Lauren Oster (pictured above) is a designer with Saint Louis Closet Co.
Lauren Oster (pictured above) is a designer with Saint Louis Closet Co.

After 29 years in the custom closet business, I don’t spend as much time designing as I used to. Although working directly with homeowners is still my favorite part of the job, I find myself spending most of my time supporting my team of designers.  

The years-long process of assembling this current group of talented closet designers has given me valuable insight into the position.
Designing custom closets takes a very special individual.  
 
They have to be someone you would welcome into your home, and someone that can evaluate a space with complete accuracy. Our designers have been with Saint Louis Closet Co. for an average of 15 years, which certainly seems like we’ve figured out a winning formula!
 
Designing custom closets can be a rewarding career for someone with the right skills and personality.  
 
Here are six qualities successful closet designers all have in common: 
 
First and foremost, closet designers need to be friendly and personable. We’re meeting with people, not just in their homes, but inside their closets, one of the least public areas in their homes. A successful closet designer needs to put homeowners at ease within the first few minutes of their in-home consultation.
 
Closet designers must be able to visualize changes to a space. It’s easy to design a fancier version of existing racks, but often you have to look past the existing layout to see other possibilities. That’s where good spacial awareness is a must. But that’s also what makes closet design so much fun.  
 
Strong communication skills are very important. You can have the most brilliant idea for a new closet design but if you can’t communicate your vision to your client, nothing else matters.  Some homeowners are comfortable looking at plans, while others will need other forms of explanation. You may have to talk them through the plan, show them example photographs, or meet them in your showroom to look at physical displays.
 
Closet designers need to be detailed-oriented to make the installation go smoothly. From taking accurate measurements to accounting for all obstacles, the success of a closet installation relies on the designer’s attention to detail. Accurate measuring is the only way to achieve the custom, built-in look everyone wants in their closet. A simple reach-in closet may be relatively easy, but successfully designing a laundry room or a home office is much more challenging.
 
But they cannot lose sight of the big picture. Closet designers need to take a step back and make sure their design actually serves their client’s needs. Homeowners aren’t experienced in designing custom closets, so the designer has to make sure they’ve included a place for everything. You’re the expert.
 
Closet designers should be highly organized. We’re selling organization, so we have to be organized ourselves. Homeowners look to their custom closet designers for organizational solutions. To instill confidence, designers must present themselves as very highly organized professionals.
 
Editor’s Note: Angelia York has been a Top Shelf Design Awards judge since the contest’s launch. To learn more about her work, visit stlouisclosetco.com.
 

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