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Milwaukee/NARI Members Reveal Methods for Maximizing Space and Storage in Various Areas of Your Home

Jan. 15, 2014

Finding the best way to maximize space and storage in a home requires planning and creativity according to members of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for 52 years. Members say talking with a client about their vision for how a space would be utilized is the first step to improving the situation.

“When I first meet with a client, I ask them ‘what bothers you about your home’ and through their answer to that question, I understand what category the project falls under,” said David Kittleson of Closet Concepts, LCC in Wauwatosa. “Most homeowners are concerned with one of two problems – they suffer from a lack of space or disorganization.”

“Standing in front of the master closet, I try to find out how the space is used and that tells me about a person’s habits,” said Kittleson. “After a certain age, we just aren’t going to change who we are, so I try to organize a space to make things easier for the way people do things. At 6 a.m. Monday morning as you get ready for work, you aren’t thinking, you are doing. For this reason, the closet needs to function in a way that fits the homeowner.”

“Different families have different needs when it comes to a space like a kitchen pantry,” said Kittleson. “If you have young children and are busy working with them on school projects and taking them to sporting events, you need to organize a pantry so you can quickly see what’s there and what’s not there to make a quick list for the grocery store. On the other hand, if you are a person that likes to cook, you may organize based on meal planning. An enthusiastic chef might view the space as a pallette for displaying ingredients.”

Some spaces have multiple purposes, so it is even more important to find a way to organize to meet the needs of various functions. “Back hall mudrooms become chaotic when the family drops shoes, school books, and sporting equipment there. Small tables and lockers can be installed to de-clutter,” said Kittleson. “One way to add space is to be able to quickly convert it when needed. For example a home office or craft room can transition quickly to a guest room with the addition of a murphy bed that can be folded away when not in use.”

“The garage is another area with space and organizational challenges. How you address them is based on how the homeowner uses the space,” said Kittleson. “Some people are very active garage users and they need to be able to access tools and other items quickly and easily. Others see the garage as a large long-term storage area and want to build cabinets along the entire wall.”

“The first step in organizing your home to create more space is to de-clutter and that can be accomplished by prioritizing your possessions,” said Brenden McDaniel of Action Organizing Services, LCC in Milwaukee. “The strategy I suggest is to lay out three boxes in each room: Stranger – for items that you would like to donate or throw out. People hesitate to let go because they want to make sure what they give up goes to someone in need; Best Friends – things that make you feel good and want to keep; Acquaintance – belongings that you want to save, but don’t interact with every day.”

“One problem people run into when deciding to organize their home is the desire to do everything all in one day or one weekend,” said McDaniel. “My advice would be to make changes in small increments. Break the projects up into 20 to 30 minute chunks, take a break and return to the project later for a set amount of time. Like dieting, you should do a little each day and reward yourself.”

“If not enough storage space is available, there are creative ways to make new space. For example, you can design a stool that fits into the island in the kitchen to save space until it’s needed. Below the sink in your kitchen there is a false drawer that can be converted into an actual drawer for storing items,” said McDaniel. “Under bathroom sinks, you can also build in shelves that slide out with baskets for storage that make access easier for older people to reach without bending down.”

“Some people are very visually oriented, so when it comes to storage, out of site is out of mind. That’s why it is important to use storage space like the back of the closet or under the bed for seasonal items that you don’t need immediate access to,” said McDaniel. “Clear plastic bins are best because they allow you to see items in storage. You could also create what I call a sentimental bin for things you save such as home made items from children that you can look at yearly as they grow or keep letters in binders with plastic that you can easily access.”

“I also recommend creative solutions for closets beyond the traditional single rod for hanging clothes,” said McDaniel. “Dual layer rods or shelves for plastic bins help to maximize space in a usable way.”

Additional TIPS on Maximizing Space from Milwaukee/NARI:

• When installing shelving, utilize all the space from floor to ceiling.
• Consider non traditional storage areas such as adding shelves above your bathroom toilet.
• Mirrors on the wall and a glass coffee table can create the illusion of more space.
• Finding hidden storage areas behind furniture or under end tables helps open up a room.
• Finished basements provide additional space for hand-crafted cabinets for storage.
• Adding an island to a laundry room provides space to fold clothes with storage area underneath.

For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI's Remodeling Guide,” call 414- 771-4071 or visit the Council’s website at www.milwaukeenari.org.

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