Many people living in small NYC apartments do not have adequate sized closets. This presents many of New Yorkers with the organizational challenge of finding storage space in their already cramped and cluttered apartment. This article offers a practical design solution to lacking or lousy storage space.
In most apartments in NYC, especially in pre-war buildings, closets are small rectangular spaces laid out behind regular doors. This was done to visually unify all the doors so that they would match. Although this strategy does create aesthetic unity, it is functionally inconvenient because the interior space behind the doors is often lost. These spaces include the area adjacent to each side of the door and the space above the door that is hard to reach. See the illustration below:
The resulting 4 to 6 inches that is wasted on each side of the door, however, is very useful especially when you live in a small NYC apartment. Additionally storing seasonal items in the overhead space that closets offer is great storage solution so you definitely don’t want to lose out on that storage space either!
To create more storage space in apartments with lousy or lacking closets, I’ve designed what I call a “mixed use unit”. The unit is highly functional because it has several uses and has several doors which are designed to be hidden and as such do not interfere with the rest of the apartment’s doors.
I often encourage my clients to use it as a decorative piece so that they can combine storage space with other amenities such as a media center, a TV or a desk area. Additionally it’s decorative doors can separate and demarcate the space behind such as a bath room or a kitchen pantry.
Here are some examples of how to incorporate the “mixed use unit” into different spaces in your home:
This unit is used to combine a coat closet at the entry with the media unit, bookcases and an entrance to the guest bathroom behind the last door (to the left of the TV). The unit achieves all these purpose in a single, streamlined wooden corner unit. The existing beam was used as a place to install lights.
This unit contains the bedroom’s primary closet space with a rod for hanging clothing and a small area with shelving. The unit also contains a desk area with side shelves and filing cabinets on both sides at the bottom, an area for the TV with two vertical drawers on each side. We also allowed a space for cable management behind the TV and a shelf for equipment below. Above the unit there is a large storage area for suitcases and seasonal items. The unit allows the entire height of room to be used and offers multiple storage spaces and multiple uses.
In this example below, the pantry doors are hidden as a part of the kitchen cabinets. Those two full height doors lead to a full walk-in pantry behind the refrigerator.
In this sample we provided storage were there was none. On an empty wall we created a unit behind 3Form sliding panels that disclose filing cabinets for storage. These panels can be hidden when not in use while leaving the TV and equipment exposed.