With winter quickly approaching (for some of us, it’s already here!), it’s time to start prepping our homes for the new season. With temperatures dropping and the holiday season in full effect, winter means the items we keep in storage will soon be freed. But where’s it all going to go? Trying not to be overwhelmed by the heaps of winter coats and decorations taking over your space can feel impossible. Try a new approach this year and evaluate what you have and reorganize. Think of it as an early gift to yourself. To make the process easier for everyone, we spoke with Tom Turnbull of Kwik Kloset Inc. to help you make your house, apartment or condo more functional and orangized this season.

Question 1: What are the biggest issues clients face when it comes to storage solutions and how do you solve them? How do these issues differ in homes vs condos/apartments?

The main issues clients are facing when they contact Kwik Kloset are:

  1. Not enough space for their belongings.
  2. Enough space but too difficult to find things (poorly organized).
  3. Existing closet materials failing or unattractive.

Our solution in all cases is to remove the existing closet materials and replace them with an improved design using quality lifetime guaranteed materials. On rare occasions, a client will want to get more storage in a closet space, but it has already been designed properly and is full. In these cases, we recommend the creation of a built-in wall unit, discussed in more detail below. 

Condo/apartment owners are often most concerned with just not having enough space in the closets provided.  In most cases this can be solved with superior designs for the existing closets, if not then adding organization to their storage locker will help, or a built-in wall unit may be required.  For renters, it is important that any such work be as re-usable as possible when they move, unless their landlord/lady agrees to pay for all or a substantial percentage of the work. 

Question 2: With winter and the holidays fast approaching, homes are full of coats, boots, and boxes upon boxes of decorations. What kinds of options do people have for seasonal storage around the home and outside of it? 

Amongst the major retailers, January is known as “Storage Month” due to the aftermath of the holiday season.  These retailers offer discounts on bins, baskets, do-it-yourself closet organizer kits etc. during this period. If a consumer is looking for this type of solution, January is generally the best time of year to purchase them. For those who want a professional solution, they can either opt for renting a storage locker, building/buying a new outdoor structure like a tool shed, or use space in their home such as the basement, spare room, or built-ins in the master bedroom, den, spare room etc.

Use of a rental locker is fine if the need is truly temporary.  Unfortunately, many homeowners find that once stuff has been moved to the locker it tends to stay there, and they just get used to paying the monthly fee.  Building/buying and outdoor solution would be better than ongoing monthly payments for years, but in its own right will be expensive and may have property tax implications.  Using space in the home like the basement, in particular, is a very cost-effective way to store excess/seasonal belongings.  I say the basement in particular because you can build a very useful solution without concern for aesthetics, so the least expensive finish (White) and no doors in front of the cabinets are required.  Building a built-in around the bed, or on the opposing wall in the master, or in the den or a spare room all will require doors in front of most of the shelving, and a non-white finish may be preferred as well.

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Using space in the home like the basement, in particular, is a very cost-effective way to store excess/seasonal belongings. I say the basement in particular because you can build a very useful solution without concern for aesthetics, so the least expensive finish (White) and no doors in front of the cabinets are required.  Building a built-in around the bed, or on the opposing wall in the master, or in the den or a spare room all will require doors in front of most of the shelving, and a non-white finish may be preferred as well.

Question 3: Speaking of built-Ins, they are becoming quite popular in homes and condos. What kind of value do they add? What kinds of questions should a homeowner ask when planning or designing built-ins?

Built-ins provide solutions to a variety of problems and thus are becoming more and more popular.  Any home, be it a large house, small house, large condo/apt. or small, can benefit from the addition of well-designed and properly located built-ins. Instead of wall-mounting a large screen TV on your wall (bedroom, living room, den, or otherwise), why not put it in a custom built-in? Far more attractive and providing floor-to-ceiling storage on each side of the TV, as well as below and sometimes above the TV as well. Putting a built-in around the bed(s) in the home provides tons of storage and looks great.  A spare room that used to be used for only 1 purpose (guest bedroom, home office, entertainment centre) can now be used for all 3 with an appropriate built-in which includes a fold-down desk top, a place for a large screen TV, and a roll-out bed mechanism (e.g. Kwik Kloset’s SpaceStation).question-3-built-in

Custom-built and fitted built-in cabinetry is intended to stay with the home when the homeowner moves. Don’t worry about it, the value of the home will increase by the cost of the built-ins anyway, so you can build new ones if needed in your next home. Other issues to be considered are the locations of existing wall items such as power outlets, CATV/Telephone jacks, heating/return vents, and floor vents. Lighting fixtures that hang down from the ceiling must also be considered for door swing.

Choosing a supplier of built-ins should include looking at what other customers are saying about the company, what their warranty is (if it isn’t lifetime replacement then move on), and the longevity of the company (lifetime replacement doesn’t help if the company isn’t there anymore).  Cost is always a consideration but what really matters is VALUE – best results for the most reasonable price versus the lowest cost.

Question 4: Older homes and condos often have small closets. What are some solutions to organize a small closet at different price points?

Older houses and newer condos/apartments share at least one thing – small and few closets.  All closets, small and large, often share the same design flaw. The rod for hanging clothes is installed at about 6 feet (2 metres) above the ground.  This leaves a large amount of space below most hanging clothes, lending to an unorganized pile of items, and too much space above the rod to the ceiling, resulting in piles of clothes that tend to lean and topple over because they are too high.  A proper closet organizer uses 2 rods, one above the other, set at specific heights to accommodate 2 rows of hanging clothes, with little space below and a much more manageable space above.  This is called “double-hang” and it is the magic that gives designers the extra space to add shelving/drawers/hampers/baskets etc.

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Double hanging a closet that was previously over-stuffed with single-hang will solve the problem of too many hanging garments, but may not create any additional space for shelving/drawers etc. In these cases we ofter will recommend dedicating the existing closet(s) to hanging clothes, and building a shallow built-in along one bedroom wall. Hanging clothes require a 24in deep cabinet, whereas folded clothes, shoes, and drawer items can all fit in a 14in deep cabinet.  This approach utilizes the existing 24in deep closets for all of the hanging and keeps the cost and space used to a minimum for the built-in.

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For inside the closets, the least expensive solution is the white wire shelving that is often installed by the builder.  Homeowners can move the existing wire shelf up or down, and add another piece they can buy at any home improvement store. Being inside a small closet behind a door or doors means the least expensive colour (white) can be used when building a melamine closet organizer, and no doors are needed in front of the shelving. If a built-in is required keeping all or a portion of it shallower (14in) will save money, versus building the entire unit at 24in depth.  Keeping a shelving section at each end open (without doors) to display items you don’t mind seeing in the open will also save some money.

Question 5: What should homeowners know before hiring a custom closet designer? What should they ask the company and look out for? How can they ensure they’re getting the closet or storage solution they want?

When choosing a custom closet designer in addition to the questions/issues identified above for built-ins, the homeowner should see samples of the products being offered and should be able to see the finished design from multiple angles. Ideally, a 3D computer-aided-design tool will provide this. Seeing a properly scaled 3D rendering of the space gives the homeowner confidence that they are going to get what they are expecting.question-5-3d-renderingWhen the design is presented the homeowner should ask the designer if it properly accommodates their belongings, and ask to see where/how they are included.  Long dress hanging, shoes, belts, ties etc. all need a place, specifically sized to accommodate the number of same.

Question 6: What are some trends you notice in homes? Are there specific designs people ask for? What do you think will become popular for closets and storage design in 2017?

Over the last few years, we’ve seen some changes in popular finishes – light woodgrains like Maple gave way to dark woodgrains like Chocolate Pear or Espresso.  Lately, the younger crowd seem to be moving toward greyscale solutions, light, medium and dark grey finishes.

question-6-dark-grey-finishAnother trend is many homeowners want their master bedrooms to feel more spacious, so they are getting rid of their dresser(s) and they are including drawers in their closet designs.  One word of caution – don’t include more drawers than you need!  The only things that really require drawers are things that are smaller than the shelves are deep – like socks, undergarments, and jewellery.  Folded items such as sweaters and T-shirts, pants (if you don’t hang them) belong on shelves, not in drawers.   Shelves cost a fraction of what drawers cost, so don’t let a designer oversell you on drawers!

Going forward, with smaller and smaller condos being built, and with the Baby Boomers starting to downsize from larger homes crammed with stuff, proper utilization of space – not only closets – is going to become increasingly important.  Multi-purpose solutions like the SpaceStation (desk, bed, and entertainment centre) will start to become requirements rather than luxuries.

Another emerging trend is lighting within the closet organizer itself. New options in this area are now available and may become quite popular with the aging population because of failing eyesight, and with younger homeowners because it is frankly very cool.

question-6-closet-rod-lightingNew homes are tending to be built with higher and higher ceilings.  If this continues, it may be more typical to have adult triple hang sections (3 rods spaced apart enough for standard items).  Never fear, pull-down rods already exist to facilitate triple hang for adult clothes.

Now that you have a better idea of all the closet and storage options available to you, go ahead and get a quote from a professional near you today. Once you’re done, be sure to write a review and share your experience with the community. Still looking for closet inspiration? Check out our Dream Closets Pinterest board for great ideas and images from HomeStars reviews.

Posted by Jessica Greaves