Quick: Which room in your house needs attention the most? Kitchen? Bathroom? Garage?
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Nope. Your closet.
”Foul!” You cry. “That’s not a room!”
“It should be,” said Lisa Adams, founder of LA Closet Design. “The closet is where we spend the first and last moments of our day. “This highly used space needs some respect.”
In short, Adams, whose star-studded client list includes E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic, Kardashian mom Kris Jenner, Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels, singers Carmen Electra and Jewel, and actors Eddie Murphy and Billy Crystal, is telling me that closets need to come out of the closet.
“They’re full of unused potential,” she said.
“Not to mention too many clothes.”
The conversation gets me thinking of my own closet relationships. Every morning I plunge into mine as if diving into the Arctic sea. I emerge what seems like decades later, shaking my head like a wet polar bear saying, “What year is this?” If I’m lucky I’ve snagged a few garments I can cobble into an outfit.
Adams promises it doesn’t have to be that way. “A closet should look and feel like an extension of your home, but closets gets shorted by builders who shove in a rod and a shelf and call it finished.”
“You mean the buck stops at the closet.”
“Closets matter to homebuyers. Make them great and you’ll add instant value.”
I feel compelled to tell Adams about the blue paisley scarf I couldn’t find last week, which drove me to call her. I started pulling out all my scarves — some of us go back 20 years — I tell her. No luck. Then I searched through my T-shirts until I had more clothes on the floor than a sorority house.
“I thought my closet was organized,” I go on, “but every time I leave the clothes throw a party. Tops tango with trousers. Purses do the twist. Belts slither like sugar daddies at the disco. And pretty soon, the blue paisley scarf is in the sock bin, which is where I finally found it.”
Then I had what could only be called a good idea, I say. (This occasionally happens to me, about as often as a president gets inaugurated.) Before I put my clothes back the way I had them, which is what got me into this mess, maybe I could find a better way.
“So I called you,” I tell Adams, who, after listening patiently, offered this life-altering advice: “Turn your closet into a chic boutique — a store with clothes just for you. You should want to go shopping in your closet every day.”
If your closet looks better with the door shut, consider these closet makeover tips from Adams:
Make it pretty. Decorate your closet like a room. Paint it a great color, or add wallpaper. Put in handsome baseboards, crown molding, a great light fixture. “That will enhance not just the space, but your experience of it,” Adams said.
Upgrade the hardware. Change out white painted wooden poles for rods with a metal finish, like polished chrome or satin nickel. Change drawer knobs, shelving and hooks to match.
Have a seat. A little furniture gives the space some dignity. If there’s room, an ottoman, chair or mini sofa is welcome. I use a funky bookcase for my shoes, an idea Adams loves.
Match the hangers. Purge all the dry cleaner hangers, then hang clothes on one kind of hanger: metal, wood, satin, or velvet.
Get the light right. Anyone who has gone to work with one navy and one black sock knows that good closet lighting is essential.
Purse power. A common closet eyesores are the piles of falling-down purses. Adams likes Purse Pillows, padded inserts that hold purses upright and helps them hold their shape. At $24.95 for one medium Purse Pillow, you may want to use something else to give your purse structure.
Manage the madness. Make closet maintenance an ongoing process by dedicating one, lined laundry bin for closet weed outs. “Many people (count me in) pull a garment out that they can’t wear because — it has a stain, snag or tear, or it’s worn out or doesn’t fit — then put it back in the closet. No, no, no. Put it in the weed bin. “If you can’t wear it now, it goes in that liner,” Adams said.
Apply the acid test. When sorting clothes, don’t keep anything you wouldn’t want to be wearing if you ran into your ex-boyfriend (or girlfriend).
Don’t forget the kids. “Many homeowners spend money on the master closet, but drop the ball in the kids’ rooms,” said Adams. “Then they wonder why their kids never put things away.” Have a closet system the kids can reach. It gives kids and parents a running start.
Hang it up. “If I could hang everything, I probably would,” said Adams, except for socks or under things. Visible stacks are her second choice, but drawers are a challenge. “If you can’t see it, you won’t wear it.” If you put clothes in drawers that don’t have glass fronts, fold them so items are vertical and you can see every item. Put clothes back in their place every day. “Get into a pattern, so the mess doesn’t snowball.”
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.