House Hunting: Closet Space and Indoor Storage

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The proliferation of those huge public storage facilities happened for a reason. The main reason is that we have a lot more “stuff” than our ancestors did, and downsizing can be challenging. Unfortunately, our storage space at home hasn’t kept pace with our pack rat tendencies. Garages are packed to the rafters with boxes and closets are stuffed full.

A house with extended closet space is a hot commodity. That said, in the heat of the home viewing frenzy, many buyers fail to assess a house’s storage options. If you like a house, but can’t remember how much storage it has, go back and take another look before signing the purchase agreement.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development includes closet and storage space on its home-shopping checklist – a list of features for homebuyers to watch out for and rate as they view different homes. If you have your storage needs in mind as you compare homes, you’ll be less likely to end up with your belongings crammed into the back of a closet.

Closets in the Bedroom

For a bedroom to be considered, for real estate purposes, a true bedroom, it must have a closet. Some older homes have rooms with no closets. These are technically not bedrooms, and, in most regions of the country, they can’t be called bedrooms by real estate agents.

That said, when looking at a true bedroom, open the closet. Come on, don’t be shy and don’t feel nosy. Slide open those doors and take a good, long look.

First, determine if there’s enough closet space for your clothes. If the current homeowner’s belongings are stuffed into the space, perhaps the closet is too small for you, too. Does the closet design include shelves, or just a rod stretched across the inside of the closet for hanging clothing?  Is there room to hang shelves? Will shoe bags or racks help relieve the congestion and maximize closet space?

Size is a big consideration when examining bedroom closets. Keep in mind that, while there may be the possibility of redesigning or organizing a closet’s storage space, increasing the size of an existing closet may be much more difficult.

Miscellaneous Closets

Linen closets, broom closets and coat closets should all receive the same scrutiny as bedroom closets. Is there a closet for guest’s coats? How about one for the broom, mop, vacuum and other tall cleaning items?

Do Mudrooms Count as Storage Space?

Although they are more common in northern states and almost unheard of in the western United States, mudrooms are becoming increasingly popular. A mudroom is an area of the house where dirty shoes and coats can be removed without messing up the rest of the house. The floor of a mudroom is usually covered with vinyl or tile: something that can easily be mopped or swept. A mudroom is usually a family entrance, while the front door is reserved for meeting guests.

Because the mudroom is hidden away, it makes for handy storage. If you’re viewing a house with a mudroom, look at it with an eye toward how you can use it, not how the current homeowner utilizes the space. Consider:

  • Are there hooks and racks for outdoor clothing?
  • Could it be a combo laundry/mudroom?
  • Is there storage space for larger items such as bicycles or even winter toys?

Closet Design and Existing Closets

As noted above, it’s difficult to increase the size of a closet without a contractor. You can, however, improve how effectively the closet makes use of existing space.

Large built-in closets, for instance, can be converted to walk-ins for extended closet space. Shelves can be added to existing closets at little expense. There are also pre-made closet organizers that can maximize closet space by increasing usefulness and serviceability.

If you’re like many people, when you think of interior storage you may underestimate just how much you need. Take a look at your current storage, measure the spaces, and don’t be afraid to measure those in any homes you’re viewing to see how they stack up. Like kicking the tires on a car in a lot, you have a right to determine whether each house you look at measures up to your needs.


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Pat Champion
Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty - Mount Dora, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

You are right whenever the buyer is looking at a potential home they have to consider all indoor and closet space to make sure it will fit their needs.

Mar 22, 2012 07:01 AM #1
Peg Barcelo
Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369 - Summerland, BC
The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC

Eric, that's why as a Stager, I go through everything in a home with the seller, including closets! I address what can stay and what has to go! If a buyer opens a closet or built in up and can't see the wall, they will think there is no room!

May 24, 2012 10:29 AM #2
Eric Proulx - Kirkland, WA

Pat – Exactly, take the time to evaluate all of the potential space the house has to offer because once you make the purchase it’s not as easy as just returning the house to the store.


Peg – That’s the way it’s done! Need to make it presentable for the potential buyers.

May 29, 2012 12:56 AM #3
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