Before & After: A Closet Catastrophe Is Avoided Thanks to a Smart Small Storage Space Redo

When you’re only working with 366 square feet of living space, chances are your closet’s on the not-big-enough side. Combine the lack of available storage square footage with sharing your studio apartment with your partner and needing to fit in a laundry room, and you’re looking at a potential closet catastrophe if you don’t seriously maximize your space. Thankfully, designer Mary Lee excels at both style and organization.


“I wanted every inch accessible and usable, that is why it was imperative for the door opening to be as large as possible and the doors to be able to be fully pushed out of the way.”



“My biggest and necessary indulgence was the closet for sure. Before, the door frame was too small to really utilize the entire space of the closet. At first, I naively thought I could just cut out a bigger hole, add a better door, and throw in a washer dryer…easy peasy right?” describes Mary, of just how vital it was that she spend time and money on her studio apartment’s closet.

Unfortunately, the closet remodel wasn’t exactly easy: “Then came a number of decisions that turned into the closet edition of The Money Pit…

The first thing Mary did was get rid of the old hollow closet doors that were on a single slider. The old doors only allowed you to access one side of the closet at a time — not very useful at all.

“I wanted every inch accessible and usable, that is why it was imperative for the door opening to be as large as possible and the doors to be able to be fully pushed out of the way.”


“In the end, it was a painful process to do exactly what was needed to fully make use of the closet. But all totally worth it; a functioning closet and an in-unit laundry are priceless in a studio.”


After making the closet’s opening larger, she then got to work figuring out what to replace the old doors with. There were a few hiccups before finding the perfect solution with closet bypassing barn-style doors from Artisan Hardware.

“With hired professionals to advise on installing, I still went through a couple of iterations on the hardware to get the right hanging components. Because of the new larger hole, we needed custom doors, and on an impulse I opted for solid rather than empty doors (forgetting that might change the whole install strategy due to the weight). In came the new reinforced door frame header to hold my crazy heavy doors.”

After figuring out the door situation — which now glides gracefully on gorgeous hardware and allows Mary and her partner to see and access all of the closet. Next came organization.

“I fully outfitted the inside with the proper infrastructure: wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor with an Elfa System from the magical Container Store.”

The new closet looks amazing, but it’s how functional Mary was able to make it that really impresses. Just read everything she’s been able to fit into the closet:

“Believe it or not, I share that closet with my significant other, an an all-in-one washer dryer, and a water heater. I also store things I need somewhat often up higher like guest sheets, luggage, and an air mattress.”

So was all the stress and hard work worth it?

“In the end, it was a painful process to do exactly what was needed to fully make use of the closet. But all totally worth it; a functioning closet and an in-unit laundry are priceless in a studio.”

Thank you Mary!


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