Hollywood director Colin Strause’s bedroom closet resembles a designer boutique: A private, wenge wood-panelled space where shoes are displayed in backlit cubicles, perfectly spaced sport coats hang on illuminated rods, and plush chairs provide a respite from browsing. “People walk into my bedroom and say, ‘Whoa’, because it looks like a Louis Vuitton store,” marvels Strause.
His $200,000 showcase storage area is the work of Lisa Adams, a pint-size, MBA-toting, college-trained chemist-turned-designer who founded her bespoke closet design ﬁrm, LA Closet Design, ﬁve years ago. “The trend now is shopping in your closet and having it feel like a boutique space,” explains Adams.
She would know: LA Closet Design is currently remodelling closets—at an average fee of $60,000 to $80,000—for 24 high-end homeowners. Adams’ client list reads like a red carpet event: She’s crafted closets for Eddie Murphy, Derek Fisher, Jewel and Jillian Michaels. For Billy Crystal, she constructed a special display dedicated to the collection of black tuxedos he has donned as a repeat Oscars host; for another section she designed a mock locker room to exhibit the actor’s famous collection of baseball jerseys.
And business is looking up: Revenues were plus 42 percent last year and have climbed nearly 30 percent so far in 2012. The ﬁrm’s biggest job to date: A $500,000 three-storey space inspired by the Bergdorf Goodman department store, constructed with its own interior staircase and themed ﬂoors.
If that sounds outrageous, consider that affluent homeowners already shell out large sums to get the most from these relatively small spaces. Once an architectural afterthought, closets have become a focal point in the home remodelling rebound. According to an American Institute of Architects survey earlier this year, master bedroom walk-in closets were the number one projects on US designers’ to-do lists for 2012.
LA Closet is one of the few ﬁrms in the world to specialise in luxury closet design, with Adams overseeing every project herself. She will assess every nook and cranny and inventory every garment and accessory. Once the layout is approved from 3D design renderings, she begins her hunt for unusual furniture and rare materials. The fabrication and installation will typically take two months, and Adams will return to hang clothing on felt (never wire) hangers, place inserts in boots (so they don’t slouch on display) and colour-co-ordinate scarves on special racks.
Among the must-haves for today’s closet connoisseurs are library-style stacking shelves for shoe and bag collections, suspended racks laden with off-season garments, discreet jewellery safes camouﬂaged by mirrors, LED-illuminated cases ﬁlled with couture clothing exhibited like works of art, silk-lined drawers apportioned for accessories like sunglasses, climate-controlled fur coat cabinets, and lavish ﬁnishes like crystal chandeliers and Carrara marble vanities. Then there are the creative extras: Wine refrigerators, breakfast stations, television areas, cigar humidors, even stripper poles—all incorporated into closets.
Nearly half of LA Closet Design’s clientele are men. “For my male clients there’s this notion of a man cave where they can go and be alone,” notes the designer.