Great Closet Design: An Expert's Perspective

By Denise Butchko | Posted: 10/11/2013 11:03AM


“Good design has a lot to do with function. Taking that function and making it beautiful,” says Joyce Hardison, Closet Designer Extraordinaire and co-owner of Closet Crafters in Ventura California.

I spoke with Joyce about her perspective on good design recently and gained some great insights into not only what she thinks constitutes good design, as well as insights into the processes she goes through as she judges the “Top Shelf Design Awards”.

Here are her thoughts:

joyce hardisonJoyce Hardison, co-owner Closet Crafters What Drives You Crazy?
“Seeing a high-end wood closet with no backing. It just looks unfinished. The other “design violations” that drive me crazy are hanging over drawers and not utilizing corners well. I hate to see designs that have hanging going into and coming out of a corner.” says Hardison.

“I also don't like seeing a design where the designer is basically just an order taker. They have listened to what the client requested and executed that without bringing any experience or insight into the project in order to improve the space solution.”

She went on to share a story of a recent experience where a client showed her a design from a large national company that had shoe shelving across the entire back wall of a closet. Once installed, access to about half of those shelves was going to be blocked by the hanging. But since most design software doesn't show clothing in the space, the client didn't realize that. It's one thing for a client not to realize that. It's totally different for the designer not to realize it, care about it or point it out the customer.

 What Goes Into Your Thought Process as You Review Contest Entries?
“First impressions are really important.” says Hardison. “How the space looks. How beautiful it is, whether it's simple or elaborate. It's like meeting people. The first thing you notice is their appearance. Then you get to know them. If both go together and are harmonious, it's a good thing.”

 “I also have to be able to really see the space. Yes, a description is very important in terms of determining any unique solutions or unusual space requirements, but getting a Plan View and being able to really assess what's going on is crucial. Before and After views are really important to me because it allows me to see if the design really works because there could be areas in the layout where something special had to handled. I need to know that.”

 She continues - “I want to have an “aha”. And what I mean by that is I want to be able to tell why you did what you did. The pictures should demonstrate that. It's like a puzzle and I want to see that you have fitted the pieces together so it works.”

 And if you'd like more insights about fitting the pieces together, join me for a free webinar about just that - “How to Create Award Winning Designs” - .

 I'll be co-presenting with award winning designer Janet Stevenson from Closet City. Janet serves on the board of directors for the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals and help create the designer certification program. She and I will discuss different facets of great design as well as share info about different contests you can enter and ways to market and leverage your participation in design contests. It will be a fun and insightful hour sponsored by KCD Software. Just click on the link to reserve your seat and then join us on October 25th at noon eastern time.


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About the Author

Denise Butchko

Denise Butchko is a design and marketing expert who teaches these concepts with the intention of helping people grow their businesses (particularly those in the design/build industries). She’s been a contributor to Closets magazine since 2003 and is a judge for the closet industries “Top Shelf” Design Competition. She's also a member of the first graduating class of Registered Storage Designers. Her design work has been featured in national publications like “Better Homes & Gardens” and The Chicago Tribune and she works with some of the top interior design firms in the country. She’s helped cabinet companies launch closet product lines and trained sales professionals in both design and marketing, including ways to leverage social media and design to increase opportunities and brand themselves as the “go to expert”. If you want to have fun while you learn and bring your “A” game to your business, Denise is the one to partner with to make that happen. You can find her at Google+ or go to or to

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October, 17, 2013 at 11:31 AM

if you have a reach-in closet and there is not enough depth you never ever put backing, besides who cares how the back looks like just get your clothes, dress and finito Also price has lots to do, backing is not a free gift and the installation is no easy task, you have diferent baseboard heights,,,,,, Right you really are a great designer

Denise Butchko    
Chicago  |  October, 17, 2013 at 03:39 PM

Mauricio - I think you're missing the point. We're talking about designed closet spaces that are more about making dreams come true and less about selling a commodity. I don't sell melamine - I sell dreams. I don't sell on price - I sell on the intellectual property of my design and space planning abilities. And I have the privilege of working with people who care greatly about what the entire closet looks and feels and functions like. Ford sells one way. Mercedes sells another way. One doesn't insult the other, they market and reach a different client base.


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