Courtesy ClosetMaid

When purchasing a new home, many buyers first consider the design of the main living spaces, including the kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and bathrooms, and smaller, more concealed areas, like closets and pantries, can be overlooked. But as homeowner storage needs soar, builders are prioritizing spacious, well-organized closets, transforming them into key selling points and bringing them to the forefront alongside the main rooms.

To find out the latest trends in closet design, BUILDER spoke with Brian Dougherty, vice president of sales at ClosetMaid Pro. As a manufacturer who specializes in closet and organization systems, Dougherty provides insight on what exactly homeowners are looking for in their closets, new innovative features and accessories, top materials and finishes, and more.

In your opinion, do you believe closets have grown in size in new homes over the last 10 or so years?

Storage is in such high demand that new home builders recognize that it is a key selling feature to offer more space than what is found in older existing homes. Now more than ever, home designers feature storage as a highlight of a new floor plan rather than an afterthought.

If a production home builder elects to put more than the standard wire racks in their closets, what are the most popular additions?

In this case, builders tend to offer more organizer solutions. That may be with adjustable systems or fixed systems, which include shelf stacks, drawers, and double-hanging options.

Courtesy ClosetMaid

On the flip side, what do direct customers prefer? What are they looking for if a builder doesn’t include much in the closets?

Consumers have become well-informed on the benefits of installing a closet organizer and will seek out options to further customize the storage space. A single shelf in a closet doesn't offer the maximum storage capacity that is required by today’s homeowner. Organizers allow the consumer to integrate a multitude of materials and accessories—be it adjustable wire systems or solid wood melamine floor mount systems.

Do those features change in master closets? What are builders adding there?

The owner's suite is certainly the focal point for prospective home buyers and therefore, builders recognize that a greater emphasis should be placed on this closet design. Additional shelf stacks that accommodate shoe and handbag storage, double hang rods, and corner hang rods for maximum hanging space, as well as drawer systems, tend to be the featured components to a well-thought-out closet design.

What are some innovative features or accessories that can add value and convenience to a modern closet?

There are several items that a homeowner can select to truly customize their closet for more value and convenience. Concealing laundry in pull-out hampers is a very popular choice as well as the use of valet rods to stage dry cleaning and add greater functionality to the closet. The integration of drawers in the closet system for personal accessories like jewelry or folded clothing give homeowners more space within the bedroom as they often help take away the need for large dressers or storage furniture within the room. Our collections offer home buyers the ability to feature many functional accessories that enhance the design's overall aesthetic.

Courtesy ClosetMaid

What materials and finishes are most popular or recommended?

This largely depends on the price point of the home and the budget of the home buyer. For the more budget-conscious home buyers, wire storage systems offer the greatest value of any type of solution. As for the move-up and luxury segment, wood melamine systems are the desired material. Wood melamine provides significantly more durability and higher fit and finish than a painted medium density fiberboard (MDF) or particle board system. Additionally, realistic wood finishes are achieved with melamine, thus expanding the home buyer’s ability to match their home decor. We’ve seen a demand for natural wood finishes as well as a demand for black as a finish and as a hardware option—it elevates the aesthetic and elegance of the space.

How can lighting be effectively integrated into closet design to enhance visibility and ambiance?

Lighting in closets can be overlooked and should be something home buyers pay attention to. Wireless LED lighting options appear to be the most versatile lighting available to closet designers. Downlighting and backlighting enhance the experience of the user as stored items are more visible. Additionally, there are many wireless aftermarket lighting solutions available to further enhance the space.

Are builders investing in any other closet spaces? What features are popular for those?

Pantries have been a primary focus for smartly designed storage in new homes. More pantries are being designed with countertops to accommodate a beverage/coffee center or for small appliance storage. Mudrooms have expanded in interest in new homes for the move-up and luxury segments. This has become more of a standard for these types of homes as home buyers continue to express the need for a functional drop zone.

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