WRITER | JEANINE MATLOW
PHOTO | REDLINE CLOSET SYSTEMS
Some residential trends show no signs of slowing down, like the deluxe walk-in closets that have become synonymous with luxurious master suites. Now, as many Michiganders spend more time at home and sort through their belongings, this convenient feature has been more sought-after than ever before.
In fact, the pandemic has been a catalyst for that mad dash purge, which often begins with a master bedroom closet, says John James, president of Great Lakes Garage Storage Cabinets in Shelby Township. During the initial lockdown, when travel was restricted, he says many people took that allotted budget and poured it into their homes.
For custom walk-in closets, there are a lot of popular options, such as wire basket drawers. “Anything that pulls out, we appreciate more as we get older,” says James. “When you’re young, you store your stuff higher and higher. As you get older, you want lower storage; you can’t keep raising everything up to the moon.”
Once the bones of the closet have been determined, he suggests getting your possessions in order before patching and painting the walls, which his clients often do on their own to save money. He also recommends rolling racks to temporarily store your wardrobe nearby, since a custom closet can take at least a few weeks to complete from the initial consultation to the finished product.
Those who remove existing shelves and tackle other prep work often turn to the pros for customization, proper measuring, and professional installation. The same tradespeople should be able to relay the latest features and best ways to incorporate them, like the lighting selections that have expanded in recent years. While decorative fixtures like pendants and chandeliers still make a statement above an island, it doesn’t stop there. “Lighting is everywhere,” says James. “People even add LED lights to the closet rods.”
Details like these often take their cue from display cases in retail environments, where proper lighting is essential. “Closets can be dark, and you can put LED lights anywhere,” says James. “Everything gets lit, from the glass tops of the jewelry drawers to the windows in the island.”
As he explains, walk-ins have been trending away from wood toward melamine finishes that mimic linen and suede. “They’re different, and they offer more interesting looks,” he says. Those who prefer wood often go for darker tones with a grain or some texture for added depth.
Part of the appeal of a customizable closet comes from all the bells and whistles that make it shine, from jewelry drawers for your baubles to pullout hampers that are easy to reach. “The bones of the closet basically stay the same, and the special features personalize it, like belt racks and valets,” says James.
While most walk-ins are part of the master suite, some transform a spare room to serve this purpose. Women’s closets tend to be a little more elaborate than men’s, but most opt to include an island if space allows. “People appreciate having a flat surface in a walk-in closet,” he says.
Personal attire was already heading in a more casual direction before COVID-19 came along, but now the demand for suits and ties and other formalwear has fallen even lower. This shift has led to more requests for built-in shelves to hold neatly stacked t-shirts and jeans.
Though pullout baskets are often underrated, James says they come in handy for bulky sweatshirts and sweatpants. Glass cabinet doors keep the dust away from seasonal items. Whatever features you prefer, walk-in closets maximize your capacity and provide peace of mind to find what you need.