Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Closet Organization

I've spent an inordinate amount of my time thinking about closet organization. It started back in our first home in Houston. We needed to maximize the closet space in our tiny bungalow with no garage (hello lawn mower and chicken food right next to the washing machine). I had grand plans to piece together my very own closet system from IKEA pieces, but I never got around to it before we sold our house and moved to Austin. 

I started thinking about closet systems again when were building our house. I brainstormed different options and decided on IKEA. And then I changed my mind and was going to go with Rubbermaid for even more savings. I trekked to Home Depot and stared at the closet system aisle for quite a while trying to figure out what went with what. There were pre-existing kits, but it sometimes seemed cheaper if you bought the pieces separately but then they didn't have all the pieces in the same color and I wasn't sure how to make it fit our dimensions precisely. 

In the meantime, we moved closer to The Container Store and I fell in love with it. There's one part of my brain that bemoans all the plastic and the "made in China" labels, and there's another part of me that goes weak in the knees over the endless organizational possibilities. Dividers to separate your clothes by categories? Yes, please! Spice racks mounted inside your pantry doors to maximize space? Sign me up! 

I started eying the Elfa system and figured it would at least be worth pricing it out since there's an annual 30% off sale. I used their online tool to design some closet spaces. In order to save money, I decided to do half of Henry's close with Elfa and half with standard-size IKEA storage. I was going to follow Young House Love's idea for installing Rubbermaid in our bathroom linen closets, but I was going to have to hire someone to do it since our closets are slightly too small for the standard size. 

I trekked to The Container Store and worked with one of their consultants. The design process was way more efficient in the store, and the configuration she came up with was much better than mine. She designed three closets for us: the master bedroom, Henry's bedroom, and Tate's bedroom. She convinced me that it made a lot more sense to go ahead and install shelves all the way across Henry and Tate's closets rather than do half Elfa and half IKEA. She helped me realize that once the tracks are installed, the system is completely re-configurable and can be changed again and again to meet your family's changing needs. Plus, it only cost about $100-$200 more to add basic shelves across the second half of each closet. I could have easily spent that much at IKEA on supplemental storage solutions that wouldn't have been nearly as seamless. 

I didn't pay for the three closets right away and instead took the renderings home to show Matt and my in-laws. The more I showed it to people, the more I fell in love with the Elfa system. You can start with the most basic wire shelving initially and add more decorative fascia later if you want. It's also an incredibly nuanced product. The consultant asked for my height and Matt's and the system adjusted the bar heights accordingly. 

Matt was thrilled with the three closets and was even more ecstatic to hear that we could have them installed within two business days. We decided that it made sense to go ahead and finish out all our closets, so I went back and designed our coat closet (which we use for our vacuum, broom, etc.) and our outdoor utility closet (since we don't have a garage). 

I ended up giving the design consultant a hug before I left because I was so excited about the prospect of getting all of our closets organized in one fell swoop. As I've mentioned a couple times, when we first moved in, we quickly tried to put everything away, which meant that a ton of stuff landed in the closets. So much stuff, in fact, that one of our closet shelves ended up ripping out of the walls from too much weight. It's been stressful to open up every closet and come face to face with chaos. [Editor's Note: These are not real problems, I know!]. 

The design consultant explained that the installers will come and remove the shelf and bar in every closet, patch up the holes, repaint, and then install the new system. She said that we would start putting stuff back in and wonder where everything went since we would suddenly have so much more storage space. 

I'm eager to make serious strides toward my goals for the year! 

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Anonymous said...

this makes me so happy, and it's not even happening in my house. I, too, geek out at organizational systems. I can't wait to see the results!

Whitney said...

Sara, I am a total Elfa addict! I've done 2 closets, a pantry, and our laundry area. And I save because I install them myself - they're really easy! Maybe consider doing one yourself first and seeing if you want to do the other two? Their instructions are crystal clear.

Kelly said...

How exciting! I love Elfa!

I also recently discovered that the Elfa wall system is compatible with the wall-mounted system from Lowe's. (It's not actually cheaper right now, because of the sale, but is the rest of the year.) We had a ton of Elfa shelf brackets but wanted to use them in a new location, with new uprights and shelves. We were able to get the uprights and shelves at Lowe's and use the Elfa brackets. It made me so happy and now I have three 9' bookshelves in my guest room out of what were once thin and tall cd shelves in Henry's bachelor pad!

Chloe said...

I, too, really disliked the idea of all the made in China-ness of things like elfa. But when I saw how customized that option could be and looked at all the time/money I had spent on kind of blah stop gap closet stuff over my years as a home owner, it seemed that there was far less waste in elfa. And less waste is totally in line with my values!

Kristina Jones said...

Can't wait the see the finished pics!

jorg gray said...

Dress up your closet and dress down disorder with a closet organizer from The Container Store design a closet Austin. Save time and show off styles with our closet organizers!

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