Maryland custom closet company poised for growth

Photo By Bethesda Custom Closets

Mike Steiner is an experienced closet designer and construction specialist with expertise in closets, pantries, and garages for single-family homes and multi-family buildings.

His company, Bethesda Custom Closets, is located in North Bethesda, Maryland, and serves primarily Maryland, DC, and Virginia.
Steiner started out in the closet business as a ClosetMaid dealer and eventually became a dealer for Organizers Direct (ODI), one of its largest dealers on the East Coast, he says. While the industry has had ups and downs over the years, Steiner says Bethesda Custom Closets has ramped things up and has been growing, opening a new 4,000-square-foot space featuring a showroom and office area. Combining the company’s current 7,000-square-foot warehouse across the street from the new space, the company will have 11,000 square feet total.

The company saw a big shift after Covid hit. “We thought things would be slow, but happily we were wrong,” he says. “We also saw a big change in that people began to take closets more seriously. They tended to go the extra mile to get a closet that was special. People were using patterns more in closets, and those patterns were also showing up in kitchens and baths. Another change includes people asking for secure safes, jewelry storage and added fire proofing, to name a few.”

Steiner also mentioned the variety of colors being used. “While white, grays and wood tones are very popular, some clients prefer more unusual colors. Color can serve as an accent for a little drama. Lighting is also being taken more seriously with a whole new amount of choices.” 

“People are taking closets more seriously but also being creative. They are going the ‘extra mile’ and doing something different or special.”

Steiner said their biggest seller is still white but he’s seeing a lot of interest in dressing up with an accent color. Asked about closet styles, Steiner said they offer everything from modern to traditional. “We have eight different profiles and eight different styles.

“Having people visit the showroom has been a great selling tool. Visitors like to touch and feel, open drawers, see jewelry trays. When people come in, we have a ‘no pressure’ atmosphere.”

Bethesda Custom Closets’ manufacturing plant also has typical woodworking equipment including a Makiswa sliding table saw, a Makiswa dust collector and Makiswa edgebanders and line boring machine. They have a pallet wrapping machine and a turntable station for wrapping.

Home organization trends

Steiner, with more than two decades of experience, offers a unique perspective on the evolution of home organization solutions. His journey began in the closet business, navigating through the ebbs and flows of consumer preferences and market demands, he says. 

“I started in the closet business probably over 20 years ago,” Steiner reminisces, “and it’s been quite a journey since then.”
One notable trend Steiner has seen is the diminishing demand for standalone furniture pieces. 

“People don’t want to move stuff,” he explains, “they want it built-in.” This shift reflects a broader cultural transition towards minimalist aesthetics and functional design. As consumers prioritize space optimization with a seamless look, built-in home organization solutions have emerged as a key part of modern home organization design.

Advancing technology emphasizing digitalization over paper has left its mark on the industry, especially regarding the home office. Steiner notes a decline in traditional file cabinets as more people embrace digital storage solutions. 

“Everything’s digital now,” he remarks, highlighting the industry’s adaptation to changing technological landscapes. In response, home organization specialists have diversified their offerings, catering to the growing demand for tech-friendly storage solutions.
Steiner also acknowledges the evolving role of garages in contemporary homes. Once just a last resort storage space, garages are now serving as extensions of the living area with a multi-functional purpose. 

“The garage is being taken more seriously,” he says, “as overflow for the pantry or hobbies.” This transformation underscores the homeowner’s desire to optimize every square inch of available space.

However, innovation comes with the challenge of managing consumer expectations, especially regarding budgets. Steiner says there can be a discrepancy between client aspirations and budgetary constraints, particularly with new construction projects. As homeowners want and demand more custom-built solutions, builders have to navigate a balance between quality and affordability.

Despite the challenges, Steiner is optimistic about the future of Bethesda Custom Closets. With a new showroom and innovative products in development, his company is poised for growth. 

“We see the industry changing,” he explains, “and we’re ready to adapt.”

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About the author
Michaelle Bradford | Editor

Michaelle Bradford, CCI Media, is Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine and Woodworking Network editor. She has more than 20 years of experience covering the woodworking and design industry, including visits to custom cabinet shops, closet firms and design studios throughout North America. As Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine under the Woodworking Network brand, Michaelle’s responsibilities include writing, editing, and coordinating editorial content as well as managing annual design competitions like the Top Shelf Design Awards. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media.