While I love working with homeowners as I design their custom cabinetry, my favorite part of my job is getting to view the final the product. It’s easy to imagine how everything will come together, but there’s still nothing like seeing a finished installation—and I completed a project earlier this month for a family in Virginia that had especially stunning results
But while I’d love to claim it was just the cabinets that made such a difference for this particular family, the truth is that a successful transformation is a partnership between each homeowner and their designer. No matter how amazing the design, creating a well-organized storage space requires full participation from the client. And this is doubly true if you want to tackle a large-scale project that involves multiple areas of your house.
If you’re hoping for stunning end results, here are the tips that I shared with this particular family—and how they chose to incorporate them.
Start with the Basics
We typically start the closet design process with an inventory of your belongings. But the same philosophy applies to other areas of your home. To maximize storage potential, you have to understand what needs to be stored.
My Virginia clients started by identifying the three major areas of their home where clutter always seemed to win the war: their master closet, their home office, and their garage. But the categorizing didn’t stop there—I encouraged them to come up with a detailed plan for what they planned to store in each area. Here’s the rough inventory they came up with:
In the garage: camping gear, car care supplies, paint buckets, household tools, lawn care equipment, and infrequently used kitchen appliances.
In the home office: mailing supplies, books, stationery, kids’ craft supplies, and archived tax returns and receipts.
In the master closet: off-season clothing for parents and kids (further broken down by season), off-season accessories for parents, and clothing-care items like their travel steamer, fabric shaver, and lint rollers.
Different items require different amounts of space. It sounds super-obvious, I know. But understanding exactly what you’re storing in each area makes it easier for us to create a truly customized design (which in turn helps you stay as organized as possible).
It’s also amazing how easy it is to forget about the little things. Postage stamps barely take up any room, and neither do tape or scissors. But when you’ve got dozens of small items you’ve never really thought about, they can slowly invade your household.
Custom Shelving Is an Organizer’s Dream
But the planning doesn’t stop here. You also need to consider the exact shelf layout that makes the most sense. Adjustable shelving gives you some leeway, but once again, advance planning will help you maintain tidy storage areas.
Allow yourself one category per shelf. Every single shelf can’t be “miscellaneous,” so make sure you’ve got room to group items in a way that makes sense. My Virginia family’s garage storage system, for instance, featured hammers and drills on one shelf, storage for vacuum cleaner parts and attachments on another, and small appliances on another. Things are easier to find when you always know where to look.
Store bulky items at the bottom. Reserving a spot near the bottom of your unit for large items makes it easier for you to access them—and this increases the likelihood that you’ll actually use them. Our family’s list included a leaf blower in the garage and several boxes of files in their home office, so we left extra clearance for these items when we designed each shelving system.
Treat your cabinets like a retail store. Keep your cabinets organized post-installation by lining up your belongings in single rows, like you’d see in a retail store. This lets you track each item at all times so that you don’t forget what you’ve got. I know shoving things to the back of the shelf is tempting, but it’s a really easy way to clutter up your home again. (If you’re feeling really motivated, you can even label each area to remind yourself not to cheat the system.)
People often think that simply having more cabinets will solve their storage issues. But a custom unit, designed for your particular needs and coupled with an organization system that you’re committed to following, is the best way to keep the clutter from creeping back in.
Since their installation was complete, our Virginia homeowners have not only freed up space, but they spend a lot less time looking for everything, from the waffle iron to last year’s snow boots. We’d love to work with you, too. Get in touch today for a free design consultation.
Lead image credit: Flickr user Taber Andrew Bain (CC BY 2.0)