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An A. Quincy Jones-designed house gets its closet space in order

Cindy Johnson sees her closet remodel as a triumph. Her proof — the space is as immaculate as it was the day it was finished last October.

“When it’s organized like this, you want to always keep it this way,” she said. “It looks good to the eye when you walk in. There are no socks lying on the floor.”

Disarray and density were overriding themes in the previous wardrobe. So when she and her husband, Neville Johnson, both lawyers, embarked on a top-to-toe remodel of their Brentwood-area home last year, they saw an opportunity, and made renovating their closets a priority.

Neville bought the A. Quincy Jones-designed Midcentury Modern home in 2000, and the remodel took it from 1,600 square feet to 2,200 square feet. They enlisted Lisa Adams, founder of LA Closet Design, to help transform the previous closet — basically a shared space behind doors in a hallway — into separate his and hers walk-ins that allow the owners to quickly find anything they need, arrayed as if in a chic boutique.

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For Adams to most effectively plan the spaces, she had to take meticulous inventory and create a spreadsheet listing every item of clothing owned by the couple.

The Johnsons’ previous arrangement bordered on the chaotic, Cindy said. So taking stock allowed her to discover pieces she forgot she had — like the bejeweled designer shoes rescued from beneath the crush of a pile of sweaters. A long-missing Louis Vuitton purse was finally located during inventory, shoved on a shelf in the depths of the previous closet, hidden behind coats.

“I wanted to be able to see what I have so I could use it,” she said. “Lisa and her team came over and counted out every single pair of shoes, socks, pants, down to underwear. She knew exactly how much space we would need.”

Cindy Johnson’s new closet has pale wooden floors, white shelving and deluxe touches, such as wallpaper with hand-embellished butterflies. The top of a chest of drawers holds a silver tray of perfume bottles and more butterflies — amber-colored crystal statuettes from Baccarat. Her husband’s section features a Moroccan rug, shirts organized by color, illuminated rods and upper shelves that are tall enough to hold Neville’s collection of cowboy boots. The closets, which took six months to complete, mark the first time that the couple have had individual walk-in spaces.

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Though Adams has worked on spacious and luxurious walk-ins for an array of celebrity clients, among them Christina Aguilera, Reese Witherspoon, Tyra Banks and Khloe Kardashian, she says she applies the same principles to every project. First, take inventory.

“It’s methodical and tedious but it’s critical to count every single item of clothing, down to ties and belts and swimsuits, and measure the height of boots,” Adams said. “Edit and purge as you go along. Know what you own. Most people have a variety of clothes, so the closet should feature a variety of lengths, with shelves at different heights. Everything should have its place.”

That leads to rule No. 2 — make the closet fit your stuff, not the other way around.

“We’ve gotten so good at just adapting, moving into closets and not changing a thing,” Adams said. “If there are shelves, we fold. If there are hanging spaces, we hang. I tell everyone, ‘Just look at it. It’s easy to raise a rod or move a shelf.’ And doing those sorts of things can make all the difference.”

Cindy Johnson can attest to the transformation, of her space and herself.

“I will just walk in in the morning as I’m getting dressed, and the fact that it’s so organized brings me peace and calm,” she said. “It’s stressful enough living in this city. It’s nice having something beautiful like this, even if it’s something that most people don’t see because it’s behind closed doors.”


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