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Local designers share tips on organizing storage space 

How to keep a clutch closet

Consider portable storage options that double as home decor items — woven baskets on open shelves, drawers underneath beds and deep canvas bags that are great for storing just about anything, from plush blankets to squeaky dog toys.

  When it comes to sorting jewelry, Curtis Herring installs pegboards on the back of cabinet or closet doors, and hooks earrings and necklaces onto tiny rods so clients don't have to dig for them.

  "You want to hang all of those chains, so that they don't get tangled," he says.

It's a common scenario with countless variations. You're rushing to get ready for work, searching the closet for something to wear. Your go-to blouse is hiding between heavy winter coats; the delicate chain of your favorite necklace is tangled; and that matching silver sandal is buried under a dusty pile of shoes in the back of your closet. You switch on your phone's flashlight in a futile attempt to find the shoe. You finally throw together an outfit. Now ... where are those keys?

  While a good spring cleaning is one cathartic way to fix this problem, sometimes all that's needed is a better storage system. Two local designers share advice for creating an attractive, clutter-free space, whether that means splurging on a swoon-worthy custom closet or learning a few DIY organization tricks.

  Curtis Herring, owner of Curtis Herring Interior Design, specializes in "everything" from lighting to furniture placement. He believes that optimal organization simply "makes your life easier and your room tidier. It improves your quality of life."

  Herring creates storage space wherever he can, whether it's in a closet or a piece of furniture that does double duty, like an ottoman that opens like a chest.

  "You can never have enough storage," he says, and offers the following advice for generating space in the different rooms of the house.

Install spice racks inside kitchen cabinet doors and add shelves inside the pantry. Durable plastic bins are best for storing clothes in the attic.

For children's rooms, add furniture containing built-in storage, along with accessible, open shelves lined with containers for holding small items like plastic Legos. Kids' closets should be equipped with low, easy-to-reach clothing rods and other features that can be updated as the child grows.

Dresser drawers in adult bedrooms should have compartments or cubbies to organize socks, belts and silk ties (neatly rolled, of course).

Showcase your shoe collection on closet shelves and make space by facing the shoes in alternating directions. Folks who live in a house with high closet ceilings should consider pull-down hanging rods. "You need to be able to utilize the space," Herring says. "Take advantage of the entire area as best as you can."

If space is still hard to come by after following these storage solutions, it may be time to purge. Toss anything that hasn't been worn in a while, like those toe-pinching stilettos and that shirt with the red wine stain.   "If you don't use something in a year, get rid of it," Herring says, adding that a three-year rule applies to coats and cold-weather items, because "we (don't) even have winter."

  Creating or enhancing a large storage system is another option.

  Lynell Dow and her husband own the Louisiana franchise of California Closets, including the showroom on Causeway Boulevard. Like Herring, Dow believes closet functionality and maximizing space are key.

  "We consider ourselves experts in the field of taking an area and utilizing every inch of it," Dow says.

  For many customers, aesthetics is equally important.

  "If they have a beautiful home that they take a lot of pride in, they will want a closet to match the decor," she says.

  California Closets can build storage with a variety of finishes, hardware, accessories and lighting options.

  "We can actually do lighting on the poles where the clothes hang," Dow says.

  Other special features include tie racks and scarf rods, dressers with a deep drawer for sweaters and sectional pieces that can be arranged inside drawers to separate small items. Pullout valet rods can hold an outfit that's been prepared for the next day, so garments don't get wrinkled.

  "It makes everything nice and convenient," Dow says.

  Storage options go beyond walk-in closets.

  "We do just about any type of storage system that you can think of," she says, including constructing reach-in closets, wardrobes, entertainment centers and libraries, along with options for laundry rooms and garages.

  During a free in-home consultation, a designer measures the storage space, gets an idea of what the client wants and needs and discusses the budget.

  "A lot of customers will depend on our designers for everything," Dow says. "On the other hand, we have customers that have more of their own ideas."

  Designers at California Closets can develop those ideas using 3-D software that allows the customer to visualize the finished product.

  Improving or increasing storage efficiency can make changes both big and small in a client's home and, perhaps, that person's life, Dow says.

  "Everybody is so busy these days that people want less stress and better time management," she says, "so, when you have a great organization system, it saves you so much time when you're getting ready for work or getting your kids up in the morning. You know where everything is [and] everything has its place."

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