Summer Cleaning: Closet Makeover Edition

California Closets senior designer Preston Mitchell shares some advice on refreshing your walk-in closet to make room for new summer styles.
Photography by California Closets

Summer always seems to arrive early in Greater Palm Springs. The heat hits, we ditch seasonal layers, and suddenly, our closets are overcrowded with pieces that somehow feel unnecessary. (If there’s ever an appropriate time to wear a heavy wool trench in the desert, these mid-May temps have already wiped it from memory.)

Rather than ditch summer’s unwearables — because, let’s be honest, you’ll be searching for that coat come November — this change of seasons presents a fine excuse to upgrade your wardrobe storage system. For some advice on cleaning out the walk-in, we turned to the experts at California Closets.

With more than 120 showrooms and some 700 designers across North America, the chain has established a solid reputation as a leader in premium and luxury space management. Founded in 1978 by an 18-year-old college student in Southern California who parlayed his dorm-room organizational skills into a thriving small business, California Closets not only works with clients to build out dressing rooms but specializes in custom storage solutions for the entire home.

A division of the Huntington Beach franchise, the Palm Desert location opened on El Paseo in 2020. “We have seven designers that cover this area, and our installers come in from Huntington Beach to do the installations,” says Preston Mitchell, senior designer at the El Paseo showroom. “We come to the house, talk about what it is that you’re looking to create — what room you want to work in, what’s your vision — and collaborate to figure out the best solution.”

Designs are worked up digitally in real time in a CAD (or computer-aided design) program, so clients can view the storage system in 3D before any work is done. “If somebody calls us out, I take my laptop, and I can design it at the initial consultation,” Mitchell says. “[The CAD program] prices things as you go, so we can get within most people’s budgets. … I’ve done closets from $1,200 to $120,000. It just depends on what they’re is looking for, how much space they have, and how crazy they want to get.”

When it comes to organizational tips, Mitchell shares a disclaimer up front: “I’m no Marie Kondo,” he says with a laugh, referencing the internationally known organizing guru. But he’s adept at identifying clients’ needs and building out spaces with drawers and shelves and structural components that make tidying up that much easier. Here, he presents a few steps to consider if you’re ready to tackle a closet makeover this summer.

California Closets Makeover

First, ask yourself a few important questions.

“What do you need to make space for? I want to know how many linear feet of long hanging dresses you have and how many separates or short hangs, so we can maximize space. How many shoes? Do you want the shoes displayed a certain way? Or do you just want it to be more functional? Do you collect purses? Do we need to create a space for that? Do you need things like pull-out belt racks, places for sunglasses, or whatever else you might have? I take those notes and try to create a space that’s going to house everything.”

Find inspiration — and a breadth of options — at the showroom.

“We’ve expanded our product line quite a bit. We’ve got metal-frame doors with different types of glass inserts or acrylic inserts. We’ve got contemporary. We’ve got traditional Shaker styles. We can do stone countertops. In some cases, we do low-voltage, recessed LED lighting. There’s a really large gamut of product that you can choose from, and that’s why a visit to the showroom is always really, really good because you can see a lot of what we do.”

Consider special elements, like locks.

“Maybe you have children, and you want to have lockable doors to keep medications or cleaning supplies away from the kids. You can create a little space for that. Let’s say, for safety’s sake, you want to keep some of your jewelry in drawers, but you know other people are going to be there — you can lock it up. A lot of people here have rental properties, and they want what they call an ‘owner’s closet’. We’ll build half of the closet where it can be closed off with lockable doors, so they can move all their belongings in there and still create space for the people who will be renting.”

Finally, minimize clutter with a max number of hangers.

“Give yourself a certain number of hangers that fit in each space, and say, ‘If there’s a hanger there, I can get something new. If I get something new, something’s got to go.’ And don’t add any more hangers.”

For more information about California Closets and to view the available product lines, including a modular collection from Martha Stewart, visit or stop by the Palm Desert showroom on El Paseo.

California Closets Makeover