You need some serious organization hacks if you live in a character or historic home. Life was clearly very different “back then”.
It is hard to fit a modern life into a home built before 1940. Closets were smaller, backyards were an after-thought and garages were designed for teeny tiny Model A cars. Can you imagine how a 1920’s Flapper might react to a closet for a Housewives of Anywhere TV character?
I have a lot of first-hand experience with fitting my modern life into a vintage home. My first home in Glendale was a 1927 Spanish in Northwest Glendale and it had teensy closets in each bedroom. Here are some of my best organization hacks for living in a character or historic home.
Organization Hacks For Small Closets
Divide Your Wardrobe
Unfortunately, there is no Hogwarts option for your vintage sized closet. When you open the door it is always going to be smaller than you want it to be. Since it is not all going to fit, prioritize what goes in. Do not assume it all has to be His or Her closet! You can also divide by seasonality or all work clothes or…
Tidy Up Your Stuff
Have you read the Magic Art of Tidying? People owned a lot less stuff when your Character Home was built. A huge organizational hack is to get rid of the stuff you don’t need. You have 64 sweaters. Do they ALL spark joy?
Over The Door Solutions
Our Character and Historic Homes have a lot of doors – closet doors, bedroom doors, hallway doors. A nifty organizational hack is to use over the door organizers. Type “over the door” into Amazon and be amazed with the plethora of options!
Hooks Are Your Friend
Historic home closets often have blank walls that seem wasted. Some people open up the wall and install a modern sliding closet door, but there is a better way. Consider installing a row or two of hooks for everything from bathrobes to scarves and purses.
Furniture As An Organization Hack
Storage As Decor
We love dual-purpose furniture. Consider acquiring a storage “bench” for the foot of your bed, install a window seat with storage or use a vintage dress form for storing and displaying accessories.
Stand Alone Wardrobes
Not all wardrobes come from IKEA. There are plenty of interesting options at places like Arte De Mexico or the Rosebowl Flea Market. Used and vintage furniture is out of favor right now, so bargains are easy to find! Check out sources like Facebook Market Place or your local ReStore. Pro Tip: most wardrobes need to be anchored to the wall for stability and earthquake safety. This also means the wardrobe is “built-in” and will stay with the home when you sell.
Pro Tip: Follow the Atwater ReStore Instagram feed. I just saw the coolest wardrobe pop up on my feed – only $65!! Another super cool Instagram account is Oceanview Thrift in Montrose. Their day to day deals are “ok” but they occasionally have ridiculous sales.
Utilize Special Spaces in Historic and Character Homes
What Goes In The California Basement
We love a great California Basement. These little rooms are unfinished and generally open to the rest of the crawl space under the house. The space is usually the size of a large walk-in closet, although a few are much larger – originally it housed the furnace and water heater.
California Basements are top organization hacks for Historic and Character homes! The best California Basements have a stairway access from inside the home. The stairs are usually pretty steep so you won’t want to store everyday items down there. The most popular items are seasonal decorations, Costco finds, financial documents and, wait for it….. Wine!!
Utilize the Attic
Our Character and Historic homes do not enjoy the romantic attics featured in your average Stephen King novel. And, if you own a flat-roofed Spanish you do not have any attic at all! However, most of our vintage homes have an attic crawl space large enough to accommodate some storage.
There are two organization hacks that will create usable storage from your attic crawl space. First, install a pull-down stairway for reasonably easy access. Second, lay down plywood sheets over your ceiling joists.
This is a great space for seasonal clothing, decorations, and light paperwork. Keep your treasured copy of the Encyclopedia Brittanica in the California Basement.
Spend A Bit, Gain A Lot
Our Spanish Style homes often include an awkward 3/4 bath situated between and open to both a third bedroom and the service porch. It is a rare homeowner who uses the shower in this weird walk-through bathroom.
Instead, covert the shower to a closet (most people store junk in their anyway) or replace the doors with a sliding or pocket door.
And there you have it, our top organization hacks for Character and Historic Homes.
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