Lisa Adams, founder of LA Closet Design, spends a lot of time in the closet, but it’s not because of her penchant for strappy sandals, leather clutches, wrap dresses or ready-to-wear fashion. “I love the design process itself, and am inspired by architecture and travel,” says Adams, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii. “I love figuring out what materials to use, and the kinds of clothes and accessories that people have. I treat it like science and math, and it’s all kind of a challenge.”
Adams, who has designed closets-turned-bona fide boutiques for an ever-growing stable of celebrity clients from Kris Jenner to Giuliana Rancic and Christina Aguilera, didn’t set out for a career in closet design.
In fact, the acclaimed designer – a four-time recipient of the Top Shelf Design Award’s annual Closet Award whose work has been featured in “Architectural Digest” – earned a chemistry degree from the University of California Berkeley.
“I initially thought that I was going to work in a lab and do research,” she says. “I wanted to do great things and find cures for the world, and that would be my ultimate career path.
“Then I had that moment where I thought ‘maybe this isn’t it,’ and I thought by going to business school, maybe I could marry the business and the science together,’’ says Adams, who earned an MBA at Pepperdine University in California, and then worked for a design studio at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood from 2002 to 2006.
A Lisa Adams bespoke closet turns chaos into a calm, ordered dressing room
“The focus was primarily kitchens and bathrooms at the time when they were all the rage,” she recalls. “We’d also get the occasional request for closets, and I thought, ‘closets really should be too,’ and that was really when I started to think ‘I want to do this.’”
A year later, Adams launched her own business and has never looked back. “There was nobody out there doing closet design in the way I felt it should be done,” she adds.
“I was really passionate about these spaces that were thought of as places to store clothing and accessories, rather than a dressing room, and I thought I could create beautiful multi-dimensional spaces rather than using one material, or a shelf and a rod.” Adams, who has appeared on HGTV and The Style Network and is now working on a Frank Gehry-designed project in oceanfront Marina del Rey, Calif., pushed the closet boundaries further.
“I wanted to do it on a grander scale and pay attention to every single detail,” she says. “When I first started, it was right at the beginning of the recession, but I just kept going at it.
“Since then, I feel like everyone has been educated and jumped on board, and it’s kind of become this popular idea of ‘why not have a beautiful, organized closet?’”
Adams’ designs have gone far beyond the typical walk-in wardrobe. She has designed a closet lined with Wenge wood for the uber-stylish Esquire House in Los Angeles in 2010, and everything from children’s closets with maple cabinetry and pullout laundry baskets to grown-up, resort-inspired closets with crystal chandeliers and tufted ottomans.
And the sky’s the limit when it comes to optional extras. Some of Adams’ clever designs have featured mini-refrigerators stocked with grab-and-go breakfast goodies for fashionistas on the fly; boutique-style three-dimensional mirrors; remote-controlled “secret” cabinet drawers for concealing valuable shoes and luggage; and in-closet safes.
“Some people don’t even know what clothes and accessories they have,” she adds. “A well-designed closet is about editing, creating a multi-functional space, so you don’t end up just grabbing at things.” The designer is also quick to offer practical tips for better closet management from purging unused clothes and accessories to switching out mismatched hangers for a streamlined look with all metal, wood or velvet hangers. Adding crown molding to an existing closet, she says, can also create a more custom look. Next up, Adams is working on a design book with publisher Oro Editions, and has debuted a limited-edition carry-on suitcase, LA Move Mobile Closet, a collaboration with designer Max Mirani.
The new designer suitcase comes with a zip-out wardrobe, detachable jewelry roll, and heat-resistant pocket for flat irons. “I’m very organized,” says Adams, “and it gives me great pleasure to create an impact and make people feel better at the end of the day.”
For more information on Lisa Adams and LA Closet Design, visit laclosetdesign.com.
Image Credits: Photos courtesy of La Closet Design .