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How To Organize Your Closet, According To An Interior Designer

By Nicky Deam
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"The worst thing you can have in any closet space is harsh overhead lighting," says Simone Harouche, the interior designer and stylist who was tapped by Rachel Zoe to design her new store in the recently opened Palisades Village in Los Angeles. Harouche makes an excellent point — one that will resonate with anyone who has had the soul-crushing experience of trying on bathing suits in fluorescent lighting — but on the wishlist of home decor investments, closet lighting isn't typically at the top. Thankfully there's hope for anyone who needs to give their space a little TLC, even when working within a tight space and an even tighter budget. All it takes to organize your closet beautifully is a few smart tweaks that represent your personal style.

"Overall the space should feel like an extension of you," says Harouche, who carefully took Rachel's personality into consideration when designing the store. "We combined all of my favorite elements — black and white, animal prints and Carrara marble to create an easy, glamorous space where customers will feel comfortable enough to come in, stay and relax," says Zoe who seems as at home in the space as she does in her own closet. (Which is fitting as the store also contains hand-picked items from her personal vintage archives.) "It's typically the one time of the day when you're actually focusing on yourself, so it's worth putting in the effort," says Harouche, who specializes in making functional spaces that feel lived-in and not too precious. So in the name of self care, follow her tips to create your own dressing-room oasis — it'll make getting out of bed just a little bit easier.

Lighting

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Having established that a single harsh overhead bulb is not your friend, you're faced with a few options. "You can create more diffuse light with a multi-bulb chandelier, or put a lamp wherever you're trying on clothing in front of a mirror," suggest Harouche, who likes One Kings Lane and West Elm for a range of well-made options. At the very least, install a dimmer so you can control the intensity, and if you have a hard time seeing whats actually in your closet, put battery-powered push lights under shelves or on the inner walls so you can get a clearer view. Finally, incorporating mirrors and mirrored surfaces into the space will help amplify the light.

Organization

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The thing that makes a merchandised store appealing is the same thing that makes a closet look professionally curated; organization. "Start by putting the most important items at eye level," says Harouche, who hangs tailoring, blouses and dresses then stacks knits and denim. Subdivide those frequently used items into categories as you see fit, either by color or clothing type, "just whatever works best for you personally." Shoes should be easy to see, whether that means a stunning display shelf or keeping them neatly arranged side-by-side on the floor. Consider storing less-frequently used shoes and bags in labeled containers on higher shelves or even rotating them into storage based on season. Another tip she swears by is minimizing color and pattern in the design elements of the space. While wallpaper and vibrant hues may seem appealing, Harouche recommends you "stick to white, black or neutral walls and shelves because you're clothing will bring the color." In the store, she opted for white walls black shelves and sleek marble and lacquered counter tops.

Thoughtful Extras

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Make the space feel like somewhere you'd want to spend more than 30 seconds. "I don't like standing on a cold floor in the morning, so I have a sheepskin rug in my dressing area," says Harouche. If you have a petite closet, make your mirror area feel cozy by adding a small rug, or a chair or bench to sit in when putting on shoes — just resist the temptation to pile said chair or bench with discarded outfits. This is the time to inject a little personality, so by all means choose a piece with a print or in a color. For example, the main mirror area of the Rachel Zoe store is flanked by two zebra print chairs, adding a whimsical element to the otherwise neutral space. For anyone looking to maximize their budget, opt for seating you can move into an entertaining space when hosting guests. For smaller spaces, personalization can come in the form of framed photography, stacked books or small, planted succulents.