Design & Remodeling

Suited For Success

A custom closet system serves a KC businessman in style and class.

By Andrea Darr  |  Photos by Randy Braley

Walk-in closets are the must-have accessory for any wardrobe. Plenty of fashion-minded individuals have turned unused space in their homes into entire dressing rooms, and in the case of one local businessman, an upstairs living room became a hallowed hall for office attire.

California Closets designer Cindy Kelley worked with the homeowner to deliver a system with supreme functionality and beauty. “He wanted it to feel masculine but light and bright, and to stand in one spot and see all of his clothes and shoes,” she explains.

To achieve the look, Kelley and her client decided on neutral walls and carpeting to go along with light-colored Cassini Beach cabinetry imported from Italy. “It has a heavy texture and almost feels 3-D to the touch,” Kelley describes. A central island with a custom dark brown leather top masculinizes the space and serves as a large surface for laying out clothes with plenty of drawers below for hiding away casual wear. “It gives the feeling of being in a high-end boutique,” she says.

Lighting plays an important role in the space. There’s no mixing up browns and blacks with LEDs positioned throughout the closet system, including in the poles and on the partitions. LEDs were selected because they don’t fade clothes or add heat and will last 50,000 hours, plus, on dimmers, they can change the ambience of a room based on the user’s mood.

Kelley evaluated the gentleman’s belongings at the initial consultation to design a system targeted precisely for him. “I counted his shoes and measured the length of his shirts,” she says. With these numbers, Kelley customized a system of shelves, poles and drawers that accounted not only for a variety of items but also for his vertical stature—“Everything is built specifically in proportion to his height,” she adds.

A problem men commonly have with builder-grade closets is the length of space for their button-up shirts, which Kelley carefully avoided in this closet configuration. “The hanging space usually isn’t long enough to keep men’s dress shirts from pooling at the bottom,” she explains. “Problem solved here.”

This particular gentleman also has a collection of timepieces that required an oversized shelf for his watch winders. Kelley notes these black boxes that keep watches that run on kinetic energy constantly in motion are very popular among men.

Although this custom closet is quite comprehensive in its scope and intricacy, Kelley says it’s not unusual for a homeowner to call up six months later and ask for another element. “The great thing about this system is that it can be altered or expanded easily with more drawers, baskets, shelves or poles if, say, a new homeowner moves in and has a collection of trench coats—it allows for new trends or users,” she says. Even since completing this project, the homeowner has discovered that he has some additional needs, and Kelley will be returning to add cubbies to open space at the ceiling level.

Proper organization is not limited to one gender or the other. It helps everyone start the day off right. For this man, it’s the source of power and confidence.

Designer tips for disorganized closets

Cindy Kelley offers some quick tips for bringing harmony to a jumbled closet.

1. Hang all your shirts facing one direction.
2. Anything that can change shape, like sweaters or knits, should be stacked instead of hung.
3. Avoid shelves that are too tall. It’s better to have more little stacks.
4. In drawers, instead of piling folded clothes atop one another, turn the stack on its side like a filing cabinet so you can see everything at once.
5. Be aware that it generally takes 5-10 years to fill up two feet of storage, so plan for more space or a purge.