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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.

2012 Top Shelf Design Winners!!!!

Closet Organizing Systems (COS) was selected for two Top Shelf Design Awards to be announced at the 2012 Closet and Home Organizing Expo at the Austin Convention Center on February 15th in Austin, TX.  COS was selected for a melamine office system design and solid/wood veneer closet system. This is the 9th time that COS has been awarded a Top Shelf Design award by Closet Magazine over the last 7 years since its inception.

In the home office category Carey Ekstrom received a Top Shelf Award for her unique office solutions for a sitting/sun room adjacent to the client’s kitchen and living room. The client worked from home and required a functional, yet attractive workspace that blends with the family entertainment activities and compliments the visibility from both the kitchen and living room areas. Transforming a dated, non-functional area into an attractive, warm and inviting multi-purpose area in the home in which the family now looks forward to spending time together.  

In the Wood Veneer category Bill Curran received a Top Shelf Award a cherry stained master closet system simulated leather inserts in the door panels, thicker vertical side panels, full backing, and matching top and bottom moulding throughout the room. The closet was designed with a peninsula island cabinet with his/hers hampers, jewelry drawers, viewing mirror, and granite countertop which doubled for folding and packing clothes. The space also included a window seat bench with drawer storage and an upper lighting valance which is flanked by more hanging storage.

Awards were presented by TV personality Amanda LeBlanc of The Style Networks show “The Amada’s” at the 2012 Top Shelf Design Awards in Austin Texas.

10 Characteristics of Traditional Design

It’s common to find traditionally built homes in many Chicago suburbs.

And that often means traditional décor – closets included.

What elements make up “traditional” style?

Here’s a great list. Keep in mind, the more you find appealing on this list, the more likely you favor this popular style.

1. Nothing is extreme. Not color, not shape, not size. It’s more middle-of-the road.

2. It is a mix of straight and curved lines and the wood grains and coloring are mid-range to dark tones.

3. Accessories play a significant role as features with this décor. This shows up in trims, moldings and clear glass. It also shows up as accessories of all types being displayed.

4. The display features show up in pairs in an understated, not too heavy, kind of way.

5. This style feels comfortable to almost any age. Think timeless.

6. Corner cabinets and chair rails show up often in traditionally styled homes.

7. White ceilings are the most common color.

8. Reproductions of historically original pieces are a mainstay (another, more common term for these items is “knock off”). Maybe it’s a replica of a desk Thomas Jefferson used or an architectural element that dates back hundreds of years. It’s recreated to mimic the original piece and incorporated into today’s homes.

9. Things match. So not only do they come in pairs – they go together!

10. No surprises. There’s predictability to traditional style that yields a very positive element. The ride is typically smooth.

So if you feel yourself nodding in agreement, not only with most of the items on this traditional list, but wanting your closet or home office to look like the ones we’ve created, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help you discover a custom storage solution with your style in mind.

How To Get the Best Results from your Built-In Home Improvement Project

The decision to have a custom storage solution designed and built in your home can bring you long lasting results and satisfaction.

It can also be a daunting process because you’re working with someone to “create a one of a kind original from nothing”, so to speak.

You’ve got the designated space where you want this storage solution to “live” – and you likely have an idea of the kinds of things you need stored there (files, books, clothes, electronic equipment, etc.).

Now you need a design/build professional to work with to make this all happen.

The most important variables to consider as you’re working on this project are form, fit and function.


This is the “look” and “feel” you want your project to have.

- Do you want it to blend in with the rest of your décor, or stand out and make a dramatic statement?

- Do you like a rustic, knotted wood or a smooth, high-gloss, lacquered finish?

- Do you want open storage, closed storage, or both?

- And what about shelves, drawers and doors?

An experienced design consultant can guide you through this part and will be sure to ask you all the questions that you didn’t even know you had to answer!


Making sure a built-in fits the space is crucial – otherwise – it’s no longer a built in – it’s a mistake.

All obstacles need to be considered in terms of allowing access and making sure the pieces are manufactured so they work and fit correctly. This includes outlets and vents as well as sprinkler heads and anything else that resides in that space.

Any special AV or office equipment that will be stored within the units need to be measured and incorporated into the design – so there’s no such thing as “it’s just a standard printer” or “40” flat screen” when communicating with your designer. We need to know the precise measurements of any special equipment that you plan to incorporate into the design.


Function is the place where a skilled designer can really take your project to the next level. Any woodworker can make a box and add shelves or drawers. It takes experience to know that 24” deep shelves aren’t good for much in a closet space unless they pull out. And that shallow shelving as well as deep shelving increase functionality in areas like pantries and home offices. And that corner shelves in lower cabinets end up becoming “big, black holes”.

Having an experienced design consultant, like one of the team members at Closet Organizing Systems, that can work with you to make your dreams come true – is – well – quite frankly – a dream come true.

So how can we make your dreams come true?

How to Take 10 Walls and Make a Closet that is a Perfect 10!

Most Walk in Closets are shaped like a square or rectangle – but not this one! Not only does this closet have ten walls – but also it needed to serve almost as many functions.  The clients wanted everything behind doors.  And they wanted the space to serve as a dressing area and a laundry/pressing area.  All designed to be in harmony with the rest of their décor. In order to make this happen – we had to involve engineering aspects hand-in-hand with design aspects.  Everything needed to flow just as much as it needed to function. 

As a result, we used several blind corner units.  We also provided cedar backing, which was attached to the walls.  Then we installed the structure of the closet without the doors and drawer fronts.  And we did this so we could be certain that everything fit perfectly.  We also scribed this closet to the ceiling and installed base molding for a true built-in look.


You see, we utilized some very high-end materials including walnut with burl inlays, patterned glass and mirrored doors.  A mistake of even an eighth of an inch would mean the door/drawer didn't fit properly – and then didn't function properly. And no one wanted that – so patience was an important aspect to this project. We located the pants presser and the laundry in a niche near the back of the space.  There’s also a three way mirror (with storage behind it) that serves double duty in its’ function and in making the space appear larger.

A chandelier further enhances these gorgeous materials, shedding light on one of the most beautiful custom storage solutions that we have created so far.  And our industry colleagues concur, because this project won a Top Shelf Design Award.


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