You get a call. The woman on the other end of the phones says “Yes - you can help me. I want to design my dream closet. I’m planning to turn an extra bedroom into a closet. I want it to look and feel like my favorite boutique”
One voice in your head says “Yippee. This will be fun. It’s a big space.” The other voice in your head (you have several, don’t you?) says “Oh my gosh. That’s alot of space. What if she wants something fancy shmancy? What approach will I take? How will I talk about price? What’s the best way to build it? What if she wants something I’ve never done before?”
My voice says “I’m glad you asked. I can help!”
My voice says welcome to an opportunity to create something beautiful and make someone’s dreams come true.
1st - discuss specifically what the client needs to store in this space and what else she would like to accomplish with it. Some people want desk space for administrative tasks. Others dream of coffee bars and wine refrigerators. Many want vanity space where they can put on make-up and accessorize themselves. And get specific style and aesthetic preferences, as they are keys to success.
2nd - after taking your measurements and recording all of the obstacles, windows, outlets and clearances for any existing reach-in closet doors, do a “rough math”, space planning layout. In this kind of closet, it’s less about SOP’s (standard operating procedures) and more about the aesthetic and the flow and function, matched with the parameters of the room.
3rd - be prepared to take this design to the top, both literally and figuratively. A request like this is for more than just placing a system of panels for double hang, long hang and shelving. It’s also beyond just adding an island and thinking that equals a “dream closet”. Particularly for this client. So you need to know what their style is because the aesthetics are as important as the function. Plan to incorporate crown molding, base molding and other embellishments (like corbels and pilasters and table legs) to give this room a real furniture feeling. If you need suggestions on if certain things “go” together, Osborne Wood Products can help -http://www.osbornewood.com/. Another personal favorite for contemporary accents is Doug Mockett and Company - http://www.mockett.com/.
4th - consider lighting and mirrors. In this situation, a three-way should be pretty easy (I’m talking about a 3-way mirror here people).If not, a large, full length mirror as a door is a great solution. Just be sure there’s enough space to step back and get a full view.
And when it comes to lighting, some responsibility will be on your design shoulders and some will not. If a vanity is called for, you need to provide good sources of lighting so the client can see what she looks like. Excellent, helpful sources for getting any specific questions answered are Hafele (http://www.hafele.com/us/) and Rev-A-Shelf (http://www.rev-a-shelf.com/).
Their people will look at your design and make suggestions on lighting solutions.
If the client is asking you about fixture recommendations on the overhead lighting/chandelier, I would stear clear of this request. I’m not a lighting expert. I don’t want to take on the responsibility of suggesting or endorsing a beautiful fixture that doesn’t provide the desired lighting effect after being installed. I love lighting enough not to pretend I know more about it than I actually do.
5th -Plan on custom sizes. Custom finishes. Custom almost everything. The biggest “hurdles” you need to overcome are the traditional thinking and training you have about efficiency in closet design. While you will still apply principles like appropriate shelf depths and accessibility, the other “rules” about 24” wide and 16” deep will serve the price element. However, they don’t serve the “I have a dream” element.
The challenge with the “I have a dream” element is that you go from having a select menu of options to unlimited options. Selling and designing from this space (literally and figuratively) is VERY different. So, when faced with unlimited choices, my tip here is to:
6th embrace the expert in you. This is where your design rubber will meet the road. Now is the time to let your design light shine. Take all the things you’ve seen and thought were beautiful, or things that inspired you from either a form or function perspective, and run your design plan filter through those. This will allow you to likely come up with terrific design solutions that aren’t run of the mill. And that’s what leads to success in projects like these.
And if you’d like more tips about great closet design - you can access them here:
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