Category Archives: closets

This post is part of a series about my favorite closet design tips.

White melamine walk in closet

White melamine walk in closet

Use your body and blue tape.

Honestly, these are my two favorite tools (tape measure is a given).

During the consultation, when you’re with the client and in the space you’re going to be designing for them, stand in it to demonstrate how far clothing will come out from the walls. Even put blue tape on the floor to mark that spot. It’s a “real life” way to demonstrate the concepts you’ll be sharing in your designs.

And use the blue tape on the floor to mark off parameters.

Let’s say you’re designing walk in closet and the client wants an island. Start with the outside walls and tape off spaces that are 24” from wall just in case you have hanging. Then go another 24” for the minimum walkway. Once you’ve gone all the way around the room, you’ll both see what kind of space is left in the middle for an island.

Sometimes there’s no space left. The beauty of that is that the client sees it and gets it and you don’t have to tell them that there’s no room for an island.

If there is room, you’ll both see the approximate size and be able to discuss what direction to orient that island.

  • Share :

In my eternal quest to share valuable information and package it into bite size pieces, here’s the second of a series of my most valuable, time tested advice on things to do to make your closet designs as successful as possible.

Lighted jewelry drawers


When I started designing closets for a company that offered custom options, I embraced it and utilized it as a sales tool.

I’d be super excited with clients as I shared that we could create anything they’ve seen or dreamed of. It gave me confidence to know I wasn’t limited by 5 or 10 colors and 6 or 7 profile choices.

I had a unique position in the marketplace. And all this designing was fun.

Until it wasn’t fun. 

And it would turn to the point of “not being fun” when the client couldn’t make a decision. They were overwhelmed by the endless options and were consuming an endless amount of time.

So I learned to be very careful in making the statement “we can do anything” to clients because it can be so overwhelming. Plus, they’re hiring me to help them with design, not confuse them.

It’s not that I only design within parameters of ten colors and six door profiles. It’s that I glean what I need from the client in terms of style. Then I edit those options down to ones I feel are best suited to them. 
Technology has allowed most of us the ability to offer almost anything.

That doesn’t mean you should do that.

Lighted shelving

Sometimes the price points will be prohibitive for your client. Other times, the build is really beyond the scope of your team’s skill set. And sometimes it just confuses people.

I find it best to think of yourself as a curator.

You bring the experience to the table.

You guide the process. You don’t offer them the world.

  • Share :


I realize that sounds counter intuitive to a sales process, so here’s what I mean and how you can use this particular “no” as a way to establish your expertise.

Desk in a Closet

 When the client presents you with some – let’s say “imaginative” –  solution for their closet space that they’ve seen on TV or had a vision about in the middle of the night, don’t hesitate to own your “no” if you “know” it won’t work.

Listen closely. Jot down some notes. Ask them to sketch it out. Let them get their idea out of their head.

As you review the idea and run it through your own filters of experience, don’t hesitate to share your expertise and explain what the challenges are to functionality and structural integrity.

And go right for price if you think that will be a factor. Who wants to spend hours figuring something out that they don’t believe in, determine that it’s going to be super costly and present it to the client only to have them say “Whoa. That’s way too much.”

Do all you can to address the price issue before you ever put pencil to paper. It’s an enormous saver of time and energy. But more importantly, it adds to your “street cred” that you’ve designed a few closets in your career and know this is a solution that won’t fly.

  • Share :
Big Design Ideas for Small Spaces
Posted by:Denise Butchko,

For as long as this “tiny living” movement stays on trend, you need to be on your game to get the most out of the space your clients ask you to work within.

Tiny nooks and spaces show up all over a house and people want to really maximize each of them, but closets are still the predominant location where people need to get functional storage from every inch possible.

desk storage

Great storage in a built in desk.

Here’s a couple of guidelines to help you with creating storage and organization for these spaces:

Starting Thinking in Zones

And not end zones for football. Zones as areas for organized living.

Do you need a technology zone where devices are dropped, charged and stored?

Do you need a work zone where the laptop goes, there’s plenty of power and horizontal space for you to work with files and paperwork?

Is there a sports zone where the kids dump ALL equipment and toss their filthy bits into a basket?

Asking these questions and designing accordingly will be super helpful to your clients.

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 into their appropriate areas.


Trick Your Eye Into Seeing More Space

Mirrors expand 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.

-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.

You may not be the one doing the curtain hanging or lighting placement, but suggesting these ideas to your clients further establishes you as the expert and shows you’re really concerned with meeting the client’s needs.

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:

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.

If you’d like more tips on designing effectively, you can download my five favorite closet design tips and those to your design toolbox.

  • Share :