You're going to need a bigger closet.
It's a paradox: Even as we acquire more and more stuff, we want our homes to appear less and less cluttered. Today's stylish houses are sleek and spare, their counters and other surfaces uncluttered and unencumbered. Our houses may be packed with belongings—but we'd rather you not see them.
The home-building and remodeling industries are meeting this need with bigger cabinets, spacious mudrooms, butler pantries and well-appointed laundry centers. “Within the last couple of years we've redesigned all our models,” says Andy Gottesman, an internet sales associate for the builder M/I Homes. “I think they all have generous pantries.” Walk-in pantries, that is, with dedicated spots for bulky stand-up mixers and crock pots and low shelving where kids can reach their snacks.
Kathy Morgan, owner of Organized Home Remodeling and Buckeye Custom Cabinets and Closets, specializes in helping customers create places to put things away. “When you have a lot of stuff sitting around physically, it's emotionally draining,” she says. “It feels heavy. When you walk into a clean, clear, organized space, it's easier to breathe.”
Morgan, a former designer with California Closets, started the two businesses with partner Jeff Reasinger six years ago. Today the two companies do about $1.5 million in sales. Morgan has studied the problem of storage from every angle, learning how to make hideaway storage spaces people will use. She's even invented a “self-drying cabinet” where hand washables can be hung to dry and still be hidden.
She recently designed and installed a 700-square-foot closet for a client in Westerville. Built in a space over a bonus room that had formerly been used for rough storage, the interior closet renovation cost $30,000. With 6-foot-tall jewelry pullouts, his-and-hers granite-topped islands filled with drawers, a sauna in the corner and rows and rows of hanging space, the closet resembles a small boutique.
The homeowner is delighted. With a life that includes many roles—executive, mother, grandmother, hostess, volunteer—she requires multiple wardrobes, she says. “I don't believe you can have too many clothes.” A vacation condo in Florida places a premium on year-round access to clothes for all seasons. Being able to see all her clothes at once allows her to choose an outfit quickly.
Yet what she loves most about the closet is what it hides. “My husband's not always nice and neat,” she says, so he got shelves with doors to hide the jumble. In the end, says Morgan, the benefit of having a place to put everything is that it prevents you from acquiring more. A well-organized closet, she says, “creates a natural limit. Once those shelves are full, your eye looks at it and tells your brain, 'There's no more room.'”