When we bought the house one of our major concerns was storage – the closets were “vintage” and “adorable”. But not everything original needs to remain in your house if it’s not going to work best for your lives or say, ruin your marriage. Most of our friends were like ‘YOU CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS, IT WILL RUIN YOU MARRIAGE’ but we said ‘Hold up. We just need to purge and invest in good organizational systems’.
So as we renovated we did what we could to make them inches larger but there really was no room to make a walk-in closet or add additional closets. So we enlisted California Closets and Chloe O’Keefe, one of their designers to help consult, draw, build and install our custom shelving for our closets, to really make the most out of our space and come up with some clever storage solutions that work best for each of our closets.
There’s us, laughing at the fact that we have a 1 1/2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old. IT’S HILARIOUS.
As a reminder, here is what the upstairs looked like before we renovated.
The rooms are not huge so adding a walk-in really wasn’t an option. We made the bathroom smaller and added a few feet of closet space in our master which really was worth it since we were renovating anyway.
Then we added a normal wall closet for Charlie and a psuedo walk-in for Birdie.
Let’s start with the master. My best friend (who has been closet deprived for a few years) said this was a deal breaker to her – that the closet situation in this house would have made her pass on it (and perhaps did make a lot of people turned off) but there is no perfect house and we have a lovely yard in a lovely neighborhood in a house full of light and charm. We could compromise on closet space due to everything else that we were checking off of our lists when it came to a new home and downsize what we hoarded and maximize the closets.
We purged 70% of our clothes, and we keep all our special occasion clothes (suits/cocktail dresses/snow clothes) in a covered rolling rack in the garage. But regardless, that little lady above was not going to work for two grownups. Brian has no idea how lucky he is to have a wife that isn’t a clothes horse – he thinks I’m a ‘shoe’ person when I literally have maybe 12 pairs of shoes at a time and I wear them til they fall apart and typically replace. Living in LA certainly helps where you can wear mostly the same shoes year round – also as one reader pointed out last week I do have a bunion so I’m not exactly squeezing these feet into pair after pair of sexy summer strappy sandals. Regardless, though, it was just a bar with no system or shelving so it was going to be a challenge.
As you saw above we stole from the rather large bathroom (once shared by four people, now only 2) to add about 2 feet to the closet. It made a MASSIVE difference:
At first we were going to have double doors but we realized that we would probably want more wall space both inside the closet and in the room. We THOUGHT that the bed was going to go on the right wall and then we’d need a dresser on that wall, but of course we ended up putting the bed on the window wall (which is actually GREAT).
So we had them make the opening smaller. Now I KNOW what you are thinking – why not a pocket door??? And for the life of me I don’t remember why we didn’t. We wanted to and discussed it. And I know that we couldn’t do it on the right because of plumbing, and on the left we would have had to re-route the electricity. I also think there was a thing about the height because the ceiling was low and the doorway was going to be lower so we were going to have to get something custom, but HONESTLY I don’t know if there was a good enough reason to not get a pocket door. It could have been because they already framed for regular doors so they were going to have to reframe again and I was over it. I remember that day where we went through deciding which vintage doors we could use, which could be moved somewhere else and which we would need to custom make and install (and which we didn’t care about because they weren’t noticeable). I remember just being done making decisions and didn’t want them to have to reframe and add on the expense.
That was me, pre-closet design. Looking super perplexed at what I was going to do with that pile of clothes that had just fell from the tension rod.
In retrospect I wish that I had put in a pocket and custom made something that replicated the original – with vertical wood slats. But honestly, I don’t really care nor mind the pretty curtain. It’s not a big deal and I may still dress it up to be prettier. You know there are some things worth your time/money and some that aren’t. I’m sure for resale a pocket would be better but we don’t plan on selling this house ever so who cares???
When we were debating buying the house we said if we do this, we are investing in a professional to maximize the closets. Our life is too chaotic and we are too messy to not have tools, created by people who are actually professionals at organizing closets.
Here’s the process – one of their designers comes to you and basically consults with you on want you want/need and of course takes measurements. You don’t need to necessarily choose the finishes that day, but you get one on one attention, and all your questions are answered.
The care they took in making sure that the function was maximized was so impressive. If you think you can do this on your own, then call me because I HAVE WORK FOR YOU. This stuff isn’t easy.
Chloe was honestly amazing. She took everything into consideration – long hanging versus short, and even height of them making sure that mine weren’t too high but giving Brian even higher ones so that he had room to put some sweaters on the shelf. She gave us belt and tie hanging options, and of course drawers. If your closets are bigger you have way more options for tricking them out, but due to our smaller space we were limited.
After 8 weeks California Closets installed them and it all changed.
It doesn’t look sexy, but it means a lot to us. So we filled it with clothes and styled it out.
Oh how it’s made a difference. It’s still not a big closet, but it’s maximized to its fullest extent.
Those rectangular baskets are from Target, and the striped lidded ones below are from Container Store (which by the way I LOVE and have hidden all over my houses inside other cabinets and cupboards for storage).
I only wear brown or nude/brown/taupe or millennial blush shoes, apparently. And the lamp is great when I need to find something late at night or early in the morning and don’t want to turn all the lights on.
It has a jewelry drawer which is the fanciest thing that I ever thought I would own. Seriously.
It’s hard to shoot because it’s such a tight space, but trust me that life is easier now (as you can imagine). Master bedroom closet? CHECK.
On to little Bird’s room.
As you might remember she had a closet but it all had to be changed to put in a jack and jill bathroom.
We stole space from her room to create her bathroom and closet.
The closet is on the left and bathroom on the right.
Chloe came, measured and sent through her recommendations. Her closet wasn’t as small as ours or Charlie’s so there is more room for more storage.
I loved what they pulled together and signed off immediately. 6-8 weeks later they installed this:
We plan on staying in this house for 10 years and this closet was very tricky. We are very lucky that we were able to organize it to be the most functional early on.
That lucky little toddler.
Back to the closet which is amazing and while I’m sure it’s spoiling them in a way, they aren’t brushed in 14 carrot gold and they are both very helpful when it comes to cleaning up.
Those pull-out drawers are TWO THUMBS UP.
The mint striped bins are from Target, the spotted circular bins are from Ikea, the wicker basket on the floor is Target (though no longer available), and those pretty pink little hangers are from Container Store.
Her tutu drawer, obviously. Let’s be honest she has 2 that she NEVER wears that I obviously bought to fulfill some sort of adorable fantasy. Moms do this and it’s weird. She has worn it twice and mostly because I heavily suggested it.
Next is Charlie’s closet. Let’s recap:
When we bought the house they had these really beautiful original closets. Did I feel bad about getting rid of them? YES. OBVIOUSLY. But they were pull out closets that housed like 10 shirts. Function trumps “vintage house adorableness’ at a certain point.
That area was turned into a bathroom, but the area on the right became a small closet. Chloe gave us some options, and we chose the second one:
We loved it, signed off and it was installed:
Nothing too fancy, as the tight space does’t permit it, but maximized for a child-to-tween years.
He can reach his pull ups, socks and underwear. As of right now the rest of the bins are actually empty but I’m sure that we’ll fill those with whatever he is interested as he gets older. The blue and gray striped bins, woven blue baskets, and gray rope baskets are all from Target.
A huge thanks to California Closets for working with us on our closets. Our designer, Chloe O’Keefe was so wonderful to work with and if you live in LA I highly recommend her. She was so thorough, fast and the installers were so careful, respectful and thorough as well. It is an investment which adds up to be a lot, but it’s not over priced. The amount of design time, materials and installation time certainly added up. The master closet cost $4750, Elliot’s $2245, and Charlie’s was $1290. They gave us a very good discount for the blog. If I weren’t getting a discount I would still have done our closet and the laundry room because the investment would have been worth the amount of life change that it brought to us. But probably put off Elliot’s and Charlie’s for a while. As a designer I know the value of custom design work, so while it’s a lot of money, it’s also a great value.
Thanks to California Closets for truly making me feel less insane by reducing the chaos in our house. I’m such a happier person when things are organized and not doing our master, specifically wasn’t an option. We have now labeled every single shelf and drawer (my favorite weekend task) and despite our storage remaining tight, it’s plenty for us because it’s well designed to be maximized. Sure, I’ll need to purge every few months, but it definitely keeps our consumption down and our smiles up.
*Another note is that their product is made from composite wood, which consists of recycled and/or reclaimed wood fiber. Using recycled material assists with diverting waste from our landfills and helps to preserve our natural resources. All of their board is CARB Phase 2 compliant. CARB (California Air Resource Board) is also the commonly used name to reference the California law, which consists of some of the most rigorous regulations for formaldehyde emission standards. I know that sounded boring but it’s a VERY good thing and something I love about the company.
***Photos by Tessa Neustadt