Bedroom storage solutions your closet can handle

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | November 21, 2013

Riddle: When is a bedroom closet big enough?

Answer: Never, unless you change the way you think about what you put in it

Professional organizer Kat Reichmuth founded, owns, and operates The Simplified Life, a complete home organization service in Burlingame, Calif., that solves clients' clutter problems. In the six years she's been in business she's organized bedroom closets large and small, in mansions and in mobile homes. Her philosophy about creating storage is simple:

"The moment you pare down your stuff to what you actually use in an average week or month is the moment you realize you don't need much in the way of corralling it."

She puts it this way on her website: "Have you ever had the chance to live in or at least look inside a house built in the 1950s or before? Did you notice the small closets?...In this age of McMansions, walk-in closets, and storage spaces to keep all the stuff you have but don't use, wouldn't it be nice to derive joy from every single item you own?"

Use it or lose it: storage problem solved?

Kat's first line of attack on bedroom clutter is to help clients decide what stays and what goes. Once the bedroom closet has been cleaned out, she works with them to find storage solutions for only the things that they use regularly. A favorite solution of hers is stacking bins on the shelf above the hanging rod to make the most effective use of large, often wasted space from the shelf to the ceiling. Things she recommends storing up there? Off-season clothing, kids' clothes they haven't grown into yet, seasonal bed linens, and even tax records.

Sometimes storage solutions are already in place -- they are just misused. Kat recommends going through your bedside night table and removing anything you don't use every night. Leave only things like lip balm, ear plugs and the TV remote. Her favorite tips to create a peaceful, organized bedroom? Recycle the stacks of magazines by the bed. Use matching hangers in the closet -- "nothing makes a closet look better." And finally, "Remove everything that isn't clothing or bedding."

Elegant movable bedroom storage

Sometimes it's the bedding that is exactly what needs storing -- bulky comforters, extra sheets and pillows, throw pillows, and quilts all take up a lot of space, and what if your closets actually are the tiny, 1950s' variety?

Interior designer Pamela Farnsworth Smith of Avallon Design in Lincoln, Calif. likes to use a storage bench ottoman in the bedroom as an easy solution to "…hide blankets, pillows and sometimes even grandchildren's toys." The ottomans come in a variety of sizes and coverings, both fabric and leather. She favors the ones that are fully upholstered from the lid to the floor. They can also double as light-duty seating.

Remodeling to create bedroom storage solutions

Many of Pamela's clients have the budget for remodeling, and her favorite bedroom storage solution for them is a bench with concealed storage, built into a bay or square recessed window niche. You can have it constructed to access storage one of three ways:

  • with roll-out drawers below
  • with a sturdy lid that opens from the top
  • with shelves below, either open or behind doors

The addition of pillows and a removable seat cushion on top can create a bedroom focal point, not to mention a very "cozy seating area," Pamela says.

For those who cannot bear to part with a single pair of shoes or box of unused sweaters, there are a growing number of professional closet companies that can add organizing elements like these:

  • Clothes drawers
  • Jewelry drawers
  • Shoe cubbies
  • Sweater shelves
  • Double hang poles
  • A long-hang pole area

You can also find DIY closet organization systems at big box home improvement stores and online at retailers who specialize in products to organize the home:

  • The Home Depot features Martha Stewart Living and ClosetMaid systems.
  • The Container Store carries the durable, modular Elfa-brand shelving and drawer system.
  • IKEA's Algot system is fully customizable with baskets, drawers, shelving, and shoe organizers.

Kat, however, is adamant about the need to first and foremost jettison what you don't use.

"I wish I could come right out and tell clients to get rid of half of their current wardrobe. On average they only wear 20 percent of it anyway," she says. "That one thing would solve most problems."

But whether you want to donate what you're not using or add the storage to keep it on hand, you can have space for everything.

About the Author

Iris Price is a single Baby Boomer whose antidote to a lack of retirement funds was to launch a long-delayed career as a writer. While others her age concoct bucket lists and travel the world, she bought a new-construction home and obsessively creates lists of must-have home improvements and personal realization goals. She specializes in writing about home services and self-motivation.