text by SHANI SILVER
photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK
We love organization, but even the domino team can fall victim to the too-much-stuff conundrum. Beth Brenner, domino CRO, found herself with shoes (literally) spilling out of her closet, and knew it would take a professional to bring her storage space back to chic. Carolyn Musher, VP of Sales at California Closets New York City, took on this organization mission, and even filled us in on a few things to keep in mind as we tackle our own closet solutions.
LET’S START WITH THE OBVIOUS: HOW DID THIS CLOSET SITUATION HAPPEN?
For starters, I live in a pre-war Manhattan apartment building with a serious closet shortage. This, coupled with my crazy love of footwear has, over the years, created an untenable situation on the floor, shelves and door of my closets as well as two corners of my bedroom. Please don’t judge – I am anything but a hoarder – but these “before” pics tell a far different story. My shoes were overflowing and I desperately needed help!
WHAT WERE YOUR PRIMARY GOALS WHEN WORKING WITH CALIFORNIA CLOSETS?
My primary goal was to get the shoe situation under control. I wanted an excuse to go through every pair and shed those that I hadn’t worn in years, no longer fit and would never wear again. What a cleansing process! I’ve now got three bags full of shoes to be donated to Housing Works and Dress for Success, as well as a giant bag to be sold on The Real Real. If you go to any or all of these places in the next few weeks, you will find some great shoes in a size 7.
WHAT MAJOR CONCERNS DID YOU HAVE GOING INTO THIS PROJECT?
Having worked with California Closets before, I had no concern that the closet itself would be gorgeous. Carolyn Musher made the process so easy and I was fully involved in the design. My only concern was that adding built-ins to the space would make my bedroom feel very small. In reality, it opened things up and the room looks bigger.
WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL REACTION TO YOUR NEWLY REVAMPED CLOSET?
There was definitely a “wow” moment. The closet’s light color complements the walls perfectly and almost melts into the background. It looks even better than I expected. And now that I have placed every shoe that made the cut into the closet, the inside looks even better than the outside — organized, a work of art really.
WE HAVE TO END WITH ONE FASHION Q – WHICH SHOES ARE YOUR FAVES RIGHT NOW?
I’m a huge Gianvito Rossi fan and lived all summer in my Joie lace-up sandals. No. 5 is a New York staple as are my Golden Goose sneaks. And a friend just turned me onto M. Gemi’s gorgeous collection — they are all handcrafted in Italy, feel amazing on your feet, and the prices are GREAT. My new M. Gemi Rossetto mules and chunky black/tan Stasera sandals are absolutely my new faves.
HAS THIS INSPIRED YOU TO MAKE ANY OTHER ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGES AROUND THE HOUSE?
Absolutely. I’ve already completed a pruning of my wardrobe as well as my kids’ dresser and closet. And my husband was even inspired to do the same — we threw away paperwork that was saved for years and he went through all his suits. He is so jealous of my new closet and night table that he negotiated to take one of my new drawers for his ties!
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GO INTO YOUR PROFESSION?
I’ve always been a creative person and I originally went to college to study art. I also loved interacting with people and knew that a position in sales would also be a natural fit for me. Working at California Closets allows me to be creative in my thought process and design, but also allows me to build relationships with clients. It’s a great balance.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?
Changing lives. Helping my clients see and maximize space they didn’t even know they had is empowering, both for me and my client. I am designing a better and more functional life for my clients at home and that is always a rewarding feeling.
WHAT IS THE VERY FIRST STEP IN ANY CLOSET ORGANIZATION PROJECT?
I come in before any actual organization begins to assess the space so that I can design a system that will support my client’s needs. The first step in this process is working with my client to address what he or she really needs, and doesn’t.
WHAT IS ONE CLOSET MISTAKE YOU SEE PEOPLE MAKE ALL THE TIME?
There are two major mistakes. First, keeping all those things that don’t fit (but hoping someday they will) in the closet. There is no need to discard these things, but keep them elsewhere instead of taking up valuable closet space. Second, keeping out-of-season items at eye level or in accessible spaces. Only keep in-season items front and center.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR READERS TAKING ON A SPECIFIC PROBLEM LIKE BETH’S, WITH LOTS OF SHOES?
Think creatively! Finding extra space doesn’t have to be within the closet. For Beth, we designed space outside the closet to provide storage and double as a night table.
WHAT WAS THE TOUGHEST PART ABOUT THIS PROJECT AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
Like most New York City projects, SPACE! I deal with small spaces and lots of stuff all the time, but I love the challenge.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH EVERYONE KNEW ABOUT CLOSET ORGANIZATION?
It’s OK to let things go! It’s not easy, but it’s a good lesson to practice. My mom and I have annual closet purges. We make it fun. She brings wine, I pull out everything in the closet to try on and then we decide—keep it or let it go. It’s important to know that what you are keeping in your closet fits, feels good and is really needed.
my new M. Gemi faves
Use code DOMINO for 15% off M. Gemi purchases from 10/2-10/17!