In this article, I share my designer and manufacturer’s perspective plus 20-year experience on what options homeowners and interior designers in the Lower Mainland looking for closets of various levels have.
My goal with this article is to assist homeowners and closet systems shoppers in getting the best for their investment when it comes to design, construction methods, and materials.
For years, the Lower Mainland and Greater Vancouver areas have had 4 options when it comes to custom closets:
Each of these options has pros and cons, and we list them all below. We also dive into as of 2019, we combined the best of the best to offer superior value for your investment in luxury closets and dressing rooms through our 5th option:
5. Dell Anno – custom closets highly focused on combining the best of the options listed above in one firm, for every room of the home.
So here’s a bit more on each option:
The PAX system from IKEA is popular in DIY circles and is also used by interior designers with custom-made doors to upscale the look. Designers call this a “closet hack!”.
Our score and evaluation of these options are a 4/10 or 5/10. Meh…
IKEA is not a custom high-end solution. It is mass-produced to cater to general and low-budget but somewhat design-conscious needs. The accessories are flimsy, with a limited life span. Yes, the design is decent, and the price is low but that’s about it.
Recently we’ve been hearing from contractor partners that IKEA has had challenges with the supply chain around the world, so many are avoiding this interior designer hack.
We hear often from our clients that they are looking for something special, above the IKEA or C-Companies level. If you are on our website reading this blog, it likely means you are not interested in an IKEA closet
DIYers love it for its decent design properties.
Immediate gratification if all parts are readily available. Do it in one weekend? Humm, maybe.
The price point is very affordable.
No customization to specific sizing requirements.
Questionable quality of materials. Limited options.
Must have the skills and time to design, pick up and put it together yourself.
There are a few franchised and independent closet companies or dealers in the lower mainland.
Independent dealers or manufacturers of closets:
Specialize in closets and non-kitchen or bath storage spaces in the home.
Material options are mostly limited to melamine to keep costs lower and turn-around times faster.
Have RTA (ready-to-assemble) components that may be locally manufactured in their shops or outsourced from larger manufacturing facilities.
Focus on fast turn-around – most design and deliver an installed closet in 4-6 weeks.
There is less creative variation in the designs produced by these companies because of the limitations caused by the simplistic engineering of parts.
The differences between franchises and independents you will find are around their experience, support system, supply chain for outsourced products, operational systems plus national and local mandatory marketing spends. Their pricing will reflect the level of support and marketing spend they must invest as a franchisor. Their product quality will be similar across all closet companies. Their designs will be similar, or almost identical from one to another, as they all have the same product limitations in material and customization.
Having owned a closet franchise for several years, my rating and evaluation of these options range from a 3/10 to a 7/10. Depending on which company you choose from the list above, and the skill of the designer you are assigned, your will end up with something okay or something lacking in design and aesthetic appeal. One thing is certain, once you put this type of closet system in, you will be living with it for a decade, or forever.
Flexible sizing for your space.
Easy to select materials from their menu options.
Faster custom-ish option available.
Results and warranties are guaranteed by the franchisor/manufacturer.
Designs are hit-and-miss and lack architectural appeal.
Pricey for a hit-and-miss design and limited material option. You are paying extra for franchise royalty fees and mandatory marketing spends.
This is an option we are often involved with, and yet here we still see missed opportunities and misuse of homeowners’ resources.
We love working with interior designers, as they are brilliant generalists. They have the big picture and vision of the entire home’s look and feel. This means when we get involved there is already a direction to follow, and our job becomes significantly easier in terms of choosing finishes and sometimes styles of closets.
When it comes to details of closet design, most interior designers tell us they feel uncertain about hitting all the checkmarks required. They understand that designing a perfect closet requires more time, experience, and expertise than they can devote when designing an entire house package of interior finishes.
Most often we see Interior Designers carrying the same finish theme and design features used in kitchens or bathroom vanities through to the closets. This looks cohesive but is an issue for homeowners they only discover after using the space because closets have different functions and needs than kitchens and bathrooms and other cabinetry in the house. By then they have already spent many thousands of dollars on something that is not functionally appropriate for their needs.
Millworkers and cabinet makers often lack the required time and skills to design perfect closets because they are not closet design specialists, they are millwork manufacturing specialists. One small shop cannot provide all things to an entire project. It requires a team with various individuals with strengths and areas of expertise to provide the best design for every room of your home.
I give this option a score ranging from 4/10 to 6/10. I am particularly peeved by the contradiction of using high-caliber, high-value precious materials such as wood veneers, high-gloss painted finishes and 2”-3” thick gables/shelves with floor-to-ceiling designs combined with a lack of functional planning of wardrobe needs quantities, hanging heights, absence of accessories inside drawers or for shoes, or proper lighting design and integration.
I see way too often elaborate designs that amount to a misuse of homeowners’ budgets because they were not designed by a professional experienced closet design specialist.
The Scoop on Interior Designer Closets Made by Custom Millworker
Our knowledge of Italian Closets system is that they are often above the price point of locally made options such as the C-Companies or millwork shops, but also may lack the customization that the locally made options may offer.
Italian brands are well known for exquisite design, sometimes modern and clean designs that feel very sophisticated, and perhaps even masculine. Some examples of Italian brands that offer kitchens and closet systems in Vancouver are:
These brands, for instance, offer modular systems in specific sizes and configurations. Made with high-quality materials, in state-of-the-art facilities by experienced designers and craftsmen. These brands promise to deliver the epitome of European luxury with their modern closet systems.
Do they offer flexibility and customization? Not many, and not often, with few options for customization. There is an extensive menu of finish choices such as melamine, painted finishes, wood veneers, and glass aluminum doors. A combination of materials is possible to create the feel you want.
Pricing is on the higher end as it factors in premium brand prestige, European labour rates, European currency exchange, and import fees. It can be comparable to some of the higher-end local millwork shop options.
Turnaround time is not comparable to local options. You are aiming for high design, exclusivity, and prestige, so you must wait for them to do their thing and get to you from across the ocean. 3-6 months is common for these options and not too long to wait for exceptional design and quality of this level.
Our rating of these options is 7/10 to 8/10. We love how German engineering combines with Italian design so well in these products. The disappointment for me personally in these options is in the following areas:
The general attitude translates as a lack of human-down-to-earth connection, and the inflexibility of these brands and their reps, which is typical of luxury European brands.
The price point can be exclusionary, (one of the goals of old-school luxury brands). This is also exacerbated by the Euro-CAD exchange, and labour rates in Europe.
Our goal with Dell Anno Home Design Custom Closets is to bring together the best aspects of all closet options. To us, this means offering the following:
Architectural-driven aesthetics, designed by highly trained interior designers and architects that have become custom closet and cabinetry specialists.
High-end and high-quality materials – we offer warranties.
Customization in design based on space, needs, and budget.
Variety in materials: laminates, painted products, wood veneers, quality accessories.
Excellent ROI on the investment. Priced lower or equal to an imported option or high-end local millwork shops.
When building a new home or doing a large-scale renovation with the mindset of living in the home or re-selling at a great profit, turnaround time is of lesser critical than design, quality, and ROI value. If planning in advance, a 3–6-month wait is not a determining factor in choosing the right product.
For clients and homeowners seeking better closets, we can design and install our luxury closets and dressing rooms that we manufacture at our 550,000 sq/ft automated facility. Our systems are comparable to the Italian brands’ quality and design aesthetic but with flexible design and a variety of materials.
Additionally, at Dell Anno Vancouver, due to our previous franchise closet company experience, we can offer a second level of closet systems. The same type of melamine closet systems by franchises or independents is available at Dell Anno for less prominent rooms of the home. We call this option our local Smart Line closets.
Homeowners come to Dell Anno for a master closet imported from Brazil and then add some of the Smart Line closets to other rooms of their home.
Architectural designs are well thought out in every detail.
High-quality materials and workmanship. Various options of finishes.
Superior quality of product with state-of-the-art automated manufacturing.
Options to scale down product and pricing for smaller and less prominent closets of the home with the Smart Line closets.
We can’t think of any! We have all the options, price points, and timeframes.
Need to explore custom closet options with a team of pros? Meet with Dell Anno online or in our showroom to understand all the options we have for your project.