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5 Myths about Custom Closets You Need to Know So You Don’t Waste Money

When you hear the word ‘custom’ (or custom closet) does it send shivers down your spine? Are you picturing money gushing out of your purse faster than Khloe Kardashian can say, “I bought another pair of Jimmy Choo’s?”

If you’re looking to upgrade your master closet, a reach in closet for your kid’s disastrous bedroom, or just want to ‘find’ space in your hall closet so everything doesn’t come tumbling out, you know figuring out the optimal storage system can be daunting.

After all you’re not Jay Pritchett and you don’t play him on Modern Family either.

So, how can you get straightforward advice to make sure you’re not wasting money on a custom closet? How can you get a stylish design which works for years to come without dipping into the kid’s college fund?

IMHO – a good place to start is by dispelling half-truths, myths and utter junk (oops –that was an unintentionally bad closet pun) you’ve read on the Internet (after all you KNOW everything you read  on the Internet is true (sarcasm intended).

In this article, I have 2 goals. First, I’ll explain the myths I dispel for owners ALL THE TIME while running my Columbus custom closet design and installation company. My second goal (and likely the first goal for you) is to save you money. Contrary to what you may think, you don’t have to be Jeff Bezos of Mark Zuckerberg (who are ‘almost’ made of money) to afford a custom closet.

You do, however, need to be an educated buyer and make better choices. My goal is to provide additional insights for you to help you do this.

So without further delay, let’s look at 5 myths about custom closet you need to know (whether you live in Columbus, Ohio, Columbus Georgia – or even in the state of Michigan – that was for you Ohio State Buckeye’s fans) to save money on your closet project.

Myth #1 – A custom closet needs to be made from wood and installed by a master trim carpenter  

You’ve seen Khloe Kardashian’s closets on Pinterest. They look marvelous (darling). They were likely built by a master trim carpenter, made from wood and cut and painted on the job site. This sounds wonderful, now doesn’t it. Here’s a dose of reality.

Closets built out of wood by a trim carpenter are a bad idea!

You want to know why? This isn’t because I had a trim carpenter insult me 20 years ago and I’m still in therapy to get over it.

No, the reason this is a bad idea is twofold:

Reason #1 wood is a bad choice in a closet is it requires painting. Wood chips and warps. In addition, wood is not made with ‘adjustment holes’ on the side so your closet can ‘flex’ (or change) as your clothing styles change (which requires shelves and rods to be moved up and down). Smart custom closets are made with laminate shelves and adjustable rods. They’ll change as your styles and clothing change.

Adjustable laminate shoe shelves columbus ohio | Innovate Home Org | #laminateshoeshelf #ShoeShelf #AdjustableShoeShelf

Reason #2 this is a bad choice is because trim carpenters are trim carpenters. Right now, you’re probably saying – that sounds like a ‘Captain Obvious’ statement if there ever was one. And it is. No matter how fantastic a trim carpenter is at their trade they are not trained in closet design. I’ve seen trim carpenters put drawers behind doors which open in. I’ve seen trim carpenters put hanging rods above shelves so it’s hard to see what’s underneath. Trim carpenters know trim carpentry. Closet designers know (or at least should know) closet design. Get help or a Free 3d design from a trained closet designer.

Myth #2 – All closet systems need to be built onto the floor

While ‘floor-based’ closet systems are luxurious, especially if you put in baseboard trim (and quite frankly our company does a lot of them), they’re more expensive. They use a lot of material.

A smarter alternative (if you’re on a tight budget) are ‘wall hung closets.’ Although wall hung units don’t use support sections which go to the floor, they still securely store your hanging clothes, shoe shelves and drawers. While there are limitations to wall hung systems (read this article How to Choose Between a Wall Hung vs. Floor Mounted Closet Organizer  to learn more), for a lower priced kid’s closets or hall closets they’re perfect.

wall double hung sections in a custom columbus closet | Innovate Home Org | #DoubleHungShelf #HangingSpace #CustomCloset

Myth #3 – You’ve got to buy from the big franchise companies because they make the best products  

OK – I’m going to ‘come clean’ here and tell you my company IS NOT A MEMBER OF A FRANCHISE CLOSET NETWORK. And I’m going to tell you why.

First, if we were in a franchise network, I’d have a fee to pay the franchisor (and being the nice guy that I am) I would need to pass along this cost. Obviously, that’s not good for you.

Second, what’s weird about the franchises in the closet industry are most of them run their own localized plants. ‘On the surface’ this sounds like a good idea, but I think it’s often not a good for you (as a homeowner). Here’s why. Many of these local closet-manufacturing franchises build in a 10,000 to 15,000 square foot plant. Since these plants are smaller and localized, they can’t invest in as updated of equipment as manufacturers who sell through a dealer network with hundreds of closet design companies they serve. Our manufacturing partner operates a 300,000 square foot facility with state-of-the-art equipment which they can amortize over a wider group of customers.  

Custom wardrobe closet Dublin Ohio | Innovate Home Org | #CustoemWardobe #DublnClosets #HomeOrganization #Wardobe

This second reality causes ‘franchise’ companies to produce products which are ‘OK,’ but not as nice as large-scale laminate closet manufacturers.

Myth #4 – Custom closet designs are too expensive. I’ll DIY the job and save a LOT OF MONEY!  

Projects where DIY’ing the job makes the most sense is those where the ‘installed labor’ is high. For example, if you’re going to DIY your bathroom remodel (where labor is 50% to 60% of the total cost of the job), the roll-up-your-sleeves DIY strategy makes sense.

However, when you’re looking at DIY’ing a closet job (where the installed labor component is 10% to 15% of the job), there rarely is the cost savings you think (especially since you’ll be buying materials at ‘full retail’).

When you get a store-bought system the ‘standard-out-of-the-box’ closet organizer won’t be sized to use every inch of your closet. In addition, you may have a support section smack dab in the middle of an electrical outlet.

Here’s the bottom line:

DIY’ing a custom closet to save money is ‘fools-gold’ – unless you’re using a system with really cheap materials like wire shelving.

Custom reach in closet organizer in columbus ohio | Innovate Home Org | #CustomStorage #ShoeStorage #ShoeShelves #CustomCloset

Myth #5 – I’ve got to go the Container Store and buy tons of bins, boxes and behind-the-door shoe organizers to get my closet project started  

Quite frankly –this is the way many people do closet organizing. However, it’s not a cost-effective or smart way to start.

Here’s 2 big closet design problems the ‘buy some bins and boxes’ approach doesn’t solve:

#1 Problem – There was never a design ‘plan’ in the first place. The builder just slapped in the cheapest wire or white-painted board they could ‘get away with.’ Your ‘storage design’ (I use this term lightly) has problems like clothes packed against clothes in the corner. Tons of dead space at the top because the shelf is set too low. Storage bins and boxes don’t solve this problem.

Builders grade wire closet with dead space above top shelf | innovate home org | dublin closets | columbus closets | #Customclosets #columbusclosets #OrganizationStorage

#2 Problem – You’ve got too much stuff you don’t wear or doesn’t fit – It’s been said the ‘road to hell is a road paved with ‘good intentions.’ You ‘intend’ to lose weight. Then you know those clothes from 10 years ago will fit. You ‘intend’ to repair the buttons and get the nasty stains out of those blouses. However, you never get around to it. Life (and kids, careers and spouses) get in the way.

Although many homeowners will make a New Year’s Resolution to ‘get organized’ with a trip to their local organization store this usually leaves them ‘wanting’ when things don’t look better a month down the road.

To ‘attack a closet’ and make a permanent improvement here’s what you need to do.

  • Get help from a professional organizer (or from a ‘tell-it-like-it-is friend) who’ll be brutally honest and help you discard or donate the ‘clutter’ which is ‘gunking up’ (a technical closet industry term) your closet.
  • Get a professional closet design. Many of the problems with your closet aren’t your fault. They’re the result of a ‘quote unquote’ system which was slapped in by the original builder who knew nothing (and cared even less) how your closet would work for you. They ‘threw in’ a cheap closet system to check the ‘closet box’ when selling the home. There are simple solutions like double hanging sections, and flat shoe shelving any (even decent) closet designer will recommend. In many cases you can double your storage overnight. Get ‘professional help’ (no, not that kind of professional help) from a closet design pro.

White laminate wall hung closet with double hanging section in a loft in columbus | Innovate Home Org | Columbus Closets | #CustomStorage #Columbustorage #DoubleHungStorage


While designing a cost-effective custom closet isn’t rocket science, doing it correctly (and efficiently for your budget) requires skill.

It may seem to be a smart ‘short-cut’ to pick up boxes, bins and a closet system from a big box store but buying the wrong products can result in putting ‘good money after bad’ as my Dad used to say.

Don’t be a victim of the 5 myths above. It’s been said a ‘wise man (and a wise woman I might add) knows what they don’t know. Seek out advice before plowing ahead.

If you need a custom closet design or a referral to designers who can help you, we’d love to assist. Call our office and have one of our team come out and give you a free 3D design.

How can I (or my team) help you with a closet design?

If you’d like a professional design assistance and a Free 3D closet design (or a wardrobe closet) in the Columbus or Cleveland Ohio area call Innovate Home Org in Columbus at 614-545-6888 or in Cleveland at 216-658-1290.

If you’re into LinkedIn connect with me @MikeFotiLinkedIn.

Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Home Org, a division of Innovate Building Solutions. You can learn more about Mike here.

Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Home Org, a division of Innovate Building Solutions. You can learn more about Mike here.

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