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What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Professional Closet Installation

If you can remember what it was like to be pregnant with your first (or if you’re a guy who was worrying what this ‘dad’ job would entail), you know you were scared to be an expectant first-time parent.

And even though you bought (in desperation) The What to Expect When You’re Expecting book to give you a guide of what to do, you knew some of this parenting thing you’d have to figure out along the way.

And even though I’ll admit buying a custom closet IS NOT as hard a job as raising a kid (and THAT’S the understatement of the universe says the guy who still – at times – feels he’s raising his adult kids today!), you may also be scared and uncertain what to expect if you’re looking to buy a professionally installed custom closet. For example, you may be asking,

  • What can I expect to pay for a custom closet?
  • How can I recognize if I’m (actually) getting a professional closet system?
  • How will I know if the closet with ‘live’ well for me?
  • How can I make sure I can find my shoes?
  • How can I organize my odd shaped or narrow closet to get the most out of it?
  • What should I look for to make sure the closet is safe, and won’t fall off the wall (which happens way too often with cheap wire shelving put in by production builders)?

In this article I’ll give you 13 tips to make sure you know what to expect from a professional closet installation -so you don’t get fooled (and end up buying) a cheap imitation which doesn’t function well for you. Let’s check out the tips.

Expectation #1 for a professional closet installation – Know what you can expect to pay

While it can be fun looking at the drool-worthy closets of the rich and famous on Pinterest, once you wake up you KNOW this IS NOT your reality.

Most likely you have a reach in or walk in closet which is filled to the gills with stuff. You’re desperately trying to figure out how to make it function at least reasonably well, and IF you can even afford a professional closet installation. So, how can you do that without wasting a lot of time and dealing with an overly aggressive salesperson?

I’d recommend reading How much does an installed custom closet cost (including 5 ideas to save you money)?

Expectation 1 How much does an installed walk in custom closet cost Innovate Home Org | Custom Storage Solution | Closet Design Ideas | Custom Storage Solutions in Columbus Ohio

And while this article will give you a ‘general’ idea of cost, to get a specific quote (and be able to do a ‘value analysis’ to manage where the money is being spent on the closet), getting a free design consultation (with a company who has a 3D design AND pricing tool) is the way to go.

Expectation #2 for a professional closet installation – Know that you won’t end up burdened with bad design decisions you can’t fix 

The best time to know if your closet is messed up and a pain to use is AFTER it’s installed. However, at that point you’re living with the ‘spilled milk’ of a bad design. And who wants to live (after the fact) with things that could have been fixed in the design by a professional closet designer (who does this for a living)? ‘Er that’d be…..


 So, how can you make sure you don’t fall into the trap of a bad closet design you can’t fix after the fact? Well, one way to do that is to read ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of a Closet Design.’

Expectation 2 - 7 Deadly Sins Walk in Closet | Innovate Home Org | Closet Storage Ideas | Custom Organization Tips | Dublin Ohio Custom Closet

In addition to the ‘sins’ listed in this article – make sure to pay attention to expectation #3 below (which isn’t on the 7 sins lists, not sure how I forgot it!)– which can actually the deadliest ‘sin’ of all!

Expectation #3 for a professional closet installation – Make sure you can see and use EVERYTHING in your closet corners without wasting money 

Most existing closets installed by original home builders have wire shelves where hanging clothes intersect with more hanging clothes in the corners.

This layout creates the deadliest sin of all in closets – the Bermuda Triangle of closet storage where little-worn clothes come to die (or at least be forgotten about) in the corners of your closet.

And there’s 2 strategies you can use to improve closet corners. One I love – the other, not so much. They are:

  • Strategy #1 for closet corners I don’t love so much is to use corner shelves. While corner shelves are smart in a pantry (where you can stack a lot of cans in the corners), in a closet I’m NOT a fan. The reason is if you have stacks of clothes in the corner of a closet you have ‘dead’ space because the shape of clothing stacks is rectangular, but the shape of the corner shelves is not a rectangle. Plus, corner shelves are expensive.

Expectation 3 problem hang vs. hang in closet corner | Innovate Home Org | Custom Storage Solutions | Columbus Ohio Storage Tips

  • Strategy #2 for closet corners I do love is running hanging in one direction and shelving in the other. When you use this closet design strategy you can see everything in the corner, and it’s cost-effective.

Expectation 3 hanging vs. shelving better columbus clost corner | Innovate Home Org | Custom Closet Storage | Organization Tips | Walk in Closet Tips | Upper Arlington Custom Closet

Expectation #4 for a professional closet installation – You should expect to NOT have ‘dead space’ at the top – and the bottom – of your closet

Since most older closets (with wire or painted wood shelves) are designed for all long-hanging (where the top rod is 66-70” from the floor of an 8’ closet) – there’s a lot of ‘dead space’ you can’t use at the top of the closet (and also the space below your casual hanging clothes to the floor is difficult to use as well).

This problem can be resolved by making a thoughtful decision about what we call in the industry the ‘system height’ (or in ‘real people’s’ terms how high the top shelf is from the floor).

To improve space utilization, put the top shelf of an 8’ high closet at 84” from the floor, and the top shelf of a 9’ high closet at 90” off the floor. Then add double hanging sections for more efficient hanging of casual clothes (which is the largest portion of hanging most people need).   

Expectation 4 efficient closet system height | Innovate Home Org | Storage Solutions | Custom Storage Options | Columbus Ohio Walk In Closet Storage

Expectation #5 for a professional closet installation – You should expect a closet which is adjustable

I hope you don’t mind if I gripe for a moment.

However, as a professional closet designer (and all-around nice guy – I’m throwing that in, because that’s what my mom would say) I hate going into expensive homes and seeing painted or stained wood closets installed by a trim carpenter which have ZERO ability to be adjusted.

When I see this I know this closet will NOT live well… even if it looks nice.

And if your closet doesn’t work well because the rods and shelves can’t be adjusted as your styles, and mix of, of clothing and shoes change, it doesn’t matter one iota (even if you don’t know what an iota is) how fancy the closet is.

A functional closet is an adjustable closet. Anything less is…..

Expectation 5 columbus adjustable custom closet | Innovate Home Org | Custom Storage Solutions | Columbus Closet Design | Reach in Closet

Closet Design Malpractice!

Expectation #6 for a professional closet installation – You should expect a closet which is guaranteed it won’t fall off the wall

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone into a home and seen wire shelves which have come off the wall and clothes are laying in a heap on the floor!

And even if you get a less expensive ‘wall hung closet’ (which means it’s hung on a rail which is connected into the studs) you should have every right to expect you’ll NEVER, EVER, EVER, have a closet which comes down.

To achieve this goal the sections of the closet shouldn’t be too wide. I recommend they’re 36” wide or less, and there should be support rails and/or cleats to make sure the system is properly secured to the wall.

And lastly they should be guaranteed NOT to fall off – or the company putting them up will reinstall new material at no extra charge to you.

Or like they say in the Allstate commercial below, “Don’t let this mayhem happen to you!”

Expectation #7 for a professional closet installation – You should expect (even in a narrow closet) you won’t feel like you’re walking into a corn maze

I’ll admit it’s harder to design a narrow closet. And it’s NOT pleasant if in your narrow closet you’re ‘greeted’ (sarcasm intended) to hanging clothes which extend into the doorway.

If you’re not sure how to design a narrow closet – in addition to getting ‘professional help’ (and NO, I don’t mean that kind of professional, I’m talking about a closet professional!) read 7 Powerful Tips to Get More Space and Beauty into Your Narrow Walk In Closet.

Expectation 7 narrow walk in closet design columbus | Custom Storage Solutions | Innovate Home Org Columbus Ohio | Worthington Custom Closet Solutions

Expectation #8 for a professional closet installation – You should expect a closet you can get ‘fully ready’ in – even if (like me) you’ve been banished from using any drawers in the bedroom dresser

Just because I own a closet business don’t think this entitles me to ‘special treatment’ when it comes to getting my ‘fair share’ of storage space in my own home.

No, I’ve been ‘allocated’ about 30% of the space in our closet and my wife also has 100% of the drawers in our bedroom dresser (and Ok – this might be one of the reasons she looks more stylish than me … just keepin’ it real).

However, before you feel too sorry for me, we’ve designed our closet with one (not so secret) component to make sure (without any dresser drawers) my socks, underwear, and running clothes are NOT laying on the floor of our bedroom or closet. And that secret component is…..

Closet drawers

Expectation 8 drawers in a feature wall Pataskala closet | Innovate Home Org | Organization Solutions for Custom Closet | Organization Tips | Closet Storage organization

Closet drawers not only make a closet look more stylish – but they allow someone like me (a poor husband without dresser drawers…I’ve got a tough life) to get fully ready in their closet even with zero bedroom dresser drawers. And the other bonus is you can fit 2X the number of shirts in a drawer than you can by hanging them up.

Expectation #9 for a professional closet installation – Your shoes WILL NOT be an afterthought. You’ll be able to find them with ease.

When you see ‘closet designs’ installed by builders (if you can call them that) it’s as if they assumed shoes don’t exist because there’s no dedicated space for them. And while I know there are some cultures that don’t put shoes in their closets, for most people their shoe collection is buried under hanging clothes. This means….

  • 1) It’s a pain to see your shoes and
  • 2) You’ve got to bend over to get them

So, if shoes are an important part of your life (OK, I’m being a bit dramatic here, but for some people – their shoe collection IS the holy grail!) why let them languish underneath hanging clothes anymore?

And if you’re looking for a professional closet installation which puts your shoes ‘front and center,’ read 13 Wild, Wacky, and Wonderful Shoe Storage Tricks You Need to Know.

Expectation 9 - 13 shoe storage tricks columbus custom closet | Innovate Building Solutions | Closet Storage Organization | Custom Closets in Columbus ohio | Walk in Closet Design Ideas

Expectation #10 for a professional closet installation – Your ties, belts, and scarves won’t end up laying on the floor

If your scarves, ties, and belts are hanging precariously on plastic hangers desperately trying to ‘hold on’ (and not end up on the floor), I’m here to tell you (if misery loves company) you’re not alone.

And if you hate trying to find your favorite belt or scarf while rummaging on master closet floor, it’s time to put an end to this lunacy.

You see if you use a scarf, tie, and belt rack you can not only have an organized place to store these accessories, but you’ll also like how they extend from the closet system so they’re easy to see as well.

Expectation 10 - belt rack in worthington custom closet | Innovate Home Org | Organization Solutions | Columbus Ohio Closet Storage | Walk In Closet Storage

Expectation #11 for a professional closet installation – You won’t have a closet design which covers your outlets, or is built over access panels, or won’t work with your crazy angled ceiling

Closets can be some of the funkiest rooms in the house. You may have a window in the worst location. Or there’s a ‘way-too-large’ access panel for your shower valve in the bathroom. Or the closet is in a room with dormers and sloped ceilings.

In the closet industry we call these challenges ‘obstructions.’ In the real world you call them YOUR P.I.A.’s!

And one of the beauties about a professional closet installation is they’re properly planned to use every inch as effectively as possible even if your closet is the wackiest room in your house.

And if you think you’re going to save money buying a ‘modular closet’ at the home center store when you’ve got a funky closet with wild obstructions, this will likely be a disaster. And if you’ve got one of those wacky closets, read How to Organize Your Odd Shaped Closet.

Expectation 11 - how to orgranize an odd shaped closet | Innovate Home Org | Storage Solutions | Organization Tips | Custom Storage Tips

Expectation #12 for a professional closet installation – Make sure your shelves are deep enough for your spouses’ 13” shoes, or towels and blankets, or designed to not put marks in your bulky sweaters

Are you putting up with 12” deep wire shelves where your sweaters and sweatshirts hang off the edge and get those ‘wonderful’ (sarcasm intended) wire shelving marks?

If so, this is a place where a professional closet installation can make your closet look and live far better.

If you’re storing sweaters on shelving insist on smooth 14” deep units.

And if you’re keeping towels and blankets in your closet because you don’t have a linen closet, 16” deep shelving is best.

Expectation #13 for a professional closet installation – Insist on a 3D design.

Would you build a new home without a blueprint? Not if you were sane!

The same should be true for a closet.

It’s impossible to visualize your closet with handwritten drawings on graph paper. Even a professional closet designer (if they’re being honest) will tell you after they convert their roughly sketched design concept into a 3D drawing they’ll often see something (maybe a section is too deep, too shallow, or too wide) which became obvious AFTER the 3D design was complete.

So, no matter what you do – DO NOT spend money on a closet if you don’t understand how it’ll look and function. And for this insist on a 3D closet design. Plus, with the right 3D design AND pricing program, you can edits designs and see pricing changes in real time. This allows YOU to be in control over where you put the value (‘er cost) in your closet.

Expectation 13 - 3D new albany custom closet design | Innovate home org | Storage Solutions | Custom Closet Ideas | Organization TIps | Walk in Closet solutions

So, do you now know what to look for in a professional closet installation? How can we help next?

Do you now feel armed to know what you need for a professional closet installation, or are there still lingering questions you’d love an answer to? If so –comment below. I’d love to help.

And if you’re in Columbus or Cleveland Ohio and would like a Free 3D design, our company Innovate Home Org, would be glad to assist. Call 614-545-6888.

And if you don’t live in Ohio – don’t fear – in the comments below let me know where you do live, I’ll look for a referral to help with your project.

Thanks for reading – and putting up with my wackiness along the way!






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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