Columbus: 614-545-6888

Free Consultation
Columbus: 614-545-6888

10 Ideas to Make an Extraordinary Custom Closet Design WITHOUT Spending Big Bucks

Although you love looking at the drool-worthy luxury boutique celebrity custom closets on the Internet, you know the size and crazy-expensive budget of these projects IS NOT in your future.

And although you’ve seen the ‘budget-friendly,’ off-the-rack, home center store modular closet systems, you also know their quality, lack of options and uncompromising sizes will not work for you.

No, you’re looking for that needle in a haystack. You not only want an extraordinary custom closet, but you want one you DO NOT (and will not) spend big bucks getting. The question becomes how can you realize this hard-to-obtain goal?

Well – if I do my job right in this article, I’m going to reveal 10 smart ideas to help you do just that. You see, while I lead a company which does custom closet designs (and have seen more than my fair share of closet projects over the years – and have gray to show for it!), our company’s primary market for custom closets IS NOT the rich and famous (or as famous as you can be if you live in Columbus Ohio). Our customers are people who like nice things – but also don’t have a never-ending-gobstopper sized budget.

You see our customers are looking for extraordinary custom closets WITHOUT spending big bucks (and you may be one of these people also). Given this goal, I’ll present 10 ideas I’ve shared with Central Ohio homeowners for years to ramp their designs without ‘spending all of me money’ (as SpongeBob Square Pants might have said. You see I do sometimes quote famous ‘people’ even if I’m not selling closets to them!). So, let’s dig into the ideas.

Idea #1) Add color and pattern to the most distinctive elements of your closet  

If you want an ordinary (and very cost-effective) closet, make it all white. And while white is ‘classic,’ and goes with everything, it’s also B-O-R-I-N-G!

However, if you use textured woods or laminate designs for the entire closet expect costs to instantly go up by 20% or so (and if you want to learn more about custom installed closet costs read How Much Does an Installed Custom Closet Cost).

A smarter -and architecturally more interesting way to add distinctive colors and patterns is to NOT use them for the entire closet. However, it is to use colors and patterns as an accent – which makes them even more dramatic. A fun way to do this is to change the colors of the door and drawer fronts with a bold pattern, or to add interest and design to an island countertop (if you have a lot of room). Either way – you get a ‘fun’ and interesting closet while keeping the lid on costs.

Idea 1 - 2 tone textured drawer fronts with white closet innovate home org (900 × 1200 px) | New Albany, OH #Closet #ClosetStorage #ClosetDesign

Idea #2) Identify – and add the cool stuff – to your feature wall

Just like you may want to have your picture taken showing your ‘best side’, the same thinking should be used when planning the design of your custom closet.

You want your ‘best wall’ (AKA your feature wall) to show off the coolest elements of your closet. And what might those coolest elements be, you may be asking. Well, the neatest (and most stylish) parts of a custom closet are #1 – the doors and drawers and #2 – the displays of shoes, purses, and jewelry (see idea #10 for more about this).

Ask yourself this question when you enter your closet today, what do you see first? If it’s a bunch of casual hanging clothes jammed together on wire hangers from the cleaners or plastic hangers from the Dollar Store, you’re not doing your ‘feature wall’ any justice.

Idea 2 - Luxury walk in closet feature wall with glass doors credit | Innovate Home Org | Westerville, OH #ClosetFeatureWall #ClosetDesign #CustomDesign

Image Source: Inspired Closets Chicago

Idea #3) Give your hanging clothes room to breath (and respect the ‘basics’ of effective hanging)

I know this advice will be hard for many people to do on their own, but (almost all) closets have waaaaaay too many hanging clothes. They’re bunched together. It’s impossible to find what you need. And besides that, your clothes are hung up in a haphazard fashion.

Bottom line – your hanging clothes are a MESS!

Talking about this problem,’ does nothing to solve it. The question is what can you do to improve your situation? And although I don’t have a ’10 step program’ to make this happen for you – I do have 3 simple pieces of advice for extraordinarily organized hanging sections. They are:

  • #1 Double hang – When you put one hanging bar above another, you’ll immediately 2x your space. And if you put your pants on the top rod, you’ll even get a ‘free’ shelf to use below them. This helps overcrowding.

Idea 3 pants on the top and shirts on double hung storage columbus innovate home org #ClosetStorage #HangingStorage #ClosetOrganization

  • #2 Use the same hangers (preferably velvet ones) – When the hangers are uniform the clothes look more uniform. Blow up ugly wire and plastic hangers!


  • #3 Hire a professional organizer (or a TBF – ‘er a Totally Blunt Friend) – These professionals (or friends) will let you know what you need to donate or discard. This decluttering task is impossible for many people to do on their own. If you can’t ‘go it alone,’ be smart and get help. Find an organizer through the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO).

Idea #4) Closet (beauty) goes beyond being skin deep

A beautiful closet is not only organized from what you see as you enter, it’s also efficient and organized when you open its doors and drawers. After all, drawers increase your storage (versus hanging) and give you the ability to store items you weren’t able to put in your closet before (like socks, underwear and jewelry). However, how things are stored inside the drawers is the key to making sure you won’t want to pull your hair out when you open them up. You may be wondering how you can how you can keep your closet drawers organized. If so, read 11 Secrets about Closet Drawers Even Most Closet Designers Won’t Tell You.

Idea 4 11 secrets about closet drawers hilliard ohio innovate home org #ClosetDrawers #ClosetDesign #ClosetTips

Idea #5) If it’s your thing, show off your bling

As the saying goes, if you’ve got it flaunt it. And as a closet design professional I would add if it’s your thing, don’t be afraid to show off your bling (‘er jewelry).

Let’s face it, most ‘standard closets’ have wire or cheap particle board shelves which give you no place to show (and/or store) your precious chains, necklaces and bracelets. However, with a smartly designed custom closet it’s not only possible to store your fun jewelry, but to show it off as well. A smart way to do this is to use this decorative wall organizing unit. Wouldn’t you love this unit in your closet?

Idea 5 symphony wall organizer for jewelry dublin columbus ohio innovate home org #ClosetJewelryOrganization #ClosetJewelryOrganizer #ClosetWallOrganization

Idea #6) Elevate your shoes…but DO NOT ramp them up!

Even though I’ve never met ‘her,’ but the ‘average woman’ owns 31 pairs of shoes and the ‘average guy’ (and yes – I don’t consider myself to be that guy either) owns 8 pairs of shoes. And in the ‘average, old builders grade closet you KNOW where those shoes live. They’re buried in the deep, dark crevasses of the closet floor. This is a travesty of justice for anyone who loves their shoes.

To get an extraordinary, yet not too expensive closet you need to get those shoes off the floor (where you can see them). And while you may be tempted to use ramped (AKA known as raised) shelves, I’d recommend not using this product. Ramped shelves store about ½ the shoes as flat shoe shelves, and cost 3X more.

Elevate – and celebrate your shoes with flat shoe shelving in your extraordinary closet.

Idea 6 flat shoes shelves pickerington custom closet innovate home org #ShoeStorage #ClosetStorage #CustomCloset

Idea #7) Add a splash of style with a decorative back panel on your feature wall

If you don’t know what a decorative back panel is, don’t fear, you’re not alone. Before I entered the closet industry, I had never heard of one either. A decorative back panel is a board behind a shelving or hanging section which not only protects your painted walls from nicks and scratches but adds style points as well.

Decorative back panels can be made of laminate, wood, cork, leather, or any material you like. And since they do add cost (without a lot of function), I’m a fan of only using them if you want to add interest on your feature wall. To learn more about decorative back panels read The Pros and Cons of Custom Closet Back Panels.


Idea 7 pros cons custom closet back panels columbus, oh | Innovate Home Org #CustomCloset #Closet #ClosetDesign

Idea #8) Know where to hang them and when to fold them

If you want an extraordinary closet you’ve got to be strategic. And by strategic, I mean you need to be thoughtful where you’re storing your clothing. And if you’re not sure what I mean by this let me explain.

For most people, the ugliest part of the closet are casual hanging clothes (which we have a lot of). And given this fact it’s smart to NOT put your casual hanging clothes ‘front and center’ when you enter your closet on your feature wall. However, if you do need (due to space constraints) to put hanging clothes ‘front and center’ on the feature wall put your best-looking stuff (which is long-hanging dresses, suits, and sport coats) in this highly visible area.

And if you’re looking for an intelligent storage option for your bulky sweaters and sweatshirts, please, please, please DO NOT put them on hangers! They not only hog too much space on the rod, but they look ugly, and you get those hideous hanger marks which look like elf ears on your clothes forever. The smart idea idea for sweaters and sweatshirts is to fold them on adjustable shelves.

The bottom line is an extraordinary closet uses a thoughtful strategy on what clothes you hang, which you fold, AND where they’re placed.

Idea #9) Create an extraordinarily useful closet by insisting it’s adjustable, simple to maintain AND takes advantage of your volume

I’m here to break the bad news to you. That news is some beautiful looking closets work terribly. And if you don’t believe me, I’ll explain what’s wrong with the ‘seemingly’ beautiful looking closet in this $1,000,000 Parade home below.

Idea 9 columbus parade of homes poorly designed custom closet by trim carpenter | Innovate Home Org #CustomClosetDesign #CustomCloset #CustomClosetStorage

Problem #1 – No adjustability) You see this closet is simply painted particle board without holes on the side. The lack of adjustment holes means if you’re V.C. (vertically challenged) or have a partner who buys from the ‘big and tall’ shop –your closet will not adjust to your sizes and stature. An extraordinary closet can be adjusted to your needs.

Problem #2 – Hard to maintain) Since this closet is painted wood it will chip, crack, and show scuff marks. It’ll need to be repainted. It’ll look uglier as the newness of the home wears off. Make your closet extraordinarily simple to maintain using laminate surfaces.

Problem #3 – Bad use of volume) Check out the top shelf and how much dead space is above it. Dead space is an opportunity for more storage. Most existing closets have tons of dead space at the top which can be solved by moving the top shelf up. Make sure your extraordinary closet use all it’s available volume. Pay attention to what closet design professionals call the ‘system height’ (this is how high the top shelf is from the closet floor. Don’t leave wasted space above your top shelf and below your hanging rods.

Idea #10) Show off what you value (your purses, shoe collection or jewelry)

An extraordinary closet is one you’re overjoyed to enter (not one you’re dreading… and I bet a few of you out there have a closet you dread today). You may be wondering what can make a closet a visual showplace you love to walk into. Here’s 3 ideas:

  • Display your favorite ‘night-out-on-the-town’ shoes.


  • Show your designer handbags you’ve been dying to ‘liberate’ from the boxes they’re stored in today.


  • See your watch, necklace, or bracelet collection.

Display these items proudly on shelves or decorative wall systems. And if you want to get fancy backlight them with glass doors for the luxury closet treatment.

So, did you get ideas for an extraordinary custom closet? Do you need design assistance to figure out how to transform your closet to something extraordinary?

Did any of the 10 ideas cause a light bulb to go off in your head and say, “I’ve gotta do that for my next closet remodeling project?”

Or after reading these ideas, are you still scratching your head and saying, “I don’t know how the heck to make these ideas work in my over-stuffed, nightmare of a closet?”

Well – I’m here to dish out the good news. If you live in Columbus Ohio, – my closet organization business (Innovate Home Org) would be delighted to help create an extraordinary closet and do a Free 3D Closet Design for you as well. Call 614-545-6888.

On the other hand, if you live outside Central Ohio (which is undoubtedly most of you) comment below where you live, and I’ll see if I can find a referral for you through one of my closet design friends across the country.

Thanks for reading – and putting up with my wacky humor.


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.

Comments (5)

  • Avatar

    Karen Wilson


    Fantastic ideas, Mike! Many people dream of having a custom closet where they can store and display their stuff in style. However, customized cabinets are expensive, and when working under a budget, you must work extra hard to get a decent aesthetic. The beautiful back panel and exhibiting the finest on the main wall are two ideas that I think are incredibly clever and worth imitating.


  • Avatar

    Kerry Kegel


    I very much enjoy your articles. I live in Ontario OR 97914 and I’m planning for a new build. Looking for a closet designer I could work with. Any suggestions?


    • Avatar

      Mike Foti


      Kerry – there’s a company called Closet Envy which does very nice work – they’re in Burlington. Here’s a URL to their site – you can ask for Shaun and say I referred you to him – Mike –


  • Avatar

    Kim Norris


    I live in Chattanooga, TN and would love to redo my white wire, walk-in closet. Do you have any recommendations for a closet designer in my area? Thanks!


Leave a comment