Bonnie Holeman has been poking around people’s closets for most of the last 20 years.
It’s not idle curiosity that drives her, but rather her job as a seller of closet systems designed to help organize customers’ lives.
“People call me in because they’re frustrated,” she said.
Holeman started at California Closets, where her background in home economics and art served her well.
“I used to sit on the closet floor to count shoes,” she said. “I caught on to it very quickly. It just kind of got into me.”
When it closed, she started Storage By Design, which will mark its 10th anniversary this summer. Working out of her home, Holeman draws up closet designs using shelves, racks and other components manufactured on the East Coast by a company called EasyClosets.
Jeff Johnson, a Wichita firefighter, installs the systems for Holeman.
Holeman said people have several misconceptions about closets, starting with the idea that anybody can design one.
“The only people in this world who are true closet designers are people who have been trained as closet designers,” she said. “Architects and interior designers are not closet designers.”
Another is that bigger automatically means better.
“The thing that I see the most is that people will buy a house and think that because the closet is big, it’s functional,” she said. “They find that the trim carpenter who’s done it … is not a closet designer.”
Finally, she said, most people overestimate the space they need for long hanging items.
Holman said she’s worked on closets ranging in size from a 13-inch-wide reach-in – she put in a second rod, doubling the hanging space – to a walk-in measuring 11 by 15 feet. That one got a bench with pull-out drawers, an island with pull-out jewelry shelves, a built-in mirror, dropdown ironing board, belt rack and more.
Holeman said she’s also a certified aging-in-place specialist, designing closets for people with physical limitations.
In addition to closets, Holeman designs systems for garages, pantries, basements, crafting rooms and other areas of the house.