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Increasing Storage Space

I put half of my books and clothing into storage before my own place went on the market for sale. This article is also so true for Vancouver - we have such expansive real estate! A crowded and disorganized space looks smaller then it really is. 

October 19, 2011

Market Ready

Q. My apartment has very little closet space. Should I add storage before I put it on the market?

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A. An apartment that’s free of clutter, with carefully organized storage space, can be very appealing. “When you live in New York City apartments, closets are always a problem,” said Monica Podell, an executive vice president at Halstead Property. “So, the more storage space you can have, the better. If you can do anything to maximize storage space before selling, it’s a great idea.”

Even simple changes, Ms. Podell noted, could help make the most of the closet space you have. She recommended emptying existing closets and rethinking the way they’re organized. “Spending a couple of hundred dollars to add a bar and shelves in a closet,” she said, can often have an impact.

The next step up, she said, would be to add built-in shelving or wardrobes that appear to be part of a wall. Spending money on features like that just before selling might seem counterintuitive, but “a little bit of work now can help maximize your profit,” she said.

Melanie Fascitelli, president of the closet design firm Clos-ette, said she frequently encounters homes with limited storage space, “even in the most expensive apartments in New York.” To add more, she recommends three strategies.

“Usually, the best thing to do is to build out a wall of closets and mask them as part of the existing wall,” she said. “They can go flush with a doorway, a soffit or another wall.” With floor-to-ceiling doors hiding them, she said, an addition like that would require a space about 30 to 36 inches deep.

A second option, she said, would be to add a free-standing wall behind your bed. One side serves as a headboard and provides bedside storage, while the other side offers closet space.

Her third suggestion is to build out radiator covers. “You can create bookshelves and media storage just by making the covers a little longer and deeper,” she said. “It’s a very simple way to add just a little bit more storage.”

Ms. Fascitelli’s company specializes in high-end renovations, and costs for these kinds of custom installations can run from $8,000 or so into the tens of thousands of dollars, she said. But she also noted that prefabricated components are readily available for do-it-yourselfers with tight budgets.

“Ikea has amazing headboards that double as armoires,” she said. “For a wall of closets, again, Ikea is good for an affordable solution: they have long, long wardrobes. For radiator covers, you can get prefab ones at lumber and hardware stores.”

Whichever way you choose to increase your apartment’s storage space, it usually makes good sense. As Ms. Fascitelli put it, “It’s unimaginable; in the city that probably offers the least square footage for most people, we also have the most stuff.”

Questions about repairs or redecorating done in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to marketready@nytimes.com. Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.