Just because you have a clean house and you can open and close your coat closet without doing that "kick it in the door and slam it shut fast" maneuver, doesn't mean your spaces are actually working for you. Even a clean space can be a sucky one if you're not doing all that you can to make it work for you instead of against.
1. Out of Reach, Out of Use: Even if you have tall closets and utilize the space well, if you don't have an easy way to get things up or down then you're sort of out of luck. Likewise, if you have so many things stacked on top of one another that you have to take 80 things down just to get to a single box, then chances are you'll be lazy like me and say forget about it! Try adding extra shelves that eliminate the weight of tall stacks and make things easier to deal with.
2. No Boxes, What Was I Looking For Again?: I remember being little and watching commercials and early HGTV organizational shows and thinking that people were crazy for putting everything in its own box or container. Well apparently, as it turns out, when you can see what you're going after, or things are grouped with like items, you can find what you need without using any four letter words. You know... like duck.
3. Pre-hung Bars and Shelving: Yes, most clothes are a standard size (give or take). Yes, we like to take things the extra step and go the extra mile for organization, but I will still swear to you that I have never lived somewhere that had shelving or bars installed in correct places. There is either too much room above or below the bar (meaning if a bar was moved, you could actually double hang your clothes on two bars), or the shelves are too close to the hanging bar to use hangers easily. In addition, the shelf never seems to be at the right height to remove things easily from it. Consider putting shelves at the bottom, instead of the top!
4. Lighting: There are vast numbers of posts on Apartment Therapy that talk about the importance of good lighting. Why is that? Do we all own stock in light bulbs? Of course not, but it does make any space more inviting and when it comes to compact spaces, it makes things easier to see. You might need a hanging bulb or wall mounted fixture, possibly a stick on tap light, or even a handy flashlight that's easily accessed.
5. Quality of Materials and Hardware Used: Let's talk about pressboard. Many closet shelves are made from it, but unless you're storing a single pair of shoes on it, there's a chance it will sag over time. Likewise, hardware like hooks and racks only stay put if you're using the correct mounting hardware for the surface you're attaching it too. Yes you might have to go to the hardware store, yes, it might cost you a few extra bucks, but yes, knowing your screws are firmly mounted in your drywall because you used anchors means you won't hear a giant crash or thud in the middle of the night when things fall down.
What makes your storage spaces inefficient? Have you been able to pin point any one thing that might make them easier to use? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Image: Flickr member Lara604 licensed for use by Creative Commons