Cape Cod Home, Winter 2017 |

Closet design tips and trends from the pros

Cape Cod Home  /  Winter 2017 / ,

Writer: Allyson Plessner

Closet design tips

Murphy beds by California Closets are the ultimate solution for spaces that have multipurpose needs—tilting down to accommodate out-of-town guests, and folding back up without interrupting the everyday functionality of your space. An expertly crafted wall bed respects the aesthetic and primary purpose of the room, allowing it to seamlessly serve two or more functions.

With all of the options for organization and convenience, why shouldn’t your closet be one of the best rooms in your house?

Be it a tiny space to hang coats or a luxury walk-in area to store a full wardrobe and dozens of absolutely necessary pairs of shoes, can you imagine a more personal room than a closet? If your closet walls could talk, they would likely have a lot to say.

In modern times, closets are recognized as organizational rooms—places to store clothes, shoes and other important items in a manner that is designed not only for order and ease of access but also for protecting and preserving the quality of the items inside. However, a closet can also be an intimate, highly personal room.

Turns out there’s a reason that closets are associated with privacy, that terms such as “closeted” are used to indicate a certain level of secrecy. The origins of the word “closet” are founded on meanings such as “secluded” or “enclosure,” and closets as a functional space were first introduced into medieval homes as locations to store important possessions or to escape for moments of solitude, secrecy and even prayer. This type of room, once designated as the most private area of a home, has since become a place for people to store the varying objects that make up their lives. You could learn a lot about someone by looking through their closet, and Cape Cod storage professionals agree that these special rooms should be personally suited to a customer’s lifestyle and, of course, always functional.

“A well-designed closet can streamline things and take the stress out of getting ready. If you’re lucky, it can be beautiful too,” says Laura Stafford, marketing and showroom display manager of California Closets in Hyannis. California Closets makes use of eight conveniently located, beautiful showrooms and innovative 3D design programs to ensure customers know exactly what they’re getting.

If these walls could talk, Winter 2017 Cape Cod HOME |

Closet by Classic Kitchens & Interiors • Photo by Roe Osborn

Cape Cod has no shortage of stately, older homes, so it becomes a designer’s task to figure out how to maintain the integrity of these houses while increasing the functionality and visual appeal of a closet space. “Many older homes have limited or awkward closet spaces, but as a general trend, clients are moving away from bulky, hand-me-down dressers that take up a lot of space, and instead moving toward custom-built, floor-to-ceiling wardrobes with a smaller footprint that take advantage of vertical space,” Stafford says. “Over the years, it’s especially fun to see the product lines expand and become more in tune to design trends and specialty accents. Popular in New England are five-part shaker style doors, often in high-end kitchens and baths.” Everyone wants their closet to look amazing, but, more than that, to fit their individual needs. It is up to the designer to find that balance between functionality and personality.

“Over the past years, closets have become more important in houses and therefore more thought out in the initial design process,” says Jessica Muldoon of Lewis and Weldon. “Larger closets are always more desirable—a lot of our clients think of their closet as a sanctuary, and many of our recent designs have had elements such as islands and grand hanging chandeliers, but many renovations are also on older homes with restricted spaces. It is our job to work within that space to make it more purposeful.”

Practicality of design is key, but that doesn’t mean a closet can’t also have some flare. “Closets can create a more efficient use of space, especially with all the accessories that are available to optimize small spaces, like pull-out hampers, valet rods, velvet-lined locking drawers for jewelry, and belt and tie racks,” says Muldoon. Her favorite project was for a woman who wanted to display her expansive collection of striking handbags as if for a boutique. “The most rewarding part of my job is transforming a space to be both beautiful and useful,” she says. A closet is more than a place to throw your coat or hide your muddy boots, and designers such as Lewis and Weldon are committed to creating a space that offers buyers an escape from their busy lives—a private place to enjoy time alone or with a handbag collection.

If these walls could talk, Winter 2017 Cape Cod HOME |

A carefully designed wardrobe from California Closets is like a piece of custom-crafted furniture. The right finishes, decorative moldings, and beautiful doors are designed to fit naturally into a space—and provide you with much-needed storage and functionality where none existed before.

Wendy Miller Dowling of Custom Closet Geeks in New Bedford explains that the closet industry is growing to a new level, and with it, closets themselves are growing. “Closets are actual rooms now with islands, chandeliers, seating areas, lights to illuminate special items, and other luxury elements,” she says. With such expansive spaces, it’s all about the accessories. Think pull-out or tilt-out hampers, swiveling mirrors, drawers with individual slots, and moldings around the entire closet.

The design process for Custom Closet Geeks is as personal as the closets they create. Customers enjoy a free consultation, 3D models of their design, and can expect to have their project completed in a matter of weeks. As a family business and a Massachusetts-based company, they offer the type of support and individual attention needed for creating a special space. “Everybody’s different. Some people prefer drawers, some prefer hanging space. A big thing we like to do at Custom Closet Geeks is add corner units, be it shelves or hanging areas, to utilize as much space as possible, and we make all the units ourselves. There isn’t a closet that we don’t do, from children’s closets to walk-in pantries,” she says.

At Closet Factory in Harwich, most of their unique systems are floor-based, meaning the majority of their closet projects are built from the floor up rather than using hanging systems, ensuring that the unit is both structurally sound and spatially efficient. “Hanging systems don’t have panels that go all the way to the floor, so if you wanted to use that space differently, there’s not an opportunity to do that like with a floor-based system,” says owner David Townsend. The company also does an inventory of the items in a customer’s closet to ensure the space they create is specific to individual needs.

If these walls could talk, Winter 2017 Cape Cod HOME |

Closet by Classic Kitchens & Interiors • Photo by Roe Osborn

“Life is crazy, and a closet helps people to be more organized,” says Townsend, who started his franchise about eight years ago and has experienced firsthand the developments that closet designs have made over time. “Recently there’s a lot more colors available for the interior, and there’s also now the opportunity to add light fixtures,” he says. “Recently I completed a project that had an island with a glass top so the customer could display her jewelry and see which piece she was picking out through the top of the island.”

Classic Kitchens & Interiors uses all wood product for a high-end look, and agrees that attention to detail is essential to creating an organized closet space. “My favorite project was an addition on the second floor of a house with a balcony overlooking the ocean and every possible accessory, including a coffee bar,” says Becky Brown, speaking to the increasing luxury of closet spaces.

Custom furniture maker Ray Bachand, owner of 60nobscot in Marstons Mills, has recently been creating one-of-a-kind, stunning interior barn doors. These custom pieces add a striking, distinctly “Cape” look to closet spaces and are personalized to fit each customer’s style. “They solve a lot of problems,” says Bachand. “If you have a closet in a narrow hallway and you put in a normal door, then when you open it you’ll block the hallway, but our barn doors slide along the wall instead.” Bachand knows that closets are important, personal spaces in any home, and his beautiful custom designs ensure that these rooms are both organized and stylish. What more could you ask for?

Though you may not realize it, your closet is often the focal point of a room—a place of storage and sanctuary. There are many different ways to make a closet design personal, and as a space that holds your most precious items, your most valued memories, or even just your latest sweater, it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Allyson Plessner

Allyson Plessner is a former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life and now works for the publication as a staff writer and digital media coordinator. Born in Florida, Allyson has been a lifelong summer resident of the Cape. She is a recent alumna of the College of Charleston, located in Charleston, South Carolina, where she completed bachelor’s degrees in both English and Spanish. In her free time, Allyson is an avid sailor, beach-goer, and—like her fellow Cape Cod Life colleagues—a dog-lover.