Trying to share space, especially if you have different organizational styles and needs, can be stressful. These tips for closet organization can calm the waters.
Mark and Dani had just gotten engaged, and were finally going to make the jump to sharing an apartment. He had been living in downtown Baltimore, in a condo by the harbor in the old shipping yards, and she had lived a little outside the city. But they bought a rehabbed row house in Charles Village, after falling in love with its historical charm. It wasn’t huge, but it was enough for them. Things were going great, until on moving day, they both started hanging stuff up in the closet. The shared closet.
This was a new situation for them. They were both pretty neat and organized, but neither had shared a closet before. This happens with a lot of couples who are moving in together. There are different ideas on how to store things, and different needs for the same space. Over time, it can actually cause a surprising amount of tension. This can be avoided, though, with communication, planning, and a custom organized closet system that creates more space for both parties.
Causes of Friction After Moving In Together
A lot of couples, no matter who they are, worry about compatible lifestyles when they move in together, whether that is after dating a week or after the honeymoon. For as well as you know someone, you don’t really know everything about them. Like their organizational habits. The extreme case of this is neat freaks versus slobs, but studies have shown even they can get along fine if there is communication about expectations and being considerate.
Most people aren’t that extreme, of course. The problem is that people simply have their own system for doing things. They don’t organize in the same way. They have different ideas about where toiletries should go, and what clothes should be hung up versus which ones can be folded and put into a drawer. Probably the biggest dispute is over who should get “more” of the closet. This is little stuff, of course, in the grand scheme of things, but it can add up over time and become a sort of nagging stressor. 9 out of 10 Americans feel that home organization is a stress factor, and when you and your partner are butting heads, it only makes it worse.
Closet Organization Tips For Newly Cohabiting Couples
This kind of stress arises from all sorts of different situations. People moving into a new home together will have differing ideas, though the tension can be even further compounded if one of the partners is moving into an established place. When “my closet” becomes “our closet,” tempers can flare and toes can be stepped on. There are some guidelines that couples should follow to avoid this head-butting.
Communicate about what you really want. It’s human nature to defer and be polite, especially when parlaying with a loved one about something seemingly as inconsequential as a closet. But that’s not the right idea: organizing a closet for two is about communicating, and making sure that both sides have expressed what they feel they need to be comfortable and happy. This is about figuring out needs. In the case of Mark and Dani, Dani had more work clothes that needed to be hung up, since Mark worked from home. Because of this, it was agreed that she would get more hanging space. That kind of communication is essential.
Give each person their section. This is where you have to divide to unite. For the most part, what is in a closet is personal. That’s why people need their own sections, but be careful: it’s a mistake to assume that 50/50 is equitable. If one person basically lives in 10 t-shirts and the other has dozens of dress shirts, then an even split doesn’t work. It’s the same with shelves, drawers, and other closet organizing items. Divide based on need, and both parties will be happy.
Valet rods for everyone! Valet rods are one of the most underappreciated facets of any closet. These are retractable rods that can be pulled out to hang up dry cleaning, tomorrow’s clothes, or anything else you need easy access to. Having one for each person allows the couple to not get in each other’s way while staying organized every morning. Being able to “grab-and-go” means no jostle and no waiting. It means less stress.
Shelving at the right height for each partner. This is where a custom design comes in handy. Shelving needs to be at the right height. They need to be accessible and convenient for each individual, which isn’t always the case if they are identical heights. It makes the taller partner have to bend over, or the shorter one strain on their tippy toes. While we are familiar with the saying that a good compromise leaves both parties unhappy, this is just the worst of both worlds. Having a custom-designed closet in which the shelves are installed according to need can nip that problem in the bud.
Different drawers for different folks. What do you keep in your drawers? What does your partner? Do you need socks in the bottom drawer so you can grab and put them on, but he would much rather have boxers down there? Does he need extra pajama drawers, while you need a shallow, lockable drawer for jewelry? It’s okay: as long as you have enough drawers for both people, and they are clearly assigned, you’ll get along fine.
Stay within your space. We can’t emphasize this enough. It’s like a DMZ: an agreement of sides has to be stuck to. You can renegotiate if facts on the ground change (like if Mark gets a job out of the house, so now needs suit space), but there can’t be unilateral encroachment. That’s the best way to trigger fighting and stress. Make sure you stick to the agreement.
How A Custom-Designed Closet Can Save Couples
I don’t claim to be a relationship counselor, but I do know that not having an understanding of space and not having a well-organized system can lead to stress. This is the kind of stress that can build up over time, with both parties getting on the other’s nerves. And it’s hard to change once you have established a pattern: it’s a weird quirk in human behavior that we’d rather stick to a bad system than overhaul. So get this settled before you two are set in your ways, and the closet becomes a daily battleground. No couple wants that when they move in together. Starting to share a life is fraught with enough nervous excitement. I think a closet should be a relaxor, not another stressor.
That’s why at Closet America, our staff takes the time to understand you and your partner’s needs, from shelf height to drawer allotment to valet rod placement, and much more. We create a 3D-rendered image of your closet, get input from you both (and an inventory of your items), and combine it to design a perfect organization system that fits your space and your needs. It’s important to us that our clients are happy: not just with our products, but with their lives. We’re glad to be able to play a small role in that. With the right custom-designed and organized closet, moving in together can be just as easy as falling in love.
Closet America is the D.C. area’s leading creator of custom-made designer closet, office, garage, and pantry storage spaces. Our experienced team of designers and engineers help create unique solutions that are customized with your needs in mind. Let us help you get your life more organized. Connect with us today to learn more!