Into the Closet

  • Story by Sarah Jackson / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, April 12, 2006 9:00pm
  • Life

B etti Jo Picatti Smith doesn’t mind spending time in her bedroom closet.

Though there are more spectacular rooms throughout her three-story palace in Edmonds, there’s just something about her new closet system that calls her to lounge.

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One day, her husband, Larry, found her, coffee in hand, relaxing on an upholstered chair while peering out a small window between two sections of neatly hung clothes.

Was it the chance to do some quality shoe gazing? Maybe it was the soothing “warm cognac” colored shelves that match the bedroom furniture? Were the Olympic Mountains in view?

“He said, ‘For God’s sake, you’re sitting in the closet,’” Picatti Smith said. “I said, ‘I’m luxuriating.’”

Merging households

Picatti Smith can’t help it.

When she and Larry Smith were married about two years ago, they had a huge challenge on their hands.

“We both had large homes,” she said. “We got stuck.”

Pale, bare-bones closets throughout the house, often featuring just single rods from end to end, didn’t help.

“I just couldn’t even stand to look at the master bedroom closet,” Picatti Smith said. “It was just jammed.”

Fortunately, storage solutions are in abundance these days with options ranging from design and installation services by companies such as California Closets to do-it-yourself product lines at major home improvement stores.

Picatti Smith chose to work with Gary and Joan Piukkula with Amazing Spaces of Everett, one of many mom-and-pop closet businesses riding the trend.

It’s also one of five household storage companies participating in the Everett Home and Garden Show on April 21 to 23 at the Everett Events Center.

Clearing clutter

Joan Piukkula said closet vendors are responding to a dramatically increasing demand for clutter management.

“People have a tremendous need and a desire to be organized,” she said. “Their lives are hectic and they feel really secure if they can find what they’re looking for, whether it’s in a home office, a pantry, a garage or a closet. It’s such a time saver.”

Popular shows such as TLC’s “Clean Sweep” and HGTV’s “Mission: Organization” have only boosted the trend.

Families with children are often attracted to the custom closets because they can adjust closet shelves as their kids grow.

“They want their children to put their clothes away in an organized manner,” Piukkula said. “We do a lot of nursery closets.”

The Smiths spent about $4,000 on closets throughout their house. That included their large, heavily upgraded walk-in closet with drawers in the master bedroom, a large entryway closet with a maple finish as well as a double linen closet and multiple utility closets with a basic white finish.

Picatti Smith said the convenience is worth it. Closets, after all, are a part of successful interior design. They can be like cabinetry with their drawers, doors and other add-on items. Woodlike finishes, of course, cost extra. Picatti Smith used them where they mattered most, her bedroom closet and the entryway closet where visitors can hang their coats.

“It’s really great,” she said. “When you’re sitting in the living room and you open the closet, you don’t want to see stark white.”

Essential upgrade

Amazing Spaces is an authorized dealer of ClosetMaid’s MasterSuite line of laminate products, also known as melamine. Jim Lees of All Ways Organized of Mukilteo sells the same product line. He will also have a booth at the home and garden show to demonstrate products and talk to customers.

Lees said many homes, including newer ones, come with grossly inferior closets.

“They’re building million-dollar homes, and they typically just go in and put one bar in there,” Lees said. “By using the organizing system, you basically utilize the space, floor to ceiling.”

Lees and the Piukkulas offer in-home design consultations with a 3D software program on laptop computers. They are able to customize the closet system based on storage needs such as luggage or a large number of hanging items that are long.

Think outside the bedroom

Though Lees and the Piukkulas sell the same product, they maintain a friendly, often collaborative relationship.

The Northwest’s fast-growing housing market means there’s enough business for everyone, even do-it-yourselfers, who can buy similar products at home improvement stores. Lowe’s, for example, sells ClosetMaid’s Completions shelving line as well as a wire line called ShelfTrack.

Although faux wood shelving is popular, there is still plenty of demand for wire, said Marcie Haase with The Closet Guys of Marysville, yet another closet company set to appear at the home show.

The Closet Guys, who work with local homebuilders as well as homeowners, carry the Rubbermaid line, which includes shelving as wells as wire systems.

Haase said homeowners should think outside the bedroom when considering organization. She is planning to do a system for her quilting room so she can store her fabric.

Garages, notorious for disorganization and constant clutter, are another area to consider when choosing where to spend closet money.

“They have bike hooks. They have wheelbarrow hooks,” Haase said. “You wouldn’t believe all the neat little things they have for garages.”

Reporter Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037 or

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