photographs by Paul Costello prop stylist christina wressell
If you’re lucky enough to have extra space, why not transform it into the ultimate walk-in closet? Cosmetics exec Olivia Chantecaille did just that, mixing Container Store shelving with some custom details—and on a budget to boot!
An ottoman and a standing lamp lend living-room comforts to a dressing area.
afterChantecaille removed the doors on her closet to turn it into a primping station, complete with mirror, vanity and slipper chair.
what she wanted Olivia Chantecaille, the creative director of her family’s eponymous cosmetics company, admits to being a pack rat. Her spare bedroom-slash–storage depot, with its tiny overcrowded closet, “felt like an attic.” Her vision: a dressing room that could double as vanity area and lounge, with decor inspired by 1950s Parisian couture and classic Horst photos. “This airy arrangement allows me easy access to everything for the first time,” she says.
Painting stripes is a chic and cheap alternative to wallpaper!
the building blocks
determine your needs
Take stock of what you’ve got. Literally count up all your items of clothing—from bags and shoes to accessories—in order to correctly configure the new shelving and racks.
measure the area
It’s vital to have accurate stats, so you can maximize your space. For floor-to-ceiling measurements, use a corner—the wall provides a straight edge. Same for the floor specs: Measure next to a wall, not in the middle of the room.
bring on the pros
You can get this done with ingenuity, patience and the strategic use of specialists. Chantecaille had the experts at The Container Store design the shelving units (they can even take your height and reach into account!), then hired an upholsterer to dress the basic shelves with tentlike coverings and to cloak the ottoman to match.
the decorative element
This might look complex, Chantecaille confides, but it’s actually pretty simple. After you’ve applied a base and two coats of white paint, let it dry, then measure the wall, marking off every six inches with a ruler to ensure straightness. Tape the wall according to the measurements. Paint two coats of the gray within the tape stripes and wait 24 hours. Remove the tape once it’s set.
Once she put the shelving units together, Chantecaille gave her clothes a posh fabric canopy. For the roof, cut a piece of wood slightly larger than the top shelf (be sure to factor in the width of the hangers). Then take the wood measurements to an upholsterer and get a classic kick-pleated fabric square made. To complete the look, nail the two simple fabric panels (an upholsterer, seamstress or even a dry cleaner can whip these up) to the plywood on the inside of the fabric square.
Chantecaille dressed up the fabric pieces by sewing on black frog closures (ornamental braiding usually found on mandarin-collared jackets) to the kick pleats of the ottoman and the clothing tents. Then she glued rickrack to the bottom of the chair slipcover, as well as to the tents’ side fabric panels.
The wood floor was nothing special, so it was covered with Flor carpet tiles (easily trimmed to fit, with simple peel-and-stick tile connectors) in creamy white, unifying the palette and warming up the digs.