San Francisco Examiner – Friday, March 8, 2002
|Excerpted from The San Francisco Examiner
March 8, 2002
With clutter up, new solution is to display, not hide it
by June Fletcher
Like many Americans, this winter Page Owen has been cocooning with the kids: buying board games, toy cars and plastic building blocks. By January, “there was Lego everywhere,” he says. So the Stonington, Conn., botanist made one more purchase: a 10-foot-tall, $40,000 custom-designed storage unit for the library.
These days, when it comes to storage, Americans are letting it all hang out, The country’s stay-at-home mood has sales rising for everything from DVDs to hobby gear, but closets are already stuffed. To deal with the overflow, homeowners are hiring professional ‘organizers” and buying storage systems at a near-record pace.
Sales at one national storage chain were up 10 percent in December, despite the economy. And, the latest solution to hiding clutter is not to hide it at all. More and more, the stuff that was once shoved into drawers, from art supplies to underwear, is being put out on display. Says Arlington, Va., interior designer Michael Roberson, “Closets are coming out of the closet.” The result: Across the country, sales are booming in things like the Container Store’s $249 flip-door bookcase which lets you switch between revealing and concealing the stuff on your shelves.
The recently launched Martha Stewart Keeping collection for K-Mart has 300 separate items including a see-through vinyl closet. Then there’s the family Convergence Center, a 20-foot long wall system that includes a media center, craft table, two computer stations and nearly 30 cubbyholes. The maker calls it the “Swiss Army knife” of storage. Price $5000 to a hefty $45,000 depending on the materials and finishes.
In New York, architect Ronnette Riley’s clients are so reluctant to send anything to the basement that she’s designed a number of fake “hallways” this winter by building a new wall with built-in bookcases a few feet from the existing wall. The hallway goes nowhere, of course, but it creates lots of shelf space. Isn’t that dark? Yes, says Riley, but her client would “rather not have sunlight” than have their things where they can’t be seen. They’re hardly alone. These days, says Rachel Shelton of the Closet Factory, an L.A. retailer, There’s less hiding away of both storage systems and what you store.”
Indeed, some people may be taking the trend a little too far. Carol Tanzi , a Burlingame, CA interior designer had one client convert a lingerie closet into a tiny guest room. Where’d all her underthings go? The living room where they were put into decorative boxes.
Ms. Roberson, the Virginia designer, was asked to put so much storage and display space in one child’s room, that there was no room for the bed. She had to downsize the mattress, from a double to a custom three-quarter size.
This article also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2002