LIVING If clothing, accessories, and jewellery are extensions of your personality, then give them the luxurious storage and security they deserve, reports Elyse Glickman
Elyse Glickman is US west coast editor of Lucire.
A wardrobe is not just a collection of clothing one has painstakingly curated, but a place to store and protect those items in a personalized way. Taken to a higher level, a wardrobe can be a sacred space where we can use our accessories and garments to reinvent ourselves and bolster our confidence before we head out into the real world.
While elegant, expansive wardrobes have captured the collective imagination of women since Hollywood’s Golden Age, reality television shows how far high-tech appointments and boundary-pushing luxuries have gone since then. The palatial closets featured in the recent hit film Crazy Rich Asians represent this idea perfectly. The wardrobes of various characters are not just set pieces, but also serve as expressions of the characters’ personalities. Consider the closets of modern sophisticate Astrid Leong-Teo, clasically feminine and discerning matriarch Eleanor Sung-Young, and even trendy wild child Peik Lin.
‘Your closet should spark joy, while an outdated or unorganized closet does not bring anyone joy,’ states Jessica Wilson of Jessica Wilson Design in Dallas. ‘After all, you start and end each day in this space. Closets must represent the individual client, not only showcasing their beautiful items, but also speaking volumes about their personality. When I meet a client to discuss a closet redo, we spend several days notating all the pieces they have to insure they have a designated space for each item, from the very small diamond earring to the extra large Birkin bag, and every sock in between.’
Katia Bates, whose portfolio includes bespoke spaces for the house of Versace, points out a closet can also be a place where a man can express his sense of style and masculinity while keeping his wardrobe, personal effects, and favourite sports or entertainment mementos organized and attractive to look at.
‘Closets are not always organized by colour anymore,’ says Bates. ‘They can be organized by activity, such from formal wear, coats and winter jackets, business attire, favourite spots, and everyday pieces. We also do closets separating all-season clothing, winter, and summer pieces. Shoe organization are becoming important for men today, as are safe–vaults that look like furniture and are connected to the alarm company or security teams. [Male clients] are moving away from islands because their desired closets are larger in square footage.’
If you own a custom luxury home (as many do in the southwestern US), Trent Hancock, VP of sales and marketing for Camelot Homes in Phoenix points to the trend of making the closets match the cabinet style of the home for a greater sense of flow and continuity.
‘Closet materials tend to be more higher-end, such as a glossy or textured melamine,’ he notes. ‘More and more of our materials are getting away from the solid real wood doors and to a textured melamine door. Hardware for handles and pulls? Polished chrome is becoming very popular and the use of modern styles which are slender and long in length.’
Gil Santos, owner of Closets by Design of Phoenix, says some of his customers are embracing ‘the rustic chic look,’ expressed in the company’s Brio line, mixing harmonious (not clashing) colours and finishes together, or wallpaper behind the closet before it is installed. In his view, the personalization is what will make the space feel lush and sexy.
‘Rustic material is trending more than fine finishes for cabinets and shelves,’ says Santos. ‘It’s almost mixology—you put it all together with different colours and textures and you have this luxurious, aged look. [Customers] are finding examples on the internet and asking us to incorporate them in their designs. Gold really dresses up a closet. People are also using dark colours for hardware, like oil-rubbed bronze which is like a dark chocolate.’
While Gerri Chmiel, a residential design lead at Formica Corp., says people are increasingly embracing alternative luxe materials, such as leather and high-quality veneers, there’s also a push for environmentally-sound materials (such as the Formica dEcoLeather Recycled Leather line, available in 18 colours). However, natural colour combinations prove to be both timeless and of-the-moment—just like a good wardrobe should be.
‘It’s important to remember that colours can really affect how clothes appear,’ says Chmeil, who favours shades like a Classic Walnut or Danish Maple for the foundation colours and Smoky Brown Pear for a more dramatic background.
‘Stick with a neutral palette to make clothing accessible and easy to find. I like things like [the line’s] Buffalo texture in the lustrous Moon design for the main colour with Paloma Grey and Thunder Grey as coordinating accent colours. Iridescent tints are really beautiful and will make for a really clean end product when paired the two grey designs. Our Antique Black colour accented by Moon works equally as well in a closet and is still neutral enough to makes clothes the focal point. For front of closest door application, crocodile texture is a fun alternative for showcasing a person’s individual style.’
Wilson, Santos, and Hancock also point to the increased usage of LEDs, and not only as a means to showcase watches and jewellery and make lingerie and sock drawers more readily navigable. LED closet rods also add to visual appeal and easier access to different spaces.
‘After we install the closet system, many people place a chandelier over an island in the middle of the room to make the space feel like a warm oasis,’ details Santos. ‘Integral lighting can be used to highlight special items the homeowner has on display. That way he or she can feel surrounded by those precious pieces of clothing or shoes.
What you cannot see also benefits the look and utility of your sacred space. Camelot Home custom closets implement wireless remote drawers, while Wilson highlights unseen things such as drawer glides and hinges that add greater function beyond the visible hardware fashioned from everything from acrylic and brass to marble and precious stones. Santos says he’s beginning to see more washers and driers in closets, with added functionality form hampers, pull-out ironing boards, and even storage space for laundry detergent.
Depending on the home and the client, colour palettes will vary, even though whites, greys, blacks and other neutrals prevail—even with a thoughtfully planned pop of colour. However, a good rule of thumb is to maintain a cohesive vibe throughout that will be a great framework for whatever personalizing details and organizational style is brought in to highlight one’s lifestyle.
‘This is where the fun begins for me, a fully accepting OCD organizational addict,’ confides Wilson. ‘We create specified suede- or silk-lined drawer units for all kinds of accessories from the different shapes of jewellery, to sunglasses, watch displays that are lit from within and, in some cases, power is run so the watches can spin to give it that boutique jewellery store vibe. We can create a channel-divider system within the drawers for organizing clothing and small items like socks and underwear and even use this same style dividers with glass for properly displaying clutches and bags, as well as large pull-out cabinets to hold scarves, belts and ties.’
‘We’re using the hidden concept quite a bit to incorporate security features into closets,’ says Santos. ‘Parts of the system can be designed with a false-bottom drawer, so it looks like there’s nothing underneath but there’s actually another layer for secret storage. For people who have safes, we’ve built units around them and covered them with doors, so they look like just any other part of the closet. Aside from the hidden concept, there are some electronic locks that come with wifi locking units that can be used on drawers.’
Once the practical elements are in place, and a cohesive style is established, one can add the details that complete this outfitted space. Bates points to Venetian or Murano-style chandeliers, custom hardware, and trims and wallpapers. However, what’s most important is that the wardrobe is your personal home within the larger home, and a starting point for everything beyond those walls. •
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