Custom Closets: the New Norm

by Rachel Morgan | Feb 2, 2015
Custom Closets: the New Norm …From the pages of House & Home…

Advice from our experts to help you master your available space and organize your life

We’ve all been there: frantically rifling through an over-packed closet in search of the one article of clothing that is nowhere to be found, throwing your morning routine off and putting a damper on your whole day. In search of a solution to this universal problem, House & Home talked to some local experts about the newest trends in the way of closets and storage solutions.

Here's what we found out: Closets have become another category in which customization is king. Pre-fabricated designs are being taken over by custom closets, and homeowners are making the most of every last inch of space by adding shelves, bins and other creative storage solutions. And these trends aren’t just limited to the traditional closet spaces—garages and pantries are other areas in which customization is taking over.

“Our industry is trending in more upscale and more custom closets each year. At one point the norm was wire shelving or pre-fab shelving from the contractor. Soon, white melamine modular closet systems became popular, and now we are seeing more of the designer custom systems requested,” says Mike Stepanic, president of Tailored Living of Wilmington and West Chester in Newark, Del. “The trends of the design are following the kitchen and bath industry, and the modern, industrial look is what is taking hold right now in most markets.”

And while pre-fabricated closets may be more budget-friendly than custom closets, the latter is worth the investment, experts say.

“Financially, a pre-fab closet may appear to assist with the organization of your space. However, a custom closet will create more space, compartmentalize items and work around all obstacles such as outlets, light switches, access panels, etc.— all things that can be found in your closet,” notes Jennifer Trevithick, director of client relations and marketing at Closets by Design in Exton, Pa.

“A custom closet will be designed around your storage preference: pants over the hanger or from the cuff, [or] socks rolled in a ball and stored in a basket or folded and in a drawer, just to name a few. Now we are ready to design a custom closet that will consider all of the above, create more organized space while reducing the amount of time it takes you to get ready every morning.”

David Cutler, president of The Closet Works, Inc. in Montgomeryville, Pa., advises hiring a professional to get your closet in shape. “The best tip I can give you is to engage a professional,” he says. “Only an experienced closet designer understands the space requirements for different items, potential interferences and how sections should be arranged to avoid limitations to access, and how to avoid problems with such things as HVAC outlets ad returns, access panels, electrical boxes, light fixtures, fold down attic stairs, moldings or other physical things in the closet that can significantly impact not only form and function but the actual installation process as well.”

As far as ways to increase the closet space you do have, experts sound off on their favorite tips and tricks.

“The first thing that should be done in all closets to increase room is to ‘double hang’ the clothing. A simple closet with double hanging can give over 50-75 percent more hanging space and additional space for drawers and shelving,” Stepanic says. “Drawers and baskets are great ways to organize the items in the closet that create clutter, and adjustable shelves are a necessity in every closet.”

Stepanic also advises keeping a clean line of sight within a homeowner’s closet. “Ideally we will create a closet system that discourages clutter by organizing the clothing in a way that there are no ‘hidden’ areas that items can be shoved away,” he says. “We use appropriate sized shelving for the items being stored, and determining these appropriate sizes is a big part of our design process.”

Janet Stevenson, design consultant at Closet City in Montgomeryville, Pa., names lighted shelves, lighted closet rods, accessory pullouts for belts, scarves and ties, necklace racks and hidden hampers as popular features. Ironing boards and locking jewelry drawers are also gaining popularity, she says.

Lewis says making use of hanging space in a closet is key—employing double hanging options, shelving and medium hanging options.

But it doesn’t end there. Designers say they are also seeing custom storage solutions cropping up in other areas of the home. “We can do wonders for garages, mudrooms or entry ways, home offices, libraries, pantries, laundry rooms—almost any space in the house that you want to make more organized and harder working,” Cutler says. “Murphy beds and similar convertible furniture have become most popular, affordable and extremely useful when trying to make the most out of your available space.”

Garages are another area in which these creative storage solutions are taking precedence. “[Garages are] another area of the house that is starting to take an upswing in creating more functionality,” says Aaron Lewis, owner of Closets for Less of Bucks, LLC. “Customers are requesting more shelving with doors and slat walls to store everything from bikes to ski equipment, garden tools, golf clubs, etc.”

Teri Fisher, owner and designer at The Closet Gallery in Medford, N.J., agrees. “Garages are the hub of storage. We install cabinetry and workstations. We also install slat walls, which are panels that are installed on the walls of the garage and accessories like hooks, bike racks and such can be added.”

Pantries are another prime storage area. A popular trend in pantries are pull-out drawers and shelves, which give homeowners easy access to small food items, spices and appliances, Stevenson notes. “A pullout pantry or spice rack acts as an extension of the refrigerator by consolidating dry goods and cold storage into one area of the kitchen.”

Custom pantry storage is also gaining popularity. “From open shelves to floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, a custom pantry provides a multitude of space to store kitchen essentials,” Stevenson says. “A tall cabinet with shelves inside at different heights makes it easy to store various groceries just steps away from where meals are prepared.”

When it comes to best utilizing storage space, sometimes the answer is simple: go up.

“A great way to increase the storage space in a closet, pantry, garage—any place that you need additional storage created—is to go ‘up,’” says Melanie Statlander, marketing manager for California Closets in Fairfield, N.J. “Utilize high ceilings by building a taller system and then using pull-down bars for high hanging sections, or include a rolling ladder to access the items that you don’t use every day. Also, changing out one long pole across a reach-in closet, for example, and making it a double hang (stacked poles) instantly gives you twice the hanging space.”

And when it comes down to it, it’s really all about functionality.

“A beautiful closet that doesn’t function well is a dysfunctional closet,” Trevithick says. “In the organizing world, form should always follow function.”

Lewis agrees. “Remember, you start your day in your closet and end it there—so keep it functional so your day starts off right.”


Closets for Less of Bucks, LLC
Holland, Pa. | (215) 504-5898

California Closets
Fairfield, N.J. | (973) 882-3800

Tailored Living of Wilmington and West Chester
Newark, Del. | (302) 444-4224

Closet City
Montgomeryville, Pa. | (215) 855-4400

Closets by Design
Exton, Pa. | (610) 644 4143

The Closet Gallery
Medford, N.J. | (609) 714-8282

The Closet Works, Inc.
Montgomeryville, Pa. | (215) 675-6430

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 15, Issue 7 (January, 2015).
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Author: Rachel Morgan


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