As soon as Leslie and Bryan Darr bought their new Memphis home, Leslie knew closet renovation was the first project they’d tackle. “Once you’ve had custom-fitted closets, it is very difficult to go back to standard ones, mostly because they’re not adjustable,” Leslie says. “Once you’ve gotten used to all that flexibility, it’s really hard to go back. This house was not bad, but there was a lot of wasted space, and I like my storage to be very functional.”
And so the first call Leslie made was to Chris Carruth, owner of Memphis-based More Than Closets. From the linen closets to the laundry room to the pantry to the master bedroom closet, More Than Closets helped the Darrs completely revamp their home’s storage potential. “We spent several days there doing some specialized work, and the master closet was the crown jewel of the job,” says Chris. “It’s got a large island in the middle with a fairly large amount of drawer space for Leslie’s husband, as well as shoe storage for her.”
The fact that the closet had a huge footprint really opened up the Darrs’ options. “The master closet was a fairly large space, more than 12 feet wide and about 18 feet long,” says Chris. “Leslie knew what types of storage she needed, and she knew what kind of picture she wanted it to paint when you were looking in. She had specific ideas with the overall look that she wanted, which was nice. When I’m designing, it’s fun for me to take somebody’s ideas and make them materialize. I was able to give her pretty much everything she wanted.”
One reason Leslie had such a specific vision for her space is that she once worked for More Than Closets herself, in sales. Plus, the company designed all of her closets in a previous house. She knew she wanted specialized storage for her hanging dresses and gowns, her jewelry, her shoes and bags and her hat collection. And for her husband, Leslie wanted a space meant for easy packing.
“The island is in the middle with my husband’s drawers on one side and my main shoe storage on the other side,” Leslie says. “It’s a standard counter height, so my husband can lay his hanging bag on it and pack for trips. He travels quite a bit for work, and so that’s something that he enjoys — to have that space to lay it all out and pack.” With Leslie’s input, Chris and his team at More Than Closets made sure they gave the Darrs as much or more hanging space as they had at their former home, where they had separate closets. “We measured his old closet to make sure he didn’t lose any hanging space,” Leslie says. “He has exactly the same amount of hanging space, but it’s all along one wall. I have the back and the other wall.” They also each have a side of the island for specialized storage.
For Leslie’s special items, Chris built cabinet and drawer storage on the closet’s back wall. “My dresser is built in all along the back wall under the window, and I had specific things I wanted there, like jewelry. Chris and I talked and put cabinets on either side of the window for all of my small purses and gloves. They’re neat, and I can easily get to them all.”
Bryan has his own specialized storage as well. “He wanted some sort of stand to put his watch on, his keys, etc.,” says Chris. “We were able to give him that. He has a valet stand, for lack of a better word, inside the door of the closet — a place for his stuff to land, his own little spot.”
As for the aesthetics, Leslie wanted a clean look. She went with creamy white walls and cabinetry, dark wood countertops and traditional drawer fronts with a molded profile. She did opt for one subtle punch of color – overhead. “We had a nice high ceiling and a window, which was great for natural light,” Leslie says. “And we painted the ceiling a porch blue.”
Also overhead is all-new LED lighting that, in Leslie’s words, helps Bryan “tell his navy socks from his black socks.” And underfoot is a dark faux bois tile. “The floor had been carpet and was dingy looking,” Leslie says. “Since we were ripping everything out, we went with a tile floor that looks like gray wood and that’s easy to keep clean. Things in closets get dusty, and you can damp-mop this. And you don’t lose earring backs when you drop them off the counter.”
Along with the blue ceiling, Leslie went for pizzazz with hardware, selecting polished nickel octagonal knobs. “I love cabinet hardware — it’s like jewelry for the house,” she says. “That’s one thing we did everywhere in the house, but also in the closet. It’s easy to pick out really pretty hardware, and you look at it every day.”
The Darrs’ large island is a key feature, and the key to making it happen was the room’s generous footprint, Chris says. “You have to envision the clearance you’re going to need to make an island not be more of an obstacle than a benefit,” he says. “If you have an island where you can’t open the drawers without backing up underneath your clothing, that doesn’t really work. And that’s why you have a professional designer look at it, because we can head some of these problems off before they become problems.” In the Darrs’ closet, however, there was plenty of space to move around. And Chris and Leslie worked well together. “Leslie was so specific in the things she was looking for that it made it easy for us,” Chris says. “It was a very nice and smooth process.”
Now, Leslie and Bryan have a dream closet that perfectly meets their shared storage needs. “Leslie has a lot of hanging clothes — lots of different combinations in lengths of hanging,” Chris says. “Dresses, extra-long dresses, skirts, separates. She has evening gowns. She has Derby hats, jewelry — we were able to accommodate all of it.”
One of the nice things about the Darrs’ closet system, Chris adds, is that the shelf space is adjustable. And specialized storage will help them keep things organized for the long haul. “If you compartmentalize well and know that certain stuff goes into a certain space, it gives you an incentive to keep things organized and hanging where they belong, and that gives your space a better flow,” he says.
It’s not only the specialized storage, but also the customized touches that Leslie loves — and that caused her to make closet design a priority in her new home. “We have built-in laundry bins with canvas liners that pull out on gliders on both sides. We each have one,” she says. “You don’t see the clutter, but it’s right there. We also added in quite a few valet rods that pull out, and you can hang your dry cleaning on them or an outfit you’re trying to put together. They’re wonderful — I have three on my side.”
All in all, Leslie and Bryan are thrilled with the results of their custom closet project. “Chris was on time and under budget,” she says. “And it’s really nice to have someone who’s thinking outside the box.”
More Than Closets is located at 7740 Trinity Rd #112, Cordova, TN 38018. Showroom hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. After-hours and weekend visits are by appointment only. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, call (901) 937-1880 or visit morethanclosets.com.
This article is sponsored by More Than Closets.