Strip the word closet of all negative or outdated connotations about being a place to hide secrets, skeletons, or one’s true identity, and it’s simply a place to keep your wardrobe. But call it a dressing room—as Seattle interior designer Rick Baye prefers—and it can be so much more.
“Most of my clients who are interested in a killer dressing room tend to appreciate beautifully designed and manufactured clothing, and they like to shop in beautifully designed and merchandised stores,” he notes. “It’s a visceral, passionate experience, and my ideal is to recreate that in their homes.”
Baye doesn’t recommend literally mimicking a retail environment, but rather incorporating elements that you might find in a high-end boutique, such as great lighting, beautiful surfaces, and quality hardware, and balancing them with other design elements in your home.
Read on for a glimpse inside three beautifully designed, space-efficient, and envy-inducing Northwest closets.
Designed for a man
Interior designer Rick Baye’s own closet features all of his must-haves for the perfect closet, plus a skylight for natural light, works of art (painting, photography, and sculpture), and open bays—with no doors. The 200-square-foot space sits between the master bedroom and bath, with cabinets made of sapele wood. Instead of wall mounting the full-length mirror, Baye put one on the pocket door between the closet and bath. “It maximizes storage and display space, and you’re not always looking at yourself,” he explains.
“Closets are very personal, intimate expressions,” Baye says. “For some people it’s about collecting; for others it’s strictly utilitarian.
“Some people, like myself, are into packaging and presentation, so a beautiful dressing room is high on the list,” he notes. The designer feels the same about his wardrobe, regardless of the label; American Apparel, Armani, H&M, and Hermès all hang side by side in his dressing room.
Closets may be personal and private, but that hasn’t stopped Baye’s clients from asking him to reproduce his stylish dressing room in homes from Seattle to Miami to Washington, DC. “The design always improves a bit with each project,” he admits.
Interior Design Rick Baye Design, 206-721-7981; rickbaye.com
It’s All About the Shoes
As is the case in many custom closets, the driving force behind Sun Chaney’s was shoes. Keeping her peep toes, pumps, and boots in boxes, she explains, sometimes made her forget about favorite pairs.
So when the 6,000-square-foot Yarrow Point house she shares with her husband, Jeff, and sons, Jacob and Luke, was under construction, it was the perfect time to get the perfect closet. With the space for the 230-square-foot master bedroom closet already established, Chaney began working with wall-bed designer Albert Logan on the room’s configuration and the design of the versatile racks that line most walls in the T-shaped room.
Chaney’s inspiration was the 1987 movie Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, in which Hawn plays an heiress who hires Russell’s carpenter to remodel her closet on her yacht. (Shoe-closet lovers might say that if life imitates art, the mechanized shoe rack in the fictional yacht closet may be why Hawn and Russell are still a real-life couple.)
Logan used his space-saving design experience to bring the Overboard concept into the twenty-first century, giving Chaney four rolling shoe racks that glide on rails in front of the closet’s hanging racks and drawers. The variable-height shelves are each wide enough for three pairs of heels, with the bottom shelf reserved for boots.
The closet features wood-paneled cabinets with ample drawers and hanging racks, plus special drawers for jewelry, shelves for handbags and hats, and her husband’s clothes, a washer and dryer, and a hidden laundry hamper. A circular window at one end offers a view of Yarrow Bay, and a round upholstered ottoman provides a comfortable seat under a modern chandelier. Most importantly, the room has adequate space to display Chaney’s shoe collection—100-plus pairs to date—with room for more.
Chaney didn’t plan for the closet to be more than a place to store her clothes and display her shoes, but she appreciates it now as a quiet spot to chat with girlfriends when they come to visit, a private place to talk on the phone, and a room with lots of hidden niches for her children to play in.
By making her collection of shoes, boots, and sandals easily accessible, the rolling shoe racks also provide a place to store memories for a woman who often purchases shoes while traveling. “I have my first pair of Prada sandals, which I bought in Hong Kong,” Chaney says. “I don’t wear them anymore, but I absolutely adore them.” Other special memories include a pair of boots purchased in Florence, Italy, and a pair of floral shoes she found in Vegas when she was pregnant with her oldest son.
Closet Design Albert Logan (no longer in business) Interior Design Susan Marinello Interiors, 119 S Main St, Ste 300, Pioneer Square, 206-344-5551; susanmarinello.com Architecture Paul Moon Design, 4616 25th Ave NE, Ste 177, University Village, 206-985-9420; paulmoondesign.com Ottoman Manufacturer: A. W. Hoss and Sons, 9221 Roosevelt Way NE, Northgate, 206-522-1229. Fabric: Zimmer and Rhode Leon fabric no. 10180-995 Window Coverings Manufacturer: Penthouse Drapery, 4033 16th Ave SW, Ste A, West Seattle, 206-292-8336. Fabric: Villa Romo Zagora Plain fabric no. 2005-06, in gunmetal color Chandelier Comet Pendant Light (Sold out), Horchow, horchow.com
A movie also inspired the closet created by interior designer Cheri Wentworth for her Lacey client. In this instance, it was Carrie Bradshaw’s walk-in dream closet in Sex and the City.
Wentworth’s client, who often spends months traveling, wanted her house to feel like a retreat when she returned home. The designer complied with a master suite she calls “a contemporary version of Hollywood glamour.”
In the bedroom, charcoal carpeting and mirrored surfaces set off rich, deep--colored fabrics, animal prints, and black-and-white photographs of Marilyn Monroe; the master bath is a sexy spa with black fixtures, a white leather footstool, smoke--colored tiles, a steam shower, a circular tub that fills from the ceiling, a modern, wall-mounted fireplace, and a red glass chandelier.
And hidden behind a mirrored door in the bath is a 200-square-foot dressing room finished in black lacquer. Its floor-to-ceiling cabinets are fitted with drawers, shelves, and hanging racks, as well as shoe racks (hers a full wall; his 10 shelves high and three pairs wide). A center island has a dark charcoal quartz top embedded with white and silver flecks, topped by a twinkling linear crystal chandelier. The floor is carpeted in a white-on-black pattern reminiscent of starbursts from a mirror ball. “That carpet brings light into the room, even when the lights are off,” Wentworth explains.
The design was planned to be organized and spacious, and to meet the clients’ overall needs, with places for shoes, handbags, jewelry, and more, she says. “And of course luxury--finish materials that make one feel special.”
Interior Design C. L. Wentworth Company, 360-790-0411; clwentworth.com Chandelier Seattle Lighting, seattlelighting.com Carpet Latitudes Rugs and Carpets, 5701 Sixth Ave S, Ste 127, Georgetown, 206-763-8011; latitudesrugs.com
This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Seattle Met.