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Sara’s Closet Reveal – The Bold Design Moment She’s Been Craving

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Welcome back to another post here on Styled By Sara Tramp. Might as well change the name, since this is my THIRD time on the blog this week. Didn’t I stop working here at the end of August? I am, OF COURSE, joking. I just happened to be working on three different posts that all coincidentally went up this week for various different reasons. I also love being here, getting to text Jess daily, and really just pretending I’m still a full-blown EHD team member.

Today, for your eyeball’s pleasure, I’m serving up my primary closet reveal. But first, as always, let’s trip down memory lane.

Here are the floor plan I always come back to, because it really clearly illustrates the changes we made to the house. As you can see, originally the area that is now the primary closet was just a pass-through room. It’s likely where the previous owner put their washer and dryer, and it’s where the entrance to the primary bathroom was located. It was also the only way to enter the primary bedroom. But you had to walk through the kitchen to get there, which felt a little weird.

We actually never spent a single night in the back part of the house before it was renovated. As soon as we bought the house we started in on demo, and the back half of the house was gutted. Early on in the reno process, I knew I wanted to figure out a better floor plan for the back part of the house. And that included turning this awkward space into the primary closet.

Originally the closet for the bedroom was a box, built into the back corner of the room. We got rid of that, put the entrance to the bedroom where the closet once was, and closed off the access from the kitchen into the bedroom.

And here’s what that awkward little room looks like now . . .

*Excited squawking noises* It’s my first every walk-in closet, and it feels like SUCH a luxury. A real dream come true, to have a closet I can stand in instead of stare at. There are so many exciting parts to this teeny tiny space, I don’t know where to start.

I feel like the very first thing that’s going to catch everyone’s eye is the wallpaper. I knew I wanted to wallpaper this whole room, but was originally planning on leaning a little more neutral. After showing my initial wallpaper choices to the EHD team though, they all convinced me to go BOLDER. So, I revamped my choices and finally decided to go with Morris & Co.’s “Strawberry Thief” because it felt whimsical, bold, and still true to the Craftsman roots of the house. It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made, in the history of our home. Maybe better than opening up the living and room and dining room by knocking down the partition wall. Maybe even better than painting the TV room dark. I HAVE SO MANY GOOD IDEAS (and twice as many bad ones).

Now our walls are covered with sweet little birds, stealing strawberries, and beautiful florals. Fun story – I originally wanted to wallpaper this room floor. To. Ceiling. But I didn’t consult Julie or Mark (our wallpaper installer) before ordering the paper. So when Mark arrived he was like “I think we’ll barely be able to cover it all, but we’ll make it”, to which I replied “oh GOOD! I’m most excited about the ceiling!” Cue the blank stare he proceeded to give me. I then had to decide really quickly whether I wanted him to install the paper sans ceiling, or have him come back several weeks later once I’d ordered more. I’m impatient, and the moral of this story is to measure once and then always have someone else double-check your measurements because you likely have no idea what you’re doing.

In retrospect, I’m actually really happy we didn’t do the ceiling. I’m sure it would have been really fun, but the white actually keeps the space from feeling chaotic, and ties in our white closet system to the design (which I’ll get to in a minute).

Now, we just happened to be painting the front guest room/office at the same time as we were installing the closet, and I just happened to realize that the color we were using on the walls in the office was a perfect complement to the colors in the wallpaper. So we used the leftover paint on the trim in the closet. And I felt like a genius. Still do, if I’m being honest. The color is called Goodnight Mood, and it’s from Clare Paint. If you think it looks good in here, just wait until you see it up on an entire wall. It’s a dream!

HOT TIP: Paint your baseboards and trim BEFORE you wallpaper. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me, but it left me hand-painting all the baseboard and trim by hand, without tape, for fear of damaging the wallpaper. It took FOREVER, but I did develop a very steady hand.

Ok, let’s talk about the other elephant in this room – the closet system.

Mirror | Navy Sweater Boxes | Hangers

We partnered with The Container Store Custom Closets for this space, and let me tell you, the process was AMAZING. Truly. Even if they didn’t partner with me on this project, I would still say the same thing.

I have one word for you – Barb.

Instead of designing the closet myself, we used The Container Store’s in-home virtual design service, which paired us with Barb, who is possibly the best closet designer in all of Cleveland. Possibly in the whole world. Trust me, it’s not easy to figure out how to use pre-made systems in custom spaces. I had tried to do it previously using a different closet system, and spent many frustrated hours pulling my hair out. It took Barb all of about 45 minutes, via a Zoom call with both Mac and I, to create our dream closet. And because she knew what she was doing, I knew that it was going to work. She screen-shared with us, and I watched her build our closet in real-time, taking into consideration all our different needs.

THANK YOU BARB. Next, we got the final design emailed to us, ordered all the pieces, and scheduled an installer through The Container Store. All the closet pieces were delivered the day before install to our home, and then our installer showed up (wearing a mask, of course), and had our closet up and running in about 4 hours. It would have taken us at least twice that to install it ourselves, and likely would not be nearly as secure.

And now that we’re living with the closet, I just want to thank Barb one more time, because this closet is SO functional. It’s got taller hanging storage for Mac, a section of full-length hanging for my dresses, just enough shoe storage, and Barb was even able to design something that included my custom vanity area idea! For my perfumes!

I also now have a valet rod – A really functional little contraption I never knew I needed, but use to put together outfits, pull things for packing, and steam clothing.

The Container Store has four custom closet lines that way you can choose one that fits any size space, style, or budget. The particular line I used is called Elfa Décor, which is a step up from their most basic closet system. This is still a closet, so function was first and foremost for us. Luckily, the Elfa Décor line has all the functionality of the Elfa Classic line, but with the beauty of wood and deluxe options including real wood shelves, drawers, and trim in a variety of finishes.

And just in case you’re also in the market for a new closet system, you can get up to 25% off an Elfa custom closet during The Container Store’s annual Custom Closets sale going on through 10/11. ASK FOR BARB H. OF CLEVELAND! Haha, I’m sure all their closet designers are amazing, but Barb will always hold a special place in my heart. Barb, if you’re reading this, you’re the real MVP of this closet.

Alright, what’s next. I knew we were getting brass light fixtures in the closet, so I decided to keep the brass element going and sourced these adorable vintage brass drawer knobs from an Italian seller on Etsy called Troilo Art Vintage. When they came I thought I had made a huge mistake (I make several a day) because they were so tiny. But Mac said they looked good to him, and Em later reinforced this by commenting on how cute they were. They’re both right, they’re ridiculously charming, and I love the touch of vintage they bring into the space.

Onto more brass – a favorite topic of mine – let’s talk about the light fixtures. Both the ceiling and articulating sconce (with a clear dome shade) over the mirror are from Rejuvenation, one of my absolute favorite places to shop for lighting options.

You might think that having an articulating sconce over our mirror was a deliberate design decision. Ah, well . . . maybe I should let you keep thinking that, instead of revealing that it was a hail Mary attempt to disguise the fact that we installed the junction box off-center (per my design plans). And that it just happened to solve our problem perfectly. In fact, disregard everything I just said. I’m a professional designer, you should hire me, and I definitely won’t make you install an entire wall of kitchen cabinets over the course of two days only to realize that they all have to move over 1.5 inches (dad, I’m still really, REALLY sorry about that one in particular).

MOVING ON . . .

The light fixture over my little vanity area, on the other hand, is a custom piece from Lightwork Design Co., who I found on Etsy. I had seen a few sconce options that I liked, but nothing that I LOVED for this specific area. I wanted something special, with some vintage soul to it, but was having a hard time finding something that was actually vintage and hardwired. I reached out to Michael via Etsy, hoping he might have some more inventory, and he wrote back saying he could actually make me something custom. He sent me a few ideas, and this beautiful piece was born! It’s one of my favorite things in the closet, and I also love that it came out of a collaboration with another real human over the internet.

But we really don’t have to turn on the light very often in this closet. Why? Because between our window and our SUN TUNNEL, we’ve got all the daylight we need. YES, that is a Velux Sun Tunnel installed in our ceiling, and it’s another successful design idea I came up with. It’s like a skylight, but smaller, and tunnel-shaped, and came with two different diffuser options to control the amount of light the tunnel lets in. It brings in so much beautiful, natural sunlight into what would otherwise be a pretty dark closet.

And lastly, I found the perfect vintage rug at the Rose Bowl almost a year ago, with no idea where it was going to live. But now I know it was destined for this purpose. At least during this stage of its life. Who knows what amazing things it’s seen before living with me, and what it will see even after I’m gone. That’s one of the things I love about vintage items so much, their lives extend so much further than ours.

The closet turned out to be a little bit of a passion project for me, and I really feel like I found MY style and design voice pulling it together. I’m definitely going to be bringing more of this boldness into the other areas of the house I’m still working on. Every time I look in there, I still get giddy.

Sweater | Jeans

Thanks for hanging in for such a long post about such a small space! And a huge thank you to everyone who partnered with me on this little project, and the EHD team for all their opinions and support on this (and every) project I undertake. What’s up next for me? Maybe a sneak peek into my kitchen, or an office reveal. But I’ll have something good for y’all again real soon. Until then, xx.

**Design and Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp (hilariously, that’s me!)

Fin Mark

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Elaine

Gah, Sara this walk in wardrobe is delicious. If I wasn’t 20 yrs older than you and didn’t live a whole other continent away I think we’d be friends…only I’d always be eyeing up your wardrobe and wishing mine just looked even half as cool and stylish!

Diane

Wow. I’ve been looking forward to this reveal and it did not disappoint! Love every inch of this quirky, charming, and functional space, and though up till the very moment I started reading I was perfectly happy with my own closet, I find myself suddenly starting to dream. Sara, thank you for the beautiful inspiration.

One word: OBSESSED!!!! I have this weird small awkward shape room in my house that is too small to be a bedroom or an office. so I’ve been wanting to turn it into a dressing room/closet and your space is giving me so much inspiration!!

Anna

This is stunning! I’m having major closet envy. Bravo!!

Jackie

Your entire home is such an inspiration to me and I absolutely cannot wait for the kitchen reveal!

Lane

I love it. Love the light tunnel as well. Do you worry that the uv light will damage some fabrics over time, like silks, or that some fabric will fade? I was always ynder impression that dark is good for cloths

Karen T.

Stunning. I’d never leave that closet!

Christina

It is perfect! Love the paper, the paint, the efficient closet system and that adorable little window. You should be so proud!

Amy

It looks so good! I really like the wallpaper, and having the sun tunnel keeps it from being dark. You mentioned using the paint of the office wall – I don’t see an office on your floorplan. Which office are you referring to? The house is looking amazing, can’t wait to see your Christmas decorating too. Great job!!

Shirley

She mentions in the article that the front bedroom is a guestroom/office. I want this house.

Brigitte

Beautiful. I love how it all came together and the smart decisions that went into making this space nimble and useful.

Rachelleigh

Omg. this is SO flippin good 😍🤩
Love the sconce/junction box solution. Being able to take a mistake and turn it into something great shows you’re amazing design skills. Thanks for sharing.

NancyS

OMG – love this!!!
More down to earth for those of us that don’t have a whole room to turn into a walk in.
Love your style.

Jessvii

1. Love this closet! Wonderful job!! I admire your sticktoitiveness. Personally, I have trouble crossing the finish line with my projects; glad to see people going the distance and completing their vision!

2. I second the shoutout to Container Store. I got their basic Elfa system including their design service (the designer part is sooo worth it, and I think it was free). I had a tricky closet because it was small with a pipe located on the back wall. Yes, for a thrifty girl, it was expensive (less expensive than our sectional, more expensive than everything else we own). But it was worth it. None of the off-the-shelf stuff we could find would’ve fit.

3. You might want to get an opaque cloche or opaque box to cover your perfume bottles. Light damages perfume. Also, possibly do a perfume post in the future? I have a running list of perfumes I want to try and I feel like you’d have some good ones to add to the list.

Paula

That’s the issue with small spaces. Custom is sometimes the only way to go to get the value out of every little square inch.

i LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE this closet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i’m jealous. the end. 🙂

Debbie

I’ve always enjoyed your posts – so happy that you are still here! Your closet is so well thought out and beautiful! Looking forward to your office reveal and especially to updates on your kitchen. We just moved into a really lovely home BUT didn’t buy it for the kitchen, which needs a lot of updates. It’s a galley style, which is fine, but it also has the tile countertops, old appliances, etc. so I’m definitely looking for inspiration! While the kitchen has been an adjustment, I’m also finding that it’s working much better than I anticipated. I’m a firm believer in living with a space before making changes. Although I knew I could make updates, it’s still a little overwhelming because it’s that domino effect – everything needs changed! (We did order a new frig on Labor Day and still waiting for it.) I really like your style (and writing) and love that you are making such intentional improvements to your home, while doing it all within a budget.

KP

Beautiful, Sara!

My $0.02 (totally unsolicited) – I really appreciate that you’re transitioning away from the term “master” and using primary – Kudos! One suggestion, where it works, would be to consider dropping the qualifier altogether and just talking about “bedroom” or “closet” for ease of reading. I don’t know that the headline of this post needs to specify which closet in the home it is. It’s Sara’s Closet Reveal. Not Sara’s Guest Bedroom Closet Reveal. Food for thought!

Mel

The wallpaper is as cute as your bangs. Sigh. Now I want both.

Liz

Wait! What’s that light in your bedroom? Is there a linkup on that beauty too?

LT

This turned out beautifully! I’m in the midst of my own closet redesign and so inspired. What are the dimensions of this room? You say tiny but it looks quite roomy! You really made the most of it!

Brittany

It looks fantastic. I am definitely considering making an Elfa system my splurge one year! It looks so functional here. I think I need a valet rod too!! I’ve also seen the Elfa used really well by The Gold Hive. I love all the choices you made – the sun tunnel is so great!

Emily K

I also love this closet! Would you mind sharing its dimensions?

Mary kroeger

I am a big fan of the Elfa system and any organizational system that allows you to change it up, over the years, as your needs change.
I noticed the delicate knobs, immediately, as an item that is not offered. I. LOVED. THEM. FROM. HELLO. Perfect choice.
Walking in from your lovely serene bedroom, it must be energizing to get ready in the morning.

Cris S.

I was one of those that expressed concern about how dark the closet might be too dark and the wallpaper too busy. I was wrong. It’s gorgeous!!!! I love how the paint works with the wallpaper and this might be the nudge I needed to finally paint the white trim in our powder room that has dark wallpaper (Cole & Sons Gondola in the dark blue with orange).

I also appreciate seeing the shoe shelves from the Container Store in your closet. One side of my closet is finished in their dark wood Elfa Decor and its beautiful and works well. I’ve been saving up to do the other wall and love how many shoe shelves you were able to get in there. Its a great visual and really helped!

Paula

I adore that paper! Katie Ridder used it in a gorgeous powder room, and I love all things Katie Ridder. Good choice. 😊

Rusty

Sara….SARA!!!! BRILLIANT!!! 😃
The whole thing us form + function. The closet sings.
Aaaand, you got bangs! (We call ut a fringe in Australia) Too cute.
Besides the gorgeous wallpaper that we knew about, the closet system looks so functional. I find some systems are too over-the-top, but this one looks really practical in a savvy way…go Barb! 😂
My fav, besides the wallpaper, has to be the lights. They are waaay beautiful.

Okay, now I’m really hanging out for your kitchen reveal, even if it gas a garbage disposal (eich!) Hahaha 😬

Paula

Fringe makes more sense. I have no idea why we say “bangs” here. Kinda weird?

Jenny

LOVE THIS! As a William Morris fan, I recognized the motif and color combos immediately. Great choice. Love the whole thing.

Now for a not-design question. . . .Jeans. Brand? Love them too!

Alice

It’s uncanny how well the rug and wallpaper go together.

Lindsay

Sara this looks INCREDIBLE! OMG I am SO jealous!!! And the tiny knobs are genius. Seriously, they are the first thing I noticed in the space, even with the incredible wallpaper. In the thumbnail I was like “what are those comically small, perfect brass accents?” Cheers to happy design accidents!

Jen

Wow. Bravo — so well done!

Terra

Sweet lord my heart ACHES with love for this closet. When I did the opening photo scroll I can’t say I loved the sun tunnel but with explanation it’s clever for realistic outfit examination. And very sorry to pick at an already sore spot but I’m not in love with the white ceiling. I agree that wallpaper might make it chaotic but I’m sitting here imagining it with a gold foil and ooooof. Imagine.

Suzanne

So beautiful! I love every detail! And I also want to say I’m a huge fan of The Container Store’s Elfa system. We’ve (or I should say my husband) installed it in many closets and as shelving in my craft room. I love the ability to add components over time as needed or adjust the placement of components with relative ease. I’m loving all of your reveals, Sara!

Donna T.

So glad you went for that wallpaper! The closet is absolute perfection. I may like it even more than the TV room, and I really do love the TV room.

Molly

Agreed. It is PERFECTION. I can’t wait to see the kitchen!!!

Paula

I love this so much! So many things to comment on. I love all your light fixtures: we got all Rejuvenation fixtures when we remodeled (love!); I have a straw hat “head” too!; the wallpaper is everything; how great to have a window; that rug has soul (I got several similar ones from a Turkish lady on Etsy); your perfume bottles look perfect there.

And!!! What brand/style are your jeans? Please don’t tell me they’re vintage, because I really want some just like them!

Oh, and just a few more gratuitous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!s

Emily M

I also think California Closets is an amazing company that has quality products!

Stephanie

Love the entire thing, but my favourite part: the valet rod. Brilliant. Your house is so stylish, Sara!

Darcy

First just a few words about The Container Store…..I used to live in the Dallas metroplex and a friend and I would go to
the Container Store just to look and get ideas. The employees were always so helpful and every year the Dallas Morning News
has a contest for employees to nominate
their employer for a great place to work and The Container Store comes in near the top if not the top every year. I always thought when I retired I would love to go to work there. Unfortunately, I moved back to the east coast and there is not a Container Store near me.
Moving on…….how can a closet top your TV room? IT DID!
I am a sucker for blue and this closet
is so personable and so lovely unlike the sterile closets many other bloggers post about. If your closet was running for an election…..it would win hands down.
Can not wait for the kitchen!!!!

This is so good I was actually tempted for a minute to demolish the closets we have and build this instead. And I HATE construction stuff.

Angela

I love this so much and feel like we have the same brain. In our 1914 bungalow, we papered our walk-through butlers hallway in the middle of our house with Strawberry Thief in the same colour way (William Morris is forever!). We paired it with dark wood cabinetry but also dark blue paint and brass cabinet pulls from an English foundry we found through Etsy. In our windowless laundry room and family hallway, we installed skylights and they are amazing, they transform those spaces. We love brass light fixtures and my fave is one from Rejuvenation over our kitchen sink. Our master closet is Container Store and I agree that their design service is amazing. I am a wallpaper fanatic and now you have me wanting to get back into our master closet and be more intentional. Up until now I’ve just been reveling in the functionality but maybe I need to start thinking colour and details! I’ve loved so many of your other design choices in this house, too. This one happens to be bursting with familiar details for us 🙂

Angela

Oops I meant sky tubes. I think maybe the same company.

Angela

Light tube? What are they called?! Magical tubes that bring in sunlight from your roof and make you forget there is no window in your small space.

Erica

Love everything about this! That wallpaper is stunning.

Molly

What a beautiful closet Sara! Curious if there was a decision making process in going with Container Store vs Ikea Pax. I’m assuming it was sponsored or something, but still, I think it’d be really interesting if Caitlin (money maven) could do a breakdown of those two (or more!) closet options. Take a normal sized closet space like this and trick it out with about the same features using both systems and provide a cost breakdown. I’d love to see that!

oh my GOSH now i want to do a breakdown series!!! i love talking practical finance!!! i want to compare EVERYTHING! but to do some high-level quick napkin math in the comments for those who i make it that far…from what i remember (and sorry for spilling the tea, sara!!) – i believe this closet, with the custom design + install, ran a little over $3,000 in total. a comparable pax system would be ~$1,500 in product alone, so i *gueeesssssss* there are savings to be had if you have the time to kill on their site’s planner tool (as you may have guessed, we tried and failed, haha! it’s so tricky!!!) AND if you can handle install on your own. for this one though – and for something that will live in your home as long as a closet!! there’s no just “oh, let’s swap it out if it looks bad!” once it’s up – we did the cost/benefit analysis and TCS made more sense long-term. there were no accidental measurement snafus, we had renderings ahead of time from someone who is a literal expert in functional closets, and she’ll never have to worry about shoddy worksmanship because the… Read more »

Molly

whoa – thanks for the near immediate and thorough answer! 🙂 You should legit turn this into a post though, so it’s not lost forever in the comments. You’ve confirmed my beliefs on the Pax…despite being a “blogger favorite” than CAN be made to look amazingly custom (if you do the extra work/expense), it’s annoying to design yourself, even the base units are NOT CHEAP, and once you’ve decided on your options, you’re kinda locked in. Thanks. Looking forward to more nerding out in the future!

Jen A

I would be totally into this post, too! I came to the comments to see if anyone would weigh in on the actual closet system. I’m so curious to know how these last – does it hold up over time? Or is it like our IKEA dressers that are now broken and falling apart?

We just bought Elfa for a small linen closet (not installed yet) and the service at TCS was amazing. AND they cut everything for you, that alone is worth it (if you’re self-installing). Even just for a small project I really appreciated the assistance from an expert, and it TOTALLY made me want to redo the closets in our bedroom, which were just the basic Home Depot kind from when we moved in and had to do something inexpensive. It’s only a small space but now I’m imagining it with wallpaper and a valet rod, LOL.

And I’m with everyone else, I too want to move into Sara’s closet! I’m torn between this and the TV room. All of those paintings…

sona

I’ve had the basic Elfa system in all of my closets for years and they hold up extremely well. We would shop their closet sale, which I think was/is in January and do a different closet each year until they were all done. My husband did all of the installation himself and with the basic system it was pretty easy. He is handy though.

The closet is wonderfully organized and made excellent use of the space but I’m in love with this wallpaper and rug combo.

SARAH

Love love love ❤️

sona

I love your closet! The wall paper, the blue door and trim, the brass knobs and light fixtures, SWOON! I do have a question. Do you have a washer and dryer and if so where is it? I looked at the floor plan and didn’t see them.

AJ

I adore this closet! It’s definitely made me take a look at my boring old clothing hole.

Speaking of Velux, did you guys ever choose a winner for the contest that you had back just before Covid hit?

Susan

I love this SO MUCH. Well done.

Sara, I may have shed a tear reading this final chapter in your Closet Trilogy. A true piece of art that is the gatekeeper of beautiful contents. Thank you for the journey, it was a joy to join you in the process.

XOXO,
Barb H. aka “possibly the best closet designer in all of Cleveland. Possibly in the whole world.”

Sahara

1 – This closet is giving me heart palpitations of joy! The urge to go at least clean/reorganize my entire closet is real.

2 – I know this isn’t the point of this post, like, at all, but do you have the link for that lovely dress that’s modeling your valet rod? I’m 100% in denial that winter is coming.

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