My latest styling work has some unique challenges. My client has recently sold her family home and has moved into a condominium.  This is often called “downsizing” (although I like to think of it more as “rightsizing”).  She uses a mobility device so the design of her space also needs to have additional allocation around furnishings.

I am so excited to get started, but before we can do that – we need to address the boxes of items brought from her original home that need to be sorted into ‘keep’ or ‘go’. Some of the design decisions will be based on what we find in some of these boxes.  So in order to keep things moving, we are starting with the design of her closets.

There are 3 closets in the unit and for each, we have a plan for items that must be contained there-in. The front hall – all seasons of coats, mittens/scarves, boots. Laundry room closet – in addition to laundry essentials, a place for lightbulbs and batteries, extra hanging space for wet laundry, cleaning supplies and the like. The master closet must hold all seasons of clothes. Anything not needed often will be in the unit’s storage locker.

The real challenge is this – usually in a closet the recommendation I make is to MAXIMIZE THE VERTICAL SPACE.  The traditional closet with one shelf up top and one level of hanging clothes is not the most efficient.  Often, doubling the hanging space for shorter items such as blouses and shirts can help but for this client, impractical. She is just over 5 feet tall and cannot access items high up in a closet. In fact, we need a lower rod height so that she can easily reach the items she needs.  So other than putting some off-season items on the shelves, we needed to design something that would work for her situation.  The point I would make here is that you should spend the time considering your current and future needs when you make the investment in a closet organizer.  Flexibility is key and closet organizers are considered a selling feature (I admit, I am always thinking about that it in any design!)

Many reach-in closet products can be customized to be extra deep – pay the extra money to do so and use the back of shelves for less-often used items – take full advantage of the space you have.

While you are having it installed, consider that your needs might change – extra vertical rods and supports allow you to shift shelves around to accommodate different seasons and in the meantime, provide extra support for shelves. Upper shelves can be used for seldom used or off season items. Select containers with lids to keep will keep items clean and fresh (and adding a dryer sheet or wrapped bar of soap will contribute to this freshness)

If you or a family member are downsizing, try to do the sorting, dispersing, and packing prior to staging your home for sale. It helps to get the emotional readiness for the move underway and has the added bonus of simplifying the staging process.

Now that the closets are well underway, we can work on the rest of the space – new furnishings to suit her new lifestyle – with some key pieces to honor the memories that she holds most dear!