Chris Carruth can’t name the number of times he’s walked into someone’s closet to find one long rod hanging six feet above the floor with three feet of wasted space below at least half of it.
“They’re using a foot and a half for long dresses and the rest of that space for short items that don’t hang down to the floor,” says Chris, who owns and runs Memphis-based More Than Closets. “That’s where you can save a lot of space. You can still have long hanging space based on your needs, but we can create more space by adding stacked rods, for example, so all of those separates fit in half the space. And that creates more space for you to store other things.”
In April, Chris and his wife, Grace, purchased the business from Chris’ father, who’d owned it since 1995. The locally owned and operated company is an ORG Home authorized dealer,and as its name suggests, More Than Closets offers not only custom closet solutions but also garage, office and laundry storage solutions, pantry design services, Murphy beds and more.
“Pantries are probably my personal favorite,” says Chris. “When we do a nice pantry, that’s a big storage space off of a stylish kitchen, it really adds to the look of the home.”
Closets are a big key component of the business, of course, and the company prides itself on offering not just new shelves and drawers, but solutions to homeowners’ pressing storage problems. In their own home, in fact, Chris and Grace don’t have a single walk-in closet.
“We will definitely make the most of what you’ve got. I can promise you that,” Chris says. “My wife’s closet is a testament to that — you wouldn’t believe the amount of stuff we can fit in a six-foot reach-in closet.”
Particularly in older homes, storage solutions weren’t designed to meet modern-day needs. “Especially if the house is 25 to 30 years old or older, closets are an afterthought based on what’s left over in the footprint,” Chris says. “We do a lot of work in Midtown. When you get a 100-year-old Midtown home, unless it’s been renovated heavily, there’s not going to be a lot of closet space. In that era, you had a wardrobe where you kept your three shirts and four pairs of slacks.”
The way the process works is similar from project to project, whether the team is working on a custom closet, a pantry or a wall of storage in the garage. “We are the designers,” Chris explains. He and his father do the design work, along with another long-time employee. When a client calls, the team goes out to view the space and interview the customer to learn as much as possible about what they need. “It’s very important to us that we’re designing a space that fits personally with the person who’s going to be using it,” Chris says. “There are a lot of common elements, but we need to know any specialty storage needs.”
Preferences differ from person to person and from house to house — for example, on where and how to store shoes. Some people prefer shelves. Others prefer cubbies. Others like individual containers. Rather than forcing customers into a box, so to speak, More Than Closets fits the storage solution to the client. “Some men like to hang pants by the cuff and some folded over a hanger,” Chris adds. “All of those things have to be factored into the design.”
Once the team has surveyed the space, they create a 3D CAD rendering and present it to the customer, so they can get a feel for the finished space. “They can ask for changes,” Chris says. “This is all included in our free estimate.”
Though custom storage design is a luxury, the company works within a range of budgets. “If we get a wish list from a customer, we can give them a pretty realistic idea right off the bat if their budget is realistic for what they’re asking,” Chris says. “Also, we can give an idea of what we can fit in for that budget. We’re always very up-front about that.”
Costs vary widely based on the space. The components and the client’s needs typically range from $80 to $200 per linear foot, depending on the features included.
“We’ve got a lot of professional experience in designing and installing personal storage,” Chris says. “One of the things we take as our responsibility is trying to keep people from making common mistakes.”
An example of a common closet mistake is thinking that empty wall space equals wasted storage space. “That’s not always actually true,” Chris says. “If there’s open wall space in our designs, it’s there for a reason, whether to give access to clothing or clearance to something else. That’s probably the most common misperception that I see, people who look at a design and see a foot of bare wall and think it needs to have something on it to be useful. In most cases, that bare wall space is designed to create space elsewhere in the closet. It doesn’t help if you’re organized, but design a closet that’s so cramped it feels like you’re walking into a cluttered space.”
Whether it’s a closet, pantry, garage, laundry room or another space, functional design is the main goal. But it isn’t always the only goal. Upgrades like glass-paneled doors, LED lighting and other features intended to turn storage space into a showplace are gaining in popularity.
“Adding some LED lighting really upgrades the feel of the closet,” says Chris. “It makes it feel more like you’re displaying the things that you’re storing in it. If somebody wants functional storage space we can do that, and if they want a space that they can show off that’s also functional, we can do that too.”
Along with a new closet or pantry, what More Than Closets strives to give its customers is a mental health break. Cluttered homes and cluttered living areas can lead to added stress. “Bringing order to the chaos is a key component of our service,” Chris says. And the best part is always the end result.
“One of my favorite things about doing what we do is always the end result in the customer’s eyes,” he says. “The reactions we get when people see the finished space, and they can move all their stuff back in, and it fits where they want it to fit — as cheesy as it sounds — that’s one of the things I enjoy the most.”
For her part, Grace loves the family aspect of running their family business.
“Our brand is about family,” she says. “I work with family, our employees are like family, and I think we pass that feeling on to our customers.”
More Than Closets is located at 7740 Trinity Rd #112, Cordova, TN 38018. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the showroom is closed on Saturday and Sunday. To schedule your consultation and free estimate or to learn more, call (901) 937-1880 or visit morethanclosets.com.
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