Archive for the ‘home decor’ Category

Constantine Maroulis on NBC’s LXTV Openhouse NY Bachelor By Design

June 18, 2010

Working with the Broadway star of “Rock of Ages”, Constantine Maroulis on the transformation of his new apartment into a gracious home was great.

He truly loves the design process and is genuinely interested in making his apartment into a home that reflects who he is and his interests.  All of this came through in the final product, a home that he loves.

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Living Room, dale cohen designstudio

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His living room has an old Hollywood feel with vintage 1930’s club chairs – that recall old Hollywood screening rooms – and vintage James Bond posters.

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click image to go NBC's LXTV Openhouse NY

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Constantine and I laughed the whole day that we worked with NBC’s LXTV’s Openhouse, as we shared the experience of designing his new apartment.

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Master Bedroom, dale cohen designstudio

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We gave Constantine a little glam, a little rock star for his bedroom!

Combining family, vintage and new pieces … all against the backdrop of a vibrant gold wallpaper from Neisha Crosland.  The pillows are a Missoni fabric that reminded me of old vinyl LPs.

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click image to go NBC's LXTV Openhouse NY

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Constantine breaks into song, while moving his furniture.


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Hallway, dale cohen designstudio

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The infamous Hallway where we installed just a few of the innumerable press clippings about the American Idol and Broadway star.

We placed them in the entry foyer and the back hallways to keep them present, and not to upstage the star himself.

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click image to go NBC's LXTV Openhouse NY

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A decorating serenade from Constantine.  A perfect way to end a wonderful collaboration!

The transformation is complete.

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dale cohen designstudio featured on The Tileist, a blog by Jen Renzi

January 28, 2010

This week dale cohen designstudio is featured on  The Tileist, a blog by the brilliant editor of  “The Art of Tile” Jen Renzi. I was interviewed for her series “White Bathroom Week” about the use of white tile in bathrooms.

The Tileist – White Bathroom Week concludes with: Expert advice!
January 24, 2010

For my final installment of White Bathroom Week (er, White Bathroom Fortnight?), I grilled architect/designer/blogger–and fervent tile enthusiast!–Dale Cohen, whose fab bathroom was featured in The Art of Tile. I knew she’d be a source of brilliant design advice:

Q. Any tips for keeping an all-white bath from looking too clinical?

A. In the wrong hands, white tile can look antiseptic. Be sure to choose the right white! Ideally one with a softness to it, like a handmade tile. If you are pairing white tile with thick stone countertops in Carrera or statuary marble, consider rounding the countertop edge, and then repeat the stone along the wall base as a molding. This could be as simple as 12-inch-square stone tiles cut in half and laid horizontally, which will bring the floor up to where the wall tile starts, thus creating a properly finished feel.

For the floor of my own New York bathroom, I chose a mosaic of hand-chopped stone—the technique used by the ancient Romans 2,000 years ago—and a wall base of handmade tile glazed a custom grey. These two handmade materials mesh gently with my stark white machine-made Italian tiles, softening the contemporary lines without being cloying. The feel is modern and chic.

Q. Tell us more about those Italian tiles. I remember you obsessed about finding one with a bright white bisque (i.e. the tile body)?

A. When designing a modern bathroom and using cool hues/tones, as so I often do, the color of the tile bisque is vital. It adds subtlety to the color of the glaze above. An off-white bisque makes the white glaze read warmer, while a white bisque gave a truer white. The Italian tiles I used in my bathroom—a modern, machine-made product—has a white bisque that works well with the cool, grey trim.

Q. Are you still digging the elongated format you chose for your wall tiles? Any subway-tile design advice?

I love the elongated tiles. And I think there are so many more ways to use subway tile than the standard running bond. Bring in pattern by adding some square tiles into the mix—alternating them to create a plaid, for example. I also like them installed vertically.

In addition to playing with pattern, using materials that are larger than you might feel comfortable with—not huge dimensions, just scaling up a bit—creates a greater sense of space. I’m not a fan of tiny, tiny anything; the little half-inch mosaics drive me wacky! When it comes to mosaics, tiles, and patterns in general, I find that people typically pick a smaller scale than is ideal. This is just a matter of inexperience with materials and their application (I may be shot for saying that, but oh well).

I remember working with my sister in Washington several years ago. I got a cry over the phone that could be heard the whole length of the Acela track: “Dale, I’m at the wallpaper store I am overwhelmed and have no idea what to do!” The next weekend I was in D.C. The three papers she’d chosen for her powder room were all tiny prints. I took her to her local paint/wallpaper store and chose three patterns that were larger in scale; when applied to the walls, they created a greater sense of space. Same with tile.

Q. Would love to hear your thoughts about when to splurge on handmade versus machine-made tiles, which I posted about earlier this week?

A. The reason to splurge on a handmade tile is for the look. They have a soft, old-world feeling and inject a sense of warmth that cannot be achieved with machine-made tiles. Don’t get me wrong, I love machine-made tiles—just in the right setting. When working on historic spaces like Gracie Mansion or a Victorian-era house in the West Village, I almost always use handmade tiles in subtle tones. They add a sense of patina and age and are historically appropriate; they’re still made similarly to how they were back in the day. If your floors are statuary marble and you live in a Brooklyn brownstone, for instance, I would use handmade tile because it makes a real difference.

Q. Do you ever source crazy-colored tiles in baths, or do you always favor a more neutral look?

A. The craziest I went was a mustard-yellow tile for the kitchen backsplash of an historic apartment on the Upper West Side—and that was only to complement the client’s mustardy granite.

The reason I choose neutrals for bathrooms is that they are very expensive rooms to design. If you’re going to live in your home for the next 10 or 20 years, you need to really love your material choices over that period time because the effort and expense to redo them is prohibitive.

Q. Any other advice about designing white-tiled loos??

A. White is just as complicated as any other color choice. Using white tile in a bathroom and making it feel warm and inviting takes work and an ever-so-subtle use of materials—everything screams “color!” against white. Small tonal changes will be noticed in a white bathroom. So choose tile with care and an eye for sophistication and your bathroom can go from everyday to spectacular!

Q. In your blog, A Bachelor’s Decorated Life, you discourse about about masculine style! Have you found bachelors to have specific taste in tile?

A. Bachelors generally like to play it safe and not add too much sparkle. I use warmer, earthier tones, sometimes deeper colors—although rarely in tile. The middle warm greys would be as dark as I might go, with the occasional subtle deep accent. I have found that men like a home that is inviting, laid back, and that can be easily maintained—nothing too fussy: i.e. clean lines, warm colors, and very little pattern. I like to think of it as their cool cave—leaving the caveman behind.

Stylish single gents (and you ladies who want to snag ‘em) take note!

Thanks, Dale!

Jen Renzi

preview – NBC’s LX.TV OPENHOUSE, decorating for Constantine Maroulis!

November 4, 2009

This fall I was asked by NBC’s LXTV OPENHOUSE to decorate the living room and bedroom of the new apartment of  American Idol star and Tony nominated actor of the Rock of Ages, Constantine Maroulis.

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Constantine and his mom at the 2009 Tony's.

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From the beginning Constantine’s style was clear; he loved vintage Hollywood Deco having inherited several pieces from his family.   Layered with the vintage pieces would be a hint of his rocker self … amounting to Hollywood meets Rocker!

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Here are a few of the design elements we had to work with and new ones that we found for Constantine.

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Our initial great find was a pair of 1930’s Italian club chairs, reminiscent of old Hollywood private screening rooms with their low slung deep shape and beautiful midnight blue velvet seats.  We loved these so much that we designed the living room around them.

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I thought that these super luxe chairs would compliment a cocktail table that  Constantine had from his brother, once we restored it and brought out it’s original luster.

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In designing Constantine’s bedroom, we began with a vintage dresser of his that has a sleek understated vibe of Hollywood mid-60’s.  With restoration we would bring out the piece’s original rich finish.

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dresser

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And to bring out the  “Rocker” element we found a great wallpaper for the wall behind the bed.  This rich gold foil wallpaper is bold and has sophisticated pattern that is named “Hollywood Grape”.  The wallpaper adds drama and glam to the room and was the element we worked with to design the look of Constantine’s bedroom.

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In terms of artwork, Constantine had many pieces he loved, one of his favorites was this Yankees poster.

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And since he is a bit of an old Hollywood movie buff, we found a couple of quintessential James Bond posters.

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See how all of these elements and many more came together for Constantine’s Hollywood meets Rocker style:

Please tune your tv’s to NBC’s LX.TV OPENHOUSE NY on sunday November 15th at 8:30am in the New York region and to NBC’s LX.TV OPENHOUSE National Edition on sunday December 6th, check your local listings.

dale b. cohen

new york city

november 2009

a few luxuries for your summer beach or country rental

July 23, 2009

Summer is well underway and here in New York City that means summer rentals or summer shares everywhere from the Hamptons, to Connecticut, the Hudson Valley and more.  And with those rentals come surprises, so best to be prepared.  Here are a few “luxuries” to bring along, re-creating a bit of home in your summer rental.

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1   sheets

My very top must have, beautiful sheets!  While thread count is not everything, it is a big part of the picture, as well as the type of cotton, where it is made and where it is finished.  My favorite sheets are made by Signoria di Firenze.  They are silky smooth, come in a myriad of colors to work with anyone’s palette and they are so very luxurious.

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Signoria di Firenze, Fine Italian Linens

Signoria di Firenze, Fine Italian Linens

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2   down duvet and pillows

Along with your sheets you will need a full down duvet and pillows.  Everyone says to me, and I mean everyone, I have allergies and I cannot have down.  This is simply not true! you cannot have down feathers!  You can use a full down comforter and pillows, just make sure it is 100% down without any feathers.  I recommend Scandia mid-weight with a set of firm 100% down pillows.  Nothing feels sexier than a bed made with luxurious sheets and a cloudlike down comforter and then falling into down pillows!

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Scandia Down Comforters

Scandia Down Comforters and Pillows

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3   bath towels

Bringing a few sets of fine bath towels because you never know what you are going to encounter at your rental property.  They may have locked away the lovely turkish towels and you will be left with the usual mis-match of old, worn-out towels.  My preferred bath towels are from Yves Delorme, match the color of your towels to the bedding for a complete look.

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Yves Delorme Bath Towels

Yves Delorme Bath Towels

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4   votive candles

As this is not your home, you never know what you are going to encounter upon entering someone else’s home.  The odors may be unpleasant, with a stale, dampness in the air.  A box of fragrant votive will go a long way to creating a more pleasant environment for your sensitive olfactory and add some ambiance as well.  A close friend of mine gave a box of Voluspa votive candles to me when I moved into my new home and I simply love them.

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Voluspa Cream Candle Set

Voluspa Cream Candle Set

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Please watch for next week’s blogpost, an interview with the famous matchmaker Janis Spindel.

Enjoy your summer travels.

dale b. cohen

new york city

sofa shopping, lesson one

May 15, 2009

To err is human, to choose well, is divine!

So often I find that people assume that because you are buying something for your home, you feel that you should be able to choose the right item – meaning the shape, scale and color of say, your new living room sofa.  In fact, this is rarely the case and when you choose the wrong item, it is a very costly mistake.

In most areas of our lives we believe in the division of labor, leaving work we are not trained to do to the professionals.  As most of my clients are not trained in architecture, interiors or design, they understand that it is best to leave these decisions/suggestions to a professional.  Goodness knows I leave my legal work to my lawyers and my accounting work to my accountant.

And while you may spend a bit more working with a professional – the look of your home will be appreciably improved.  Additionally, you will avoid those expensive mistakes, buying a sofa that might be too large with a fabric that is possibly too dark or not durable.  Therefore when you move to your next home, there is a good chance that the sofa might stay behind or if it does move with you, you might get it in place and realize it does not work.

All of that being said, how do you buy a sofa?  I laugh when friends call and say “I need a sofa, where should I go shopping”, as if there was just one place to go.  I then retort, that would be like me asking you where to buy a pair of black pants?  There are hundreds of resources, price points, sizes and styles to choose from.  Where does that leave you when you are shopping for a sofa?  When I work with clients, all upholstery (ie. your sofas, lounge chairs, arm chairs, etc) is custom, in some manner.  And that can mean different things.

One custom option is to choose a sofa from a manufacturer like Lewis Mittman.  Your designer places the order with them and sends in your own fabric to be used to upholster the sofa (this is called COM – customer’s own merchandise).  This fabric is chosen from a fabric showroom, samples will be selected by your designer.

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Lewiss Mittman, Bond Street Sectional

Lewis Mittman, Bond Street Sectional

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Another custom option is to choose a sofa from a manufacturer like B&B Italia.  In this instance you choose your fabric from their showroom since they have stringent fabric requirements and make it a bit of a chore to use your own materials (you have send fabric samples to Italy for approval, and if approved sending your fabric to Italy is fraught with problems.  Thereby making an already lengthy process, interminably long).  They have a wide selection of neutral fabrics and leathers.

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B&B Italia, Sofa by Anthony Citterio

B&B Italia, Charles Large Sofa by Anthony Citterio

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And then there is a hybrid option at showrooms like Holly Hunt.  Here you choose from one of the lines that they rep, like my favorite Christian Liagre, and you have the option to choose one of their wonderful fabrics or send in your own materials.

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Holly Hunt, Augustin Sofa by Christian Liagre

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There is much more to know about purchasing a sofa, things like seat depth, seat height, back height, what is most comfortable is determined by the owner’s size, height and the length of your legs.  In the end I feel it is important to work with a designer because to a person there are two mistakes that are made by just about everyone who buys a sofa on their own – the piece is too large for the space and the finishes are much too dark.  In order to have a happy beautiful home, one that will sing either “swinging bachelor bad” or “I am looking for a wife and family”, it is imperative that you employ a professional to the task at hand.

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Please follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/dcdesignstudio

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dale b. cohen

new york city

boys and their toys – The TV of your dreams

February 27, 2009

March Madness is around the corner!  While I know little about basketball, I do know that a great deal of TV watching occurs in the month of March.  So it seems like a good time to talk about televisions.  And who better to talk about TV’s with than Neil Greenberg, owner of Audio Interiors, Inc., a premier audiovisual design and installation company since 1982.  Having worked with Neil before he understands my dilemma when working with my clients, what size television is best for the space and where should it be located.  Then there are the ins and outs of the actual TV selection.  The whole process is one of design and compromise in ways that are not often seen by our clients.

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As a designer, I always try to err on the smaller side, unless we are doing a screening room.  This instinct of mine is in direct opposition to most of my male clients, their motto is bigger is better … my motto is bigger is too heavy visually for the room and not very sexy.  There should be some relationship between the size of your room and the placement of the TV to determine its size.  Part of that decision is the gut instinct of your designer and then there is Neil’s “general rule of thumb” that he has used for the past 20 years.  “For optimal TV viewing, you do not want to be any closer than twice the width of the screen.”  This works out that if you have a TV with an actual width, not the diagonal measurement, of 48 inches you want to be seated at least 8 ft from the screen.  Neil says that this rule of thumb can be altered with the advent of the new higher resolution sets and you can sit slightly closer, though I feel a little distance is better.

When you are determining the size TV you are going to purchase, here are a few guide lines.
LCD TV’s are available in the following diagonal sizes 19/22/26/32/37/40/42/46/52/55/65/70 inch  and there is a limited production 108 inch available from Sharp.  Neil mentioned, “It is $100k and while have installed them, we don’t sell too many.”  Neil’s preference for LCD manufacturers is Samsung, Sony and Sharp, and there are the ultrathins from Hitachi.
Plasma TVs are available in 42/46/50/58/60/65 inches and Neil recommends Panasonic, Samsung and the Runco Plasma, which is a “high end” plasma TV with a DHD (High Definition Image Processor). And for those of you for whom 65 inch isn’t large enough, Panasonic also produces a “jumbo” plasma, 103 inches diagonal.

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Once you determine the size of your TV, the next question is, LCD vs Plasma?  Neil answers this question, “In my opinion, the quality of the image is still better with the plasma TV and it is what I have at home.  The difference is found in the black level, which is the contrast ratio, and the construction of the plasma screen is measurably sharper and brighter.”  There is an added cost when you choose a plasma TV, however Neil feels it is worth it.  He then added, “there is a new technology, LED Backlighting, that is worth looking into and does it’s best to mimic the black quality level of the plasma TV.”  This new technology is available from Samsung and Sony.  The Sony’s with LED Backlighting are available in their XBR8 series 46” and 55”, which are a little deeper than other LCD TV’s at almost 6” – so while the picture has improved, and you are giving up some depth.  The Sony XBRs also have good sound quality, just in case you were not planning on integrating your TV into your sound system.

Then there is the question of what is High Definition and what is the best technology available today.  A quick lesson from Neil, “High Definition TVs for a number of years have maxed out at 1080i resolution or 720p.  The newest HDTVs have 1080p resolution.  However there is one big caveat, you can only get that resolution from a blu-ray disk or a computer source.”  So what does that mean for your TV viewing?  If you want to get the most out of your fabulous new TV, you will need either watch all your movies on blu-ray or have AppleTv, Vudu or Netflix (box by Roku) streaming your movies.

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Architect Jeffrey Povero’s home, Metropolitan Home, March 2008

Photographed by Peter Murdock

The last guideline for today’s post is the installation of your TV.  Both Neil and I have noticed that clients have a tendency to install their TV’s too high for optimal, let alone comfortable viewing.  Neil’s rule of thumb, which also happens to be my rule of thumb, is the bottom of your TV screen is ideally placed at 36- 38” above the floor and should not be placed any higher than 42” off the floor.

In the future we will talk about concealing that lovely new TV in any number of beautiful and technologically advanced ways.  Until then, enjoy the game.

dale b. cohen
new york city

footnote: the top two photos are from my client’s homes here in New York City.

cleaning out your closets, making space for the New Year!

January 2, 2009

Happy 2009!   I hope you had a glorious New Year’s Eve!

This weeks’ post is about cleaning out your closets to make way for the new energy and opportunities the New Year has in store for you.  Last month I was making dinner at a friend’s home.  I had cooked at his apartment a number of times and while I tried to be zen about the clutter and disorganization in his kitchen, I just could not handle it that evening.  So as dinner was cooking I tackled the pantry, in the space of 45 minutes the whole thing was organized and orderly.  I had a great sense of accomplishment.  My friend was elated!  And subsequently he began tackling his other closets throughout his home.  A few days later he told me of his adventures in cleaning and said “I feel better, I feel lighter from cleaning my closets and throwing out all the old clutter.”

In conversation with my friend and Feng Shui consultant, Melissa Heebink, she asked some pertinent questions that you might ask yourself while you are cleaning out your closets.  “Are your closets overflowing?  If so, what are you holding onto?  Are you hanging onto things from old relationships?”  She also remarked, “If you have clutter in your home and your closets, it will impact your financial arena blocking money. new energy and relationships from coming in to our life.”  And lastly she said, “Make sure that your closet doors are always closed.”

Melissa recommends the book “Clearing your Clutter with Feng Shui” Karen Kingston

The to do list is fairly short –
1.  Organizing your closest means first culling through what you have and getting rid of old, unused items.
2. Throw out or donate clothes that you have not worn in a year or two and whatever else you can possibly part with.
3. If you are also cleaning out your hall closet, do you really need all those old tennis rackets? And sneakers that don’t fit?
4. Either throw out or have repaired anything that is broken or in need of mending.
5. Call and make an appointment with a consultant if you are hiring a full service company to design, manufacture and install your new closets.
6. If you are going to install the new closets yourself or you are buying the closet interiors and then separately hiring an installer you will need to  –
a. Measure the length/depth/height of your closet and note the door swing.
b. You will need to measure the linear inches of clothing you have – ie. you have X number of inches of hanging pants, shirts and suits, etc.

Closet Manufacturers  –

$$$$ B&B Italia

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B&B Italia is a favorite manufacturer of mine.  They produce sublimely beautiful furniture and cabinetry in Italy.  You will need to be working with an Interior Designer or an Architect to order from them and once designed and ordered, your closets will be delivered in 12 – 16 weeks.  Their closets are furniture grade.

$$$   Poliform

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Poliform has their own designers who can assist you in the design of your new closets.  They are a US based company.  They design, manufacture and install their closet systems.  Once design is complete it will take from 12 – 16 weeks for the receipt and installation of your closets.

$$    Your local cabinetmaker

There are several ways to tackle this approach.  You can ask a few of your friends for recommendations for local cabinetmakers that they have used and had successful projects with.  You can also go to a site like the Franklin Report and cull through their recommendations.  Some cabinetmakers prepare their own drawings, if so there will be a small additional charge for this.  Others will do it off the back of a napkin, this is not the best means by which to get custom cabinetry because without a signed and approved set of drawings by you, they can build whatever they want.  And others will require you to have drawings prepared by your own designer.  If you choose to hire a local cabinetmaker, please make sure to procure three bids for the same design layout.

$       Elfa Closets from the Container Store

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Elfa Closets are an easy and quick solution.  I have found that the closet consultants at the Container Store are knowledgeable and helpful.  With your closet measurements and some idea of the linear footage of your clothing, they will prepare computer generated drawings and your order very quickly and have all the components delivered in a week or so.  Along with your order they provide drawings for the installation of your new closets.  You will need to hire your own installer or install them yourself.

Please post your comments and questions.