At Home: Help your closet reach its potential

January 25, 2013 

Lisa Adams designs closets for the rich and famous, and has some pointers for the rest of us, too.


Quick: Which room in your house needs attention the most? Kitchen? Bathroom? Garage?

Nope. Your closet.

“The closet is where we spend the first and last moments of our day,” says Lisa Adams, founder of LA Closet Design. “This highly used space needs some respect.”

In short, Adams, whose star-studded client list includes E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic, Kardashian mom Kris Jenner, Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels, singers Carmen Electra and Jewel, and actors Eddie Murphy and Billy Crystal, is telling me that closets need to come out of the closet.

“They’re full of unused potential,” she says.

The conversation gets me thinking. Every morning I plunge into my closet as if diving into the Arctic sea. I emerge what seems like decades later, saying, “What year is this?” If I’m lucky I’ve snagged a few garments I can cobble into an outfit.

Adams promises it doesn’t have to be that way.

“A closet should look and feel like an extension of your home, but closets gets shorted by builders who shove in a rod and a shelf and call it finished.” Making closets great adds instant value for home buyers, she adds.

“I thought my closet was organized,” I say, “but every time I leave, the clothes throw a party. Tops tango with trousers. Purses do the twist. Belts slither like sugar daddies at the disco. And pretty soon, the blue paisley scarf is in the sock bin, which is where I finally found it.”

Then I had what could only be called a good idea, I say.

“So I called you,” I tell Adams, who, after listening patiently, offered this life-altering advice: “Turn your closet into a chic boutique – a store with clothes just for you. You should want to go shopping in your closet every day.”

If your closet looks better with the door shut, consider these makeover tips from Adams:

Make it pretty: Decorate your closet like a room. Paint it a great color or add wallpaper. Put in handsome baseboards, crown molding, a great light fixture. “That will enhance not just the space, but your experience of it,” Adams said.

Upgrade the hardware: Change out white painted wooden poles for rods with a metal finish, like polished chrome or satin nickel. Change drawer knobs, shelving and hooks to match.

Have a seat: If there’s room, an ottoman, chair or mini sofa is welcome. I use a funky bookcase for my shoes, an idea Adams loves.

Match the hangers: Purge all the dry cleaner hangers, then hang clothes on one kind of hanger: metal, wood, satin or velvet.

Get the light right: Anyone who has gone to work with one navy and one black sock knows that good closet lighting is essential.

Manage the madness: Make closet maintenance an ongoing process by dedicating a lined laundry bin for closet weed-outs. “Many people (count me in) pull a garment out that they can’t wear because it has a stain, snag or tear, or it’s worn out or doesn’t fit – then put it back in the closet. No, no, no. Put it in the weed bin. If you can’t wear it now, it goes in that liner,” Adams said.

Don’t forget the kids: Have a closet system the kids can reach. It gives kids and parents a running start.

Hang it up: “If I could hang everything, I probably would,” said Adams, except for socks or underwear. Visible stacks are her second choice, but drawers are a challenge. “If you can’t see it, you won’t wear it.” If you put clothes in drawers that don’t have glass fronts, fold them so items are vertical and you can see every item. Put clothes back in their place every day. “Get into a pattern, so the mess doesn’t snowball.”

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