Closet Envy

Gray Walker

Portrait by Dustin Peck • Closet photos by Erica Mark Photography

When the eldest son of interior designer Gray Walker (graywalkerinteriors.com) went to boarding school, a design opportunity presented itself: she could shift the bedrooms and guest rooms in her Myers Park home to make way for a true dressing room to house all of her beautiful clothing. “I’ve loved clothes all of my life,” says Walker, 50. “You have to have a space like this to really enjoy and see what you’ve got.”

The resulting space highlights her sophisticated style and a number of sentimental items. Take, for example, the watercolor nude hanging on the wall. It was the first piece of art Walker purchased on her own, fresh out of college and living in Columbia, S.C. She loved the colors, the loose look. “It kept getting demoted from every room in the house because my husband doesn’t like nudes,” says Walker. “But it worked out just fine because now it’s in my little space, in my boutique.” —Whitley Adkins Hamlin

Playing off of her adjacent master bedroom, Walker’s dressing room started with a Manuel Canovas classic trellis wallpaper design in one of her favorite shades: lavender. Next came roman shades trimmed in the same hue, and a lavender island in the middle of the room. A year later, Walker fell in love with a Christian Lacroix wallpaper she saw on a road show and immediately thought of her closet ceiling.

“It was the finishing touch that created the feeling of being outdoors in some wonderful lattice gazebo with flowers growing through the top of it,” says Walker. “I love gardening and I feel like this room feels like a spring day.”

Having designed a lot of closets with large center islands for her clients, Walker wanted something similar for her own space, and the magnificently appointed mirrored-top surface helped make the storage fixture striking and functional. She loves seeing the reflection of the wallpaper on the ceiling—and the stunning light fixture from Visual Comfort. “I just love mirrors,” she says. “I think they are glamorous.” One side of the island holds Walker’s lingerie, socks, and nightgowns. The other side is home to her accessories, jewelry, sunglasses, and belts.

Growing up, Walker’s personal style was extremely preppy. Then at St. Mary’s for college, she discovered her bohemian, hippy side. After becoming an interior decorator, her style grew more sophisticated and glamorous, and her dressing room is a reflection of her fashion journey. “The walls of my dressing room are totally old-school prep, then the feminine part would be the flowers on the ceiling, and the glam is the mirrors on my island and light fixture,” she says.

Whitley Adkins Hamlin

Erica Mark Photography

When wardrobe stylist Whitley Adkins Hamlin of the Queen City Style moved into her SouthPark home last year, the sitting room off the master bedroom was begging for a reinvention.
Thanks to a rolling rack and a bust, the room had been a creative space meets repository for everything from Hamlin’s personal wardrobe to clothes and accessories she’d pulled for photo shoots. But she wanted it to be more chic, more intentional, more like her personal style: “a little bit bohemian, a little bit glam…and very sentimental,” says Hamlin, 40.

So she enlisted the help of her friend and neighbor, interior designer Ashley DeLapp (ashleydelapp.com). “I told Ashley, ‘Instead of a walk-in closet, I want it to be like a boutique, a personal boutique-style dressing room,’” she says.

So the pair set about morphing the 100-square-foot space into a room with high-gloss deep blue walls, Lucite rods with gold detailing, and lush furnishings that complement the clothing without competing. The result: a haven where creative inspiration and show-stopping glamour go hand in hand. —Caroline Portillo

Hamlin knew she wanted dark walls in a high-gloss finish. So when DeLapp showed her the deep blue of Inkwell by Sherwin-Williams, she knew it would be the perfect complement to the fuchsia ottoman—purchased secondhand from Dressing Room Interiors—and the antelope rug, sourced by DeLapp.

Hamlin is a fan of vintage clothing, distinctive pieces, and items with a story. Take her fox-fur coat. She’d seen it at Douglas Montaldo’s Furs and pulled it for a photo shoot; its Carolina-blue hue (Hamlin’s a Tar Heel) was an added bonus. A week later Hamlin bought it herself, and now it’s always a talking point—whether she’s donning it at a gala or school reading day for her sons, Hank, 9, and Worth, 6. “If it’s normal, run of the mill, it’s not going to work for me,” she says. “I’m drawn to show-stoppers.”

Among Hamlin’s style (and career) muses are her grandmother, Nana, and great-grandmother, Willa—both former stylists and buyers for an upscale luxury boutique. So it just seemed right to add Nana’s vanity and writing desk to the dressing room. “I remember what drawer she had her brooches in, her scarves, her perfume,” says Hamlin. “And I basically have it organized the same way, down to covering it with pictures and mementos.” One of the mother of two’s favorite touches: a grocery list her eldest son, Hank, wrote when he was in kindergarten.

Holly Phillips

Portrait by Julia Fay Photography • closet photos by EA Decker Photography

It took a popular blogger challenge for interior designer Holly Phillips of The English Room (theenglishroom.biz) to commit to giving her own bedroom and closet an overhaul. For the biannual “One Room Challenge,” 20 design bloggers each redo a room in six weeks, sharing their progress online with weekly updates and, ultimately, a big reveal.

Phillips participated in May 2017, and it was just the call the action the 46-year-old needed to organize and reconfigure how she organizes her stunning collection of clothing and accessories at her home in Deering Oaks.
“More is more,” says Phillips, quoting her style icon, Iris Apfel. “I like everything embroidered, embellished, or overdone.” —Whitley Adkins Hamlin

Phillips’ closet-design inspiration started with wallpaper on the ceiling, ordered from NewWall (newwall.com). She loved that the hue tied into the glossy pink of her bedroom, and the little dashes of color were an added bonus.

Your closet doesn’t have to be white on white,” says Phillips. After she picked her color palette, Phillips incorporated a new light fixture and a sisal rug. She ordered the earring and bracelet displays from Amazon.

Phillips has always been drawn to shoes, accessories, and bags for their timelessness—the more distinctive, the better. She bought the gilded étagère from Wisteria to offer more storage and highlight some of her favorite items. “I wanted to be able to display them like art,” she says.
Among the many covetable accessories on display is Phillips’ collection of wicker baskets, including her mother-in-law’s Nantucket basket from about 30 years ago. The camel, Volkswagen, and elephant baskets are all from Kate Spade.

Phillips’ closet overhaul turned out to be less about design and more about editing and organization. She brought in professional organizer Jennifer Burnham of Pure and Simple Carolinas (pureandsimplecarolinas.com) to help. After organizing her wares by color and like items, Phillips used a double rod to create more space for her long, hanging dresses, and she recommends hanging necklaces from the inside of the shelving. “You have to be able to see it in order to wear it,” says Phillips.

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