How to Use Custom Design to Create a Contemporary Closet System

Custom Design Makes it Easy to Create a Contemporary Look

Contemporary design has been a DC-area home trend for years, but I’ve recently noticed a lot of my clients opting for equally contemporary closet systems. Rather than traditional dark wood finishes and ornate paneling, bright and simple designs are in.

But the sheer number of accessory, color, and hardware options can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never redesigned a closet. It’s one thing to decide you want a look that’s fresh and contemporary; it’s another thing entirely to figure out how to pull it off. To help out, I’ve put together a list of my own top design considerations for modern closet systems. It’s not meant to be exhaustive, but it should give you a starting place as you mull over your options.

The Importance of Your Closet Color

the right color is key to a contemporary closet

When you picture a contemporary home design color, you might think of white first. It can seem plain at a glance, but based on past trends (yes, I’m talking about those olive greens and mustard yellows of the 70s), I’m pretty on board with this choice. White allows your clothes to take center stage—the goal of any good closet—and tends to make your space feel bigger and brighter. It’s also likely to stay popular: Millennials have been influential in setting new home trends and have made it clear that they don’t want to live in houses like their parents’ homes.

Brown, taupe, and cream can arguably be classified as contemporary, too. While cream is a pretty safe bet, I’d suggest being careful about browns. We have some lovely, dark finishes available, but the end result tends to be more “old world charm” and less “modern art museum.” Let the overall feel that you want guide your color choice.

Clean Lines Are Key

At the heart of contemporary design lie clean lines, basic shapes, and surfaces that are smooth and simple. Maintaining these design principles in your closet is key to achieving a contemporary look.

I often suggest adding cabinet doors to strategic parts of your closet shelving, as this is a great way to visually break up your space and highlight clothes that are special to you. If you do this, try picking cabinet fronts that don’t have a lot of ornamentation. This might mean opting for flat-front cabinet panels or, if you decide to upgrade, choosing an understated design like our Shaker series, which follows the principle of keeping lines simple and uncluttered.

You should also aim to keep your closet floor as open as possible. I’m a big fan of tilt-out hampers for this reason. They keep your laundry out of sight without requiring floor space or visual attention—unlike a freestanding hamper.

A Bright Space

Nothing kills a beautiful closet like bad lighting. I’d suggest adding recessed LED lights to your walk-in, especially if you have a white finish and want to enhance the brightness even more. LEDs have a cool, low-voltage light, and their recessed design lets them blend into the lines of the rest of your closet.

Another brightening tool that people tend to overlook? Frosted glass fronts. Adding these to your cabinet panels helps hide clothes from view and aids in making your closet feel spacious and uncluttered.

Finishing Touches

As you choose your closet accessories, pay attention to styles and materials. Whether purse hooks, belt racks, or storage baskets, most of our accessories are available in a chrome finish, which tends to work well with light cabinet colors. If you’re adding shoe fences to your shelves, I’d also particularly recommend our Elite series, which has a streamlined look that will help tie your space together.

Because you’re creating a custom closet from scratch, you get to select everything—down to the door knobs. You’ve got plenty of hardware options to choose from, but for a contemporary look, I tend to recommend our bar pulls and modern handles, both in polished chrome. They’ve got the flat lines that will match the rest of your closet system.

contemporary closet design ideas

The great thing about designing a custom closet is that you really get to have fun with all of your choices. If you already know you want a contemporary look, I hope these recommendations give you a starting point. If you’re still not sure what you’re aiming for, or if you just want some more ideas, set up a free design consultation—we’re happy to help.