AROUND HOME : Notes on Perfect Pasta, Closet Space and French Empire Furniture : Designer Closets

BACK IN THE DAYS of armoires, there were few real clothes closets. Seasonal wardrobes had to be packed in mothballs for attic storage. Most closets haven't improved much. Some seem like tunnels, and others are too shallow, with out-of-reach corners and shelves. Clumsy sliding and bi-fold doors keep jumping their tracks.

But now, closet remodeling is a computerized science. Companies specializing in closet design send out experts with yardsticks and cameras to analyze problems, tastes and special needs (for children, teens, athletes, et cetera). Most give free estimates. They custom-design wire-basket and laminated-wood or fiberboard systems for every decor. They sell lights, beveled mirrors, cedar linings and fancy hardware. They make everything accessible with bins, drawers, rollouts, swivels, partitioned shelves, hanging and twirling racks. They will even put sealed, bug-proof units into garages. Efficient closet design can so effectively utilize every vertical and horizontal inch of existing space that a closet's capacity is often tripled.

California Closet sells systems plus do-it-yourself kits and dry cleaner-type automated carrousels. Colleen Baker's elegant lacquered and faux-marble closet systems include built-in hair dryers, triple mirrors and movie star vanities. Closets by Design offers closets that feature skylights, moving baskets, mirrored and mylar walls, even swivel TV sets.

Hold Everything stocks hundreds of closet accessories and custom-cuts systems for those who want to install their own. For a finishing touch, some firms custom-fit shelves and drawers with colorful vinyl, moire or tarnish-proof jeweler's cloth linings.

Space-saving systems are designed and installed by National Beautified Closets in Huntington Beach, the Closet Factory in Los Angeles, the Closet Store in Los Angeles and Lawndale, Home Space Savers in Torrance, Colleen Baker's Closet Space Planners in Culver City, Closets by Design in Beverly Hills and the California Closet Company in Los Angeles, which also sells kits. Custom-cut systems and accessories are sold at Hold Everything stores in Century City, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana. Custom shelf and drawer linings are installed by Deneen's Custom Linings in Malibu and by Top Drawer in Northridge and Pacific Palisades.

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