Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.
Picture this: perfectly hung rails of clothes. A neat stack of sweaters. Shoes lined up tidily along floor-to-ceiling shelves. A comfy seat in the middle. But you’re not in a chic little boutique—you’re in your very own closet.
More than just a place to hang your clothes, today’s closets are a place to hang out, thanks to cozy seating, soft lighting, and beautiful décor. Here’s how to design your dream closet.
They’ve moved from being a literal closet to more of an actual room with seating, lighting, area rugs, even window treatments. If you can hang out with your friends and drink wine in your closet, that’s the ultimate luxury. It’s gotten to the point that when we’re renovating, we’ll pull square footage from other rooms, or if we’re building from scratch, the closet tends to be bigger than the actual bedroom.
Well, a lot of what used to go in the bedroom is now in the closet. Most of our clients don’t want a dresser in their bedroom anymore—they want built-in drawers and shelves in the closet. It takes a good amount of square footage to build things out—you lose a lot of space with a custom closet. But I’ve found that people want neat, tidy spaces and they’re willing to give up a lot of things in order for their closet to look immaculate.
We have clients do an inventory of what they own: exactly how many pairs of shoes and what kind, how many bags, hats, coats, dresses, everything. We’ll assess how much linear feet of short hanging space is needed for pants and tops, versus long hanging space for coats and dresses. Guys tend to have collections of accessories like cufflinks, ties, and watches, so we’ll do more drawers for them. Women tend to have a lot of shoes and bags.
Ideally everyone has their own closet—most people want a separate area. But if we’re working with two people sharing a closet, we make sure there’s no overlapping. It’s pretty much universal that people prefer their own personal space.
It’s important to be honest about how clean and tidy you are. Does everything need to be covered up, or do you want everything open so you can see it all at once? Can your shoes be exposed? If dust bothers you, we’ll put everything behind doors. I’ve found that the same people who don’t want open shelving in their kitchen tend to want doors in their closet. It depends on the layout too, though—if your closet leads into the bathroom, which is pretty common, you don’t want to expose everything to humidity.
We build completely custom closets fabricated from scratch, and we do it all with real wood that we either stain or paint. We’ll finish with bespoke hardware, like leather or fabric pulls in a fun tweed, for example, so it feels special. There are a range of companies out there that have premade components that you can customize to your space, but just be conscious of what materials they’re using. You don’t want to use MDF in your closet, because it’s going to off-gas chemicals onto your clothing, which then goes on your body.
A really soft wool area rug and flattering, decorative lighting go a long way. If you have natural light, we’ll add decorative window treatments. Then we’ll do either a sofa or a chair and ottoman for seating. Sometimes clients want an island with drawers for storage in the middle, but we try to steer them toward seating instead. It just makes more sense—people can come in and hang out, and it feels more like another room in the house.
Your closet should feel like an extension of your house.