Were you one of the millions of Sex and the City fans who fell in love with Carrie Bradshaw’s palatial closet?
Do you look at your own with frustration and despair?
While comparison may be the thief of joy, a cramped underperforming closet may rob your life of convenience. Perhaps that’s why there are more than 67,000 closet “Ideabooks” on the online home design site Houzz. This may be the season for creating your dream closet.
Veteran closet designer Denise Butchko of Chicago-based Butchko and Company urges homeowners to plan their projects before hiring any professionals or buying any products. She shared many of her ideas and inspirational images at Dwell on Design Los Angeles 2016 in June.
Homeowners “should think about what needs to be stored in the space,” she advises; the more thought you put into what you need from the closet in advance, the happier you’ll be with the designed solution.
Determine how much you want to invest in your project, then match your design, material and installation options to your budget, she suggests.
The professional you hire is also important. “Any man with a van can come into your home and sell you a design,” she says. “Whether or not that design really functions once you start putting your items into it depends upon how much experience and training that person has.”
So, look for someone who has closet-specific experience, as well as a closet-specific portfolio and references.
Carrie Bradshaw’s closet may be out of your price range, but there are workable solutions that are more affordable. Material selection impacts pricing the most, Butchko points out. “For the most part, a simple white melamine closet with hanging and shelving averages $3,000 to $5,000 for an average size walk-in,” Butchko says. “Big box store and DIY solutions are at a lower price point. Design that solution in maple or cherry and the price more than doubles.”
After that come custom solutions. “For example, if a client has a heavy-duty safe and wants it installed at eye level, that requires additional resources in material, labor and design.”
One way to save money, she says, is to incorporate your current closet structures. Butchko says you can uninstall old closet structures yourself and use them elsewhere in your home if they’re worth saving.
Another way to save, the closet designer suggests, is by getting rid of items you don’t wear any longer and moving seldom-worn items — like evening gowns or suits from a past job — to another closet in your home. By removing these garments and their related shoes and accessories from your master closet project, you don’t have to provide storage solutions for them. This, in turn, saves you space and dollars.
You’ve culled through your closet and donated an armful of clothes and shoes to charity. You’ve collected images of what you love on Houzz or Pinterest. You’ve calculated your budget and set aside the money. You’ve found three possible designers to work with you on your new closet and you’re ready to roll. Now it’s time to decide how to design your space.
Here are some of the top trends you might want to incorporate into your project, according to Butchko:
- The biggest overall trend is creating a boutique look, driven heavily by the influence of reality TV and Hollywood stars showing off their intimates in closets bigger than some people’s tiny homes. People want their closets to replicate a shopping experience where they walk in and select what they’ll wear for that occasion.
- Islands are definitely trending in boutique-inspired closet design. People love having them for the drawer storage and for the horizontal surface that becomes available for things like folding clothing, packing for trips and having a mirror for looking closely as they put on jewelry.
- Islands with benches are also on trend. We all need a place to sit to put on and take off shoes and a bench that’s also has room for storage fits the bill.
- Lighting is huge, especially energy-efficient LEDs. Since they are also so versatile and long lasting, lights can work behind shelves (glass or solid surface), inside shelves and even run vertically along the front of a cabinet.
- While closets are still more high-touch than high-tech, Butchko says, charging stations are showing up in closets, providing another place to keep your phone powered up while you bathe or sleep.
- The biggest style trend is texture. Composite materials that look like wood are so advanced now that they look very close to the real thing. They also go the extra mile in achieving a high-end look without a high-end price.
- Incorporating glass in your closet is another big style trend. Whether that be glass in doors, drawers or shelves, it adds a nice, airy touch and ups the glam factor.
You may not be near Chicago to take advantage of Denise Butchko’s services, but you can find a certified closet professional in your area through the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals or download a helpful tip sheet from her website for planning your own project.
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCTWC is a wellness design consultant, Certified Kitchen Designer and the author of the New Bathroom Idea Book and New Kitchen Ideas That Work, (Taunton Press). Jamie can be found online at jamiegold.net.