Intentional and Beautiful
Closets by McKenry and Designer Garages
Living in a neat and organized home is a gift that keeps on giving – providing extra mental energy, extra space, and extra time. No one knows this better than Chris McKenry, owner of Closets by McKenry and Designer Garages.
Setting up shop in Los Angeles as a professional organizer in 2000, the Knoxville native became a board member and president of the L.A. Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers and received recognition for his layout and design of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Through the years, he received multiple awards for his talents and was featured in Oprah’s “O” magazine, Women’s Day, the L.A. Times, and L.A. Weekly.
While in California, Chris realized that the right environment can enhance organization, and he began designing custom closets. After moving home in 2015, Chris opened Closets by McKenry, and four years later, Designer Garages. Chris now helps his clients lead happier lives by offering custom-designed storage solutions for virtually every room of the house. Local freelance writer Carrie McConkey learned more about Chris’ background and services in an interview for Everything Knoxville magazine.
Carrie: Your family owned and operated McKenry Produce in Knoxville. What is one lesson you learned from the business?
Chris: McKenry Produce was opened by my great grandfather’s brother-in-law in 1897 and was in business for more than 100 years. Starting as a one-room storefront that sold live chickens to customers, in the ’60s the company began supplying poultry to Kentucky Fried Chicken. I started working there after graduating from Carson-Newman University.
In addition to KFC, we served local white tablecloth restaurants like Regas. Focusing on the community was important to my family, and my dad, Joe McKenry, insisted on taking care of every customer’s needs. Often, we would meet a restaurateur after hours so they would not be out of product.
At Closets by McKenry and Designer Garages, we strive for that same dedication. If something out of the norm is requested, we try to source what is needed. We want our clients to know how much we appreciate their business.
Carrie: What sets Closets by McKenry and Designer Garages apart from your peers?
Chris: I believe our continued growth is proof of our desire to serve Knoxville to the fullest. When I first opened Closets by McKenry, I would give clients a tour of my own home to show them different organization ideas. In 2018, I realized a showroom was necessary to better display our products and store a competitively-priced inventory. The following year, I doubled our space and opened the Designer Garages showroom.
To support this expansion, our team has tripled since I started the business. As professionals, and as people, I think they’re just the best. Our designers love what they do and bring experience and creative talent to their work. Our installers are conscientious and courteous. And our showroom manager is always there for our customers while keeping the rest of us on track!
Carrie: You give back in many ways. What is the importance of community to you?
Chris: When I returned to Knoxville after 15 years in L.A., I knew I wanted to be active in our wonderful community. My first year back, we designed the craft room in the Knoxville Symphony League ShowHouse. Two years later, we participated in the first Alzheimer’s Tennessee Home & Garden Tour, for which we received a national award for Best Closet Design.
Currently, we’re the Knoxville collection site for Carson-Newman University’s “Career Closet,” where donated professional garments in good condition will give a needed boost to students. We’re also excited to be opening our showroom for the Interior Design Society’s monthly meeting on August 17th at 5:30 pm. We welcome other community groups if they need a spot to hold events.
Carrie: Do you still offer professional organizing?
Chris: While I no longer provide professional organizing services, we have several local organizers that I confidently refer. Our custom designs will help you map where things should be placed in your new space.
Carrie: In what other areas of the home can you provide storage? And what type of budgets do you work with?
Chris: We provide beautiful storage – shelves, drawers, cabinets, lighting, countertops, islands, and more – for nearly every area of your home. We have helped clients transform their laundry rooms and linen closets, primary closets and pantries, guest rooms, mud rooms, hobby rooms, and home offices. Some of our newest storage solutions include wall beds and wine storage. And we can outfit your garage from floor to ceiling with Swiss Trax or epoxy floors, slatwall panels, and cabinetry, including a beautiful powder-coated premium line from Carolina Garage.
It may sound trite, but we welcome every size budget and project. We can help you remodel the corner of one room or plan out your entire new construction home – we enjoy working with developers, contractors, and architects. Whether you know what you want or are unsure, we’ll ask what is needed to achieve your goals – from extravagant to purely functional – and we’re now offering financing and 12 months same as cash for those who qualify.
Carrie: How can people find you?
Chris: Closets by McKenry and Designer Garages showrooms in West Knoxville are open six days a week. We can schedule an at-home visit, where we will design your space together, or meet virtually. Call, click, or come in – whatever is easiest for you. We want to make your experience planning a new closet, garage, or other storage system as simple and satisfying as possible.