How To Design A Winning Closet Company

By Michaelle Bradford | Posted: 04/08/2013 2:28PM


Formerly an industrial engineer for texas instruments in Dallas, Charles Waterman decided to embark on several new ventures, first opening a residential painting service and later, after a move back to Pennsylvania with his family, a Closets By Design franchise. It’s not that divergent of a career path, he says, when you consider the common characteristics of each field in trying to develop standard processes, then combine that with organizing, and “it seems like somewhat of a logical mix.”

Add to the equation the fact that the demographics of southeastern Pennsylvania were ready for a startup organizing business – because of the older, smaller homes in the area – and you have a recipe for success.

“This area was ripe for the need,” Waterman says. “People wanted help not only organizing but creating the additional space to expand without the additional expense in a relatively expensive part of the country.”

After nine years Waterman has not only provided just that type of service to the area but claimed two industry awards in the process. In the 7th Annual Closets Top Shelf Design Awards, Closets By Design, PA won top honors in both the Showroom category and the Garage more than 1,000 square feet category.

Waterman’s showroom is actually a Design Center. Visits are by appointment only, and it is housed inside a 30,000-square-foot facility in Exton, PA, which also includes office and manufacturing space. In one room that is roughly 40 x 40, approximately 10 vignettes highlight the variety of options Closets By Design can manufacture from mudrooms, walk-in closets and pantries, craft rooms to garages.

Office space also doubles as showroom displays for home offices. “Every one of those offices was done with our product as part of the showroom,” he says. Those work areas are all staged and set up as possibilities.

The garage display, complete with flooring, cabinetry and slatwall, also functions as a training classroom for the company’s 20 designers who primarily work from home. “We have overhead projectors and boards in there,” Waterman says, “and when designers come on board, regardless of their background, we teach them how to design within our system. And then we have continuing education with all of our designers, whether it is a group to focus on garages or a group to focus on home offices or a group to focus on Murphy Beds.”

All of this training empowers the designers when they are out on in-home consultations. “They bring the showroom to you,” says Jennifer Trevithick, marketing manager. “In the initial visit they have catalogs, design books, pictures of their previous work, samples, color swatches — everything you would need to really get a good idea. And they can design on the spot after taking inventory of all of your items, measuring your space and discussing what your future needs might be. Really personalizing the experience. We like the personal touch.”

That personal touch is on display in the winning Top Shelf Design Awards garage project designed by Maria Kapourelos.

The homeowners not only wanted to match the design style with the rest of the house, they also needed more functional use of the space including room for work tools as well as space for a collection of garden pots and decorative accents.

Kapourelos’ solution was to make one side of the garage the work area with tool storage, and she then designed a large butcher block work surface in solid maple from Bally Block, a local company. The cabinets are melamine with brushed aluminum finished doors from Decore-ative Specialties.

The husband was also a motorcycle enthusiast and needed storage for his riding gear, so Kapourelos designed hanging and storage space in a cedar-backed cabinet. The flooring pattern was created with grey and black Traxtiles with red accents to compliment the homeowner’s red sports car. Also, grey PVC slat wall throughout the garage allows ample storage for ladders, garden tools, sports equipment and other household items.


About the Author

Michaelle Bradford

Michaelle Bradford

Michaelle Bradford is Managing Editor of Woodworking Network magazine and Custom Built Interiors Weekly eNewsletter. She can be reached at or Google+.

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