No longer are our clients asking for custom walk in closets but instead, Dream Dressing Rooms. They are saving inspiration photos in their Houzz and Pinterest accounts and expecting to get identical results. It is our job as designers to make their dreams a reality no matter what the size or budget. So how do we accomplish this? By selecting different upgrades and special features that work within their concept and price range will help you give them the desired look they dream of.

Backing can be done in many different ways, and at many different price points. Instead of using ¾” backing, ¼” can be used to keep the price down. The backing gives the closet the impression of expensive cabinetry. Using mirrors as backing brightens the closet and gives a high end look when used in select sections such as jewelry and glass cabinets or behind shoes and purses. When building with white or antique white, painting the walls the matching color gives the illusion of a matching back, but at a fraction of the cost. Painting the closet in a contrasting color can also be an impressive look. Do not discount wallpaper, especially in the older homes. It allows the closet to keep with the style of the house.

Lighting can have the most impact on a closet. Most of the hardware vendors are happy to work with your layout showing you what and where the lighting should be installed.  If a lighting system is not in the budget, then installing a few battery operated motion lights in select cabinets or drawers will still provide a high end look.

Hardware selections play an important part in the final look of the dressing room. It is the jewelry of the closet. Specialty handles and knobs can be featured throughout the room, or on select cabinetry for more impact.

Mirrors can be used inside the cabinetry or on the outside of the doors. When used on corner cabinetry it will not only brighten up the room, but also creates a three way mirror needed for dressing.

Trim not only adds to the beauty of a closet, but can also help with trouble areas or provide secret storage. Base molding dresses up any closet. By adding shoe molding to the base, it gives it a furniture look, while hiding the unevenness we often find in the clients floor. Instead of using larger expensive crown, adding a 3-4” fascia above the closet unit then attaching the smaller crown will hide the inconsistency in the ceiling height, while giving the impression of a large pricey crown. Hiding the transition seams with flat scribe molding completes the look. Fluted fillers throughout the room, or around specific feature cabinets will also add a high end look. Fillers that pull out and hide scarf or tie collections are always a fun surprise.

Accessories are the toys of the closet. From baskets, to fabric bins and boxes many gadgets are available for any budget. Library ladders are a high end touch, but can be done in a less expensive way. Alaco Ladder located in California will walk you through the quote process letting you know which wood species and metals to use to the get cost down. They also ship their ladders fully assembled and painted or stained, saving time during installation. Consider creating your own accessory zone, such as custom jewelry or tie cabinets. If you are creating it, you can make it any size depending on the budget you are working with.

Drilling your vertical panels has an immediate impact on the closet. Consider select (one hole up, one down) or no drilling at all. This will keep the closet from having unsightly holes throughout. If it is not in the budget, there are little plastic hole plugs that can be purchased.

Color of the material will be the closet’s first impression. There are many new textured and glazed products now on the market. To keep the cost down, use special colors on only some of the units or just the island. You can give a “painted” closet feel by creating a hybrid closet. This is done using white melamine for the panels and shelving, while using a white painted MDF for the doors and molding.

When your client’s Dream Dressing Room is complete, be sure to post pictures on Houzz, Pinterest and Instagram. Your work may become someone else’s inspiration.

About the author:

Wendy Scott is a designer for Sophisticated Storage Solutions in Bridgewater, NJ. She has been designing closets for over 10 years and is a board member of the ACSP. Her work has been featured in two magazines and she is a Top Shelf runner up.