Thursday, June 5, 2014

The "Handbag Closet" Makeover

I've managed to collect quite a few handbags over the years, but my closet space is limited.  It's fortunate that my apartment has several spacious closets (one of the reasons I rented it), but still not enough for someone with handbags that multiply like rabbits, so I'm always looking for ways to maximize the space I have. However, since I don't own my apartment I can't make any structural changes, like knocking down walls, nor do I want to invest a lot in making improvements I can't take with me if I move.  So, when I have a space constraint and need to reorganize I turn to simple solutions and end up buying inexpensive storage boxes and shelves at places like The Container Store and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

A couple of years ago I decided that I needed a better storage system for my handbags because they were piled on top of one another in organized disorder in my "handbag closet."  (The handbag closet is where I keep my winter clothes and my handbags; sadly I can not devote an entire closet to handbags, but perhaps one day.)  I knew where everything was, but I ended up mostly using the bags at the top of the pile because they were the most accessible. I don't have the time for an archaeological scale excavation as I'm running out the door so digging through layers of bags is just not an option.  I bought pretty storage boxes from The Container Store,  however, I then had to stack the boxes, which meant digging and a hernia if I wanted the bags at the bottom, so that wasn't working too well either.  I do want to point out that I stuff all of my bags with small pillows to keep their shape.  Good for the bags, but plump bags take up even more space.

Storage box with bags inside

These were piled on top of each other inside my closet

Mini pillow from Pottery Barn Kids for stuffing a bag

A couple of weeks ago I realized it was time for a permanent solution for bag storage and I have to have easy access to all the bags and a clear view of all the bags so when I open the closet all of my options are right in front of me and I can just grab one bag and dash.  I got the idea that stacking shelves might do the trick and I found what I was looking for at, once again, The Container Store.

Four stacking shelves

Then, of course, came the not so fun part of removing everything from the floor of the closet which included a lot more than just bags.  I also decided I needed a better system for storing extra hangers and a small stepladder.  I was fortunate to have two helpers to assist me.

Dusty guarding my handbags in the hallway while I clean the closet

Misty sitting on top of the old Hermes box that housed my spare hangers

New triangular shaped storage bag for hangers!

Every closet needs a folding step ladder, even if it's just this one step from Duane Reade

Once I got everything out of the closet I put the stacking shelves in.  Although I took closet measurements before buying the shelves I had forgotten about the ancient floor to ceiling telephone wires that run through one corner of my closet.  I don't even know if they are in use anymore, but I can't move them so I had to place one stack of the shelves slightly more forward than the other.  I used the space behind to store long rolls of wrapping paper.

I can see the floor again!

First level of stacking shelves

The four shelves stacked and ready for my bags

Aside from the pillows in my bags to keep their shape, I like to keep my handbags in the cloth bags they come with when I buy them.  I call them dust bags.  If I had a big house with room for a huge custom built closet I would have built in shelves with glass doors so no dust (or cats) could get on the bags.  Even though I can't see all of the handbags themselves because of the dust bags I know which is which and they are so much more accessible now.  Here are the dramatic before and after photos....

The ultra embarrassing before shot

The organized after shot

My new system is working great.  I have already used several bags that I rarely ever carried before the closet makeover, because they were in the back of the closet, on the bottom of the handbag pile.  Now I'm like a kid in a candy bag store every time I open the closet.  I feel like I have lots of new bags now that I can see them all, and shopping my closet has financial benefits as well.  My only question is why did I wait so long to do this?

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