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California Closets, Closets By Design, and a multitude of other closet companies are offering a simplified life and all of the wonderful benefits of new closets. Builders typically put in a simple rod and shelf, and these companies can make drastic improvements. If you are interested in having more efficient storage, how do you choose which one to work with?

First: Is This Necessary?
When a closet company comes to do an estimate, they count how many shoes and handbags you have and measure the linear feet of shelving and hanging space that you require, and then they design a custom closet around what you have. It doesn’t make sense for them to design a closet around a bunch of stuff you never use, so the first thing to do is go through all of the clothing, shoes, and accessories and decide what to keep, donate, toss, repair, and store elsewhere.
Once you see what is left, you may see that you don’t need a new closet since you’ve pared down so much, or if you still have a problem, at least now the closet will be designed around what you truly use and need.

What to Expect
Closet companies will usually come out for free to do a design and estimate. They may need to schedule another appointment with you to present the designs. You will want to have all decision-makers on hand for that meeting so you can decide whether to move forward. It will take several weeks, typically, to cut the parts for your design and schedule the installers. You can spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, depending upon the features you want.

What to Ask

  • How long have you been in business? Are you a franchisee?
  • What warranty do you offer? Does it apply only to me, or future owners of my home?
  • What colors do you have available for the melamine (laminate) material?
  • Is the melamine thermal-fused or cold processed? Thermal-fused melamine wears much better.
  • Is the particleboard furniture grade, or industrial grade? Industrial grade holds the screws better and is thicker.
  • Is there any plastic used in the hardware? Metal parts are preferred.
  • What is the standard shelf depth you use? Builders’ standard is 11.5 inches, but having deeper shelves such as 14” or 16” is greatly preferred for holding larger sweaters and even suitcases.
  • How are your drawer units constructed? How is the drawer handle hardware fastened? Are full extension glides included? Full extension glides provide the best support for your drawers and are a really good idea to put in, even if it is an upgrade. Construction of drawers can be a big differentiator in quality.
  • Do you offer oval clothing rods? Just like an egg’s oval shape provides strength, chrome oval-shaped clothing rods are stronger than rounded ones. Metal rods are usually a better choice than wooden ones.
  • Does your installation include tearing out the old closet? Will you do wall repairs and touch-up painting?
  • What accessories do you offer, and how much are they? Is there an alternative to these accessories? You will see accessories like valet rods, shoe fences, sliding belt racks, sliding tie racks, jewelry trays, acrylic shelf dividers, hampers, pull-out ironing boards, pull-down upper clothing rods, and many others. They are all great, but you need to watch how they might add up. My favorite accessory is a valet rod, which gives you a place to stage clothing for packing or put up the dry cleaning when you get it home.

Just like buying a car, there are standard features and there are upgrades, whether in quality of construction or in additional accessories. If you’re prepared and ask a lot of good questions, you’ll end up with a great closet for the best price.

Lorie Marrero is a Professional Organizer and creator of The Clutter Diet, an innovative, affordable online program for home organization. Lorie’s site helps members lose “Clutter-Pounds” from their homes by providing online access to her team of organizers. Lorie writes something insanely practical every few days or so in the Clutter Diet Blog. She lives in Austin, TX, where her company has provided hands-on organizing services to clients since 2000.

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