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RECOMMENDED: California Closets (Ottawa)

Our Bridlewood home is perfect in every way, except for closet space. The master bedroom has always suffered with barely enough space for two people. After twenty years, something had to be done. Unfortunately, the only possibility I ever saw was pushing the bedroom over the garage, something that would have been extremely expensive. Then my wife suggested we do something in the basement area.

I know you're thinking --- the basement? Well, we had already finished the basement. It had been used as an office for many years as well as a rec room but otherwise it was wasted space. Your basement is likely the same as well. You may have some recreational space but unless you've turned it into a proper bedroom and ensuite, it's likely an overgrown storage area. We also use the basement for other items such as our library and photo albums. So why not turn it into a proper closet or storage area? But what could we do? Do it ourselves? We wanted something that would look great and professional.

Enter Lianne Wallace and California Closets.

Our design consultation was quick and easy. It was also a bit of an eye opener as she went through our existing closets, cataloging everything in moments, highlighting that even as a guy, I had a huge number of clothes that I had completely forgotten about. Lianne also noted areas where there wasn't a lot of possible improvement. So it was obvious that something big was needed. She listened to our ideas and gave us the opportunity to simply identify ideas that we liked through her iPad.

Within a few days, we received an amazing two and 3-D proposed space design. Rather than turn the entire area into storage, Lianne's design included open white space that made maximum use of the space without overdoing it. Even if we had stopped there, the consultation process was better than what I thought it might be. It would have been nice if the 3-D walk-through files could be viewed on a Mac - but luckily we have both at home so we could view them on a PC.  The only way they could be improved upon would be to have something like the Ikea Place application.

To be fair, improving closet space is not a cheap proposition. We're not talking adding a cupboard here and there - we wanted a full redesign. So we knew it would be on the expensive side. It was effectively the price of doing a basement remodel. After going through the pains of small-scale renovations, the advertised "white-glove treatment" was going to be a breath of fresh air. The knowledge that their installers weren't just "hired hands" was also a relief. If anything was going to go wrong, it would be on them.

Major caveat here:
Now, California Closets does not DO structural design to the area We were responsible for a number of things, such as the removal (and addition) of molding, wall updates and painting. They are there to put in the closets. If you want new walls or doors, you have to do them.

If the area is NOT up to spec, they are not responsible. This was made clear to us by the installer, who told us some stories about installations in area where sub-standard renovations had been done. These things are explicitly NOT the responsibility of California Closets so it falls back to you. The scenario the installer gave was an installation where the closets were installed on a wall that wasn't a standard width. As a result, the holes went through the other side. It wasn't clear if he was referring to CC - but when the client said "what are you going to do about it?", the reply was "that's on you, not us." Luckily, we didn't have that problem - the installers were able to identify things up front - so that may have simply been a cautionary tale. 

Now let's get back to our experience....

Prior to the install, Lianne contacted us with a design improvement found by her installer BEFORE they had installed - saving us some money. During the install, they also identified a small problem in one of the areas but were able to find a workable solution.

The schedule was tailor-fit for us. The work was scheduled from morning until early afternoon and generally proceeded to that schedule. At first we weren't sure why the schedules are ended around 2pm. The CC business in Ottawa is managed by the Montreal location for the installers. While Lianne is local, the actual installation team is based in Montreal so they travel back and forth. Even with all that, their arrival times were exactly as promised. The final day went a bit longer into early evening than I would have liked. I had to rush them out as we had company coming that evening based on the original schedule. But again, the installer did the key cleanup and a walkthrough of the entire installation.

The results are wonderful and exactly what was shown in the plans. I wish I had taken true "before" pictures so I could properly show the progress but the results from the plan were great.

From the design

The structure of the actual closets is thicker than most "build it yourself" closets so they feel sturdier. The adjustable shelf clips fit it snugly so there's not a lot of movement. The doors and drawers use the soft-close hinge mechanism. I don't know if there's a way for anyone to completely hide adjustable holes without using the annoying hole clips (unless we did the closets in black). But the 3-D plans explicitly show these as well so it wasn't surprised. This would obviously not be the case if we didn't want adjustable shelves but those are absolutely needed. The hanger system is solid even when loaded heavier coats and we love the drawer handle design. These are things that can be customized during the design process.

As a consumer, I loved the consultation and installation process and highly recommend Lianne Wallace and the California Closet team.


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