Space-Saving Solutions

Storage by design: custom space-saving solutions for kitchen, halls, bedrooms, garages, and more

Many things have changed since Eichlers were sold as new. These changes have created new storage needs for all of the spaces we use—especially for the kitchen, hall and bedroom closets, and the garage. The concepts behind buzzwords like 'PC,' 'telecommuting,' and 'multitasking' have forever changed the way we live in the spaces we occupy.

In the modern family, it is common for both parents to work, unlike the 1950s and 1960s when most women with families were stay-at-home moms. This fact alone has had several significant effects on our kitchen storage needs, largely due to the increased demand for labor-reducing and specialty devices.


In our mother's kitchen there may have been only one set of pots and pans, no microwave, no stand mixer, and no bread or pasta machine. And standard cooking tasks, such as chopping, mixing, and kneading, were still done by hand. Today, on the other hand, specialty cookware and tools are widely available and quite popular with consumers.

Closet storage has been similarly impacted by our changing lifestyles. While in the '50s the average professional may have only owned three pairs of shoes (work, leisure, and dress), many people today have as many as 20 to 30 pairs of shoes. Complicating matters is the constantly changing business dress scene. No longer does work attire consist only of a dark suit, white shirt, and tie. Many of us have clothes for 'Formal Monday,' 'Client Dinner Tuesday,' 'Business Casual Friday,' and everything in-between.

With all of their wasted space, closets represent some of the greatest opportunities for organizing. Realizing this back in 1978, California Closets was founded, and since then has grown to 100 stores in nine countries. The company has been credited with creating the installed storage industry.

This exciting and growing market now has many firms to choose from including IKEA, Valet Organizers, and more high-end custom companies such as Modern Spaces. But the installed storage industry is not just about closets, it's also about home offices, master suites, kitchens, and living and entertainment rooms.

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California Closets' senior designer Jessica Pollard begins the closet design process by visiting her customer's home and asking, "What don't you like about your closet?" The most common response she hears is "I have no storage. All of my sweaters are stacked on the top shelves, and I can't find anything!" No wonder, given how early closets were designed—or perhaps not designed.

Most clothes items are considered 'short hang,' meaning that they do not need a full-height space in the closet. However, traditional closets consist of a long rod running the width of the closet, leaving considerable wasted storage area. Just adding a 'double hang' area and a few strategically placed shelves and drawers can more than double one's storage potential. It can also save the user time by eliminating the daily search for that one sweater that you just can't ever seem to find because it's hidden under something else.

But why should a homeowner hire a professional to organize their closets? After all, the budget-minded can buy a kit from Home Depot, IKEA, or an online retailer and install it themselves. The potential downsides of kits are quality and customization. Since they are mass-produced and designed on a one-size-fits-all basis, they have limited flexibility. In addition, to keep the price point low, construction is limited in terms of materials and hardware.

Having access to the skills of a professional designer is another plus of working with a full-service organizing company. "A good designer is someone that can look at the space and visualize how it is going to work and function," says California Closets' Pollard. "Amateurs tend to over-design and put too much product in the space." Larry Fox, owner of Valet Organizers agrees. "No matter how hard someone tries, a lot of people aren't very visual in nature, or they have a hard time trying to figure out what they are going to accomplish in a given space," he says. "Our designers work to give our customers the benefit of a specialized and thought-out design that is going to take all of their needs into account—whether it be filing, ergonomics, blouse storage—anything that might come up. And we do it in a way that is going to functionally fit."

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