Image credit: Heather Schwartz
Every year around this time, we go through the ritual of spring cleaning. Scouring our homes to clear the clutter and start anew with freshened surroundings for the season ahead. And every day, we spend time making sure every inch of ourselves from head to toe represents our style—which outfit for which occasion, what shoes go with what dress, which piece of jewelry will complete the look.But what about the point where these two practices meet? Where our fashion sense and our home aesthetic become one? Christina M. Sugathapala, of Caroline Rafferty Interiors in West Palm Beach, and Jamie Lynn Avila-Alba, of Jamie L Avila in Miami, are two designers who are keenly in-tune with their interior design prowess and their love of fashion. Read on to discover their tips for styling your closet—it just might help you style your wardrobe at the same time.
Image credit: Christina M. Sugathapala & Jamie Lynn Avila-Alba / Courtesy Jamie Lynn Avila-Alba
Q: What are some ways to make your closet design feel cohesive with the rest of your home? (Or is this an opportunity for a departure?)
CS: It’s a total opportunity! I prefer a neutral canvas (walls, carpet and shelving material) so that the coloration, shapes and patterns created by the clothing and shoes are showcased.
JA: I feel this is a personal choice and depends on the space/location for your closet. If it is a completely separate room/space and you aren’t a risk tasker with design, this is a major opportunity to explore and take chances with color, wallpaper, lighting, design, etc. It can be a completely separate entity like a laundry room if you want it to be. If the closet room/space is visible to the bedroom, then I do feel that the closet should be designed to be cohesive with the bedroom. Stay within the same color palette as the closet doors or keep them the same color as your walls. If you have brass/gold accents in your bedroom, for example, then get handles for the closet to match. You should always have doors to conceal your closet—it’s a must to hide the times when you aren’t very tidy.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the intersection of fashion and design? Does fashion influence your design choices? What are some ways to bring your fashion sense into the design of your home; i.e., color palettes, materials, etc.?
CS: There is a major intersection between fashion and design. For me, this intersection relates mostly to color palettes and fabrics. Also, I’m constantly inspired by stitching details seen on handbags and trim details on dresses (Dior has the best). They are so easily translated into curtain trimmings.\
JA: I can see how fashion influences design but I don’t feel like it should be equal or dominate design choices. For example, one minute something is trendy in fashion and then it isn’t; you don’t feel bad if an outfit goes out of style but you will be affected if you have to redo an entire room/space. For me, design can be playful and fun, but I try to make timeless choices that you will still enjoy in 10 years. You can, however, be trendy with accents that can be easily swapped out, like pillows, throws, etc. I personally like to live in color and patterns, but prefer to dress more neutrally. I am much more playful with color and explore my creativity with design. But all in all, my fashion and design aesthetics are sophisticated, classy and chic.
Q: How do you organize & style your closet?
CS: Start by grouping like items together in categories moving left to right; i.e., all tops, all skirts, all dresses, all pants. Then create subcategories within each group to place similar items together—sleeveless blouses, short-sleeve blouses, long sleeve, etc. Color code garments in each subcategory—black sleeveless blouses all together, white sleeveless blouses together, navy sleeveless blouses all together, etc. And keep all sweaters, gym clothes and jeans together and folded on shelves.\
JA: Every piece of clothing I own is organized by color, even my undergarments. Then I organize each section by length; for example, I organize tops as follows: tank tops, short sleeve, long sleeve and long sleeve buttons. I even separate casual tops from formal tops. I use our guest room closet for my sweaters, jackets & coats, as well as my boots.
Q: What wardrobe essentials do you have in your own closet?
CS: I have all matching hangers, a decorative hamper and clear, matching boxes on shelves.
Image credit: The Container Store
Q: What are your tips for purging?
CS: Purge once a season!
JA: Every time I go shopping, I have to purge. My closet is jam-packed, so in order to fit in the new goodies, purging is a must. A good tip to see what items you wear and don’t is turning your hanger the opposite direction (the open part of hook toward you instead of away from you) after you wear and wash something. It’s effective in one of two ways: purge what you don’t wear in 3-6 months or open your eyes to what you don’t wear and start wearing it! Get rid of dingy clothes and let go of your personal attachments.
Image credit: Norwood Themes
Image credit: The Container Store
Image credit: Priscilla Du Preez