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Does a Custom Closet Add Value to Your Home?

Example of a custom closet that adds value to your home

Home renovation is a hot market right now. A lot of people are spending more time than ever before at home. It’s natural that thoughts turn to ways to make it better. But what about closets? It’s always nice to have more organized closet space. Does a custom closet add value to your home the way a new kitchen or bathroom can? The answer is yes (and no). Historically, custom closets add an average of 56% return on investment to a home at resale. But your closet can do significantly better than this or much worse depending on how you go about the renovation.

Don’t Let the Numbers Deceive You

Everyone loves custom closets. There’s no debate on that. But are they also willing to pay for them? Does a custom closet add value to a home? Unfortunately, this is not a question with a straight answer. The numbers can be deceiving. And they don’t tell the whole story. The truth is some homeowners recoup nearly ALL OF THEIR INVESTMENT spent on closet remodeling while others get next to nothing for their efforts. Many more get something in between. This averages out to the approximate 56% ROI. Why the disparity? Well, it all boils down to what goes into the closet remodel.

Small dressing room closet
This closet includes a built-in dresser, room for 24 pairs of shoes, plus a cabinet with more shelves, and additional open shelving. Accessories such as a valet pole and tie organizer add appeal.

How to Get Close to ˜ 100% ROI on Your Closet Remodel

There’s an old saying that “there’s no accounting for taste.” This is just as evident in closet design as in anything else. Your closet needs to appeal to most home buyers. And it needs to stand up to the test of time. That means nothing too trendy or "out there." But it’s easier to achieve than it might first sound. Just keep these points in mind when building your closet:

Custom Closet Best Practices

Professional Design

Design can be tricky. That’s because closets are so personal — especially bedroom closets. In order to make your custom closet work, you need to design it around your own possessions. Create a space for everything to go and that will help you stay organized. But what about somebody else’s possessions. Will they work in your closet also when it comes time to sell? If you’re interested in ROI, it can be nerve-racking trying to figure this out.

Luckily, the answer is probably yes. That’s because most people have similar needs. This, in turn, leads to similar possessions. Take shoes for example. Did you know that the majority of adults in the United States own 20 pairs of shoes? However, there are some people who own many more than this. But this is not a problem with a good closet design. You can solve this dilemma even if you are the one with an extensive shoe collection. Perhaps set aside dedicated shoe storage with slanted shoe shelves and shoe fences for about 20-24 pairs of shoes. This can be your overhead shoe storage since the angle helps with viewing the footwear from below. Then include regular flat shelves or rotating shelves to hold the rest of your shoes. The flat shelves are more versatile because they can be used for folded sweaters, purses, knit tops, jeans, etc. The trick is to know what you need to get out of the closet and design for that while keeping the average needs of others in the back of your mind. And always adhere to accepted design practices. For example, shelving sections should be no more than 30-inches-wide. Hanging sections can go to 36-inches in width without additional support. The best depth for closet shelves is usually 14-inches. If remembering all this scares you, you can always seek assistance from a professional closet designer.

Quality Materials

This is where a lot of homeowners go wrong. Sometimes a bargain doesn’t turn out to be a bargain at all. That’s because cheap and junky begets low prices at resale. Pay attention to what you’re buying when you purchase your materials. Solid wood is too pricey for most budgets. Most custom closets are made from some type of laminated particleboards. That’s because laminate provides a much more sophisticated look than can be achieved with any sort of metal or wire system. But not all laminates are made alike. There are different grades. M2 furniture/industrial grade is the one you want. Another quick way to check the laminate quality is with thickness. Always select a 3/4-inch thickness or greater for your closet project. This will ensure that shelves don’t sag or break from the weight of items stored on them.

The quality of the hardware also makes a difference. Choose zinc-plated or brass components that won’t fail under normal wear and tear.

Crystal cabinet door knobs
These closet cabinets have high-end knobs inlaid with Swarovski crystal.

Solid Installation

A poorly executed remodel never brings in a profit. Closets are no exception. In fact, homebuyers might deduct money from their offer if they feel they will need to rip out and reinstall a failing closet. Make sure your closet installation is strong. It has to hold a lot of weight. That’s why closet organizer systems should be anchored to the home’s studs. And pay attention to how the laminated particleboard panels are cut because they have greater strength in the parallel direction than the perpendicular. Learn how to route shallow channels for closet lighting systems into the panels so that strip LEDs can be recessed and covered. This presents a clean, polished, professional look. Make sure your handles and knobs line up and are straight.

And watch out for moisture issues where you install the closet. Laminate closes cannot get rained on or wet. Be careful when working near windows or plumbing. Don’t put anything directly in front of windows.

The installation can make or break a closet remodel. No matter how good it looks on paper or online, the design is only as good as the way it is applied.

Closet installation in progress
Make sure your installation is top-notch.

Make sure you take the time to install your closet correctly. Keep everything straight and anchor the system to the home’s studs.

Keep It Neutral

The same rule used for other areas of real estate applies to closets as well. Keep your color and design choices neutral in order to appeal to the greatest number of buyers. That’s because even if you love the color yellow, the next person may not agree. Even if you’re very modern, the next homeowner may prefer a traditional style. Transitional design is the most practical choice. Pick this style for your doors, drawer fronts, and trim because it can blend with nearly anything. The transitional style is currently the most popular look in the United States for this reason.

That doesn’t mean you can’t add your own personalization to your closet remodel. Add your favorite color through accessories like window treatments and upholstery. Choose easy to replace knobs and handles with a modern or traditional look so that the next owner won’t object to the effort involved in replacing them if it’s not their style.

Closet island with built-in bench seating
This closet is a neutral white. However, a punch of hot pink is added through the upholstery on the bench seating. Clear glass knobs offer a contemporary touch but are easy to replace.

Use the Right Accessories

Don’t forget to choose closet accessories to complete your project. Organizing accessories add a lot of storage, convenience, and value. But some closet accessories offer a better ROI than others. Always look for high-quality, solid construction. Racks for belts, pants, shoes should slide easily and quietly. Handles and knobs should feel substantial to the touch. Buy closet lighting from a brand that has a good reputation. Try to make sure any drawers have wood boxes with dovetail joints. Use under-mount drawer slides with soft-close hydraulics for a luxury experience. The up-front cost is a little more, but the expense is worth it long-term. And don’t forget to add a built-in hamper. This feature is one of the most mentioned when clients talk about what they love most about their closets.

High-quality closet drawer
This closet drawer with dividers shows how an under-mount installation means the drawer glides are hidden even when open. The high-quality drawer box is made of wood and uses dovetail joints.

More is Not Necessarily Better

Don’t over-improve for your neighborhood. The average custom closet remodeling project runs $2,000 — $4,000. This doesn’t mean you need to be average. You can spend more or less. The size of the closet will also have some bearing on its final price tag. But keep in mind that not every neighborhood can support a $40,000 closet remodel. If yours can, then great. Go for it. And a cheap job that is below neighborhood standards won’t save money in the long run either because the next owner will most likely want something fancier. It won’t present value to that person. In fact, some neighborhoods demand a luxury closet for the master bedroom. That's why your best ROI will come from investment in the master closet.

Keep this in mind. You can put in whatever you want to suit your own needs and taste. Generally speaking, a custom closet adds value to your home. But if it doesn’t adhere to standards for your location, you might not get your money back when it comes time to sell.

A Note on Converting Space into a New Closet

Older homes often lack enough built-in closet space to suit modern wardrobe needs. That’s why owners of these homes often look for ways to convert other spaces to add closet storage. Repurposing an unused bedroom is a popular way to add a new, large, walk-in closet/dressing room suite. This can make a lot of sense sometimes. But remember, a bedroom is worth more than a closet when it comes time to sell.

Try for a bedroom to closet remodel that is multi-purpose. This means that although the space will be primarily used as your closet/dressing room, it can be used as a spare bedroom if needed. To achieve this, cover your built-in hanging and shelving sections with cabinet doors. Put the closet island on casters so it can be wheeled out or moved to the side if necessary. Invest in a Murphy bed or other hidden bed system. That way, you’ve still got a bedroom. And don’t remove the windows. Work them into your closet design instead.

In some cases, it’s better to add a new reach-in wardrobe style closet to an older home instead of losing a room. These closets are like armoires, but they are built-in. They don’t move around like a piece of furniture and are frequently much larger, providing a lot more storage. Wardrobes can be designed to blend with the existing aesthetic of the home through the choice of doors, crown moulding, and trim.

New wardrobe closet addition for historic home matches original house
These new wardrobe closets use crown moulding and trim to match the feel of this Victorian farmhouse.

When does a custom closet add value to your home?

Does a custom closet add value to your home? The answer is yes. But the more you adhere to these tips, the more return on investment you are likely to get. You need to design the right closet out of the right materials with the right accessories for the right neighborhood. And the installation needs to be solid. Personalize the elements that are easy for others to change and go neutral for the rest. This will bring the most money at resale.

And even if you don’t get every penny back, your custom closet is still adding value. Consider this. A home with a nice closet is more desirable than an equal home that lacks this feature. Apples to apples, your home will sell first in a tight market. Days on the market matters when putting a home up for sale. And don’t forget about your own enjoyment from living with the custom closet. That has value also.

No matter what, the answer is a definite yes. A custom closet adds value to your home!