The Hanging Question 

Is your clothes closet in need of a makeover?

"This is our busy season," says Brad Davidson, co-owner of Incognito Custom Closets. "Everybody wants to lose weight and get organized."

It's the latter resolution that drives people to Davidson's East Memphis business, looking to reorganize their clothes closets. Incognito designs customized storage spaces — from food pantries and garages to simple clothes-closet re-dos and eye-boggling fancy dressing rooms — costing from $500 to $5,000.

Rae Morgan, co-owner along with Karen Shrader of More Space Place in downtown Memphis, also deals in storage. She's seen closets so tiny that, on occasion, she's recruited her 6-year-old granddaughter to crawl into intimidatingly tight spaces with a tape measure.

More Space Place services range from $500 to five figures for the particularly ambitious consumer. Like Incognito, they provide all the materials and installation. Neither business will do construction work such as adding or taking down a wall. Installation usually takes a day.

Davidson, whose company works with a lot of area builders, says that the days of the single shelf and rod are over. What people want are drawers and cubby holes in addition to rods and shelves. His company operates under what he says are "Closet Laws," which he's compiled through trial and error over nearly 15 years of business.

One of Incognito's "laws" is that clothes should never been seen in the bedroom. This is a sentiment Morgan has heard as well. Many times the goal for the customer is to have the master bedroom furnished with the basics — a bed and a few side tables for lamps and books, and that's it. All the rest of it goes ... somewhere.

Those with the space can have all their storage wishes fulfilled: shelves and cubby holes for shoes and purses, pull-out laundry baskets, swivel mirrors, and loads of drawers and rods.

The looming question, when it comes to closet makeovers, is does it make sense in this economy? According to Davidson, the money put in will surely be regained from the sale, and in the meantime, the customer gets to enjoy the new closet.

Laurie Stark, who works with Hobson Realtors, says that potential homebuyers who are set on older houses, such as those in Midtown, expect tiny closets, but if they see a house with exceptional closets, "it helps push you ahead."

Davidson doesn't necessarily believe that everybody needs his services. For those with some carpentry skills and tools, DIY closet kits are available at hardware stores. One thing he's positive about is that the storage space is there just waiting to be utilized. He recommends making the most of hanging space. For those with pitifully small reach-in closets, the addition of multiple hanging rods for fold-over clothes can double the closet's capacity.

Kate Larkin, owner of Kate's Klosets, is a professional organizer. "Any job takes tools," she says. "It's all about creating a space that works for you." She recommends multiple rods for hanging clothes and specialized storage solutions — easy-to-install hardware to add extra shelving or pieces designed for storage under the bed. There's also furniture specifically made for storing accessories.

Morgan says her job provides her customers with almost instant gratification: "It's like you've given them a gift." ■

Incognito Custom Closets,

More Space Place,

Kate's Klosets,

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