Lisa Adams, the CEO of L.A. Closet Design
, is an organizer to the stars. She has helped countless celebrities and regular folks become more organized. Her company is a full service firm offering personalized living spaces
created to calm the chaos of everyday living, with a modern focus on environmentally harmonious materials. I have been working hard to try and be more organized myself lately, so I thought I'd exploit Lisa's expertise, and share it with you!
On a less exploitive note, Lisa is also an ambassador for Dress for Success
organization. Dress for Success's mission is to is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Lisa designed their new LA office and created a boutique for their women to "shop" in. She is currently holding events to support the organization at boutiques around L.A. that include closet
demonstrations and advice for organizing your closet and being a better packer. For more information about upcoming events and how to help, please click here
Hopefully this interview will inspire you to tackle your own closet, and keep Dress for Success in mind if you have any appropriate donations for them!
Lisa, what was the path that led you to a passion for closets and built-ins? Was yours perfectly organized from a very young age?
My design path is an interesting one. My right brain started at the age of three playing the piano and violin; I went on to play for the Honolulu Symphony
. My left brain allowed me to enjoy math and science,
thus getting a master's degree in chemistry. It is important to say that I have enjoyed fashion and design while my left and right brains were firing on separate cylinders. Since I can remember, I have always been organized-if things are not in their place, then it's hard for me to work. This discipline has held true to date. After getting my MBA, I worked for a kitchen & bath design firm and handled the operations' side of the business. While at that firm, I started the closet/wardrobe division and thus, started my career as a closet designer. This business lets me capitalize my talents as a business person and designer-my left and right brains, merged.
What's the first step in tackling a closet that's a disaster area?
Start from scratch and purge. If I am remodeling a closet, then normally all of the existing cabinetry (and clothing) comes out of the closet. There's a good chance that you inherited the closet and its function, beyond aesthetics, is all wrong. When designing a closet, you should think about how you want to flow within the space. Do you put on your shoes last? Do you grab accessories before shoes? These are
questions that need to be addressed and answered during the design process, which will aid in the layout of your new closet.
If I am organizing a closet that's a disastrous mess, then I usually help people to determine what needs to stay in the closet and what needs to leave the closet. People with disastrous closets usually don't have enough space for their belongings; in addition, there isn't usually a designated place for each item. If everything you own has a designated place, then it makes it exponentially easier to stay organized if you maintain the system.
I know you have a philosophy of turning our closets into our own special at-home boutiques. How do we do this?
I try to create living spaces in the closets for all of my clients, no matter the size of their closets. It is a space used for more than housing clothing and accessories; it is a space to dress in, relax in, feel good in, show people, etc. When designing at-home boutiques, I pay particular attention to display shelves, lighting, furniture pieces, custom jewelry inserts and mirrors. Most of my clients have a
collection that they want to display (shoes, watches, hats, etc.), and I help them to achieve this using a mix of materials and good lighting.
In many high-end fashion boutiques that people like to emulate, they use a combination of warm woods, glass and chrome to accentuate the cabinetry, including shelves. I do the same. Incorporating art work and a chandelier are also nice touches in a closet that help to transform a closet into a boutique.
How big was the largest closet you've ever tackle
The largest closet I tackled was a 750 square feet master closet in Henderson, Nevada. The house had several pavilions, in addition to the master closet, each with a theme of the natural elements; therefore, the closets would naturally be themed, as well. I designed a water closet
, earth closet, fire closet and air closet. I chose materials for the closet that were fitting for each theme.
Can you share the names of some of your celebrity clients? What's it like designing for famous people compared to designing for us regular folks?
Some of my celebrity clients include Eddie Murphy, Jewel, Carmen Electra, Billy Crystal, Kara DioGuardi, Jillian Michaels, Derek Fisher, and Byron Allen. In designing for celebrities, I am awakened by the
fact that they really are just like us. Their closets are like the closets of most-disorganized, jam-packed, and poorly designed. Celebrities want a nice home for their clothing, accessories and valuables too!
Personally, I have a REALLY hard time letting go of anything in my closet what needs to go?
Trust me, I have a hard time parting with things in my closet too, but also trust me that purging feels even better! If you haven't worn something in two years (or even a year if you can be that stringent) and
it isn't a vintage item, then it should be thrown out or donated. If you have dry cleaning wire hangers that you are using, then those need to go too. Wire hangers are damaging to your clothing. If you have a limited budget, changing out the hangers in your closet can be a good first step, which can also make a world of difference in the overall look of your closet. Buy hangers of the same material/style for a consistent look in your closet.
You're obviously at the forefront of closet design - where do you see closet design heading in the future? That is to say, what new developments are there in products and design coming our way?
Continuing and into the future, I see people caring A LOT more about their closet spaces-even demanding that their builders
, architects and designers pay more attention and give more budget to their closets.
It's interesting to note that potential homeowners pay most attention to the kitchen, bathroom and closets when purchasing a new home; however,
when you look at the overall budget and planning that goes into closets, it is most often an afterthought. Builders get away with putting in
only shelves and rods into million dollar homes. The future of closet design is to back to the 17th century concept of dressing rooms-places
for people to house their clothing and to dress in. You will see more people putting more thought and money into their closets-to help create another sanctuary space in their homes. People are demanding high design in their closets, and are open to using a variety of materials to achieve their unique look. Free flowing closets and bathroom spas are
becoming more common. The idea is to show off the space much in the same way people take pride in their master bedrooms, kitchens and master bathrooms.
Also to note, I am seeing more people paying attention to their kid's closets. I couldn't be happier, and I will continue to promote the importance of kid's closets as much as I can. Discipline and organization starts at a young age. If kids
have appropriately designed closets, then they will be able to function in the closet and learn to
stay organized. I recently completed a kid's closet where I included pull-down rods for their hanging clothes, pull-out shelves for their shoes, organizing tags for each day of the week, back-pack hooks,
laundry basket with dark/light removable liners, and hanging rods at reachable heights for the kids. There are so many life lessons that can be learned within their closet! It is also highly empowering for kids
to be able to dress themselves, and to be able to put everything back where it belongs. Believe me, if you have a system that is maintained, kids will follow it in no time.
Lisa, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and help us all get a little more organized today! I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful images on Houzz, and I'm having a lot of fun peeking into Jewel's closet!