Glenn Gissler - Blog - 2014 - Hoarding

American homes are often filled to capacity with STUFF.

We fill our closets, cupboards, attics, basements and garages with stuff – and sometimes rent a storage room (or two) such as a self storage facility in Perth for the ‘extra stuff’ that won’t fit in those other places.

In the nearly three decades that I have been designing residential interiors I have seen a lot of homes – and nearly everyone has accumulated more stuff than they need, want, use, and in many cases don’t even like….

Thankfully none of these places have looked like the image above, but one thing is certain:

Storage is a key to mental health!


In the process of getting to know my clients I look inside, and take snapshots of, ALL of their existing closets for reference in the design process. For the sake of discretion I will not be sharing any of those images here….

It has been my experience that through this process of looking ‘objectively’ at the interiors of their closets people often see their accumulation quite differently (read mortified!) I always assure them that I have seen worse – except the place that WAS the worst – in which case I spoke about how we would significantly improve their storage going forward with hopes that the mass would be significantly reduced.

‘DESIGN’ can be seen as identifying a problem, then finding ways to address or solve it. When designing someone’s home, storage is always a big issue.

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Low flying bird’s eye view of a Walmart – there are nearly 5,000 in the United States

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Photo: Andreas Gursky


Merchants work diligently to present their wares in the most ordered and appealing manner possible. However, once the goods enter into one’s home it is anyone’s guess what happens to the order.

We should all be more conscious of our consumption, however that specific and very personal issue is beyond the scope of my work.

Certainly if a home does not have ‘adequate’ storage, and if the occupants are not rigorous about managing their consumption and/or editing their stuff, more often than not the excess spills into the rooms.

Many of the projects I have designed for clients are in New York City – where space is at a premium. Here are a number of the ‘after’ images that gracefully integrate storage solutions into the overall design.

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In this very long and wide Entry Hall I created a wall of storage that was integrated into the architecture by continuing the paneled doors as on all of the walls minimizing the visual impact of this large block of storage.


In this Dining Room a large 1940’s Oak cabinet designed by Charles Dudouyt holds oversized serving pieces, finer flatware than the everyday, and table linens. The robust cabinet also provides an ‘architectural’ anchor for the room.

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A large collection of Greek olive jars provide a dynamic landscape on top of a seemingly endless built-in cabinet in a contemporary ground-up vacation home. The massing and detailing of the cabinets are integrated into the house such that they read as part of the architecture and furnishings.

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In the NYC Penthouse apartment I designed for Michael Kors and Lance Lepere, books add significant warmth to the spacious yet spare room. Thick continuous shelves with no visible means of support run the length of the wall behind the Florence Knoll sofa. Additional closed cabinets discretely anchor the lower portion of the wall.

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A vast collection of art books line two walls of this large pre-war New York City dining room. The texture and color of the bindings add richness. A continuous row of drawers breaks up the monumental built-in shelves and provide additional storage for smaller items.


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Here I removed a closet allowing the curving stair to read more gracefully, but also providing space for some of the countless books this family of readers required. The shelves continue all the way around and under the stairs ending into a point for both aesthetic continuity, and to maximize the storage.

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In this gentleman’s walk-in closet, drawers hold the smaller and thinner folded items, double hanging accommodates shirts, trousers, blazers and suits. To the left (out of view) are open shelves for thicker folded items (sweater, etc) and open shoe storage. Ties are kept in a wall-mounted cabinet with a mirror on the door, not unlike a medicine cabinet – out of sight, organized, and easy to select with the shirt and jacket in the mirror.

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In this spacious dressing room in a New York City apartment the tailored order begins with the mahogany framed doors. A three-way mirror with color-corrected lighting above was integrated into the passage into the bathroom, hiding discretely away when not in use.

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For an expansive eat-in kitchen overlooking Central Park, storage cabinets line three walls with additional storage in the large island to accommodate the daily needs of an active family of six. Two large refrigerators are integrated into the continuous and nearly indestructible porcelain enamel and polished steel cabinet fronts.

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The open kitchen in Michael Kors and Lance Lepere’s apartment was made as ‘blank’ as possible with Corian cabinets, black granite surfaces, and stainless steel appliances. While the kitchen is really rarely used due to their intense travel and work schedules – the kitchen is still outfitted for serving rare but chic dinners, and like many homes, the kitchen is the center of activity.

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Most all of the examples of storage I have shown here discretely hide their contents away behind door or integrate them into the architecture. This final example shows a delightful and surprising interior of a former closet for a couple who take their libations quite seriously.

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Not all storage solutions are ambitious or complicated, sometimes you just need a hook in the proper place.