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Designing Around Columns and Walls

designing around walls and columnsNot all walk-in closets are simple.

And it’s often true that the larger the space, the more demanding it can be with the clients often wanting more customized features.

In this project, the client wanted two islands and was willing to tear down a wall that divided this large walk in closet to achieve this goal. An additional reason for wanting to tear down the wall was because she wanted to be able to see everything she had without going into two separate areas of the space.

We then consulted with the customer's contractor who felt that it was not a load bearing wall and the interior wall could be removed.

At this point, because the project was starting to get involved, we secured a retainer to keep the project moving forward and the contractor began the process of tearing down the wall only to find a support column and some other piping to further complicate matters.

The client then found the original house blueprints and consulted with the architect. He felt the column should stay because it was supporting the second floor even though the contractor thought we might be okay to tear it down..

So we’re back to the starting gate with designing the closet. And now, there was really no way to incorporate two separate islands with a post in the center of the room.

Luckily, that’s where my design inspiration angels showed up and I came up with the idea that we built” says designer Donna Siben.

“My design dilemma was that I now had to redesign the entire thing and incorporate this post. Yuck. Talk about imbalanced.Then I had an epiphany. I came to the conclusion that I could balance this out with another false post and build a back to back island in between the two posts” says Siben.

walk-in closet designed around columns“We then opened a whole can of worms once everything was out of there and we could see all these other obstacles. The floor was uneven. There was duct work in areas we didn’t anticipate. Electrical feeds and outlets showed up that we had no idea would be there.

“My epiphany was to make the existing post deeper than it was and then I mirrored it on the other side. They wanted it deep enough to get a wall safe hidden inside. A safe that’s deeper than what we use in this industry. They didn't want it exposed so we created a decorative door to cover that and then made a balancing decorative door on the other post that was just that - decorative. But now they matched and symmetry was achieved.”

“The design elements of all of this are that there are three different tall vertical pull-outs.  One for robes, one for belts and one for scarves. One of them she converted to shelves and folded the scarves on it as opposed to hanging them. It was versatile enough to do this after the design” says Siben.

The placement of the 3-way mirror helped too because the mirror is across from the entrance so you see the back to back island. So we were able to achieve her goal of seeing all of her clothing at the same time.

At this point she became much more flexible and agreeable to my whole new approach to this design which was now required.

Another design element that was important was the window wall. It was perfect for boots and purses in columns with doors. Framing this window was important to make it look like the rest of the closet” says Siben.

“We also put lighting everywhere, which looks fantastic. Unfortunately, the client has yet to install the stone tops, but we wanted to share this amazing puzzle of a project to highlight the work we do and the length we’re willing to go for happy, satisfied clients and great, functional design results”.

three way mirror master walk-in closet 

How to Make the Best Selections for Your Custom Storage Solutions

White and Woodtone Melamine Closet MaterialsDeciding to have custom work done in your home is a big step.. There can be lots of variables that contribute to the decisions you make. And those decisions drive look, function and price. So let’s take a look at what’s involved.

If your main goals are maximum function at the most efficient cost, then white melamine is your best material choice. It’s availability is widespread, as it’s been out in the market for decades. It’s a simple, straight forward, effective solution for closet storage solutions.

It’s the material most closet companies started with and still offer today.

If you’re interested in just “amping it up a bit”, then a wood tone melamine works beautifully. It’s the next level up in pricing, so you could expect your project to cost about 20% more.

Woodtone melamines add a level of warmth and customization to the look of project that white melamine does not. They also provide more a sense of style, because you can select a color that reflects your own.

Another thing you can do to enhance the look and feel of your project is to add profile doors and drawers; something like a raised panel or shaker style are popular. This does add to the cost, but it also adds to the look. We think it’s absolutely worth the additional investment.

A couple of additional benefits of building your closet in melamine is that the material is extremely durable. You just wipe it clean. And it won’t fade or change from sunlight the way real wood does.

So what if you really want to give yourself the best of the best? Then real wood veneer may be your material of choice. Veneers vary in price based upon lots of different factors, with the main ones being the species of wood and the way the veneers are cut.

You can use veneer at a more reasonable price point if you go with a clear finish in something like cherry or maple or oak. Once you add in staining, you’re adding in cost, as there are additional steps in the preparation and manufacturing of the product.

At Closet Organizing Systems, we offer a series of veneers in oak, cherry, maple and birch with a nice selection of stain colors. These choices are a terrific way to get real wood at a price that’s lower than a custom finish.

From a design perspective, if you’re going to do real wood, your project should have doors and drawers so you can see more of the material you’ve invested in. Most people don’t use veneer for reach in closets. We see it more in walk in closets or storage solutions that are stand alone (meaning they’re built units within the bedroom or other room in your home).

If you’re not sure what material works best for your style (and your budget), we’d love to have a conversation with you about your project. We’ll ask further questions to help define your goals and come up with a solution that works in both areas - style and investment.

Wood Veneer Closet Material

Color Trends and Your Closet

Design drives may of our decisions, whether we realize it or not.  The things we surround ourselves with in our homes are all, at some level, design decisions. Here's what's trending now that you can either incorporate into your personal style statements or into your home:

We've Got The Blues

Blue is a strong color in design right now, trending towards deeper shades. Pairing it with warm golds is a terrific look. But if you're not quite ready to paint out your closet in all blue, how about a blue velvet jewelry tray?


Metallics are a fun fashion neutral and they're fantastic to use to amp up home design.  Copper tones and antiques bronze are really making strong statements. We're seeing them paired with a wide variety of colors, that believe it or not, include mauves. Against white, they always look fresh.


Texture not only adds visual interest, but by the nature of what it is, adds its own textural context. As you put your hand on it each time, you get to "experience" things and not just "see" them. The same holds true for the popularity of "super mattes". The smoothness that these convey makes you want to just keep on running your hand over the surface.

A Resurgence of Black

While black never really goes away, it hasn't been a dominant trend lately. But keep your eyes peeled because it's on its way back. And it will show up in new combinations that renew this stayed staple. Look for mixing it up with warm toned brass and copper.

So if you're ready for some new custom storage solutions, pick up the phone and give us a call. We'll get right back to you and set up a time for one of our fabulous, on trend designers to come meet with you and solve your storage challenges.

Balancing Storage needs with Modern Decor

How Do You Balance Modern Decor With Your Need to Store and Hide Things?

Clean and simple design is trending.

So is tiny living. That means  many are getting the urge to lessen the burdens of keeping track of all their stuff, and all of their overhead, and wanting to get rid of the excess.

Sometimes a solution involves giving the grown children all of their own “kid stuff” from growing up (the awards, the artwork, the favorite toys). That can clean out a lot.

But what if they’re not ready for it? Or don’t want it? But you’re sentimentally attached to it. And attached to all of your own stuff as well.

How do you bring new design and storage into your space without having to give away or sell  all the stuff you love?

Photo by Paul Nicol | NP Marketing

Here are some ideas:

  • 1) Create a “wall” of closed cabinet storage that allows you to ide pounds and pounds of stuff. If you take a look around some of your rooms, maybe one or two of the walls are large enough that they could accommodate a built in wall of storage while still feeling spacious in the room.

    This is a terrific solution that’s great for you while you’re still living there and adds value to the home for whoever lives there later. People are always happy to have extra storage, especially if it hides things.

  • 2) We’re seeing lots of open shelves in kitchens now. Instead of having upper cabinets with doors, people are eliminating those and bringing in floating shelving that’s open. We love the look empty. We like the look when it’s organized with pretty dishes and glassware. We don’t like the look when the shelves are a catch all for all kinds of kitchen items.

    So, if it’s balance you’re trying to achieve, be leary of this open shelf concept. Maybe pick on small area to do it so you can get the look, but having it in your entire kitchen is going to force you to organize and purge. We’re not opposed to that. We just want to make sure you’re aware and ready.

    Floating shelves in a wall unit are much easier to take on because it’s likely you’re going to put photos and heirlooms and even books. All things that are “contained” and don’t get messed up from greasy fingers grabbing them to “add a bit more salt to the recipe”.

  • 3) If you’re building a home and considering your storage options, consider incorporating a couple of “utility” closets - spaces that are behind a closed door but have lots of shelves and drawers for you to stash all of your stuff. This allows for a clean living space and places for you to stash all of your stuff. That’s a definite win.

    If you’re interested in a personal space consultation to help figure out what to do in your home, one of our design consultants will be happy to meet with you and see what can be created to clean up and organize your home with style.

What Makes A Laundry Space Work As Hard As You Do

laundry space for folding and hanging clothesIf you’ve got kids who play sports, I’ll bet there are days when you feel like “laundry is my life”. There are always dirty uniforms to wash.


Add teenage girls to the mix who try on twenty seven outfits (that all end up on the floor) and you’re really spending lots of time in the laundry room.

So, how do you design and organize things so they’re not only more efficient, but more aesthetically pleasing?


Here are some ideas for you:


One of the most functional things to include in a laundry room is a closet rod that can serve as a space to hang clothing as you’re taking it out of the dryer. It can also serve as a place to air dry items you don’t want to put in the dryer.


The best location for this hanging rod is a section above either the washer or dryer. If you have enough room, building out a section next to the appliances also works well. It allows more vertical space for longer garments and can be easier for shorter people to reach.


The second most important element is a space to fold things. Think about how laundromats are designed. There are plenty of horizontal spaces that allow for folding and then stacking the clothing items. It makes a huge difference in being able to be efficient and organized with your laundry (all while getting the kids to come help by putting away their own clothing).


Of course, easily accessible shelves for cleaning products and stain treatment are integral. They can be behind a door or open. Shallow shelving works best so smaller bottles don’t get lost. And even most Costco-size containers of laundry detergent will fit on a 14” deep shelf.


Perhaps you also like to iron in the laundry room. If so, either hang your ironing board on an organizer so it’s easy to get at or leave several inches next to your appliances so you can easily slide it in and out for easy ironing.


Hooks are a simple solution that pack a powerful punch. You can use them for laundry bags or mops and brooms or even to help with hanging space for garments on hangers. Put them on the walls anywhere you’ve got a few available inches of space.


And if you’re lucky enough to have more than a few inches of space for your laundry room, it’s a great place to “trick things out” like we’ve done for some home owners in the area. Take a look and see for yourself.

laundy room with shallow shelving and storage

Dress Up Your Closet With Upgrades

Function is always a top priority when designing effective closet space. Your garments need to be visible and accessible. And any closet designer worth their chops knows that.

So, once we’ve established a terrific, functional design for you, it’s time to personalize the space so it reflects your own personal style.

valet rodHere’s some of our favorite closet upgrades that we’re sure you’re going to not only love, but want to add to your own closet:

  1. 1) The always dependable, always functional valet rail. Once you’ve experienced using a valet rail in your closet, you’ll not only never want to live without one, you’ll want to put as many in your closet as possible. Valet rails are terrific for hanging dry cleaning as your bring it home, planning outfits for your work day or outing and preparing to pack for upcoming trips.

  1. 2) Beautiful, easy to grab doors and drawer pulls. Honestly. If there’s one place you should exceed your budget, it’s here. Nothing changes the look and style of a closet more than beautiful hardware. In fact, we suggest you select your hardware early on in the process and make sure it fits within your budget so it’s not a painful, last minute add on. When thinking about hardware, another important variable is how easy it is to grab. You want to be able to easily see it and grab it so your doors and drawers open easily, and, of course, stylishly! We have a nice selection of hardware on our site, but can work with you on getting hardware from any source where you find something that catches your eye.

  2. 3) Stylized door and drawer fronts. Instead of going with standard, flat panel door and drawer fronts, add pizzazz and style with a drawer profile that you find appealing. Whether that’s a traditional, raised panel front or a more transitional, squared shaker style front, it will elevate the look of your closet into something grand.

  3. Drawer Dividers4) Dividers. Closet dividers can be added to shelves to keep things like shirts and sweaters from looking piled up. Dividers can also be added to drawers so you always know that your black socks are on the left and your brown socks are on the right. And last, but not least, dividers can be added for your jewelry and watches.  These can be velvet or acrylic and are an excellent way to help you see all you’ve got, select what you want to wear and then return it to its’ organized “home”.

  4. 5) Mouldings - whether crown moulding at the top or base molding at the bottom, mouldings are a wonderful finishing touch. They make a standard closet look more like built in furniture for a look you’re sure to love.

So these are some of our favorite closet upgrades. However, if you’ve seen something you like but we haven’t listed it, that doesn’t mean we can’t help you get it. Save your photos and ideas and share them with your design consultant and we’ll be sure to help you find and create the look, feel and function that you dream of for your closets.


The Most Important Questions to Ask Your Closet Designer

Important Questions To Ask Your Closet DesignerCloset storage space is some of the most valuable space in your home.

It’s also the space where you can hide things from view, whether you don’t like seeing the clutter or you want to keep others from seeing it.

If  you’re investing in organizing this space so you get the most from it, you’re sure to want a terrific experience with an experienced designer. In order to help you achieve that goal, we took it upon ourselves to share some of the best questions you can ask your closet designer to be assured you’ll be happy with the results.

Here are those questions:

- How much experience does the designer have and has she/he worked on projects like yours before?

- What are the best elements of the company they work with? What differentiates their design solutions and products from those of other local closet companies?

- Do they have a favorite “go to” solution that they’ve seen work effectively time and again?

- Do they specialize in a certain style?

- Can they deliver what you want within your budget and timeline (this means that, as the client, you need to know both of these pieces of information and communicate about them with your designer early on).

- What’s their customer service/satisfaction process?

- Have they worked in your neighborhood (perhaps you know a neighbor and could see the work completed and ask the neighbor about their experience working with the company).

- Have them tell you about their installation team. Ours is awesome, loves their jobs and take great care in making sure home items are protected while we install your project.

- If you have a specific design/storage challenge - can they solve the problem as their normal scope of work. Sometimes the storage solution you want is more involved than a simple closet system with panels and shelves.

Having a discussion about specifics early on can save the issues that arise from miscommunication later on.

And just to ease your mind for a moment and tout the wonders of our own team - we are among the best in the country. Our design team has won more Top Shelf Design Awards than any other company. We’ve got extensive, excellent shop capabilities and love combining the two to get awesome results for your projects.

Blended Design

Closet Organizing Systems and Denise Butchko recently collaborated on a project titled "Channeling Frank Lloyd Wright." The objective of the project was to blend modern cabinetry elements into a Chicago Craftsman home. This led to transforming a traditional vacant dining room into a multi-functional library space that could be used more frequently.

Wright believed in designing structures that needed to be in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture.

This custom built cabinetry is unique in that it uses two different textured melamine wood tones. Autumn Leaves was used for the primary cabinets and shelving structure and Winter Cherry for the visible backing areas. The three piece door construction combined Winter Cherry as the center panel and Autumn Leaves as the edge rails. The open display areas combined Autumn Leave framed upper doors with lightly textured Chinchilla patterned glass inserts.

Using Denise’s design, Closet Organizing Systems mission was to carry that vision to reality through the cabinetry design and construction in order to fulfill the client’s expectations and be in harmony with the existing architecture. As Frank Lloyd Wright once said "The space within becomes the reality of the building."

Does This Closet Make Me Look Fat?

closet purging and organizationFace it, there are days when you feel like everything makes you look fat (we hate those days).

And then there are the “power days” when you can take a good look at what’s shoved into your closet that, honestly, makes the closet itself look fat. And you realize it’s not you. It’s the shopping choice you’ve made.

It is that time of year, and today is the day to make some new choices and actually let go of some things.

I know. You’ve heard and seen and read about closet purging and the value of being organized many times. The media covers it every change of season.

There’s a reason for that. And that reason is because it’s important.

It’s easy to shop sales and add things to your closet. It’s fun. You think it will “look cute with a pair of jeans” (most overused excuse for random purchase) or it will go well with your black suit.

As the endorphin purchasing rush fades (faster than the couple of pounds you’ve added to your hips), you’re stuck with more items in your closet than you really know what to do with.

Consider this:

If you happen to travel for business, take a good hard look at the key items you repeatedly select to travel in.

They are typically key pieces that feel great on, don’t wrinkle, can be layered and give you confidence as you wear them to meet clients or co-workers.

Then pull the garments out from the dark corners of your closet. You know, the ones you feel you need to keep “just in case”. Try them on. See how they look at feel. If the answer isn’t ‘great”, then do everyone a favor and pack them up for Goodwill.

If you don’t travel for work, take a look at the garments hanging front and center in your closet. The ones you wear to the office when you know you’ve got an important meeting. These are the “keepers”. The pieces that work for and with you and your body type and style.

Take the same approach with the “hidden in the corner” garments and let them go. Don’t think about the money you spent on them. Think about the new energy these garments are blocking because you keep holding on to something that doesn’t serve you.

We know it takes energy. But once you get started, it’s such a great process. It becomes an even bigger feeling of freedom and confidence to look at things you love (that love you back!).

And then your custom designed closet can be created so it works with the good choices you’ve made. The space that will allow your best to shine through. Isn’t that what we all want anyway?

The Benefits of Having a Closet Design Consultant During the Planning Stages of Your Project

Closet Design ConsultationIn some ways this topic reminds me of the old saying “Give a man an inch and he’ll take a mile”.

Clients start planning their home renovation project by thinking about their spaces, use of natural light, and material selections they want along with their must have things like granite and certain types of appliances, or electronics.

They want “spa like” bathrooms and open concept kitchens for entertaining, which are all terrific ideas. That’s the “mile” in terms of design.

Let’s talk about the “inch”. The “inch” standing in for where you’re going to store all your stuff. Your clothes. Your electronics. The kids toys. Sports equipment. Office supplies. Holiday decorations. The list goes on.

Bringing on a closet design consultant as part of your team in the early stages allows you to maximize the space you have.

It also lets you make the most of spaces. Closet design consultants think in terms of utilizing every inch of space. So they’ll often be able to identify nooks for special storage needs.

They’ll also be able to help you plan storage space for specific needs. Maybe you’ve got sports equipment, artist supplies, or some really over-sized trophy item from your great, great grandfather that you don’t want out in the family room, but can’t part with.

And there are the functional things like whether a door swings into a space or out of a space. As closet designers, we like to minimize the effect doors have on our designs as much as possible, mostly because if the door swings into the room, we lose that storage space.

Similar issue with light switches and location of lights. We can help you plan so that maybe the switches are in the hallways instead of inside the closets. We can guide you on making sure light fixtures don’t interfere with storage fixtures, or the lighting helps properly illuminate a given storage area.

And what about power? Do you have outlets located in spaces that don’t interfere with the structure of the storage solution? We don’t want drawers blocking outlets if we can avoid it. Yet, we don’t want to design your entire closet around where your outlets have landed. Talking with us in the early stages of construction can help you avoid those unforeseen design obstacles.

Having a closet design consultant as part of your renovation team is one of the best investments you can make. And it will net you one of the greatest returns. So give us a call, we’d love to talk with you further about ways we can help you make the most of your project.