Stylist's Closet Is a Perfect Fit

Alison Deyette custom-designs a closet and stylist's studio in her basement.


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Alison Deyette knows a thing or two about fashion. She’s worked internationally, wearing many hats in the editorial world as a writer, producer, fashion director, on-air expert and wardrobe stylist. “Although I’ve assumed many roles in this industry, it all essentially comes down to one thing: the styling of clothes,” she says.

When Alison found her dream home, a 3,200-square-foot, midcentury-modern house built in 1960 and located in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles, she looked forward to decorating all of its rooms — except for the bottom-floor storage area.

Luxurious Closet Makeover

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Glam Central

In two weeks the ground-floor storage room became a custom dressing room closet and stylist’s studio, plus a space for overnight guests.

Dingy Beginnings

When Alison Deyette first purchased her 1960 midcentury-modern house in Sherman Oaks, Calif., she found it difficult to imagine the ground-floor storage space could be transformed into a glamorous, storage-packed dressing room closet.

Spot for a Seamstress

Tucked snugly beside the entry door, Alison’s sewing station can be completely partitioned off during fittings by grape-toned satin draperies.

Shiny Hardware

When choosing drapery hardware for her floor-to-ceiling panels, Alison fell in love with traditional rods, brackets and rings in a polished chrome finish. The tweed fabric is pleated with a traditional pinch pleat.

Custom Built-In

When designing the lounge/bed built-in, Alison spared no expense. Not only does it fit in architecturally with the shelving, it’s tailored, comfortable, and packed with pattern and color.

Added Flare

Alison’s contractor added 1" x 3" MDF trim to the front of the built-in to create a paneled effect. To attach the trim to the front, each of four mitered pieces was attached with bonding adhesive, held in place until dry, and then finished with caulk and semigloss paint.

Flexible Style

Instead of installing double hanging rods, Alison uses collapsible rolling racks with adjustable heights. Although this works great in her space, she doesn’t suggest it as a solution for small closets because the depth of the racks spans 32 inches due to chunky casters at the bottom.

Hanger Options

Alison loves wooden hangers for their classic look and ability to help ensure the structural integrity of clothing. On the flip side, wooden hangers are bulkier than metal or plastic ones. In small spaces, she suggests choosing metal hangers with a non-slip velvety finish. An average wooden hanger is approximately four times the thickness of a fabric/metal version.

Hollywood Regency Style

To avoid messy hammering of concrete and costly electrical expenses, Alison had vintage iron sconces wired as plug-in fixtures that plug into nearby outlets. Her contractor installed the sconces with a concrete drill bit and heavy-duty concrete anchors. The sconces’ cords are concealed by cord channels disguised with the same moiré wallpaper used on the walls.

Mood Lighting

Proper lighting is essential to professional fittings. By replacing the existing ceiling fan with a fabric-covered drum pendant with a diffuser, Alison instantly adds ambiance as well as flattering light for fittings.

On Display

Whether laying out her own outfits for upcoming events or arranging looks for clients, Alison's accessories are kept on necklace and bracelet forms.

Top It Off

To keep hats in clear view and to ensure proper shaping, Alison stores them on foam hat mannequins that can be found at local store display retailers. To find a store display retailer in any major city, it’s wise to search downtown areas near fashion districts.

For her work as a wardrobe stylist, Alison wanted the 8’ x14’ room to serve as a dressing room, closet and studio space. In addition, she pictured the space as extra sleeping quarters for guests. Due to the room’s long, narrow shape, however, she found herself constantly hitting creative roadblocks when it came to spatial planning.

After nearly six months living in the house, she consulted with a designer friend. He suggested taking advantage of the room’s length by placing a twin mattress sideways, rather than using a queen bed. This freed up enough space for clothing racks and a built-in accessories display. Alison says, “I hadn’t thought about breaking up the narrow space, simply because I figured it would instantly shrink the space even more. But just like a supermodel strutting down the runway, the space just really needed someone to work it.”

Scope of Project

With a clear vision in place, Alison decided on a budget of $10,000 and a timeline of two weeks to complete the project. Her to-do list included:

  • Replace dated carpet with tongue and groove wood laminate
  • Add wallpaper
  • Install wall sconces
  • Install pendant lighting
  • Install full-length mirror
  • Integrate a mobile hanging rod system
  • Create a custom sewing station
  • Add privacy with drapery panels
  • Incorporate sleeping space for overnight guests
  • Create a lounge space for clients

First up was ripping out the carpet and then installing tongue and groove wood laminate flooring. With the flooring underfoot, Alison turned her focus to the lighting.

“Once the sconces were found, the rest of the aesthetic fell into place,” she says. Hollywood regency in style, the heavy iron sconces were customized with a spray-paint finish in a plum hue that was certain to add drama. Alison had the sconces rewired as plug-in fixtures that were fastened to a concrete wall with concrete anchors, and then plugged into an existing outlet below. In addition to the wall sconces, Alison also had a three-bulb fabric drum pendant installed in the center of the room to give off diffused light that would be flattering to herself and clients during fittings.





Contemporary White And Lavender Walk In Closet

Contemporary White And Lavender Walk In Closet



Next on the list was the built-in needed for accessories display. “In order for me to be able to use every inch of the space effectively, it all came down to the built-in,” Alison explains. “I needed shadowbox-like sections to keep everything organized, graphic and contained.”

The only place for the built-ins was the back wall, which was only 8 feet long and had an additional design obstacle to work around: a four-foot window right smack in the middle. The built-in’s casing was carried along both sides of the window, then above it, which turned the window into the main focal point of the dressing room closet. The contractor used cost-effective medium-density fiberboard to construct the built-ins.

Tweaking, prepping and small alterations are part of Alison’s everyday life when it comes to fitting her clients or herself properly. To sneak in a small sewing station, she had a wall-mounted desk installed near the entrance, under the dressing room closet’s front window. This gives her the proper natural light to read the colors of textiles correctly.

A full-length mirror and an element of privacy are essential for the dressing room closet and stylist’s studio. A modern 6-foot mirror trimmed with darkly stained wood makes it easy to check out proper fit and style. Floor-to-ceiling draperies installed directly to the ceiling keep clients hidden from view while changing while also keeping the sewing machine out of sight.

With the dressing room closet and stylist’s studio complete, the rest of the house has a lot to live up to. “The rest of the house is still a work in progress, but luckily for me, my clients never see anything but the dressing room. Until I get around to everything else, I’ll just let them assume the rest of my house looks just as polished," says Alison. "It can just be our little secret.”

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