Over twenty-five years in the closet business and after viewing other closets which I have been hired to make over, I can attest to having seen - the good, the bad and the ugly. Poorly designed closets actually have detracted from the homes’ worth. There are just too many badly designed closets that home owners have paid good money for which are a waste of time and materials as well as an embarrassment to the cabinet industry. However, working with a competent and experienced closet designer will actually save money. Designing a closet correctly will ultimately maximize the closet’s efficient use of space and subsequently increase the appeal of the home.
After studying Architectural Interior Design at UCLA and California State University at Los Angeles, I first worked as an interior designer for large building developers, designing model homes to increase sales. Upon a trip to Europe and time spent amongst the artful textiles of Italy, I was inspired to embrace my love of fabrics and sought the position as a fabric sales representative. Later deciding to explore a new avenue in designing for more practicality and functionality, as in: form follows function, I embarked on this ultimate path of designing spaces of custom cabinetry, specializing in closets for better organization.
The most important factor of my work is to be fastidious to detail and insist upon creating unique beautiful spaces blended with efficient functional order. I still love textiles and feel it is important to protect and preserve the fabric of our clothing.
Working with a diversity of hundreds of clients from celebrities, wine makers, techie geniuses, and professionals, to my friends and neighbors, I make it clear that everyone can own a dream closet. A dream closet does not need to be expensive and or extravagant, it simply needs to be designed for the client, for their needs and desires.
To assist home owners in their choices, I have outlined the essential rules in hiring a designer to create their dream closets and make the process a more pleasurable undertaking.
Malka’s rules for hiring a designer for the closet
1) Hire a professional qualified closet cabinet designer with several years of experience and with a knowledge of construction, space planning, garment size requirements and design. Ask for local references and/or ask neighbors and friends for a referral.
2) It is beneficial that a closet designer is associated with a reputable licensed cabinet shop to perform the construction and installation of the closets. A licensed cabinet maker is a “specialty” contractor under the State of California.
3) *In the state of California, a cabinet shop must hold a current, valid specialty license to install the cabinetry; California State Contractors license: Cabinets & C-6 - Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor and must have Workman’s Comprehensive Insurance for their employees and Insurance Bonds. All work must be supervised by the licensed contractor in the performance of the manufacturing and installation. Check with your residing state’s construction laws and always verify the status of their license and the correct owner. Their license is required to be posted on their website, contract and business cards as well as any advertisements.
4) The cabinet contractor should offer a warranty which must be printed on their contract.
5) The closet designer should be responsible to measure the interior space of the closet and the inventory of clothing and accessories of the client’s to create a perfect fit.
6) The designer should present drafted plans that are clear, fully detailed with measurements and sizes to scale and easy to understand. It is preferable to be an AutoCAD, computer generated diagram for precise and accurate detailing.
7) The contract should clearly specify all materials to be used such as the quality, color, size and brand name as it may apply. The contract must be legible and easy to understand.
8) *A down payment of 10% or $1,000, whichever is less is the only deposit permitted in California. The remaining progress payments are allowed and required for ordering materials by the shop to perform the job.
9) *Any changes made to the contract and / or the closet plans must be in writing as a “Change Order” and approved by you the client.
10) **Look for value in a closet cabinet pricing. Be cautious of false sales promotions and “Price Reduction” deceptive discount coupons that are aggressively timed. A coupon or sale running more than three (3) months is not a sale, it is a false advertising. Offering a sales discount or reduction is a common sales technique. The sale price is misleading unless the former price is the actual, bona fide price at which was originally offered as.
11) Most importantly; the designer must work closely with the client and respond to their special requests, concerns and desires.
12) *When requesting a bid on the closet project, it is suggested to get three bids on a design. Three different closet designers will have three different design plans therefore if a bid is requested, one must provide accurate plans or drawings of the closet spaces to the three specialty cabinet contractors that will enable them to determine the scope and cost of the work. Again, the client must supply their own accurate plans to determine the exact scope and cost of the work. Each of their proposal contracts should clearly specify all materials to be used such as the quality, color, size and brand name as it may apply. Each contract must be legible and easy to understand. To clearly equal, each of the three cabinet shops should hold a valid specialty license to install the cabinetry; California State Contractors license: Cabinets & C-6 - Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor and must have Workman’s Comprehensive Insurance for their employees and Insurance Bonds.
* California Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board (CSLB.ca.gov.)(800.321.CSLB)
**Federal Trade Commission (FTC.gov.) - The Division of Advertising Practices & California Business and Professions Cod (BPC) Article 6 - Unearned Rebates, Refunds and Discounts and Business and California Professions Code (leginfo.ca.gov)
Editor's Note: Written by Malka Sabroe-JoHanson, Cabinetry & Closet Designer RC Cabinets & Closets, RCCabinetsandClosets.com with television actress and author Susan Seaforth Hayes of Days of Our Lives.
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