For most of us, closets are a major point of focus come the new year. It’s as if January marks the second coming of our inner Marie Kondo, and some voice reminds us to take inventory of all the things we didn’t rid ourselves of at the start of spring. And it’s not just the stuff we have that tugs at our attention, but the things we’ve lost due to self-imposed organizational challenges. The discovery of a shoe without a mate causes an inexplicable urge to rethink our possessions in terms of containers (because nothing is lost if it is contained). We corral and box and bin and stack on “easy to assemble” wire systems with sliding baskets and floor-to-ceiling adjustable shelves. And we praise ourselves for committing to a new kind of orderly life, one in which pearls never stray and shoes exist like swans—mates for life. But come next autumn, we’re back at it, ordering transparent tubs and shifting coats from here to there. Whatever perfect harmony there once was is no longer, and the cycle continues.
But what if the solution to a near-perfect closet was less about the items inside than about the space itself? In other words, take what Ms. Kondo says about objects and apply it to where those objects are. Do you feel joy looking at your closet? Does it inspire you to dress the part in order to, as Edith Head put it, “have anything you want”? No? Then it’s time to change your mindset. No matter how many square feet you’re dealing with, where you prep yourself for the day should inspire you, serving as a visual meditation created with your most personal possessions. Walk-in closets should not be closets at all, but dressing rooms for contemplating one’s personal style. Black holes behind trifolds should be transformed into treasure troves made up of things you love. It’s a radical upheaval to your typical fall routine, we know—but as illustrated below, it’s a tactic with results well worth the mental shift.
Find Your Center
Square walk-in closets can benefit from a central point of focus. Here, a sheepskin-covered bench beneath a sculptural pendant creates an inviting hangout. And no, these aren’t the pieces you’d expect to find in a place where clothes are stored, but that’s precisely the point—to break form in the interest of something that looks good and, in turn, makes you feel good.
A Vanity for Pause
If your closet is long and narrow—the kind typically hidden behind trifolds or double doors—consider designating a third of it to a mini vanity. Standard closets are about 24 inches deep, which allows for a surface with a depth of 18 inches to fit nicely (keeping the hanging space you’ll have to sacrifice in mind, we propose that you use a chest of drawers or an oversize nightstand in lieu of a desklike vanity that requires a chair). Hang a mirror on the wall behind and keep clothes hanging on either side. Atop the dresser, arrange your perfume, jewelry, and a photograph or two, and give yourself a private spot to primp and organize your thoughts.
Hang Your View
If your walk-in has a built-in dresser along a wall without a window, hang a framed piece of art—or better yet, a scenic photograph by someone such as Christine Flynn—to create your own view. While we couldn’t find an official study, we’re pretty sure there are more mental benefits to be derived from a daily glance at a serene beach or a field of grazing horses than at a bare white wall.
Think Like a Decorator
Think about decorating your closet as you did about decorating the rest of your home. Make it flow with your bedroom’s color scheme; hide clothes and clutter behind luxe curtains instead of cabinet doors; consider adding a piece of vintage furniture to create a mix that matches your personal style. All too often, large closets become a dumping ground for items that are functional and practical but not the most visually appealing. Bring a little beauty to the space and watch your whole outlook brighten.