The News & Observer, By Denise Quinlan

01/01/00 oh my! You’re living in a new millennium and your resolve is high! You’ve made those lists of resolutions and you’ve checked them twice. You’re determined to not muddle through the next century the way you did the last decade or two, and way at the top of your list, just after “stop smoking at holiday parties” and “lose weight after all those holiday parties,” is “get organized!”

But how? Help can be right at home. Take these tips from the experts- home builders.

“Probably the most effective organizational feature we routinely install is the Closet Creations system,” says Rex Bost, a Triangle builder and residential designer. “The local representative comes to the house and takes exact measurements and talks with the home owners about how they want to use the space, then he custom designs the system according to real needs.

“For example, if the master closet is a shared his and hers closet, he’ll design more over-and-under hanging spaces for him, with more sweater boxes and shoe boxes for her, perhaps. In fact, we usually put sweater boxes in all the closets- they’re suited for t-shirts and jeans too.”

Closet systems are available for both new and existing homes and can range in price from a few hundred dollars for DYI configurations to over $20,000 for custom-created, finely milled furniture-grade cabinetry and multi-tiered automated hanging systems that rival professional dry cleaners’ retrieval mechanisms. The former are available at home supply stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s. At least one brand of the latter category, Poliform from Italy, can be contracted through the showroom in Bentwood Furniture Gallery, Eastgate Shopping Center in Chapel Hill.

One such super-closet was featured in the October Raleigh-Wake County Home Builders Association’s Parade of Homes and proved to be a real show stopper.

Bost also believes organization can be achieved through storage in all areas of your home.

“We pride ourselves on using the space within the home,” he says, “such as behind stairs, under sloped areas, behind walls- any space that can be accessed will be accessed, with flooring and lights provided. Some of these ‘attic crawl spaces’ as we call them, are fine for storing items that you don’t need to get to every day, such as Christmas decorations or luggage.”

One of the organizational innovations he’s been adding to new homes lately is climate controlled storage space.

“It’s technically unfinished space such as an attic area, but we put in flooring, insulation, wallboard and venting for heating and cooling but no finishing such as painting or carpeting. It’s good for storing heat and cold sensitive things such as seasonal clothing like furs or leather, or paintings- anything that shouldn’t be exposed to climate changes.”

In thinking about organization at home, certainly the first thoughts fall to the home’s head quarters- the kitchen. Over the past decade social consciousness and technological changes have turned kitchens into command centers with recycling centers and computer terminals.

“One example of how features change in new homes is that just a few years ago we used to install recycling chutes for homeowners for sorting clear glass, plastic, cans, paper and all. Now that community service contractors provide the sorting function home owners can use less segregated centers, such as roll-out trash containers in lower cabinets, usually two side-by-side, so trash goes in one and all the recycling goes in the other,” Bost notes.

An internal organizational system Bost uses that home owners can benefit from is the “home run” configuration for wiring and cable, as opposed to the former “daisy chain.”

“The ‘home run’ configuration allows you to easily re-direct services from room to room,” he explains. “We install it mainly for computer systems; this allows you to network all the computers in the home to a central printer or fax. It allows for communications from one room to another. You can also connect the VCR in the main recreational area to a kid’s bedroom, for instance.”

A decade before the introduction of home computers, builders were putting desks in kitchens to accommodate cookbooks, telephone answering machines, family calendars and the universal catch-all drawer. Over the years the desks have gotten bigger as computers have gotten smaller, and now the two are integral.

Triangle builder Stephen Dilger not only installs computer hook-up wiring at the kitchen desk, he also adds shelving, filing drawers and a link for a nearby printer. Once he put the printer in the pantry.

“Another key way we reduce clutter, which helps homeowners be better organized, is by using the IBM Home Director system,” Dilger says. “We’ve been using it about eight months now, and it’s great. Basically it’s your phone, security, television cable and computer networking all in one box. Everything comes into one place, and goes out from one place. The system allows you to tie together systems. For example, if you’re on a business trip in Europe you can monitor the security cameras in your home via the Internet through a computer card that makes the connection for you.

“This system also consolidates wiring, so it’s like having a big switchboard in your closet. As technology advances, homeowners can easily upgrade by accessing this central system.”

Dilger adds that new home buyers now routinely request home offices, and over the past year he’s built three “kid’s offices.”

“I guess it’s a fairly new idea,” he acknowledges. “It’s an office, or study area for kids that is separate from their bedrooms. They’re usually not very big. One I just did was only eight-by-ten feet and didn’t even have a window. So there’s no getting distracted by watching a butterfly fly past when you’re supposed to be studying!”

Dilger also points to garages as a great place to get organized.

“We usually put in a work bench and shelving in garages, so buyers can get organized from move-in day. Shelving is there as they’re unpacking.”