Closets + Organized Spaces: Case Study

Restoring Order: Deborah Kalkstein converts an unused office into a dream closet for two

Fed up with the cramped bedroom closet in their Potomac home, designer Deborah Kalkstein and her husband were ready for an upgrade. As they considered their options, a simple plan took shape. Rather than renovate their bedroom to create extra storage space, they would convert an adjacent, unused office into a spacious new wardrobe for two.

The project required very little construction; Kalkstein installed double sliding doors that connect the master bedroom to the closet. Then, left with a blank slate, she took careful stock of their belongings so she could devise an effective layout. “It was a matter of understanding how we like to store our things,” she says. “For example, he likes to hang his belts; I like to roll mine.”

She configured freestanding closet units by Molteni—a company represented in Contemporaria, Kalkstein’s Georgetown showroom—in two side-by-side, his-and-her “U” configurations. Open shelves and hanging sections display everything in an organized fashion, from his T-shirts and sweaters stacked on shelves to her jeans, stored straight—not folded—on hangers. “We wanted everything ‘in your face’ so we can see it easily,” explains Kalkstein. “When you put things in the back of a closet, you forget about them.”

A few drawer units, as well as Molteni dressers under the window, store belts, scarves, and lingerie. And carefully selected LED lights accurately illuminate colors.

When the bedroom doors are open, the couple looks in at a clean “wall” of wood where the two closet units meet. “We don’t see all these shoes and clothes in there at once,” says the designer. “It’s a very pleasurable space.”

Closet Design & Renovation: Deborah Kalkstein, Contemporaria, Washington, DC.

Deborah Kalkstein’s Trade Secrets:

  • Measure what you have to store in linear feet and understand how much space your short and tall hanging racks, shelves and drawers will require.
  • Consider how you prefer to store your clothing, shoes, and accessories. For example, do you hang pants straight or folded? These factors will help determine how to configure your closet and how much space you’ll need for each function.
  • Store seldom-used items on higher shelves where they will be out of the way but still visible.
  • Lighting is super important. The closer you can mimic natural light, the better you’ll be able to see the actual color of your clothes.
  • Position lighting just as carefully as you would in a kitchen or living room; it should be functional but also in harmony with the overall design.