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Small Space, Big Design – The Bold Closet Trend (Plus, Sara Reveals Her Master Closet Wallpaper)

Like a lot of you, I’m pretty over plain white walls for a bit. I’m craving color and pattern. Of course, all of that could change in a few weeks (I wrote all about what I’m calling “design discontent” here). BUT I’m going with it for the moment, and letting these bold design hungers take the wheel. Two weeks ago I shared all the options I was thinking about using in our primary closet – a space I really felt empowered to just go for it. If you’ve been following me on Instastory, then you probably already know what wallpaper I choose to slap on the walls (just kidding, they were lovingly placed my our wallpaper installer Mark). But if you don’t, then you’re about to find out which paper won!

And the winner is STRAWBERRY THIEF by Morris & Co!

I LOVE THIS WALLPAPER, and now I also love this room. Sometimes I just go in there to sit and smile. Originally I had planned on wallpapering all four walls and the ceiling, but when Mark arrived he told me I was very wrong, had ordered barely enough wallpaper to cover the walls, and to email him before I ever order wallpaper for my house again. NOTED. We all have our strengths and weaknesses – figuring out square footage for wallpaper, as it turns out, is not one of my strengths.

So we ended up leaving the ceiling white, and I actually think it was for the better! And because I’m still learning how you do things, I installed our baseboard without painting it first. So . . . I then spent HOURS painstakingly hand painting this trim with a tiny brush (with leftover “Goodnight Moon” from the office) in order to avoid having to put any sort of painters tape on the wallpaper. I trusted my steady hand more than I trusted even the most expensive “delicate” tape.

Our closet reveal is coming up soon, so hang tight to see how it all came together. But I’m not the only one out there who’s got bold closets on the brain. In fact, it’s kind of thing. Small spaces, it turns out, are actually perfect spots to go big and bold. I think of them as high impact, low-risk areas. Their small size also means it’s cheaper to buy wallpaper for, and tear out/paint over whenever you decide to try something new (as opposed to a large room). So I found a few other bold closet enthusiasts and asked them to share why they also gave their closets an extra serving of personality . . .


First up, we’ve got Kelly Collier from Plot Twist Design, who made over her closet as a “One Room Challenge”. She went BOLD, with a semi-tropical botanic print, black painted ceiling, and animal skin rugs.

From Kelly – “I chose a bold printed wallpaper, because it’s a true reflection of my personality being freely expressed in a space created just for me. It’s on trend, yet floral prints are also timeless; very much aligned with my personal aesthetic and wardrobe. It seems bold closets have become the new norm. I believe it’s a safe, smaller place to for people to explore an unapologetically bold design. It’s also likely to be the one space in the home dedicated to exclusively us, hence more design freedom!”

You can read all about her closet, and see more photos from the reveal here!

P.S. She’s also the host of a great design podcast🙂


Now this closet, by Erin Kestenbaum, isn’t wallpapered, it’s painted! So if you’re wallpaper averse, don’t think that means you’re no longer qualified for a bold closet.

Here’s Erin – “When we were laying out a new, more functional floorplan for our bedroom, the closet became a pass-through between our bedroom and bathroom, and I wanted to use the transition through those two spaces as an opportunity to create a memorable moment. I knew that the bathroom was going to be light and airy, and that I was using a monochrome palette for the bedroom, so a bold color on the walls became the perfect bridge in the closet. Before even deciding on the direction for the space, I had for years been dreaming of having a striped ceiling in my future walk-in closet, and this narrow room with little unused wall space became the perfect place to turn that dream into a reality. Because the closet doesn’t get a lot of natural light, I embraced the darkness with a moody deep green-blue to envelope the space. I love how you can see peeks of the bold wall color and wallpaper from inside our bedroom and that it creates a more visually layered bedroom suite. It’s such a treat to start and end our days in this little jewel box of a closet, and since we don’t spend a lot of time in here, we have yet to become tired of the bold design choices (nor do I anticipate that we ever will!). 

I think the closet is the perfect space to go a little bit crazy, because the space is typically small (read: less expensive to add wallpaper or other textiles), it doesn’t need to flow as much with the rest of your house because it only needs to coordinate with your bedroom, and since you don’t spend long periods of time in your closet, you won’t tire of the bold choices you’ve made the same way you might in a living room or other frequently used space.”

You can check out more from this closet here.


Last but not least, we’ve got Ursula Carmona, from Home Made By Carmona. She also made over her primary closet as part of her “One Room Challenge” and it’s the closet that helped me decide that yes, wallpapering my closet was the right thing to do.

Here’s what Ursula has to say about her closet – “I wanted to add a ton of character and personality to what was originally a boring and downright dingy four walls. What better way to infuse a space with charm than to start with a bold patterned wallpaper? It immediately grabs your attention, and draws you in. 

This stunning ‘Woodland Birds‘ wallpaper from Milton & King caught my eye, and although it’s a little outside of the norm for me, I went with my gut and let it set the tone for the entire space. I love the uniqueness and the wild charm of the pattern. Even a closet deserves to be a show-stopper!”

Check out her full closet reveal post here.

That’s it from Bold Closet Headquarters (and yes, our HQ is in a closet – we love it here, there’s wallpaper). I’m getting the big itch to put up more wallpaper. Does anyone have any experience with a wallpapered ceiling in their kitchen? I know, I know, there’s is STEAM in a kitchen. But who can support me in this endeavor? OK THANX, BYE!

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1. I love all of these and so wish we had a walk in closet! Strawberry thief is so good. Good choice!
2. Does anyone know where Erin Kestenbaum’s bedroom light fixture is from? The one you can see just beyond her closet?

3 years ago

It’s the Rye – Hudson Valley Lighting!

Reply to  Deena

thank you!

Reply to  Deena

oh wait! no, i meant above her bed.

3 years ago

It looks very similar to the Ace model, also from Hudson Valley Lighting. (Coincidentally, I had pinned it to possibly use in our eat-in kitchen.)

3 years ago

Sara, what about stenciling the ceiling as opposed to wallpaper? I recently stenciled a ceiling and while it can be tedious, it has an awesome impact for way less than wallpaper and it would withstand the steam. You’ll have to spray mount each stencil in order for it to stay on the ceiling and apply the paint and you have to be willing for it to not be totally perfect. But that could be a high dram, I expensive, steam resistant solution!

3 years ago

Bravo painting your trim!

Sarah M.
3 years ago


3 years ago

I am tearing out wallpaper from my kitchen now. It showed no signs of wear after 20-40+ years (an estimate, I didn’t install it!) and we are ready for something new! I can guarantee you I won’t be putting a different pattern back in 😂

Amanda McCullough
3 years ago
Reply to  Mara

change is good too lol

3 years ago

Love this so much! Now please don’t put anything in that closet for fear of covering any of that beauty! Haha!

3 years ago

I love YOUR cliset the most! That’s the William Morris paper? I bought a book of fold your oen gift boxes paper that you fold into special little boxes of really cool shapes with his designs. Every time I fave a super special gift in one, the box was the biggest hit!!! Ha!
Then Ursula’s is my next fav.

I can’t believe how many shoes people have!!! It’s crazy! Like, 2 feet, 1,000 pairs of shoes! Crikey!

I love that people are experimenting with closets, one of the most private spaces in a home.

I also l9ve and completely relate to painstakingly painting tricky bits without tape!!! Scary and soooo intense, but very very worth it too!

Bravo, Sara! You’re a star and clearly leaning into gaving confidence in your own taste and design decisions. You’ve made huge leaps since your insecure start under Velinda’s expert wing.
Be proud, sista! 😊 xx

3 years ago
Reply to  Rusty

Thank you for mentioning those boxes. I just snagged the last currently available book on amazon!

3 years ago

I moved into a house with those same brown ikea closets as Kelly and I thought there was no way to make them look good without painting them… until now.

Cris S.
3 years ago

I had to hope off the exercise bike to add my two cents before anyone went and bought super dark paint for their closet!!! Not that you shouldn’t and not that it wouldn’t look awesome, but you need to think about a few things first. And I come at this as someone who just spent the weekend REPAINTING her walk-in closet and is still surrounded by clothes she needs to rehang!!! My primary closet is pretty good sized – 8 feet by 16 feet (best guess without measuring). It has a regular door size opening but no door and opens on a small square hallway that leads to the bedroom and faces the bathroom door. I had it painted a beautiful peacock blue green (the bedroom was supposed to be lavender and I thought it would be a nice contrast and the closet is the place to go BOLD right?). Long story short, the bedroom was changed to a light blue and the painter got the name wrong and I walked into a dark moody blue bedroom (BM Britannia Blue instead of Brittany Blue). At that point I was over construction delays and said to keep it (and it actually… Read more »

3 years ago

I love the wallpaper! I showed my husband, and unfortunately he’s not a fan — I thought maybe he’d agree to a pillow in the same print, but still no. I can’t wait to see the closet all put together.

As for the kitchen, I was going to suggest a ceiling mural, but I also like someone else’s idea of stenciling. Can’t wait to see a progress post for the kitchen!

3 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

This makes me so sad.

3 years ago
Reply to  Paula

It’s okay. I have a lot of leeway with decor. I could buy the pillow, and he’d likely end up liking it. If I find a home for it, I may just do it.

3 years ago

That Strawberry Thief pattern is classic for a reason. What a stunner! Long live Wm Morris designs!

3 years ago

I had a kitchen with wallpaper on the ceiling. It was still in good condition in most areas when I took it down. It had probably been there for 30-40 years when I removed it. It was old so there was a lot of glue left behind which was difficult to remove. I did burn my face slightly using a wallpaper steamer. It’s not something I would recommend doing!

3 years ago

There’s no way you produce enough steam in the kitchen to mess with wallpaper – it would need sustained humidity again and again. Go for it! But I would choose a paper with a bit of a coating – grease builds up over time in the air, and I would prefer to be able to wipe it down with a damp rag.

Alex Rose
3 years ago

Looks great! I’ve always loved that paper. have you considered painting the ceiling the same color as the baseboard?

3 years ago

Yes! Bold rich color and pattern! Yaaaaaaaay

3 years ago

I love the wallpaper you picked out. I would sit in there smiling too. One thing: Maybe it’s because I’ve over 50 and my vision is poor, but doesn’t a dark closet make it hard to see what’s in it when you’re picking out something to wear? And to see how you look in said outfit? I would have trouble seeing in such dark places.

3 years ago

Gorgeous!! Can’t wait to see the final product!

3 years ago

Love the bold colors and patterns. Would love to see some bold walls in kitchens when the cabinets and backsplash are neutral/white.

3 years ago

Love the wallpaper!! I would definitely paint the ceiling the same color as the trim – I think it would pull it all together. Can’t wait to see the finished product!

3 years ago

I recently painted a bedroom pale butter yellow and painted the interior of the standard sliding-door closet bright white with stamped bright yellow polka dots. I love it so much! I plan to do something similar in an adjacent bedroom, with a bright white closet stamped with a diamond or a checkerboard design to match whatever wall color I wind up choosing. Once the clothing is loaded back into the closet you can’t see the design too much, so even if you’re all thumbs and the design is sloppy or crooked, no one can tell b/c most of it is covered by the contents of the closet.

3 years ago

I support you! I also love William Morris wallpapers. There’s one I really loved called Dragon & Peacock, and the colorway in turquoise and purple is so gorgeous.

It’s great that you have a window in your closet, and I really like that light fixture over it.

3 years ago

sorry, I get wanting to have a pretty and cute closet, but some of these photos are just a little gross. We don’t need to see anyone million dollar shoe collection. More design less vulgar displays of wealth please.