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A Closet Assault

by Grace Corradino
Saturday Aug 20, 2011

What can you learn by looking in your closets?

When we built our house, there were certain luxuries that we were able to add during construction. I knew that bureaus and dressers take up a lot of floor space and that they usually end up with nothing but clutter on the surface. Hoping to avoid that, we built out our closets with drawers and those lovely built in closet systems. It was my hope that I would have orderly closets and clothes and shoes, neatly kept.

We have been in our house for more than 10 years, and I can report that I have never had a closet that came close to my vision for order.

In fact, twice a year, I attack my closets. A full on assault. My goal is to tidy up the piles of shirts and sweaters, hang all the clothes so that the hangars face in one direction and most importantly, when I am done, to have only those things which I need still in there. The piles stay neat for a few days and then chaos reigns again. The dog is now regularly chewing up my shoes.

There are people with neat closets. In fact, when I lived in D.C., I had a friend Ruth who had closets that were as beautiful as any room in her house. Ruth is a woman of refinement and very good taste. Her home is warm, understated, comfortable and dotted with pieces that are probably "good antiques." Maybe even a few very good antiques.

There are people with neat closets. In fact, when I lived in D.C., I had a friend Ruth who had closets that were as beautiful as any room in her house.

As beautiful as her house is, the most remarkable thing about Ruth's house was her closet-in fact, all her closets. Looking back, I guess she thought they were remarkable too, because she made a point to show them to me. Who shows someone their closet, unless you are proud of them? Here is the thing about Ruth's closets... there was almost nothing in any of them.

Her master bedroom closet, a beautiful room, functioned as it should with beautiful accessories. The hangers are beautiful with space aplenty in between each of them.

I remember her coat closet had a trench coat, a deliciously soft looking black wool coat and not much else. There was nothing colorful in any of her closets either. Everything was black; black pants, black skirts, black pashminas, black coats. When I think about how Ruth dresses, I realize that the only colorful item she might have on is a colorful scarf. Certainly it must have been couture.

So, whether I were to look in the closet of your Fire Island home or your "real" home, what would I find? I can tell you a bit about mine.

There is no simple color palette. Joseph and his colorful coat might be found buried somewhere in my closet. I have clothes that are 20-years-old, maybe more. This aggravates me because I think I should get rid of them. Twice a year during my attack, I look at those clothes and agitate about getting them out of that closet and getting them to the thrift store or one of those bins dotting the suburban parking lot landscape, but they never make it there. What is that about? I am not a hoarder but I find myself recalling that those 20-year-old items were probably expensive at the time they were purchased. They also have very "good" labels in them.

Grace Corradino, New York State broker, is the owner of Fire Island Living Real Estate, Inc., and can be reached at She welcomes your suggestions and comments.

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