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January 01, 2015

Criminal organization

Cluttered closets can be a crime, so put a stylish spin to organization

David Crosson

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As we are all painfully aware, it’s January. And with January comes resolutions — along with the attendant angst. Some resolutions, such as being more organized, are easier to keep than others — quitting smoking, for example — and since I’m a decorator and not a miracle worker I’m going to focus on the former rather than the latter. A great place to start when it comes to organizing your life is the closet. Now, one could argue that I don’t know much about the insides of closets but I actually do — I happen to have several in my home and they’ve been an excellent source of information and inspiration.

Years ago there were very few options available when it came to closet organization, and what was available started with cheap and ugly and ended with expensive and lavish. The gulf between the two was enormous. Fortunately, things have changed dramatically in this sphere and supply not only serves demand but personal taste as well.

I’m a big fan of colour but realize that not everyone shares this passion. If you’re hue-phobic but looking to strike out and try something bold and new, a closet is a great place to start. Given that it’s behind closed doors, this space offers closeted colourphiles an opportunity to experiment in a way that can remain a flirty little secret, if you so choose, while providing a respite from beige, beige and more beige.

For a real kick, try painting the inside of yours a deep persimmon orange, a rakish teal or even a delicate shell pink reminiscent of a ballet slipper. Just bear in mind that if you do indulge in something bright and/or saturated, the wall colour will likely reflect back onto your clothes so make sure you pull proposed outfits out into a more neutral and well-lit space before actually getting dressed. A jolt of colour is only the start, however, as you can’t store a suit or hang a blouse in or on a perfect shade of peacock blue. If that were possible I’d be a closet wizard. No, great closets rely on more pedestrian things such as organization systems to make them (and, as a result, you) truly exceptional.

In the war against clutter, The Container Store ( is a great resource for sensible storage solutions and, better still, ships their wares to Canada for click-commerce convenience. Whether you have a reach-in closet with sliding doors, a walk-in wonderland or something in-between, the Elfa line they carry has a system designed just for you. Or, better still, one that you can design for yourself. They even offer freestanding options if you have concerns about structural stability or can’t bring yourself to drill holes in your freshly painted walls. Not only does the Container Store boast a number of infinitely configurable models to help you corral unruly garments and accessories, they also have smaller items designed to keep mess at a minimum.

One product I love is their drop-front linen boxes. Slimly proportioned, stackable and stylish, this line offers peek-a-boo treasure chests for everything from sweaters and shirts to shoes and random accessories. The various sizes are offered in a fetching neutral finish that will complement any closet décor even beige, if you are so inclined.

Other good options for organization found locally include the customizable Configurations system from Rubbermaid (available through such big box stores as Wal-Mart and Home Depot) and a plethora of products from IKEA. I swear by their Svira hanging storage cubbies for making use of vertical space and am also a giant fan of their Pax wardrobes, which offer myriad options on the inside and a decent selection of door styles on the outside. If you have room, installing a series of Pax units cheek-by-jowl in a walk-in closet is the ultimate in affordable luxury and clutter-conquering.

Finally, not to sound like Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest, but don’t get me started on wire hangers! Sure, they’re fine for transporting things from the dry cleaners but so are the flimsy plastic bags they put over your order. And you don’t keep those, do you? Once you get home, ditch those metal menaces in a bin (so you can take them back the next time you drop off cleaning) and put your garments on proper hangers: wooden, padded fabric or even plastic ones if they’re beefy enough. Your cleaner will thank you, your clothes will thank you and, honestly, so will I...

As you know, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting organized but if the momentum carries you there’s no telling what you’ll accomplish in the new year. Besides, it’s not like you’re going to want to spend a lot of time outside in the coming weeks and months, are you? Happy purging!

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