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Under The Stairs

under the stairs unused space staircase space ideas

Any multi-level house has stairs. And most people want to utilize this ready-made storage space as well as they can. As closet and storage designers, we discuss this space with our clients frequently.

Sometimes they want to put a desk in the space. Another really popular request is to add as much shelving as possible so they can store treasured “stuff”, because, let's face it, if you're storing it underneath stairs, you're likely not using the items very often.

If you're open to going beyond expected storage solutions for this space, here are some additional ideas:

-Bike storage. You can get hooks to hold the bikes that can be installed either on the angled upper area or on the side wall. It makes for very easy access for people who ride bikes frequently but don't want them blocking the path to the door.

desk under staircase-Bookshelves. This build out can be a bit more complicated if you're really going for a “built-in” look. A simple approach is to buy some bookshelves or, better yet, be open to your designers perspective in conjunction with your budget. Don't try filling in all of the space.

-Bar cart. This is a great nook space to stash something on wheels that you don't use on a daily basis, and a bar cart often fits that bill. You entertaining tools will be at the ready for when you're entertaining, but out of the way otherwise.

-Bathroom. This takes a contractor and things like plumbing and electrical, but it's a really good use of this space.

-Guest sleeping nook. With the right build out and an abundance of cushions and pillows, a sleeping (or nap taking) nook can be a really awesome way to utilize this space.

But you want to know the EASIEST use of this space?

Keep it open or put in one or two shelves (max) and store things like holiday decorations. These are often in big boxes, they're only accessed once a year and can be stacked and blocked because you don't need to get at them on a daily basis.

desk built into side of staircase staircase cabinetry

Top Shelf Awards 2015 Closet OS Winners

This year Closet Organizing Systems earned 3 honorable mentions in the Closets and Home Office categories and 1 Top Shelf Award in the Garage category. We now have 11 Top Shelf Awards and 8 honorable mentions on our record which is quite an accomplishment in a period of 7 years since these events started.

In the Garage over 600 square feet category, Bill Curran Jr. of Closet Organizing Systems took the win with his "Garage Bunker" design.

Garage Bunker

In the Closet: Laminate more than 18 linear feet category, two Honorable Mention awards went to Closet Organizing Systems. Donna Siben, for her “Master Closet Geometry Puzzle,” and Bill Curran, Jr. for his "Snow White Master" design.

Master Closet Geometry Puzzle Snow White Master Closet

In the Home Office: under150 square feet category, Donna Siben earned another Honorable Mention award, for her “Making a Home Office Devine,” design.

Making a Home Office Devine 

Top closet and storage designers and custom woodworkers were celebrated at the 2015 Cabinets & Closets Gala Awards reception, held April 15 at the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center.

Top Shelf and Design Portfolio awards are given to honor designers for their creative organizational solutions and for their outstanding design, craftsmanship and execution. Each category is intended to highlight functionality and originality, as well as design.

5 in 1 Mudroom

Located right inside the garage door this 5 in 1 mudroom wears many hats to support busy professionals and their growing family. The space was needed to manage a mountain of shoes/coats, technical devices, paperwork and mail, housecleaning supplies and equipment in addition to the inevitable daily pile of dirty laundry.

angled mudroom cabinetscomputer, tablet, mobile phone custom charging station

The long and narrow existing Laundry Room/Mudroom space included a standard washer and dryer on the long wall and a reach-in closet that did nothing to organize the clutter. Making matters worse, this space is off the garage and the first view after a hectic day. They wanted their first glimpse of “home” to be a sigh of relief along with the traditional feel of the décor of the rest of their home.

Keeping the narrow space open drove us to the use of lighter materials (Glazed Ivory Melamine with Raised Panel Faces) and using the height to our advantage (9’ Ceilings).  We chose Upper Cabinets to the Ceiling with Glazed Extra Large Crown Molding and Extra Large Continuous Base Trim to provide a visual balance. Venetian Bronze Hardware and Oil Rubbed Bronze rods, hooks, etc. complement the Walnut Glazing.

vacuum storage mudroomlaundry room with hidden laundry chute in cabinets

Removing the closet to enlarge the space and moving the Washer and Dryer to the back wall were approved by the clients.  Since the laundry originates primarily on the second floor and the area above this space was acceptable to a Laundry Shoot, careful placement of the cabinets allows the flow of laundry into a center cabinet on the back wall with a stationary top door and special clasp on the operable door to avoid stray unmentionables from escaping.

All cabinets on that rear wall were made 28” Deep for the Stackables and to house more laundry. Detergents and Laundry Items are stored on Pull Outs below. The sink cabinet provided the ability for the occasional hand washables with a rod above for drip drying.

cabinet drawer shoe storage

Custom Lucite shoe inserts were used in some of the lower extra large drawers on the long wall. Shoes are stored perpendicular and the custom slots were engineered to meet this family’s needs. Vacuum cleaners, Laundry Baskets and Drying Racks were carefully measured to find their home in their own cabinet.  Lockers for the Children and for the Adults (including briefcase storage) are concealed with doors allowing one Open Locker with Glazed Beadboard backing to break up the monotony.

A family charging Station with mail/paperwork slots, plenty of room for cell phones, I-Pods, I-Pads plus the children’s electronic gadgets was added to as an end cabinet.

The Clients are thrilled with the outcome!

Closet OS Earns Angie’s List Super Service Award for 4th Year

Angies List 2014 Super Serivce AwardAward reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

Closet Organizing Systems has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of service provided to members of the local services marketplace and consumer review site in 2014.

"We are pleased to receive our 2014 Super Service award from the Angie’s List community a fourth year running for the company," said Bill Curran President of Closet Organizing Systems. "We place high value on customer reviews and recognize consumers are doing their due diligence before selecting just any closet company. Other customer testimonials and experiences help the consumer validate their selection and purchasing process," Bill Curran added.

“Only about 5 percent of the Custom Closets, Design, and Organizing Systems for Home and Office companies in the Chicagoland Area have performed consistently well enough to earn our Super Service Award,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a really high standard.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2014 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality. Members can find the 2014 Super Service Certification logo next to company names in search results on


To learn more about Closet Organizing Systems visit us on the web at
or to speak to one of our design professionals, please call toll free 1-800-521-4267.

Closet OS Receives Best Of Houzz 2015 Awards

Best of Houzz Awards 2015 Closet Organizing Systems has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” for Design & Customer Satisfaction by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. Closet OS was chosen by the more than 25 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than 500,000 active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz award is given in two categories: Design and Customer Satisfaction. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 25 million monthly users on Houzz, known as “Houzzers.” Customer Satisfaction honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2014. Winners will receive a “Best Of Houzz 2015” badge on their profiles, helping Houzz users around the world who discover and love a professional’s work to learn even more about that business’ popularity and satisfaction rating among their peers in the Houzz community. 

“Houzz provides homeowners with a 360 degree view of home building, remodeling and design industry professionals, empowering them to engage the right people and products for their project,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of industry marketing for Houzz. “We’re delighted to recognize Closet Organizing Systems among our “Best Of” professionals as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

Follow Closet Organizing Systems on Houzz 

About Houzz
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish - online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin and Sydney. For more information, visit

Accessorizing Your Closet Space

When we hear the word “accessories” we typically think of the things that we add  on to what we're wearing; going beyond our clothing garments to include items like earrings and necklaces for women and ties and cufflinks for men.

But there's so much more you can add to your closet system.

So we put together the latest and greatest “must have” items for tricking out your closet in style.


Hafele Drawer Lighting

Lighting options have expanded greatly since LED lighting has become widely available in the marketplace. A couple of the top benefits of LED lighting are that it is very energy efficient and it does not get hot like Halogen bulbs, so it's safer.

So the advances in technology have enabled the creation of some really great options. One of the ones we love the most are rechargeable LED lights (from Hafele) that can be installed in your drawers (so you can tell your blue socks from your black socks). And these lighting devices work either automatically (as the drawers open and close) or can be turned off manually and have an exceptionally long battery life.

There are also some accent lighting options that really add to the beauty (and function) of your space. We can incorporate this Light Integrated Trim (LIT from Keeler) into crown molding or at countertop/drawer stack height to add real panache.

LIT Keeler

Ironing Board

There aren't many people who love to iron, but making it easy and convenient certainly helps. So if you've got a walk in closet, allocating a small amount of space for this awesome fold-out ironing board really makes touch ups easier.

Ironing Board Revashelf

Mirrormax  Sidelines


We all need to take a good look in the mirror before we walk out the door. Or even just put on our earrings. Of course, you can have a small mirror on a stand on your dresser drawers, but you can also get something fun and fancy in the mirror category. This one allows you to not only see yourself, but store some of your stuff behind it, so it works double duty.

If you'd like to learn more about how these wonderful closet accessories can be incorporated into your closet space, give us a call. We'd be delighted to meet with you and see what we can come up with as a solution for your space.

Award Winning Old World Charm In A Walk In Closet

Top Shelf Award Winner - Old World CharmSometimes architects and homeowners have different views on how much closet space is really needed, and this project was a great example of that. The originally proposed closet space was about half the size of what we ended up with.  The client wanted separate His/Her areas, so plans had to be adjusted. 

What we did was extend the closet space into a loft area for “Her” closet space and converted some additional space in the master suite into “His” closet.

The new space for her was now much bigger, but it was narrow. She wanted to create a dramatic, elegant environment in harmony with the “old world” style of the home,  which included existing crown molding at the ceiling and Brazilian cherry flooring.

She also wanted the entire closet space to have doors and drawers, so that nothing was visible except the beautiful structure of the closet. But remember, the closet space was very narrow, so we advised against enclosing everything because it would be very difficult to access.

In our design plans, we wanted to visually “widen” the space so it didn't feel so narrow, so we utilized a mirror and columns with strategic placement.

Old World Charm - Summer Flame Melamine with Rubbed Bronze Accents

As you can see in the photos, we located the mirror on the back wall and flanked it by two columns. This served the important function that full length mirrors fulfill (allowing you to see yourself and your entire outfit – head-to-toe) and it gave us the illusion of more space.

Another strategic design decision we made was to lower the system height so you could still see the crown molding located at the ceiling.

We met her other storage needs by incorporating hampers and jewelry drawers. We also created separate wardrobe areas. One for casual items she wears frequently near the front of the closet and one for seasonal and formal items in the back areas of the closet.

And what materials did we use to create this beautiful space? A melamine called Summer Flame (along with thicker, 3mm edgebanding), glazed, raised-panel fronts and oil rubbed bronze accessories.  The client added her own black marble top and chandeliers to really put the fashionable finishing touches on her space.

This closet was so well designed and came out so beautifully that it actually won a Top Shelf Design Award, which we're very proud of. Carey Eckstrom designed this beauty and we're quite proud of her as well.

Purge the Pantry

The pantry is an easy place to pile things in to. And pile things on top of each other. Think about it. Most items in your pantry have an individual cost of under ten dollars each. They are items you've purchased with the rationalization that they are in the “food and nutrition” budget. Individually, they don't cost a lot of money.

luxurious wood pantryLaundry room pantry

There's also the element that you purchased them with the intention of either:

  • using the item to create a meal
  • have someone in your family enjoy it as a snack
  • include it as party of the food festiveness of one of your social gatherings
  • save you in a pinch when you have to serve something quickly and don't know what to make
So how do you keep your finger on the pulse of what's in your pantry and keep everything fresh and easy to access?

neatly organized white pantrypantry grouping items together

Here are some suggestions that will make it easier:

Expiration Dates – if the date has passed – out it goes. It's a great, non-subjective filing system.

Gourmet Glut – you know you've done it. Purchased something that sounded great while you were shopping on an empty stomach, grabbed something off the shelf that looked tantalizing but the instructions seem overwhelming and too time consuming for you to ever actually make. Out it goes.

Now group like minded things together. Canned vegetables in one area, boxed side dishes in another. Snacks in a basket or container of some kind. Not only does this help you organize and get rid of things, it helps you save time on future shopping trips because you can easily see whether or not you have cream of mushroom soup for the casserole you're making for dinner.

Donate – It's a storage designers favorite word. If it's the gourmet goodies you're letting go of, put them in a box and drop them off at a food bank or food pantry so someone can benefit. If it is items past their expiration date, take them immediately to the trash, never to be seen again!

Time for Textures

textured melamine mahogany White has been “where it's at” when it comes to color selection for custom closet space.

Not only is white a traditional color in its' sense of style and timelessness, but it's what most of our customers over the years have chosen to have installed in their homes.

And it's great. Truly. We love the simplicity of white.

But we've got a new excitement for “texture”; as in textured melamine.

Texture is all the rage right now in the home furnishings and design markets. Technology has allowed for the creation of materials that look lifelike and dimensional. They're fun and exciting and can bring your own sense of personal style to the closet or home office that you're working with us on.

They also have been created in colors and hues that are nature-like, but either dramatic or elegant. The colorings can be subdued and simple or contrasting and vibrant.These textured materials have the look and feel of real wood products at a fraction of the cost. That's a plus for your budget.

bathroom with textured melamine entertainment area with textured melamine

textured melamine reception area textured melamine walk in closet

Take a close look at the pictures. They demonstrate what the product looks like. However, it's really best to be able to see them in person, because then you can also “touch” them to feel what the texture is like. Give us a call if we can show you some new, creative options for your custom storage or closet project. Perhaps a new work space in your home with one of these wonderful options?

textured melamine wine rack

Tricks To Make Small Spaces Feel Bigger

If you happen to live in a house that has a couple of bedrooms and a garage, perhaps even a basement and/or attic, then you have lots of places to put your “stuff”. And that makes it easy to buy “great deals” when you find them or add to your collection of holiday decorations on a whim.

But what if you don't have all that space? Where do you put not only the things you love, but your shoes and shirts? And how do you make the space “feel” spacious and comfortable without having stacks of items on every surface?

off white work play area work media space

Here are some great tips to achieve just that:

Create Zones

-Give some thought to the things you do and create space accordingly. Do you need space to work and if so, how much? Would you like a designated space for dining? There has to be a sleep zone, and a zone for relaxing is always nice.

-As you identify these, group your personal belongings accordingly and then incorporate visual cues like paint colors, floor rugs, even pieces of furniture spaced strategically to divide the zones in to their appropriate areas.

Trick Your Eye Into Seeing More Space

-Mirrors are a terrific and simple way to do this. They can be small or large. Wall mounted or sitting on tables. Singular or grouped together. You can place them on the wall at window height to create the illusion that there actually is a window in the spot. It expands the space. You can even put a large mirror on the wall next to the side of  your bed so it looks like an entrance to another room.

horizontally hung mirrors  multiple mirror wall grouping

-Hang curtain rods at ceiling height and hang curtains that are the full height regardless of where a window starts and stops. The vertical visual creates the illusion of bigger.

-Place your lighting strategically so your eye goes to different heights and locations in the space. You can do this by combining the use of floor lamps, table lamps and wall sconces.

Use Furniture That Multi-Functions

-A bench that also works as a table or tables that can be used as seating. Murphy (or Wall) beds are terrific space savers and the design options offered today are quite diverse. There's actually a Wall Bed that also serves as a desk. It's amazing. Here's a link to a video if you'd like to see it in action:

wall bed

Build In Storage At Every Opportunity

-Display space is nice, but not as important as storage when space is tight. Keep in mind that you can “go up”, meaning that you can use the walls as “vertical storage” with shelving or cabinetry.

-Using baskets and boxes helps keep things looking nice and stylish while still functional and increasing overall storage capacity.

Combining even a few of these tips into your living space, whether large or small, will help you feel better, find things more easily and live life more stylishly.

And consider customization because custom storage options make use of every inch of space and can be personalized to fit almost any purpose. Give us a call if you'd like some help figuring out custom storage solutions for your living space.