December, 2009 | Closet Organizational Tips & Tricks > Closet Works

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The Checklist: Comparing Custom Closet Bids & Designs

Whether you’ve decided to stay in your home and do a remodel or take the plunge and buy a home – odds are you’ll be addressing storage issues.

Almost every American home has them, and homeowners define them as very important, according to research conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, which indicates that two of the most important things to home buyers these days are “built-in cabinetry and cleverly hidden storage spaces.”

So if you’re about to embark upon the journey to organization Mecca by getting custom closets – here are some things to look for if you’re comparing designs and bids:

Suspended Closet Works closetFloor based Closet Works closetHanging Out
Are the closets designed with a Hanging System or a Floor Based System?  If the panels don’t touch the floor (such as the closet in the picture on the left), it’s a hanging system, which is more economical and easier to install.  Floor based systems look more like built-in furniture.  They also offer more flexibility for future design changes because the structure is already in place.

Closet Works drawer boxDrawer Details
How many drawers are included – are the slides full extension, self-closing or 75% extension - are the boxes wood, melamine (white or matching color) or metal?  And how deep are the drawers?

Accessorize and Glamorize
What accessories are included – and how many - and are they basic or deluxe.  There are lots of closet accessories on the market that function but have minimal beauty (meaning that the hardware and mechanisms are not concealed).  Here's a downloadable PDF of all Closet Works accessories.

Height Matters
Is it an 84” high system, a 96” high system or something custom?

A Pretty Face
Are the fronts on the doors and drawers flat, edgebanded melamine or Thermofoil, decorative (such as Raised Panel or Shaker Style).  Thermofoil adds to the price but looks better and there’s no chance of the edgebanding ever coming off because there isn’t any.  And do the designs include any other decorative touches such as crown, base or fluted mouldings.

Is any element custom in size, color or shape?  That adds to the costs and doesn’t lend itself to doing an accurate, apples-to-apples comparison.

And last, but not least, how do you relate with the sales person/designer?  As my colleague Joyce Hardison from Ventura, California so aptly put it "You need to be a well informed consumer.  You need to know what to look for - how to compare designs and what's in the design."
And we both agree that being comfortable with the person who's in one of the most intimate environments in your home is just about as important as having enough space to store your shoe collection.

Party in the Pantry!

I know that sounds a little crazy, but most of the things you need for a party end up being stored in your pantry, since it's one of the most all-encompassing storage niches' in your house.  From Campbell's to Kraft and from Betty Crocker to Orville Redenbacher - it's in there.  So, putting some thought into a pantry shelving system can really pay off. Some pantry shelving system ideas include:

Closet Works pantry shelving systemsCloset Works pantry shelving systemsLess is More
When it comes to shelf depth in a pantry - less really can be more.  It's good to have a variety of different depths in your pantry.  Shallow pantry shelves are great for small items like soup and mac n' cheese.  Deep shelves are great for larger items like serving bowls and paper towel.

Let's Go Deep
Deep pantry shelves or pullout drawers are great for storing serving pieces, platters and large appliances.  Just be sure to design pullout drawers with varying amounts of space in between in order to accommodate different size items.  Your pantry shelving system will have adjustable shelves so you can determine what works as you organize this space with your own foodstuffs.

Re-Use - Recycle - Reclaim
If your pantry becomes the home for the recycle center, make sure it's organized and easy to use. Do this by deciding on how much space is needed for the containers and where they will go. Any sort of pullout can really make this task easier.

Bottom Heavy
Leave open floor space in your pantry so you can simply slide heavy items like cases of water and soda on the floor for easy access and maneuvering.

Captain Hook
Hooks are really a great help in almost every storage area of the home because they make that all-important "vertical space" (aka the walls) usable.  In a pantry you can hang aprons, reusable shopping bags, pet leashes and mops and brooms.

Closet Works pantry basketPull It Out
Pullout baskets are great for potatoes and onions as well as things like bags of chips - or just bags for taking to the grocery store.  They help contain things while still allowing you to see what's inside - such is the beauty of baskets.

The Drop Zone


Who amongst us doesn’t walk in the door and “dump” stuff?

Be it your keys, your coat, your cell, your blackberry or the grocery bags – most people walk into their house and set something down.

So a great tip for managing this activity and not ending up with a chaos-filled entrance to your home is to create what I like to call “The Dump Zone”.

Rockstar HookThis kind of space is really helpful in areas like mudrooms, entryways and master closets.  If you plan ahead in your closet design, you can incorporate things like hooks for keys and outlets to plug in electronics that need to be charged.

messy pursetidy purseLadies – if you change out your handbags frequently and store your purses in your closet – consider a drawer that allows you to “dump” current contents and easily put them back in to your next purse of choice.  A basket on a dresser or a top drawer that’s deep enough works great to serve this purpose.

And group some items together in smaller bags that fit inside your purse (combine things like personal grooming items in a zipper pouch and receipts in an envelope) to make it even easier.

www.cpdocks.comAnd consider organizing mobile devices like this portable shelf with key hook from As is often the case, the right tool for the job makes everything so much easier.  And should you need help with ideas to make your life easier, set up a design consultation with one of our expert design consultants, because at Closet Works, we’re extremely passionate about being extremely organized – and we love sharing our passion with people who want to make their lives easier to live.

Prime Real Estate in Closets


Closet Works shoe closetThe “location, location, location” equivalent in your closet are the spaces that are easiest for you to access.  So think eye level and able to access within an easy arms’ reach.
For example, if your closet design is set up so that you keep your shoes on shelves, the ones in the middle should house the shoes you wear the most.
You can change them out by the season (if you happen to live in a climate with seasons).
Lesser-worn items should be stored on the upper and lower shelves so you don’t have to bend down or reach up (or get on a ladder if you’re my height) to access things you use all the time.
Dressy party shoes on bottom.
Heavy snow boots on the top (please – because that means we won’t have enough snow in Chicago to need them very often!).
Casual sweaters on the middle shelves – über-casual painting shirts waaaaay on the top shelves.
And if you need a space planning “agent” – make an appointment with one of our design consultants to help create real estate nirvana in your own custom closet.

Money Saving Tips for Creating Your Dream Closet




Design it as a "Hybrid" - have the closet designed so the perimeter of the room (the hanging and shelves) is in melamine.  Have the island and drawer/door fronts fabricated in wood that is stained to match the melamine.  That way, what you see the most of (the fronts and cabinetry) is also the most beautiful and luxurious.

Closet Works walk in closetUse Pre-Finished Wood - you can get a wood closet for a smaller investment if you use a prefinished wood like cherry or maple.  These are typically only available in clear finishes, so your choices are limited, but you avoid the cost of custom finishing.

Select Your Own Pulls/Knobs - Pick the most wonderful, gorgeous handles you can afford.  Handles function like great buttons on suits - they elevate the look.  Spend big here.  I promise that you won't regret it.  What's big?  Up to $50 (or so) per pull.  You touch these everyday and there's luxury in touching something that feels wonderful.

Slide In & Out - Drawer slides are the most unseen (hopefully), under appreciated elements of storage.  There's no satisfaction quite like that derived from a smooth-moving drawer.  With just a gentle push, you get a quick shot of luxury.  And not having to worry about closing the drawer because it does it on its own...aaahhh! Life just got easier.

Know Thyself - know what it is you like about the pictures you've torn from those magazine pages.  That way a good designer can guide you on which are expensive to duplicate and which aren't.  If the unusual rod used on the Italian system doesn't matter to you (it's the grain of the wood that you like) then there's no point in spending a lot of money on that element. Simple looking details are often involved and expensive to fabricate and install.
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