Okay, I’ll be honest, it wasn’t actually a walk-in closet but rather a bedroom that was being used as a walk-in closet.
Last summer I completed the smallest space of my career, a one bedroom town home that was no more than 300 square feet. To make matters worse, the client was a bit of a shopaholic, having amassed a collection of 60 pairs of shoes, 12 pairs of winter boots, 6 bathrobes and more belts, sweaters and scarves than I’ve ver seen outside of The Gap.
Her only solution (she thought) was to use her small bedroom as a walk-in closet and then sleep on a futon in her living room. She had three portable clothing racks full of clothes and boxes upon boxes upon boxes of boots and shoes stacked against the wall. The two tiny bedroom closets were packed full of everything else.
She had met with a few designers before me and every single one of them told her that the only solution to her tiny bedroom was to blow out the wall and go to an open concept home. I was the only one who emphatically disagreed.
“No one is ever going to pay you $300,000 for a bachelor apartment. Your bedroom HAS to stay a bedroom, but it has to BECOME a bedroom.”
She was completely skeptical but not wanting to tear her place apart, she blindly threw her faith in me and let me give it my best shot.
I asked her to first spend some time de-cluttering, going through all of her clothing and bagging those items that could be donated. After almost a week of what I can only imagine was a very painfull and traumatic experience, she presented me with a garbage bag 1/3 full and told me that that was the best she could do. UGH. Really? I guess the rest was up to me.
The first thing I did was reorganize her furnace room, a closet sized space off the kitchen. I installed two closet rods one above the other at about 3 feet and 6 feet from the floor and moved all of her seasonal and not often worn clothing there.
I then took the two tiny closets in the bedroom and moved both the wire shelves/rods up to about one foot from the top. There is so much wasted height in a closet, space that is rarely utilized effectively. In one closet I installed a second wire shelf/rod so that I could double hang shorter clothing items. In the other closet I installed two shoe cubbies that would hold 30 pairs of shoes. Luckilly she had a lot of sandels and flats and I was able to get three pairs into one cubby. All the boxes were gone.
I then installed a shelf between the two closets over top of what would be the head of the bed and bought four sweater boxes to hold boots, belts, sweaters and anything else that didn’t need to be hung and wasn’t worn all the time.
I wanted to create a feminine bedroom and she loved bright colours so I painted the back wall of the bedroom is a nice soothing shade of blue called Denim Wash. To soften the look, I hung draperies over the window, leaving the blinds for light control.
I found the perfect bed and a couple of side lamps and that was all that the bedroom would hold. No room for dressers or armoirs.
Now, in a very small space you have to get creative and think “outside the box”. Her socks, underwear and garments found a home in the dining room in the sideboard. Yes, I know, it’s a tad creepy, but had she been more effective at de-cluttering, I would have been able to find a different home for them. She and I (and now you) are the only ones who knew the truth about where the under garments were stored.
Oh and here is what the dining room looked like before. It was actually her living room. I opted to stwitch the living and dining areas to give her a larger space for entertaining and turned the tiny dining room into a sitting area. Here you see the futon which used to be her bed.
This was one of the most challenging spaces I’ve done in terms of storage and space planning. A rousing success, my client was completely blown away and could not believe that she actually now had a bedroom and a large dining area.
Think outside the box. Throw away all your pre-conceived notions about where and how things should be stored. In a tiny condo you often have no other choice.
Especially, if you are terrible at de-cluttering, the first rule of living in a small space.