A California Closets Designer Shares Tips and Tricks for Creating Chic Multipurpose Spaces
Having more space isn't always possible in New York City, but you can make the most of your rooms.
As the pandemic has unfolded, many experts have noted the similar requests clients have when looking for their new homes or rethinking their current residences. The most sought-after requirement is more space; whether that be indoor or outdoor. But, of course, it all boils down to how much space is possible for you to have. Especially in places like New York City, this can be limited. The best way to maximize any space and keep organized is to think multipurpose. Combining rooms, such as the mudroom and laundry room, can improve your whole home’s organization and your daily life.
To get expert tips on how to make the most of your spaces with creative solutions, designer Marie Zeek of California Closets is answering all our questions. New Yorkers and urbanites may want to especially take note.
How do you think home design and multipurpose spaces have changed since we entered the COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 kept us in for a very long time, which stopped many of us from living our lives the way we are accustomed to. Many home projects tend to be put on the back burner because we are too busy or money is tight. Being home with so much free time did, however, spark interest for people to start on their prolonged home projects. Some decided to clean out their closets, others to renovate certain rooms in their homes.
People were in great need of home offices, with their kitchen tables not quite making the cut for a dedicated workspace. I have experienced many clients’ need for an office space somewhere in their homes, whether it be in their bedroom, living room, or walk-in closet. Since many were told to work from home indefinitely this past year, people are looking for long as well as short-term alternatives for home offices. I try to keep this in mind when looking at the client’s interests, to create a design that could benefit and grow with their needs over time.
How have you gotten creative recently with implementing the new WFH trend within different areas of the home?
I have had a few clients request a desk connected to a media center or a desk connected to a bookshelf. They are typically looking for something to blend with their space, maximizing their storage is key while also thinking about the functionality of incorporating a workspace. Every client’s needs are unique, some hate the look of their printers being out in the open, needing a pull-out printer tray, especially if it’s within an everyday living space like a family room. While others strive for a seamless design, where the workspace is barely noticeable.
You start seeing the creativity come out when we build an office in a way where you can actually store it away; becoming a hidden nook.
How does California Closets recommend creating multipurpose spaces that feel natural and organized, rather than crowded or busy?
The biggest piece to consider is the amount of space you have in a room and how we’re going to optimize it. Our 3D CAD software allows us to ensure we keep enough walkway space even when doors or drawers are open. This first step allows us to know how much space we are working with.
If I am looking at a space like a garage that usually tends to have a lot of clutter, I like to start by asking what my client’s inventory is like. I will go through what items will they keep, toss, donate, and if those items will be stored in this space or live somewhere else in the home. After those decisions are made, I can gauge how much storage they will be needing, making sure everything will have a home.
I also like to go through some design inspiration to make sure we are keeping their style in mind and cohesive throughout the process. For spaces like garages, I recommend keeping an area that stores a lot of items behind doors and using bins or shelves to categorize it all, creating a less cluttered look. We also offer an amazing rail system from our Tag Collection, that can store bikes, tools, beach chairs and so much more. This way what may usually look cluttered is behind doors and all large items are easy to access.
What multipurpose spaces have you seen New Yorkers creating in their homes or apartments lately? Have any trends emerged?
There have definitely been new design trends emerging during this time, especially with this new demand for versatile spaces.
A great one is the Murphy bed with bookshelves on either side. What used to be a spare room, is now a library as well as guest room when needed. Whenever you are in need of an extra place to sleep, you can easily pull down your wall bed, when you don’t, keep it closed to ensure more room for your daily activities. It is a great way to maximize space while making room for guests to stay over, which tends to be difficult in small New York apartments.
What custom California Closets features, or offerings are most popular in New York City?
Closet accessories tend to be very popular. Accessories help with storage, while staying hidden and neat. For example, we have tie racks and belt racks which are tucked behind folded clothing until you pull them out and have full visibility of them. This allows people to see everything they have without having to unfold anything, open drawers or go digging around for an item.
What are your top tips for New Yorkers who want to enhance the storage potential of a small closet?
Double hanging always comes in handy. I often walk into small closets that just have one long hanging pole, wall to wall. Once we redesign it, I can usually create a double hanging section and add in another unit, either shelving, drawers, or long hanging. As a result, my clients either get double the hanging space with additional shelving or drawers depending on their storage needs. This can allow them to get rid of dressers, which take up a vast amount of space, especially in smaller apartments or bedrooms.
What design elements would most benefit your client when they are looking for a mudroom & laundry room combination?
The top four elements I would recommend for this type of project are:
1. Closed cabinets
The top priority for any client is always storage. I recommend the bulk of your storage be behind closed cabinetry. Closed cabinetry is a great way to hide cluttered items, eliminating your worries about perfect organization. This storage could consist of extra coats, linens, cleaning products, you name it.
Hooks are always a nice addition to break up the look of closed cabinets. This accessory lightens up the space making it breathe and flow better, as well as look clean and uncluttered. Functional as well, you can grab coats, bags, or scarves hung there in an instant each time you come and go.
A must-have within one of these versatile spaces is a bench if you can fit it into your space. Having the option to sit comfortably while putting on your shoes instead of awkwardly trying to put them on while standing, makes running out the door quick and easy. This element is also very age-friendly to all people who may visit your home. Adding a bench offers great storage to store shoes below. But I have to say, my favorite option is adding in drawers for hats, gloves, leashes etc…These items are easily forgotten, but in my experience, are usually the cause for clutter.
For the laundry section of the room, a countertop over the washer and dryer gives you expansive tabletop space to fold your laundry. Above the counter, you can put cabinets to store all your laundering products for easy access. This is usually where I like to add some doors; especially for those of us who do not lead the Instagram-friendly minimalist lifestyle… If you know what I mean. Adding in a hanging pole from the upper cabinets for any wet clothing you may want to hang is always a plus.
In your experience, how can you help optimize a child’s bedroom to be a more transitional space to grow with them over time?
I always recommend building a closet as you would for an adult, but adding an extra hanging pole to allow for triple hanging space. Over time, all you need to do is remove the extra hang pole, and just like that, you have adult hanging heights. This way, you don’t have to redo an entire closet just a few years later.
Two of my favorite accessories to use in a child’s closet are our wire bins, which are great for toy storage, and a garment rod for your little one to learn how to dress themselves and prepare their clothing the night before.
Its name may harken to the West Coast, but California Closets gets New York. Celebrating over 41 years in business, the company is a pioneer in designing home storage solutions in the Greater New York area and providing unparalleled service. From simple to intricate designs, California Closets systems are custom created specifically for you and the way you live.
Don’t let your space limit or overwhelm you, take control with organization and smart multipurpose solutions. Stop by a California Closets showroom, visit californiaclosets.com, or call 914.592.1001 to learn more.