November, 2011 | Closet Organizational Tips & Tricks > Closet Works

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Stuffed and Grateful - About Your Shoes????


Yep - that's what came to me as I rolled over late last night in delightful bliss.  Happy stomach, happy mouth, happy feet = Happy Thanksgiving!

And I don't see it as a day, by the way.  I don't even see it as a season.  I see thankfulness and gratitude as an awesome and very grounding way to live each day.

It just so happens that for this girl (and many, many others) one of the things we're very grateful for is our shoes. We love them, we show them off and it's hard to shine without them.

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So in addition to moist turkey and flowing chardonnay, I'm thankful for great shoes and a great place to store them.

I'm also really grateful for opportunities with a project called "The Not So Big House". This concept was pioneered by architect Sarah Susanka and is something I've followed for years.  So, when Closet Works Designer Jane Van Almen brought this opportunity to the table for considersation, we leapt at it with enthusiasm because it's so in sync with what we do as closet designers.

describe the imageWe believe in maximizing space and making it beautiful and interesting. We love effective design and we appreciate that people need to be able to really live and function in their space.

And that's alot of what Susanka is about.


And you have an opportunity to actually see, first hand, examples of her approach to a "Not So Big House" in Libertyville, Illinois in conjunction with School Street Development.

The house will be open on weekends over the next several months. You can check it out -

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How To "Get Away From It All" When You're In Your Own Home


Ever had one of those days when your phone is ringing, the TV is blairing, your son is (loudly) listening to music, your daughter is chatting while listening to You Tube, the dog is barking and your husband wants to know what's for dinner - and you just want a moment of peace?

I'm guessing that you have.

So, how do you "get away from it all" without leaving home (or going to your car and locking yourself inside)?  There's an answer.

away room 1


It's called an "Away Room" and it's a concept pioneered by architect Sarah Susanka in her "Not So Big House" book/lecture series.

An "Away Room" is a term Susanka and her team use that refers to the function of this space because it provides a place to escape from everything else going on in your house and it can have several functions.  It can be a cozy, slightly more formal space for adults to converse or it can be a quiet space where you can work or read and not be bothered by everything else that's going on.

This space is typically separated (physically and accoustically) from the rest of your house by something like French doors, Pocket doors or by distance from other rooms. It's also smaller in scale. 

Scale is an important element. Something that's 11 ft. by 12 ft. or smaller works best. And if you use formal furniture, it will be feel formal.  Casual furniture and it will feel cozy.  And if you "furnish it with soft, easy chairs, wicker rockers and old family photos, it will offer a more comfortable place for living" according to Susanka.

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If you'd like to get a first hand look at a great example of an Away Room - visit Susanka's latest design project (in conjunction with School Street Development in Libertyville, IL) and see and feel what the space is like.

The home is open from November 19, 2011 through May, 2011 on the weekends.  You can find more info at:

Do You Think More Space Equals More Comfort?


Sometimes bigger feels better.

Face it - when you've got a home or office space that has lots of space - you end up having lots of space to put your stuff.

But perhaps your preference is better over bigger? Granted, we all like a bit of elbow room.  But we don't just want dull, boring additional square footage.  We want the added space to work FOR us and the way we live and we want it to reflect our personal style.

Architect Sarah Susanka has some terrific suggestions and conepts in her series of books - "The Not So Big House".

She believes (and teaches) that "People who are attracted to architecturally designed houses also tend to seek out a higher level of detail. So a good architect will suggest reducing square footage to allow for more detail."

And that makes sense, doesn't it? You're already familiar with this concept when it comes to automobiles. "The quality and detail of a Mercedes, Lexus or Jaguar are far more important than the size of the car. More space does not equal more comfort.  In fact, size has nothing to do with the appeal of these cars.  If you want nothing but space, you can buy an equally expensive SUV" states Susanka.

And she's not advocating that everyone live in small houses. She's suggesting that "when you build or remodel a house, you evaluate what really makes you feel at home. In other words, concentrate on, and put more of your money toward, what you like rather than settling for sheer size and volume."

School Street Web page resized 600

And if you'd like to see some great examples of ways to do this, as well as get some ideas to incorporate into your own home, visit Susanka's latest project in conjunction with School Street Development in Libertyville, Illinois.  The two have joined forces, along with many other like-minded partners (including Closet Works) to build a model home and neighborhood development called School Street.

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