you've planned correctly, you can change those out for a different material.

Bright Colors – another fun trend that's also somewhat driven by technology. We now have the ability to make all kinds of things in all kinds of colors. And bright isn't just for kids anymore.

antique home updating elementsman cave design trends

Antiques – perhaps this is a fondness for a simpler time when things seemed to move more slowly or an appreciation for the paths we have walked in order to get to where we are. And the paths our grandparents have walked. Antiques can honor family heritage or just be incorporated for beauty and tradition.

Sophisticated Man Caves – never really liked this term, but it seems to work for the men and that's what matters. Dedicating space that allows boys to be boys is a great idea on many levels. It continues to be in demand and evolving. We're seeing bar space and gadget space and an overdose of electronics. All fun and fancy.

Closet Obstacles Are No Hurdle For The Closet Organizing Team

Monday, November 18, 2013
maximize closet storage around mechanical componentsIn both new construction and remodeling projects, builders like to “hide” all kinds of mechanical things in the closet space.

Of course, that is frustrating to us because we are challenged to “maximize every inch” for the items that need to be stored within that closet.

But we're always up for a challenge, and we thought you might like to “see” the story of a very complicated one.

We designed some closet spaces in a downtown pied-a-terre for a client who is very specific about knowing what they want. And what they wanted was beautiful, functional closets. Real wood, custom stained to match the solid wood doors and trim in the home. And they wanted these closets to look as built in as possible, so backing material was essential in order to achieve that look.

So what's the big challenge?
reach in custom closet with recessed fuse panelmaster closet electrical obstaclesIn one of the Reach-In Closets there were nine obstacles that needed to be designed and built around. Those obstacles included a security system, a steam mechanical, and other electrical wiring for all kinds of technology in the home. In the Master Closet there was a large fuse box panel where we needed to have storage, as well as angled walls to contend with. Plus, the space was not large, they wanted as much behind doors as possible and they wanted angled shoe shelves (which take up more room) and drawers.

Talk about a puzzle. And talk about the need for a talented, dedicated installer (we love you Justin!).

So if you're building a new home or an addition to your home or doing a remodel, and feel like you MUST locate some of these kinds of things inside a closet space, here are a couple of recommendations:
  • electrical component storage space accessabilityPlacement should be as high up on the walls as possible so they don't interfere as much with functionality. They will be accessible if you need to get at them but, let's face it, you don't need to adjust the steam mechanical on a daily basis the way you change shoes on a daily basis. This allows for functional structure and storage to be designed and installed.
  • Plan Ahead - meet with your closet design professional BEFORE you have finalized any decisions with the contractor/plumber/electrician/AV professional. Communication between your team members almost always nets the best solutions. It's likely they will be fine with locating a mechanical up high. And if not, then have the space designed so the location of these mechanicals can “land” in a space that is not going to ruin the functionality of the space.

Organize Your Media Cabinet

Monday, October 21, 2013
Media Wall OrganizationMedia cabinets and closets are a place in your home where a couple of hours invested could net you lots of new storage space. And, perhaps, even some new entertainment value.

We all have a bit of “old media syndrome” - whether it's cassettes, VHS or DVD's (dare we not say 8-Tracks). We're so “full of media” that we often can't find the titles we're looking for when we want them. Plus most of us have outdated items that we'll never view or need to reference again (remember, you can find almost anything on line these days, with the exception of your personal wedding video, though perhaps you uploaded that to You Tube too!)

Here are some action steps to take that will bring your media in to the 21st century:

Get a couple of big shopping bags or boxes for sorting. One box is for any duplicates as well as for things you no longer have the technology to watch (like tapes that require a VCR) and don't love enough to pay to have transferred to new technology.

modern home theater solutionshome office media center

Second box is for those items you want to have transferred to new technology, along with a “by when” date that you'll get it completed by. We're not making a “to do” pile here. We're committing to getting organized, getting rid of and getting current. If you're really good with technology and have the time, you can do these transfers yourself. If not, you can take them to somewhere like Costco and get it done for around ten dollars each.

Third box is for the “keepers”. In order to really save space and time, you should take all of these out of their plastic cases and put them into binders with appropriately sized sleeves. They will be easier to find in the future and allow you more space to buy more media (who doesn't like that idea?). You can find media binders at places like Office Max or any other office supply store.

pull out media shelvingIdeally, you would organize things alphabetically. And it's a good idea to leave an open space every “here” and “there” so if you add something later, there is space. Be organized, but perfection is not required.

Also, consider accessibility. Make sure you have some storage low enough for kid's if you allow them to access the media. On the other end, don't go so high that you can't see what the media is or read the title. If you incorporate the binder idea, you can go higher because you'll be pulling down the binder and looking inside.

And don't get too specific in your media storage solutions. Face it, media is a result of technology and technology changes as fast as we can turn around. You want to incorporate design that isn't so specific that it can't be changed. Sometimes drawers can be “over-divided” and then your options become limited. You want organized spaces that have flexibility. Shelving that is adjustable and a combination of open and closed storage is ideal.

Good luck! And send us your pictures once you've re-organized. We would love to see your progress. And if you need help, give us a call at 866-521-4267 and one of our designers will schedule a time to discuss your project with you.

Garage Envy

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

custom garage with urinalMost people who live in houses with garages aren't able to park their vehicles inside because they store so many other items in that space. On line sites like Yahoo put the number at around 50%. Other sources like Ask.com put the number as high as 85%.

Some can't park all of their vehicles in the garage because they have three or more vehicles (and bikes) and a two-car garage. Or they have to buy very expensive parking spaces in city environments and just can't swing the additional expense.

Of the people who aren't able to get the two cars they own into their two car garages, the biggest reason is because they have other "stuff" inside the garage. That stuff can include things like power tools and equipment to do yard work as well as children's toys, bikes, skateboards, bats and balls. You name it. It gets tossed into the garage.

Which makes this space even more prime for custom storage solutions. You need to take advantage of the wall space and even the ceiling space to store these kinds of items.

So here are some suggestions for creating "Garage Envy" in your neighborhood:

From a storage and function perspective

  • garage with slat wallShelving is a must. Solid shelving is much better than wire shelving because it can hold more weight and things won't fall through the open slots in the wire.

  • At least one section with doors and a lock are helpful because you can safely store chemicals and cleaning products and not have to worry about kids getting in to them by accident.

  • Another excellent way to utilize the walls is with a “Slat Wall”. This is plastic sheeting with grooves in it. The manufacturers make all kinds of baskets and sports equipment hooks and things so you can both see and store your items. And devices are adjustable and easy to move around, so as your kids get older and equipment and toys change, so can the location of your storage solutions.

From an "I want that" perspective

  • Add color. You can do it with the just the edgebanding or with the doors and drawer fronts or with the entire system. The garage is a terrific place to add a favorite color since the space typically involves lots of gray cement.

  • Add a television. And this can go beyond just the "game day gathering". If you're organized enough and have the space, having a television in your garage is a very cool thing that allows you to keep an eye on the game while still tinkering with your toys. What could be better?

  • Add a "dog wash station". Having a hose and water in the garage can be useful for cleaning up many messes, the most popular and frequent being hosing down that muddy dog before he sets paw inside the house.

     custom enclosed dog wash

We realize that most people don't have the resources to add these "I want that" features, but isn't it fun to look and dream? Or add some things to your Houzz ideabooks? Connect with us on our page for more ideas:
http://www.houzz.com/pro/closetos/closet-organizing-systems

Gift Wrapped Spaces

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
gift wrapping counterIf the saying that it's “better to give than to receive” is true, then having a dedicated space in your home that allows you to wrap gifts easily becomes a “must have” item because face it, we all know you're a “giver”!

So what sort of function is a must have in this space? Here are some great things to consider:

gift wrap kitchen cabinetHorizontal Surface Counter Top – you need a place to actually do your wrapping. So, make sure you incorporate counter top surface at a comfortable height that allows you to lay out a large piece of wrapping paper and spin your boxes around while your taping and attaching ribbons. And be sure you can comfortably stand in front of this space. An overhang on the counter top is helpful in this situation as is open storage below so you don't have to move out of the way to open drawers.

Wrapping Paper Rolls – these work well with one of two options. Either standing up in a drawer that is deep enough to keep them from falling over OR on a dowel or rod of some sort that allows you to  just pull the paper, tear the right size and wrap.

Ribbons – ribbon is really easy to access if you are able to have it on some kind of small dowel rod so you can easily pull the length you need. You just need to be sure that your rod is not bigger than the traditionally smaller hole sizes at the center of any spool of ribbon.
ribbon storage ideasribbon spool storage using laundry basket
There are also some additional interesting ideas for ribbon storage that you can DIY. Consider plastic baskets with holes that allow you to pull ribbon through the holes for access.  These photos can inspire some ideas of your own. We found them on Houzz, a really fun website dedicated to design and home improvement.

gift bag storage spaceBags and Bows – storing and accessing these is a slightly different approach. Drawers can work well for bows. Built-in vertical slots that allow you to “stuff” the bags is a great option, as is this mini shelf shown in the photo. 


stylish craft storage roomScissors, Tape and Other Tools – we like the idea of having some kind of peg board o in the wall or side of a cabinet that allows you to grab what you need, use it and hang it right back up in it's place. If that's not an option for your space, then baskets to corral things are also great because they can be easily moved around while you're working and then stashed back in their permanent location.

If any of these projects inspire you to become a more organized “giver” - then give us a call to set up a consultation to see how we can help.

Closets With Angled Walls and Ceilings

Thursday, August 01, 2013
Angled walls and ceilings present unique design challenges in closet space.

White Attic closet with hardwood floorWhat initially looks like great little “cubbie” space or “nooks” because of a curved wall or angled ceiling often ends up expensive to build out.

And it isn't always highly functional.
And here's why -
We all have specific items that need to be stored inside our closets. And these items “occupy” or “take up” defined amounts of space. For example, a pair of blouse that is 22” from shoulder to shoulder won't fit very well in a space that is only 18” deep.

In other words, just because you put a rod up in a location does not always mean that the hanging garments will fit within that space. If the rod is too close to the wall or a return wall isn't deep enough, the clothing may stick out in to a walkway or the hanger might not fit within the space.

So creating storage solutions in spaces that have angles can be tricky and require planning if you want to maximize function and have it look great.

Here are a couple of tips:

Dress shirts in attic closet-The industry standard rod height for short hanging garments is approximately 42” from the floor. Shirts and jackets require about 24” in depth in order to fit in to a space. Placement of rods should accommodate these parameters.

-If you are using panel material (like melamine or wood), the system needs to attach to the structure of the house for stability. So while a large number of closet systems are installed using what is known as a “hanging system”, this approach can't typically be utilized in situations with angled ceilings because you can't adhere the system to a flat, vertical back wall. That often means that a “floor-based” system is best because the panels go all the way to the floor and can be secured there so the system doesn't fall down.


attic master closet-Shelving units will typically need to have backing so items don't fall behind the unit and into any “dead space”.

-Low shelving doesn't always make sense. Attaching shelving to the walls within the space that has a straight, vertical wall is often difficult to access because it's low and you have to really bend down to get to it. The forward angle, or  pitch of the ceiling prevents easy access. If you go with this option, you should consider it for long term storage and larger items that you don't need to access on a regular basis.

-Less structure often equals more effective storage when it comes to angled and unusual spaces. We often have people who want to organize the space underneath stairs. They have seen some gorgeous pictures on sites like Houzz or Pinterest and want to re-create the look. While this is a need we can meet, it requires a serious budget. Custom designing and building something to fit so beautifully and specifically requires not only math and good machinery, but on site trimming and cutting as well as fillers and possibly even the making of templates in advance.

Attic closet storage nooks Attic closet organization

The more economical option is to plan to store larger items that you don't use on a daily basis (like holiday decorations) in this space. Put in some simple shelving that will allow for that.

Pantry Puzzle

Tuesday, July 30, 2013
pantry items organizedFrom food to fluff to tools you use to “buff and puff” (or clean, as more practical people like to call it), the pantry space in your home houses a plethora of items.

In fact, it's often a bit of a “catch all” for everything that doesn't seem to fit in the kitchen cabinets.

Face it, it's a crucial space that, when designed and organized well, really can make cooking, cleaning and even eating a whole lot easier.

So when you think “pantry storage” - think “accessibility”.  This concept is key. You want to be able to not only see, but reach, all the items that are in your pantry.

That often translates to “mixing it up”. And just what do we mean by “mixing it up”? We mean a variety of shelving depths (small items on shallow shelves, bigger items on deeper shelves, loose items in baskets of varying heights).

Don't just settle for putting one depth shelving in the entire space when you can have it be so much more.

Here are some strategy tips to think through as you're working with your custom storage designer to maximize this space:

shallow and deep closet shelving-Put shallow shelves for food items near the entrance and put them close together vertically. Think about it. Soup cans and pasta boxes aren't that big so you can get a lot out of the vertical space by spacing your shelves close together. Plus, our systems are fully adjustable every 32 millimeters (or approximately every 1 1/4”) so you can stock up on that macaroni and cheese that the kids can't get enough of.

-Locate deeper shelves towards the back of the space. Deeper shelves often store items that we don't use on a daily basis. It could be specialty appliances, bowls and serving items that you use for entertaining, that kind of thing. These shelves will be spaced a bit further apart to accommodate the larger items.

-Divide and conquer. What we mean by that is that shelf span should not be so wide that it will bow or warp over time. We all have a tendency to put as much as will fit into whatever space we're using for storage. Dividing the space into sections that are less than 24” (in width) gives additional structural support to allow the system to remain stable over the long haul.

pantry with wire baskets-Adding baskets is a terrific option for items that “need to be gathered”. Think bags of chips or snacks for the kids or potatoes and onions. Their packaging is often loose and soft. They don't have the built in structure of a box or can, so “boxing” them in with a basket is a terrific solution.

-Hooks behind the door. If your pantry has a door and that door swings “in” to the space, utilize the small space behind the door for hooks. You can hang aprons there as well as your grocery/shopping bags and even mops, brooms and other tall cleaning tools.

So when you really think about the storage capacity of your pantry space, you can see it is a lot like a puzzle that, when pieced together, really works well. And our design team is always up for a good puzzle challenge, so let us know how we can help.

Cables Cables Everywhere

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How To Hide Wire and Cables - The Fine Art of Designing So Wires Are Hidden

Wire management.

It's a term that people don't always consider when working on home improvement projects, but it's something designers MUST think about in advance.

electrical cord clutter  office cabinet pull out drawer

Otherwise, we risk the dreaded client call and subsequent appointment where we are standing side-by-side as collaborators on the creation, staring at the designed solution and contemplating ways to hide the variety of wires that have “suddenly shown up” from the lighting, the computer, the charging stations, the printer, etc.

And nothing can ruin a beautiful design quicker than unattractive wires dangling from upper and lower cabinets.

So we plan ahead.

We make sure we get the information from you that involves things like:

  • The exact size of your printer including the depth of the connector cords that stick out from the printer when plugged in
  • How many electronic gadgets (like phones and Ipods and cameras) need to be plugged in
  • How many USB and traditional outlets are necessary to keep the space functional
  • Where the electricity on the wall is to make sure we can reach it easily or have an electrician move things prior to installation
  • If we can use items like rechargeable LED lighting that doesn't require hard wiring
  • Whether you want things hard wired by an electrician (so lights come on when you flip the wall switch)  or whether puck lights that go on and off when you touch them are preferred
  • If items need to be pulled in and out on a shelf
white custom usb charging station  kitchen electrical cord storage  

We also consider accessibility issues. Most people don't want to have to crawl around under their desks to get things unplugged, so reach is an important design issue to consider.

And so is the factor of how much you want to “see” and “be seen”. Some products can be hidden by having the ability to “pop” up and out of a counter top, while others are always in open view.

 

Then we look at available products to design which best match your requirements in terms of technology, style and budget. The choices continue to expand since technology changes everyday.

In fact, there are options that allow you to have lighting in places like drawers and inside cabinets that are rechargeable. That means there are no wires required, they can be re-charged via USB plug-in and have motion sensors, so they turn on and off automatically.

rechargeable usb lighting fixtures  usb led light in closet  

It's a rather exciting time to be creating a home office or some other space where you can incorporate the technology that makes your life better.

And the one thing we DON'T want to see when trying to camouflage wires (even though we love it) – DUCT TAPE!

So if you're wanting some storage space that allows you to maximize the functionality of your electronic world, give us a call. We have a team of experts ready to help you make the most of things.


     
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