While “thinking out of the box” is a common enough concept, actually taking that thought process and putting it into practice is a challenge for many businesses. When it comes to thriving in a tough economy, however, embracing and implementing new ideas can mean the difference between a promising future and the end of the road.
For kitchen and bath designers, thinking outside of the box often means extending beyond their comfort zones to make their mark in other areas of the home. One of those areas – the master closet – is proving to be a fast and lucrative answer to lagging kitchen sales.
“Designing closets has helped us diversify our business and provide some additional revenue for our firm,” comments Jay Young, v.p. for Toulmin Cabinetry, in Tuscaloosa, AL. “We’ve sold some $30,000 closets, which is a pretty nice package.”
Toulmin offers a closet package with every kitchen it designs, according to Young. “It is a way of getting the word out there that we do closets. It’s something that we do that’s a little different from our competition.”
Customers have responded well to Toulmin’s closet designs. “We can get so much more storage for most of our customers than they have now – sometimes double or triple their current storage. That’s one of the most important ways of how we use the tool to sell,” adds Young.
Service is also part of the package, as the firm actually goes into the home and takes everything out of the closet to be remodeled. The company then does a paint touch up, installs the new closet system and puts the clothes back.
“Of course, the customers need to organize it the way they want it, but it’s a nice service that a lot of our clients take advantage of,” comments Young.
Many kitchen and bath designers who have embraced closet design approach it the same way they would a kitchen project. In fact, the closet often acts like a kitchen, according to Cynthia Adams, president/owner, KB Studio, in Denver, CO, with the cabinets around the perimeter and furniture in the center.
While there will be those clients who will go crazy over closets, Amir Ilin, president, Kuche + Cucina, in South Paramus, NJ, warns that, for the most part, people are not spending the same kind of money behind closed doors that they are in their kitchens.
“Only 25% of the clients we work with want to customize and see the closet be like a Ferrari in the garage,” notes Dmitriy Daraselia, manager and part-owner, Knopka Design, in Brooklyn, NY. But he says that’s okay, “because those kinds of closets are not really as profitable as regular, simple closets due to the time involved.”
Time is money, after all, and the profitability is there, even for the simplest closet designs. “While we doll them up and make them super nice, the design time you spend on a closet once you design two or three is amazing,” comments Young. Toulmin works with ProClosets and John Lewis Home to create its closets, and Young reports that his firm can design a closet in minutes using ProClosets’ software.
“While some clients are very specific about what they’re looking for – where they’ll measure their husband’s slacks down to the quarter-inch” remarks Adams, “for the most part, they’re looking for hanging – especially double hanging – drawer storage and shoe storage.”
Daraselia asks to see his client’s clothes and what type of things will be stored in the closet. “Then I recommend a certain percentage of hanging space, drawer space and shelving,” he comments. At this point, he mentions other items, such as pull-out baskets, though he stresses that these do take up space.
“The goal for us is how many drawers can we fit into a space,” reports Young. “Drawers offer much better storage than anything behind doors for access, and of course we use full-extension drawers.”