Amanda Austin

Amanda Austin in her closet, which has plenty of natural lighting thanks to several windows. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun / January 22, 2011)

Remember when a walk-in closet was considered a luxury item in a home? Now, what makes any fashion fan salivate is the idea of a closet room. Baltimore interior designer Amanda Austin says more and more homeowners are converting a room to a closet.

"No one likes to dig for things; having things stashed underneath the bed," says Austin, who has created her own closet room. "I do think people are willing to have a smaller bedroom for a larger closet. ... I think everybody wishes to live in a state of convenience and bliss."

Having a big room in which to hang and organize your wardrobe is the obvious convenience. But the bliss for many closet lovers doesn't come just from the clothes. It comes from the design features, favorite collections and keepsakes in those rooms.

Amanda Austin

Amanda Austin, owner of Amanda Austin Interiors, loves living in airy openness. Just because she lives in Federal Hill doesn't mean she has to feel confined. She says natural lighting is her "oxygen."

To that end, Austin has made sure her closet has plenty of that element, with windows on two sides — one with a window seat that she sometimes uses for reading. Shelves next to it hold some precious mementos.

There's a practical side for her very open closet, as well. She needs to see everything in it.

"If I don't see it, then I don't know I have it," she says.

That means seeing clothes for all seasons. In her work, Austin travels a lot for business, going to warmer or colder climates and needing to pack appropriately.

Shelves above the clothing reveal some of her favorite collections. "I love wraps, pashminas and purses. I want them to be easily accessible."

Austin also loves color, which is why she likes to set out all of her multihued shoes. Those shoes seem to reflect her dislike for confinement: Nearly all of them are open-toed.

There's another kind of openness to her closet. Austin likes to share her clothes with her girlfriends.

"When they go out or are going to a special event, they always say they're going to 'shop at Amanda's boutique,'" she says. "But sharing brings me great happiness."

Austin says she's not the trendy type, preferring clothes that have a certain effortless function and timeless look.

"One needs to know how to spend your money. So, it's knowing how to invest and when. And knowing when not to."

Chuck Nabit

Chuck Nabit is known for his fun sense of style. When out on the town, the CEO of Westport Group, a diversified investment company, is not afraid to have fun with colorful shirts and sports jackets. It's a trait he believes is inherited.

"It's a statement; a way to express yourself," he says. "I grew up with a mother who had great flair. I saw how she expressed her own sense of self and creativity in what she wore. I guess it's in the genes."

Another strong fashion influence comes from Nabit's second home in Miami's South Beach.