If you build entry-level houses for buyers who prefer value to flash, a run-of-the-mill storage system will be more than adequate. If you're catering to the move-up buyer, however, you better change your strategy. To this group, closet storage is more important than it used to be.
"[The closet trend] is due to an awareness of the consumer, and luxury closets have gone from being a nice-to-have feature to a must-have one," says John Jaworski, vice president of Millington, N.J.-based ProClosets. No wonder builders are getting with the program.
ProClosets knows about this awareness first hand. The company started life as Easy Closets and catered mostly to consumers. But when builders started asking the manufacturer for the same products, the company changed its name and now offers a Web-based custom closet design and purchasing service exclusively for builders and other professionals. "Builders were looking for a bit more than what was out there," Jaworski says.
Ocala, Fla.-based ClosetMaid has had similar experiences. A study the company conducted in California found that 53 percent of home buyers in the state consider the closet an important element in their purchasing decision. But since style is important, too, ClosetMaid went beyond the basic wire shelving it offered and introduced the MasterSuite laminate line "because [home buyers] are looking for a more high-end look," marketing manager Mark Remmers says.
Las Vegas-based Christopher Homes offers luxurious closets in all of its houses. Luxury production homes feature standard walk-ins measuring 10 feet by 7 feet in laminate and wood. The systems are well-appointed but standard because "70 percent of all buyers desire similar features," says Erika Geiser, vice president of marketing. Custom home buyers get the works and can add almost anything they want. "It is essential to offer these types of options," Geiser says. "To this buyer, the closet is an important and very personal space." They understand that a closet cannot be too big or too luxurious," Geiser says.
Captive audience: Shown here in the Captiva finish, this closet system offers the benefits of a custom product but at a lower price point. Components are made from 3/4-inch melamine, and a whole host of custom options are available, such as islands, adjustable shelving, pullout tie racks, hutches, laundry hampers, and full extension drawers. White, ivory, cherry, light oak, and maple finishes are available. ProClosets. 877-289-2776. www.proclosets.com.
Ultimate champion: The Ultimate Wardrobe System comes with everything a closet needs, including glass-front drawers, pullout shelves, and seasonal storage boxes. Featuring solid wood and natural wood veneers, the system can be modular or mounted to the wall. Personal items can be stored in jewelry inserts, sliding tie trays, or wicker baskets, while sliding or swinging glass doors complete the system. Natural beech and mahogany stained beech finishes are available. Studio Becker. 510-865-1616. www.studiobecker.com.
Riding the rails: FreedomRail adjustable home storage components offer the benefits of a custom closet but are easy to install and upgrade, the manufacturer says. The system is engineered so it does not have to be attached to or mounted to studs, and once a hanging rail is installed, the components snap into place and can be adjusted. The line now includes solid maple shelving and accessories with nickel finish hardware. Schulte. 513-489-9300. www.schultestorage.com.
Suite sensation: Warm Cognac is the latest color introduction to the manufacturer's MasterSuite laminate closet system. It includes 96-inch-tall storage towers to accommodate high ceilings, raised panel doors, and various drawer and shelf widths. It also can be outfitted with components from the company's other lines. ClosetMaid. 800-874-0008. www.closetmaid.com.
For more product information, visit ebuild, Hanley-Wood's interactive product catalog.