How to Take Control of Your Closet

Tips to organize your clothes and create a space that's glam



When Georgetown Cupcake co-founder Katherine Kallinis Berman and her husband moved into their Bradley Hills home in Bethesda two years ago, one of the things that excited her most was the space she would design as her walk-in closet. “Originally, it was a blank room, but I worked with my builder, Carole Sherman [of Bethesda Too], and we made it into a glam space where I could hang both work and weekend clothes, and where I could see all my shoes and bags,” Berman says. A built-in island holds her candy-colored collection of Hermès Birkin bags; an enviable assortment of designer heels and flats fill an open shelving section at the back of the jumbo walk-in. “There’s even a mirrored lit vanity if I want to do my makeup,” Berman says. Like the baker, many local women and men are craving boutique-like dressing rooms in their homes. Here are some of the design and organizing tricks they use to make their closets as good-looking as their wardrobes.

Take Inventory 

Taking stock of your wardrobe ensures you’ll have a place to put each and every item you own—and pieces that you use regularly can be in plain view. That makes getting dressed for your day at the office (or dinner out) much easier. “I don’t believe in the one in, one out rule,” says designer Vincent Sagart of Poliform/Sagart Studio in the District. “If you have 80 pairs of shoes, you need to have space to store them.” That’s why Ugo Fasano and husband Manuel Morquecho of Friendship Heights tallied up their pants, shirts and other items after they called on him in 2013 to transform a den off of their master bathroom into a walk-in closet. Doing the clothing and accessory math enabled Sagart to determine how many sliding shelves to install for the couple’s shoes, how much space they needed for hanging garments, and whether they’d like a drawer to hold their dozens of ties. A tip for women: Count the number of bags and dresses you own. Consider lots of cubbies for a large bag collection, or more long-hang spaces for dresses or coats. 

Be Smart With Art

Art can brighten any room of the house, especially a closet or dressing room—provided there’s wall space. Some people surround themselves with family photos, while others decorate with framed fashion sketches. “Art should be everywhere in the house,” says Fasano, who hung a small oil painting by Brazilian artist Adelio Sarro. “In the dressing room, it’s particularly nice because it’s the first room you see when you wake up every morning.”

Hide Out

If you’re devoting significant square footage to a closet, adding cabinets or islands will help in the long run. “You’re not going to be able to have everything perfectly folded and organized, so it’s nice if there are one or two places you can store things out of sight,” says Sherman of Bethesda Too. Her company specializes in new-build homes with jumbo hers (and good-size his) closets, usually with an island that has drawers and space to fold clothes. In women’s closets, she includes vanity tables that have outlets and well-lit makeup mirrors. “It’s nice to take all that getting ready into a private space, a sanctuary,” Sherman says.

Make it Personal

Incorporate interesting light fixtures or poufs from your favorite boutiques. When Pamela Sofola outfitted the 324-square-foot walk-in closet at her new Potomac home, she brought in an art deco-style crystal chandelier and gleaming white cabinetry. Then she filled the shelves with some of her Miu Miu and Saint Laurent shoes, displaying them like art objects. “I wanted it to feel like I was walking into a really cute store,” says Sofola, who’s scheduled to open a Capitol Riverfront boutique in the fall, aptly named A Beautiful Closet. “I also like to organize everything by color and type, which makes it both look pretty and work well.” 

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