Revamping Your Closet Could Be Key to Space Woes

Children love them and so do people with secrets, those dark, mysterious places. Collectors can’t live without them and clutter busters distrust them with their propensity for overstuffing and overcrowding. We’re talking about closets: walk-in, reach-in, corner and attic closets, wine closets, pantry closets, linen and theatre closets. Just about anyone involved in home organization acknowledges the importance of closets, best exemplified by such interior-design specialists as Ikea.


“The key to living in a small space is to include smart storage solutions,” explains Jen Knight, communications manager at Ikea Coquitlam. “The goal should be to create an area that is visually clutter-free, but makes items easily accessible.” On one of its websites Ikea shows how to build a walk-in closet in a small bedroom using its PAX wardrobe system to “divide your room and double your storage in one afternoon.” The company has recently launched the first pieces in its new ALGOT line, designed primarily for hallway storage but also for walk-in closets, laundry rooms or garages, with wire frames, baskets and other articles to create functional wall-mounted combinations.


Vancouver interior designer Alyssa Myshok, with BlueFish Studio, faced a major challenge when revamping a 1908, 1,000-square-foot bungalow with not one closet. “Function is so critical to anything and storage is one of the most important ingredients in interior design,” she says. To rectify matters she designed a built-in wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling custom millwork storage unit, incorporating a television set, drawers, hanging space, and off-season storage close to the ceiling.

Organization takes commitment and energy, she says. “Accept that it is going to take some energy to figure it out and do it properly. And one of the most important things when designing storage is knowing your stuff, the quantity of seasonal items that can be tucked in upper storage, lineal feet of long hanging vs. half-height hanging, and will you be storing shoes in boxes or bags? Can belts be curled in a drawer or must they be hung? Deep drawers are not necessarily better; for smaller items it’s more efficient to have shallower drawers where items can be neatly arranged.”

There’s no shortage of websites dedicated to closets and the matter of effectively storing and stowing away clothing and supplies, unique and wonderful ways to capture space, including Martha Stewart’s clutter-crisis solutions or, as someone put it: “Tools to free a strangled household from the clutter monster.” Home Depot’s closet section features a number of Martha products, most notably handy closet-organization systems. On site ( find steps to design your own closet with instructions on how to measure. Pick your colours, add accessories such as belt and tie racks, hampers, check the kits required (shelves, drawers, vertical panels) then have the package shipped or pick it up. All priced and ready to go.


Looking for something that’s exclusive, a more high-tech storage environment for the pampered? California designer Lisa Adams refers to her unique closets as “the ultimate fashion accessory,” or “stylish but welcoming and functional living spaces where people want to socialize, wardrobes you can live in; a sanctuary from the chaos of modern life.” Her LA Closet Design’s sanctuaries incorporate coffee-maker stations, mini fridges, integrated laundry centres, pullout packing tables, television islands and crystal chandeliers. One especially creative design features a flat-screen television on one of the closet’s sliding doors.


Space-compromised condo owners have been known to pluck space from under the stairs, one family ingeniously using the area for a sophisticated sound system; another turned the reclaimed space behind shallow kitchen cupboards under the stairs into a wine cellar, pantry and recycle area. Sloped ceilings presented a slight challenge, but the extra storage thus gained was well worth it.

Among the most diverse websites we encountered,, outlines how to build a hammock in a closet “for those who need a place to relax that is small and private.” Or how to construct a false back in a closet, a bed above a walk-in closet or a closet in an attic with no headroom.


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Meet the team

  • Will Pratt
  • Justin Sabbagh
  • Mike Wilcox

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