How to add a storage area


November 29, 1992|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: Our large master bedroom contains the usual pieces, such as a king-size bed and a pair of night tables. It's also got a seldom-used sitting area, which we're willing to sacrifice in the interest of adding storage compartments for clothing. Could contemporary-style storage pieces be used in combination with the bedroom's traditional furnishings?

A: That probably would not present a problem, since many contemporary designs are in fact quite compatible with traditional decor. But I urge you first to look at your bedroom and your storage needs in a different way. The most effective and attractive solution may be to reconfigure the space.

The suggestions I will offer must remain somewhat generalized, because I don't know the exact dimensions of the room or the location of its openings. But since you describe the bedroom as large and say you're able to sacrifice one part of it, let's assume there's plenty of space for carving out an entire storage area.

This can be done quite easily by building a floor-to-ceiling partition parallel to one of the walls. Furniture can then be placed against this partial wall on the bedroom side. I call it

a "partial" wall because it must include an opening to allow entry into the newly constructed storage area.

The space behind the partition can be used solely as a walk-in closet, containing only rods and shelving. Cabinetry can be added, if there's enough room, and the bedroom side of the partition can become a storage wall in its own right. However the space is designed, I think you'll find that your needs will be more adequately met by creating a separate storage area than by buying a few storage pieces. And if you take proper account of sight lines and choose appropriate building material, you will be able to disguise the fact that the bedroom has been divided.

The space requirements for a storage area are relatively simple. At a minimum, about 24 inches of inside depth should be reserved for hanging clothes, with another 15 inches set aside for open shelving. If drawers are to be installed as well, allow 15 inches of outside depth for them, and be sure to include a counter top no higher than four feet off the floor. Leave at least a 30-inch clearance for standing in front of these units. And please don't skimp on any of these requirements!

Lighting for the space is very important. Consider carefully where the light sources should be placed so that you will be able to see easily into drawers and lower shelves.

Here's a model you may wish to emulate. This storage area in a master bedroom was designed by Margery Farbman for the Philadelphia Vassar Show House this year.

In order to integrate a new storage area with the rest of a room, especially if no doors are being installed, the colors of the walls, cabinetry and flooring should all match. In this case, the walls and cabinets were lacquered in off-white, while the DuPont "Stainmaster Xtra Life" carpeting is in a small, textured pattern by Evans Black, Mission Hills, in "Vanilla Cream."

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