Closet Envy: That feeling you get when you stare at photos of sumptuous, perfectly organized walk-in closets larger than your bedroom, then look back at the crammed cubbyhole you stuff your clothes into.
For every newly built or remodelled home that seems to have acres of storage, there’s at least one older home or a one-bedroom condo that seems to have next to nothing. While you can’t magically create new space, you can maximize what you do have, says Daniel Wilkinson, the president of Simply Closets, a Toronto company that creates custom closets and storage.
“A lot of older homes have really tiny closets,” he says. The standard width is just 24 inches, and they usually have one hanging rod, with a shelf above that. Most of that space above and below is wasted, he says, and sometimes it’s tucked in behind the wall and not easily reachable.
The key is to make each cubic inch of space count, using all the floor-to-ceiling height that’s available. The easiest way to do that, he says, is to replace a single rod with two double-hung rods, an upper and a lower, automatically doubling the closet’s capacity, so clothes can hang more comfortably. As well, shelves or drawers can be added along one side. “A lot of times, I’ll recommend opening it up, either by creating a bigger door, or turning it into a wardrobe. That way you have the space to build and everything is accessible.”
Often, clients come to Wilkinson with ideas that look great but wouldn’t necessarily work for them, or fit within the space that they have. “It’s about functionality,” Wilkinson says. “I look to see the space and make every inch of it visible and accessible. You don’t want something that looks good but has no function.”
Building a whole new wardrobe into a bedroom, if that’s an option, can produce customized storage, creating the perfect mix of hanging space versus drawers and shelves. Choosing the right accessories can also maximize storage. Things such as tie racks, belt holders and shoe racks are big space savers, he says. “We’ve done a pullout shoe rack where you stand the shoes upright,” he says. “In a small section you can get 18 pairs of shoes.” Laundry bags, too, have become a hugely popular addition.
Or, If you’re one of the many who joined the Marie Kondo organization craze popularized in her Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, drawer or shelf dividers can help maintain all that precision folding.
Custom pieces can be configured to store anything, anywhere, not just in the bedroom, he says. Most important, Wilkinson adds, upgrading even the smallest closet can add value to a home, and it can be reconfigured or adjusted as needed. •
185 Trowers Rd., units 7-8