Space: The Final Frontier

Closet Rescue

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Debbie’s first sketch (left) offers a wealth of storage options: bookshelves, cabinets, cubbies . . . even sorting bins for recyclables. Alas, much of it is too high for easy access. I like the worktable’s inset lighting, but not the prospect of having to face the closet’s back wall while working. Option two (right) is a better fit, with more storage at a reachable height—including a retractable valet tucked behind a cabinet door. The pull-down worktable allows seating on three sides; no need to swivel one-eighty to look out. It also hides several bookshelves that become accessible when it’s pulled down. Only problem: no space for a guest bed.

“We design according to the space, the client’s needs and budget,” she explains. “We raise low drawers for people with back issues, or add pull-down rods for people in wheelchairs. If we’re designing for children, we can create a space that’s adjustable as they grow. We try to accommodate how a client will access the space.”

In my case, that means no high shelves until jetpacks come down in price.

Maui Closet Company is in Kahului, but Debbie spends a lot of time on the road, visiting potential customers to see their spaces—not just closets, but the home itself, which can give her clues to their style and preferences. (Mine, she says, are for solid wood, which I knew, and symmetry, which I hadn’t realized until she pointed it out.)

And then there’s what the client wants to use the space for. When I tell Debbie I’d like my four-by-eight closet to serve as a workshop, attractive and efficient storage, and guest room, she laughs. “You can have one, maybe two of those,” she says.

Yet when I visit Maui Closet Company the following week, Debbie has figured out a way for me to have it all.

She starts by showing me three designs, each with head-on and bird’s-eye views. My feedback, she says, will help her hone the final design.

Option one has a small worktable with inset lighting; it’s surrounded by bookshelves, bins for recyclables, and lots of storage cabinets. There are even three tall, skinny slots for my drawing pad, T-square and walking sticks. I’m delighted by the amount and variety of storage, but the worktable is too small, and I’m still hoping for a bed for the occasional guest.

Option two also has lots of storage, including a retractable valet for hanging clothes. The central panel pulls down to reveal a table big enough to handle any project short of large-animal taxidermy. There’s room for seating on three sides, yet it’s short enough to allow the louver doors to close, even when the table’s in use.

“I like this better,” I tell Debbie, “especially having a valet that gives a guest a place to hang clothes. But there’s nowhere for that guest to sleep.”

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