We won’t sugarcoat this: While remodeling your closet is an exciting idea, doing it yourself is virtually impossible. The design process is complicated and it can be a bit overwhelming—a challenge to weed through the overload of information (and misinformation) you find as you educate yourself and source inspiration for your dream closet. As expert closet design professionals, our goal is to help you design a modern, sophisticated space that meets your organizational goals as well as your everyday needs. In this blog, we’ll help you sift through some common misconceptions when it comes to building out custom closets and guide you in your initial design phase with five tips on what not to do. Let’s get started!
- Rethink the crown molding: Some interior designers may urge you to add crown molding to your custom closet design. Or, maybe this is something you’ve always dreamed of. Maybe you think it offers a more grand appearance. To that extent, you are right, but what you might not realize is that you’re choosing form over function. By electing this novelty, it negates an opportunity for additional storage. Crown molding essentially takes away space from your top shelf. Instead, of it being a functional storage space, it’s acts only as a dust collector. At the end of the day, we always tell our clients it’s your choice. It’s your aesthetic, your dream closet, and your space you have to live with or without. We are always happy to accommodate our clients’ wishes and give them the walk-in closet of their dreams. We have installed beautiful crown molding in many gorgeous closets; but as organizational storage experts, we feel obligated to tell you all the facts. So, if space is a concern of yours, you should perhaps rethink the crown molding.
- Don’t use angled shoe racks: Another common misconception is that shoe racks should be angled like you see in stores. You may think it presents well, but in reality, shoe racks in closets should be flat so footware can’t slide off of them. The two other two major benefits here are that flat racks cost less and are adjustable. Angled racks require “shoe fences” which keep the shoes from slipping off the rack, which is an added expense you won’t see with flat racks. Additionally, angled racks have to be locked into place, restricting their use for shoes only. Flat racks, on the other hand, can be adjusted seasonally; you can add boots to this storage area in the fall and winter; or, if you downsize your shoe collection, you can adjust these shelves (or leave them as is) for stowing accessories like purses.
- Never hang clothes perpendicular to each other: By hanging clothes perpendicularly to each other, they will run into one another at corners, which cuts off 24 inches of storage space. (Gasp!) Generally speaking, a great alternative here is to have hanging storage run perpendicular to shelving to ensure that you’re maximizing your closet space.
- Don’t build closets that are 22 inches deep: The trick to designing any good storage system is making sure that it fits your needs—and just as importantly, the dimensions of your hangers and belongings! If your closets are less than 22 inches deep, your hangers will hang into the wall, past the doorway of your closet, or out into your walkway. Closets that are 18 to 20 inches deep become linen closets and contain only shelving used for storage of folded sweaters and other clothing.
- Don’t install corner shelves: Contrary to what you may have read or been told, corner shelves are not your friend. They are expensive, hard to install—which makes it even more expensive—and don’t double your storage as most people seem to think. Plus, not everyone has adequate space for corner shelves. Instead, opt for simple hanging and wall shelving. Just remember, when it comes to corners, never hang clothes perpendicularly from each other. When the two rows of clothes meet in the corner, you can only hang from one side, meaning you lose 24 inches of valuable storage space! A better idea is to have one side hang clothes while the other offers shelves.
- Don’t add an island if your closet is smaller than 12-by-12: Islands are the dream addition to any walk-in closet, but isn’t not the right fit for everyone—in the most literal sense. The spacing has to be just right to make an island look good and feel spacious within a closet. A 36-inch walkway on each side of the island is ideal, which translates to a 12-by-12 closet space. This is what we always recommend to our clients. There is a caveat though: You can get away with 30-inch or 24-inch walkways if you’re willing to sacrifice clearance space. This means you need at least a 10-by-10 space. But be forewarned, the more clearance space for islands with pullout drawers, the better. Islands are meant to add an air of luxury; this is quickly lost if you feel cramped!
Our goal as high-end custom closet designers and organizational experts is to make sure that your new custom closet is a design masterpiece—something that looks clean and modern, while also giving you exactly what you need in terms of storage and accessibility. We hope that our six tips about “what not to do” help debunk some misconceptions about custom closet design and help guide you through your planning phase. Remember, a good custom closet is meant to optimize storage space, and a great custom closet should do while also making the space feel airy and welcoming.