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Condo Scene: A closet system is key to making the most of limited space


men's closet

If you have the room in your closet, an ottoman or bench is helpful. And consider doors on shelves to keep dust down and hide messiness.

You can’t beat a great closet design, where function and beauty coexist. Whether or not moving into your new condo means downsizing, you will want to work with the limited storage space it offers by optimizing the organization of your closets.

Your guest is as good as mine

It’s highly unlikely your condo has a mud room, so you must hang a guest’s coat alongside your own. In winter, your foyer coat closet requires long hanging space for coats, but during the rest of the year, this becomes wasted space. Fortunately, companies like California Closets offer adjustable inserts so you can change the layout of your closet with the seasons.

Walk-in and stay a while

When it comes to walk-ins, the ideal setup is having separate closet space for each partner to decrease traffic during peak dressing times. Spatial and financial restraints may not make this possible, so this is as good a time as any to learn to share.

The layout of your walk-in should adapt to your lifestyle. If you have a propensity for accessories, you may want to display your sunglasses, earrings and statement necklaces. Two major things to consider are whether or not you want a centre island and whether your shelves should have doors.

The benefit of a centre island, assuming you have the room, is that it adds additional storage space. Socks, underwear, jewelry and other accessories all find good homes in your centre island. And the way you design the island can alter your space dramatically. A glass countertop let’s you view accessories in the top shelves. Alternatively, wood, marble and granite all make excellent countertops, depending on the look you seek.

wooden drawer

If you have room for an island, it’ll give you even more storage space.

Opinions differ on the height of centre islands. While I like mine higher than average for extra storage, others think the height should be restricted so you can enjoy the fashion beyond your island.

The argument for shelf doors lies in the fact that they minimize dust. And if you’re not the neatest of people, doors can conceal less than organized shelves. If you share the space with a spouse, this can keep tensions low within the closet.

Lianne Levy, owner of California Closets in Westboro, has excellent advice on how to design a closet that reflects your personality and showcases your things.

“(The) ultimate trend in luxury closets is to get everything in the closet so that you can get dressed from one area,” says Levy, who insists that your bedroom remain a space of leisure and relaxation, rather than storage. Because closets “have become a place of fashion and elegance,” it is important to think of a closet as an extension of the decor, she says.

Current closet trends are exciting. They involve texture and high-gloss finishes. Leather shelves of varying thicknesses, 3-D etched glass, back painted glass and Parapan (a high-gloss finish in wonderful colours) are all the rage and Levy loves them. These materials can be applied to drawer faces, countertops and cabinets. Another unique countertop idea is installing leather with a thick piece of glass atop it.

all-white closet showcases

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump’s all-white closet showcases the beautiful things in it, instead of the room itself.

As for colour, neutrals are most popular in closets, but including bursts of colour can be a fun way of imprinting your own personality on the space. Personally, I am a huge fan of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump’s all-white closet, which showcases the beautiful things in it, instead of the room itself.

Whatever design you opt for, don’t forget walk-in seating so you can slip on socks, sandals, pumps, mules — and everything in between — comfortably. A great tufted ottoman may be just the thing.

While Levy advises that “the smaller the closet, the more important great, functional design becomes,” it’s best to aim for that every time.

From one bulb to another

ceiling lights

Up the glam with a glitzy light fixture.

When installing lighting, consider glitzy fixtures to up your glam quotient. Fixtures dripping with crystal are perfect for over-counter lighting, but Levy also has ideas for unique and romantic lighting. Uplighting against shelves and backlighting shelves containing shoes, boots and purses are fabulous ideas. Levy calls this “lighting a closet in layers.”

Whether you are a fashion fanatic or an outfit repeater, designing your condo’s closet space will take some consideration. One of the most important upgrades you could make in a condo of any size is investing in a closet system. Because of the limited space in a condo, well-planned closets will enhance your condo lifestyle and serve you well for resale down the road.

Marilyn Wilson has been selling real estate for more than 25 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Christie’s International Real Estate. Reach her through

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