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Getting organized: Storage solutions for your gear

For a storage system to be successful, it has to address the specific needs of a family.
Courtesy Henrybuilt

When Meghan Wilson and her family moved into their Vail Valley home four years ago, it had a huge mudroom, but coats, shoes, backpacks and necessities from Costco basically ended up in piles on the floor. Wet jackets, hats and mittens didn’t dry overnight because they didn’t get enough airflow. So Wilson decided to incorporate an organizational system from California Closets.

“Organization is not my strong suit, so it definitely helped us stay more organized,” Wilson says. “Clutter in the house can be overwhelming … it definitely helps with the anxiety of the clutter that comes with having young kids.”

Both of her two boys have their own cubbies and spots to place everything they need for their school day, which helps Wilson efficiently usher her kids out the door in the morning.



These kind of organizational systems not only save time because you don’t have to rummage through bags or piles to find everything you need for a day on the mountain, but they also give entryways a neat and tidy appearance. The problem is, most homes lack proper storage areas.

Dana Marcille Jones, senior design consultant at California Closets, sees it all the time: enormous, bedroom- and bathroom-centric luxury homes that don’t provide adequate storage systems.



Henrybuilt’s stainless steel panels give a contemporary feel to the storage systems.
Courtesy Henrybuilt

“Storage space is a lot of times lacking,” Jones says. “Everyone needs it up here. It’s just a very important part of the way we live.”

Jones knows the drill: Homeowners apologize for the mess as guests enter their home.

“People make do with what they have,” she says. “Most homes have a mess on the floor. Until you have a system to accommodate all you have, it goes in a pile on the floor.”

It’s not until that pile starts stressing people out enough that they decide to do something about it. Storage and organizational systems like California Closets and Henrybuilt have made a world of difference in mountain homes and condos.

Solutions for large and small spaces

Most people think storage systems are only for multi-million dollar homes, but Jones disagrees.

“That’s a myth,” she says. “It’s not just for luxury homes. It’s when you have that small space that it almost becomes even more important.”

Courtesy Henrybuilt

She has installed everything from a 4-foot-wide nook in the hallway to lavish systems in grandparents’ homes where every adult child and grandchild has their own locker, storage bin, hooks and shelves. California Closet systems start around $1,200 to $1,500 for a small, simple arrangement.

Both California Closets and Henrybuilt customize their systems to fit the exact habits of families. They assess their clients’ current lifestyles, how they use available spaces and what they ultimately desire. While many people initially want a bench incorporated into their system, once they examine their habits, they might realize a bench looks pretty in a magazine photo, but it actually takes up a lot of otherwise useable, and multifunctional, space — unless they regularly sit down to put their boots on, Jones says. Another element to consider is privacy and security: Homeowners who short-term rent their properties may need large personal cabinets that lock.

Jones says many people have moved away from the idea of mudrooms, thanks to organizational systems, which can be installed in small entryways, garages and laundry rooms.

Henrybuilt, a company launched in 2001, offers an open-case system, which uniquely fits active lifestyles. Large, durable panels made from real wood or stainless steel attach to a wall to accommodate strategically placed attachments to hold gear. While the stainless steel panels are designed for a more modern look, the wood panels — for those who prefer a more natural aesthetic — are completely waterproof. And, the systems are made in the USA.

Courtesy Henrybuilt

“All of our products are designed with a ‘nothing is fragile’ (mentality),” says Chris Barriatua, executive director of Henrybuilt. “You don’t have to baby anything.”

The open-case system, with its stainless steel rods and powder-coated steel shelves, bins and cubbies, allow homeowners to adjust the system for each season’s specific storage need, from kayaks, bikes and rock climbing gear to skis, snowboards and boots.

“The attachments and fittings can be changed out by hand for easy seasonal modification,” he says.

The stainless steel rods attach either vertically or horizontally. Smaller spaces usually require skis to hang vertically, but in larger spaces, placing the rods horizontally allows for plenty of ski storage without risking tip rocker deformation over time (from hanging skis vertically). The rods also allow skis and boards to seamlessly dry, without shelves, which can collect moisture. And, the ends of the rods become pegs to hold poles, jackets and goggles.

Leather or felt pockets are also available to store goggles, and prevent scratching.

A small, single panel set up with a shoe shelf, a couple of rods, pockets and maybe even a bench can be installed in an approximately 3-foot-wide section and runs around $3,000. Larger systems — up to 30 feet and longer — can cost $25,000 to $50,000 and allow the gear room “to be as advanced, from a design standpoint, as the rest of the house,” Barriatua says.

Whatever system you choose, it’s bound to make a difference in both your daily life and your home’s overall value from a personal and financial standpoint.

“Custom storage is a huge market in general, and in this market, it not only adds value to any property, but it also is important because we have so many unique things that are big,” Jones says. “It streamlines storage.”


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