About Hiring a Closet Designer

Embarassed to take your guest’s coat because you’re not sure what’s going to come crashing down as soon as you open the closet door? Tired of being late to dinner because you can’t remember in which dark corner of your closet you last crammed your shoes? If you want to get maximum use out of minimum space, it’s time to call a closet professional.

Where do I Start?

There are many options to consider when having custom closets installed in your home. For example, if you are having a bedroom closet installed, your particular wardrobe may call for more hanging space than drawers. Closet professionals can help you determine the exact shelving and hanging space required to best organize your closets.

If you can’t visualize what you want, start by visiting the closet companies. Many stores have large showrooms that display their work. As when buying a couch, this allows you to determine which style and colors will look best in your home. If you wish, there are also companies that come to your home to give a free consultation and estimate.

Veneers and Vinyls

Most closet professionals use similar building materials, and it helps to be familiar with them. Commonly, pressed wood is covered in either a wood veneer or melamine. Wood veneer is a thin layer of wood; melamine is a vinyl. Another popular material is vinyl-covered steel shelving. This is a great option if you need more versatility. Using the vinyl-covered steel also allows you to see through your drawers without opening them.

On Cost

Fees in the closet industry are usually structured on a per-project basis. Additional retainer fees and minimum installation fees may also apply. Pricing of closets also depends largely on which materials you choose. By far the most expensive alternative is solid wood. It is difficult to find large closet companies that will use solid wood because it is not cost effective and pressed wood is more durable. However, if beveling and artistic molding are important to you, you might consider talking to a millworker instead of a closet company. It is important to note that solid wood is going to warp and change over time, whereas pressed wood will be less likely to bend (i.e., in the summer solid wood will expand and crack due to humidity, and in the winter it contracts).

Pressed wood covered in wood veneer can range in price depending on what kind of wood veneer you prefer (cherry is more expensive than maple, for example). You can assume that veneer finish, which gives your closet the appearance of solid wood, will be twice to three times the price of melamine, which is the industry standard and the most cost-effective route. Melamine’s durability and color choices make it a favorite among customers. Vinyl-covered steel is the cheapest and easiest to install closet system available. Price can also vary on simple details such as the conditions of the existing walls. The more prep work a company has to do, the more expensive the job will be.

What Should I Expect from a Closet Constructor?

Don’t underestimate the professionalism needed for reworking your home’s storage spaces. Closet companies should be licensed, insured and bonded. You should also inquire about each company’s warranties, which can range in duration anywhere from one year to a lifetime.

While some companies do everything themselves, from design to installation, others consult and design and then subcontract the actual installation to someone else. Ask exactly how much of the entire project is kept in house. You also want to find out how long the closet process takes. For example, if the company has to order your favorite brass doorknobs from Italy, it is going to take longer than using materials that are readily available. Consider your time constraints; are you willing to wait months for the perfect fittings? Also, note that a company might not be able to immediately install your closet due to demand, and it could take a few weeks to begin the job.

Be a Closet Maven

  • For the kids, install adjustable shelves that can accommodate a wardrobe that grows with them.
  • Metal wire shelves and louvered doors offer better ventilation than wood shelves. Towels or damp clothes will dry faster and the air will freshen more quickly. Consider using metal wire shelves for mudroom and bathroom closets, attics and basements.
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