I'm a Closet Case!

Well, not really. (I came out of those dreary digs about 17 years ago!) But I do have a serious case of closet envy, a condition that afflicts millions. Even as a child I enjoyed having clean and organized closets. I loved little boxes and storage compartments, and even though I wasn't much of a clothes-horse, I did enjoy using closet space as a means to an organizational end for much of my "stuff."

I decided to showcase a few of the fantastically-organized closet spaces f
eatured in the pages of Martha Stewart Living over the years. Many of them are superb examples of finding space where you think there may not be any, or using unconventional spaces for new uses, such as offices.
Hanging space may be sufficient in your closet, but it's often hard finding space for shoes, bags, belts, scarves and garments that need to be folded, such as sweaters. The closet above was fashioned out of an armoire and fitted with a closet-system shelving unit. The shelves were custom cut to fit the armoire and were attached to hanging racks that can be adjusted up or down as needed. The top shelf houses handbags; shelf dividers attached to the second level keep the stacks of tops and sweaters from tumbling down. (They're arranged by color so that you can quickly find what you want to wear.) A fifteen-by-fifteen-inch, three drawer cube matches the shelving and is ideal for stashing scarves, ties, jewelry and other small items. Adding a row of hooks along the tops of the doors allows for belt storage and two rows of stackable, clear storage boxes keep shoes organized. Undergarments and socks are kept in the lower drawer.
Here is a similar system from the same issue of the magazine (January, 2005) that features labeled and lidded boxes for storage.
This closet, featured in the January, 2009, issue of Martha Stewart Living is long and spacious. Numerous drawers keep clutter in check, as do storage boxes along the top shelf and side shelves. Handbags are stuffed with acid-free paper to retain their shape and kept in flannel sacks to protect them from light and dust, stowed on two upper shelves at the far right. A basket on the lowest shelf is used as a place to put clothing items for donation and windowed boxes covered in tweed, towards the left of the photograph, display folded sweaters for easy access.
Being kind to clothes between seasons and wearings is an investment in their longevity. Use appropriate hangers so that jackets and shirts retain their shape, and stack sweaters from heaviest to lightest. Above left, we see a drawer of clotheskeeping accessories, such as an assortment of cedar inserts (which help keep insects at bay), dried lavender for sachets and a series of lint brushes. Jackets and shirts are kept perpetually dust-free with dust protectors, while woolen scarves and mittens are kept in craft boxes wrapped in acid-free tissue paper until they're ready for use next season. A handy belt hanger keeps belts easily accessible and on display, while garment bags (identified with a digital photograph of the item inside) keeps the clothes protected from blanching light and dust.
His-and-Hers closets are made more interesting by creating an accent wall within using bold-printed wallpaper in different patterns.A teenager's bedroom is outfitted with a veiled workspace, tucked into an area originally reserved for closet space. When not in use, the curtains can be drawn.
This kitchen broom closet was converted into a much more handy workspace. A large calendar on the wall keeps multiple schedules in check while a measuring tape glued to the front of the desk surface makes quick work of measuring. Correspondence is kept streamlined and tidy with a wall-hanging mail sorter and clips hung from a dowel below one of the shelves. Storage boxes keep random supplies in order and a filing cabinet on wheels can be easily tucked under the desk surface along with the stool when it's not in use. It can all be hidden away by an attractive Roman blind that rolls up or down as needed.
I included this photo of Martha's dressing room at her former residence in Connecticut, Turkey Hill, for the sake of nostalgia. I love the large, gilt-edged Federal mirror and the pumpkin pine flooring. Three Colonial doors front her closet space.
Martha also used a closet in the back hallway at Turkey Hill to create an office space, something I found ingenious enough to try myself:
A walk-in-closet in my former apartment was far too large for the small amount of clothing I had at the time. (I'm a minimalist at heart.) I used Martha's idea of fitting an office into a closet by setting up an inexpensive desk from Ikea in the unused closet nook. Books were stored on the hat shelf above and I hung photographs around the space to liven it up.


Maureen said...

It's a good thing you can't see my closet right now - an unorganized mess!

Your blog has given me some inspiration to "try" to get it more organized. Clutter is my middle name ha!

Here's hoping.......


Kenn said...

I can hear you as a small child.. "mummy, I want linen covered boxes that I can label with my P-touch and store my things..." :-) I love organized closets, though reading your post makes me realize I have some work to do!

Carolyn said...

I am in the process of organizing ALL my closets right now! My inner Martha is showing!


Trust me guys, my closets are not magazine-worthy at the moment either. I did this post to get MYSELF inspired as well! And I remember Alexis telling Larry King once that as a teenager she spent a day and a half cleaning out one of Martha's closets, which she said was jam-packed with clutter. So, we're all in good company!

Anonymous said...

Inspired by Martha, as soon as the magazine arrived I sorted out my wardrobes and do believe that they would pass the test from Ms Stewart!

I enjoyed this post very much Andrew - thank you. BTW, is that the mirror (the second to last photo) that Martha showed in her magazine when moving from Turkey Hill?


Hi Pru! Good for you for taking the lead. I'll follow along shortly. I'm not sure if that's the exact same mirror. Martha has a lot of Federal-era gilt mirrors, most of which ended up in the Summer House at her new property in Bedford.

MarthaAndMe said...

I'm doing mine this weekend. I already took the before photo:)

My office is in an extra bedroom and I took the closet doors off and use the extra space for file cabinets, wrapping paper, a safe and storage. I also put cabinets in it.

Content in a Cottage said...

I love small closets converted into offices. I once gave up a walk-in closet for office space. It was great...like a galley kitchen. Wonderful post.

Best, Rosemary

Joseph Patz said...

Blog of pru,
I believe that mirror or one exactly like it is in the hall at skylands.In Martha's September of 2000 issue on page 257 it rests on a wall over the table with two enormous concrete faux bois planters.The mirror in Turkey Hill's dining room is now in the music room in the summer house in Bedford which you can see in Martha's blog post about her 2007 Christmas party for her staff last year.The round acanthus leaf mirror moved to bedford years before she sold turkey hill.Even the real estate listing didn't have it in the photos.It was swapped with a circlar girandole mirror with serpents around the top.It too is in the music room at Bedford.The acanthus leaf mirror is in the green faux bois parlor.I scour the background of the photos!