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An Ataxophobic Comes Out of the Closet

Organizing homes is big business for California Closets

I have taken to telling people that I am a closet ataxophobic.

They look at me with large, pitiful eyes. Leaning into me, in a whispered tone, they will try to comfort me by saying something like, “you really shouldn’t be ashamed of your condition; stand proud and be secretive no longer. You can be the face of ataxophobia.”

At that point, I confess that my malady is quite harmless and the “closet” that I am referring to is, in actuality, the room that houses my clothing.

What I have is a consuming fear of disorganization, in particular, closet disorder. It is my ataxophobia that led me to the organizing whizzes at California Closets this week. That and the fact that the shelves and rods in my walk-in had finally pulled away from the wall leaving my extensive wardrobe perched on the verge of a massive landslide. It was either time to purge the clothes or make the best of it and hire the professionals to formulate a suitable storage schematic.

“A lot of people have driven by us for years and never noticed we were here or had no idea what we are,” remarks Stephanie Bonini, a Design Consultant for the Farmington Avenue located . What they are, of course, is a company founded in 1978, headquartered in Berkeley, CA, that specializes in custom made storage solutions for any area within a home.

If you have a room or a closet that needs more efficient storage space, the Design Consultants at California Closets will act, as the company’s brochure states, “as interpreters who translate your dreams into reality.”

Every California Closets project begins with a complimentary in-home visit from one of the company’s skilled design consultants. Space and needs will be analyzed and a tentative budget will be discussed. The design consultant will then work up extensive 3-D plans, which will be presented to the potential customer a few days later in the showroom. From there, a potential customer can either add or subtract to the plans according to likes and budget. There is no obligation to move forward with the plans once all is said and done.

Several of the design consultants were in the showroom last week. Erica Heath joked that she was, “born crazy with organization.” Bonini agreed that she was the same, adding ,“OCD is a good prerequisite for this job.” They happily pointed out all of the special details in the model displays that lined the walls. It becomes apparent quickly that these are not the usual pre-fabricated, run-of-the mill storage solutions.

While renovating closets is a large part of their business, they also create new and improved pantries, garages, media centers, home offices, laundry rooms – and pretty much any room or space that a customer wants organized.

A Murphy bed with side cabinets in a cherry wood-looking laminate sits in the showroom. When closed, it has the appearance of a rich looking built-in.

Customers will find many different finish options for their cabinetry: three shades of white, black, five wood grain laminates, aluminum, acrylics in addition to a new line of environmentally friendly recycled resins and cabinet finishes. The eco-friendly cabinet finishes are part of the Lago Collection, exclusive to California Closets, of wood grained textured recycled veneers. Available in six colors with three more scheduled for the near future, Bonini states that the Lago line is great for people with allergies and sensitivities to the usual less expensive out of the box storage solutions. “And it doesn’t have the odor that those cheaper versions can have,” she notes.

While it might be easy to presume that it is mostly women who contact them, Bonini says that is not always the case. “We do get a lot of men who call who are lawyers or accountants who have to have a professional wardrobe and it’s important to them to have it organized. We also get a lot of men clients for media center and garages and home offices. For the women it is mostly clothes and linen closets and pantries."

According to Prudential real estate agent Abbey Maltz, “The reality is closets are a big conversation, especially when there are not enough or they aren’t big.” Although Maltz has had one male client who turned an adjacent room to the master bedroom into a luxurious closet, usually a lack of closets is particularly troublesome for her women clients. They frequently will tell Maltz, half-jokingly, that their husbands will have to use another room or throw away their stuff.

When counseling clients who are getting ready to sell, Maltz has two standard pieces of advice to the sellers: “get a dumpster” and “less is more.” “People are looking at space and trying to envision their own things in a house, let alone a closet,” she notes.

And what about those whose jobs surround them with the temptation to acquire beautiful clothes constantly? How do they keep their closets organized?

manager Beth Abbatemarco has three separate closets for her wardrobe. One holds her “go-to” items that are worn frequently, one holds only dressy items, and the third holds her off-season pieces. Matching hangers hold tops arranged from sleeveless, to short sleeve to long sleeve to jackets. Bottom items are arranged from jeans to pants to skirts. Everything is color coded as well. She admits to weeding out often. “If I haven’t worn it in two years, I get rid of it.”

It’s comforting to learn that are many, like me, who find exhilaration from tidiness. Perhaps I should start a closet ataxophobia Facebook page.

Carin Buckman March 30, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Elyse Santoro designed the most outrageous, wonderful dressing room/closet for me! My friends describe it as a mini-boutique, like Lyn Evans where Iwork as a Floor Supervisor. They joke that they can shop in my closet and never want to leave! Kudos to Elyse for designing the award winning and one of the best of 2010 closets!
Stephanie Bonini March 30, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Nancy, thanks so much for this great article! It was a fun read, and we had a great time meeting with you at our showroom! Stephanie Bonini
Erica Heath March 30, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Nancy, thank you so much! This article is perfect. It was a pleasure meeting you and look forward to seeing you again soon! Erica Heath
Elyse Santoro March 30, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Nancy~ Beautifully written and true in every word! It was a pleasure meeting you and we are all so thankful to you for writing what so many people can relate to. I look forward to seeing you again!
Elyse Santoro March 30, 2012 at 04:53 PM
And thank you, Carin! You were such a pleasure to work with and I am so delighted to have made you so happy with your dream closet!
Cindy Gessell- Phillips March 30, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Wow, what a perfect assignment for Nancy Newman. Very well written and from the heart!

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