Design — 04 March 2016
Designer solutions for storage problems

By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub

City & Shore Magazine

We binge on shopping sprees and finally realize it is time to purge our home storage spaces. The cycle seems endless, but there are solutions to get a fresh start.

Custom closets and storage units with a specific place for everything can help us get and keep organized. If possible, the best solution is to hire a designer or closet company during construction so the customization can work. This may mean taking space from the original plans for an extra or bigger closet. Those who work with existing spaces may transform a room into a closet or fill a long hallway with custom cabinetry to store everything from clothing to china and dishes.



Christopher Raessler’s client loves clothes and desired plenty of storage in her second home in a Miami Beach condo. He tore down a wall to create 90 square feet of closet space, but this good-sized closet is tiny compared with the 1,500-square-foot closet space in her main residence, where she keeps her main wardrobe.

“She wanted the closet to hold as many shoes and have as much storage as possible,” Raessler says.

To make the closet seem even larger, he mirrored the walls, used a light cerused finish, which is created by using a wire brush across the surface to expose the natural grain of the wood. He designed the poles between the shelves with LED lighting and made use of the hallway to the bathroom – adding additional drawer storage for jewelry, underwear and her 120 pairs of sunglasses. Upper storage spaces have acrylic dividers for her handbags. She loves bling, so he used Swarovski crystal pulls on the drawers.

“The biggest challenge was how we could get her enough storage so she would be happy in the space,” Raessler says. “We had to create space that wasn’t there by changing the entrance to the bedroom and eliminating wasted hallway space.”



Michael Wolk also made use of a hallway to create 240 square feet of storage for newlyweds who combined their two apartments in an oceanfront condo on Miami Beach.

“They wanted to each have a nice-size closet, so we knocked down a wall,” Wolk says. “Two custom dressers are in the main entrance leading to the bathroom with full-length mirrors on the other side. They each have a walk-in closet. We maximized storage, provided good light and room for them to get dressed outside the closet.”

The custom cabinetry is cerused oak with bronze pulls. Crystal sconces were added for what Wolk calls “a touch of jewelry.”

“By combining the two apartments they picked up some square footage,” he says. “We decided to make the hallway a part of the dressing area as opposed to a way to get to the bathroom. There was wasted space, and the 2,500-square-foot combined apartment wasn’t big enough to have wasted space.”




If you want an alternative to an interior designer, another option is to hire a company specializing in closets and other storage.

Sari Rieder of Beyond Closets in Delray Beach says the first step is a free in-home consultation to evaluate what the clients want to store and whether they are looking for a transitional, modern or traditional décor. Her company has floor plans on file for all the Valencia developments, Hunters Run and Quail Ridge (in Boynton Beach), or the clients can provide their own floor plans.

The next step, using the measurements taken on the home visit, an image of the closet is created with 3D CAD (computer added design) software. The clients are shown the image on a 42-inch monitor in the showroom, and adjustments can be made to the design.

“For closets, it is always about the shoes and handbags,” Rieder says. “The shoes are usually not behind doors. They can be stored on a level or angled shelf with shoes fences in the front.”

She says valuables can be stored in locking drawers or in a safe hidden behind doors in the closet. Organization is helped with velvet-lined jewelry inserts and acrylic handbag dividers. Handbags used less often can be stored with glass door fronts. The closets can be constructed out of wood, melamine or combinations of both.



It may be hard to fathom that a 9,000-square-foot penthouse doesn’t have enough storage, but that was the problem Alene Workman was asked to solve.

“No matter how much square footage someone has they tend always to grow into their space,” she says. “The clients have enormous collections that they cherish, and it was important to find locations for each.”

Workman found that extra space in a hallway between the living room and master suite. She designed a morning bar and floor-to-ceiling storage in anigre wood with a satin finish.

The key to her solution was working with the contractor from the construction phase so she could get into the structure of the building and carve out the spaces they wanted.

“More and more clients want less visible clutter,” Workman says. “It is rare when they want everything out. People want a sleeker and easier-to-maintain environment.”



Jody Smith’s clients wanted multifunctional space in the bedroom of their 2,500-square-foot apartment that included a desk, a space for a TV and display.

The solution was a custom built-in that ran the length of a 13-foot wall. Behind the doors are shelves and drawers. The design has a curve to soften the appearance and to provide a deeper area for the desk.

“Clients today want space that is flexible,” Smith says. “Years ago we did a lot of specific storage for VHS tapes and CDs. Now they can stream a lot through their TV and they want more flexible storage that they also could use for sweaters or photo albums.”

Another trend is simplification of design. Heavy dark Old World traditional has lost its appeal. Everyone is leaning toward contemporary and lighter finishes, she says.


Jody Smith
Brown’s Interior Design, 4501 N. Federal Highway,
Boca Raton, 561-368-2703,

Christopher Raessler RGR Design Associates, 601 NE 36th St. #1712, Miami, 305-672-8800,

Sari Rieder
Beyond Closets, 1405 N. Congress Ave., Suite 3-4,
Delray Beach, 561-278-6183,

Michael Wolk
Michael Wolk Design Associates, 31 NE 28th St., Miami, 305-576-2898,

Alene Workman
Alene Workman Interior Design, 805 E. Broward Blvd., Suite 302, Fort Lauderdale,






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