Rewind twenty or thirty years, and a closet was a functional hole in the wall, a space with a door that was meant to stay closed. A place to conceal life’s necessities and accumulated junk.
Fast-forward to today, and custom closets have become, as a recent article in The Wall Street Journal stated, “the ultimate status symbol.” No longer a place to conceal, the custom closet of today is a space to reveal the objects of life well-lived. These well-lit spaces with their custom wooden hangers and pristine rows of carefully displayed closet accessories communicate a sense of control and order in a sometimes hectic world. Custom closets are the place where functionality is made beautiful, where the organization turns into art.
A Status Symbol
While movies and tv, such as “Sex in the City” and “The Devil Wears Prada” have certainly popularized displaying closet accessories in chic, airy, boutique-style walk-ins, this new definition of the custom closet is more than just a fad. Video tours of designer custom closets complete with specialty shelving, wooden hangers, and a plethora of luxury items such as wood-paneled refrigerators and high-tech security systems are some of the most-viewed videos online, some amassing millions of views. Adding to the visibility of the custom closet are celebrities like the Kardashians and the professional designers and organizers featured on the Netflix show “Get Organized with the Home Edit.” With the rise in popularity and visibility of the organized home, the world has become aware that even the most private spaces in our homes deserve to be used to the fullest extent; that all of the clothing and accessories that a person collects deserve to be cared for and displayed as a reflection of the person who owns them.
The symbol of a well-organized beautifully designed custom closet speaks of a person with attention to the details of their lives. Someone who has decided that they deserve a little more than simply shutting the door on their things; that these spaces in their homes are for more than just storage. Just as clothing and accessories have become more than simply functional, serving as a means of self-expression, investments, and collector’s items, the custom closets of today must also serve multiple purposes. Celebrities like Reece Witherspoon unlock the potential for creating custom closets as status symbols. Witherspoon’s custom costume closet features designated spaces for her various movie wardrobes and memorabilia; a veritable tribute to her life’s work.
One study in Britain reported that 45% of the women surveyed listed custom walk-in closet as their number-one status symbol. Additionally, 26% of the women in the study stated that buying new gadgets for the home – home upgrades and improvements – was more exciting than buying a new pair of shoes. This speaks to the truth that while styles change and fashions come and go, humans will never tire of having their homes reflect their status.
Prime Real Estate
The status symbol of a custom closet goes beyond displaying a person’s possessions or even reflecting their life. In today’s luxury home, a custom walk-in closet is a must. While outdoor kitchens and whirlpool bathtubs were once the must-have luxury items on the upscale housing market, new research shows that custom closets, and particularly custom walk-in master suite closets, are at the top of today’s affluent homebuyer’s list. Some reports show that people today are buying houses and intending to stay for longer than in the past, so having ample space is key. Surveys are showing that after the kitchen and bathroom, a custom walk-in closet is the most desired feature for many homebuyers and may even make or break the sale.
The housing market amidst the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rebound. After sheltering in place, people have become hyperaware of their living spaces and are looking for a change. With the market inventory low and demand increasing, homebuyers are willing to spend a little more for the upgrades that will give them the status and comfort they desire. One of these upgrades is a custom closet.
Sellers should be aware that some remodeling projects will only increase the home value by 50% – 80% of the project’s average cost so putting money into the right upgrades is important. While remodeling projects may not give returns dollar-for-dollar, they will keep a homeowner’s property updated which will pay off in other dividends: a shorter time on the market and fewer staging and maintenance costs. Getting ‘stuck in time’ in your home is a mess no one wants, so knowing what buyers are looking for in-home upgrades cannot be emphasized enough. Since walk-in closets are at the top of the affluent home buyer’s list, it is a good place to start.
But people aren’t looking for any old walk-in, they want this space customized to their specific needs, for their unique closet accessories. They want beauty and comfort, design, and functionality. They want designer hangers, customized purse hooks, and vast shoe walls. They want custom closets that add value to their homes. Many affluent homeowners are renovating to create these custom closets. One husband gave his wife her dream closet by converting a bedroom, previously used as a nursery, into a custom closet bigger than their master bedroom. Others are annexing flex rooms or lesser-used family spaces to create the custom closets of their dreams, add value to their homes, and drive buyers to their property.
Comfort During COVID-19
With the pandemic still in full swing, people are spending more time than ever at home and their custom closet spaces have become sanctuaries of retreat. Lisa Adams of LA Closets designs for the most affluent clients and is the genius behind many of the Kardashian’s custom closets. Her closet designs have a starting price point of $50k and go up to over a million. Adams told The Wall Street Journal that many of her clients “are looking to replicate the feeling of being in a boutique. She explained, ‘I think people like the idea that you’re shopping in your closet…. So the idea that it’s not cluttered, it’s well-lit, I think, is attractive to homeowners.’” A quick search online will confirm Adam’s assessment. Online photos and videos of custom closets that look like designer boutiques are replete.
In today’s COVID world of quarantine, sheltering in place, and staying home more than ever, this desire to create a feeling of shopping in one’s closet takes on new meaning. But Rory Satran of The Wall Street Journal points out that the custom closet “is not just a narcissistic ode to consumerism. It can be a historic archive, like the wood-paneled space behind the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s office where she stored her symbolic collars.”
Satran also points out that along with giving the feeling of a shopping experience, providing a status symbol, or becoming a piece of history, today’s custom closet has also become an important place to relax. Many affluent homeowners are busy working people who want to experience peace and relaxation even as they prepare and dress for a busy day ahead. And while starting the day off well is important to many of Adam’s clients, having a space of peaceful retreat and escape from the busyness of life after work or while sheltering in place is equally important in today’s COVID world.
Closets have come a long way from dark functional storage spaces to boutique-like rooms with custom hangers, specialty lighting, and comfortable seating. These spaces convey the luxury and status of their owners. Along with adding value to a home and helping it sell faster, custom closets convey order, in times of turmoil, relaxation in times of stress. And order and relaxation are things every affluent homeowner could use a little more of these days.