When a California Closets designer meets a suburban Boston homeowner, it’s a match made in heaven.By Kathleen Mckenna | Photography by Christian Scully/Design Imaging Studios
According to California Closets designer Betty Byrne, Jeanne Valente is a “perfect customer.” “She really cares about every detail,” elaborates Byrne, who has renovated multiple closet spaces in her client’s spacious Weston home. “She’s budget-conscious, but she’s willing to invest the money and time it takes to get a project done right. And she’s fun to work with because she really values organization. She’s a person who wants to have a place for every single thing she owns.”
In 2008, after re-lining two foyer closets with embroidered silk, Valente hired California Closets for the first time, to upgrade the shelves and rods to match the elegance of the new fabric. “Whenever friends talked about buying a new house, a plus would always be, ‘It has California Closets throughout,’” Valente says.
That project involved installing wood-finish shelves and brass rods. A year later, Valente had her first meeting with Byrne and they discussed renovating the master bedroom’s his-and-hers closet. “It was the beginning of a great working relationship as well as a lasting friendship,” says Valente, who has accompanied Byrne to California Closets showrooms in both Natick and Brighton. “I am a very visual person, so it was helpful for me to actually see and try out certain things.”
During their first project together, a renovation of a large, but not huge, double closet, there were several issues Byrne and Valente had to sort out. For example, the designer had to dissuade her client from the notion that it’s best to hang everything at eye level. “She has mega clothes, and you just cannot maximize the space in a closet by keeping all the poles at the same height,” says Byrne, for whom Valente’s rod reserved for empty hangers was a waste of “valuable real estate.”
Homeowner and designer meticulously measured space so nary an inch was squandered. They devoted extra time to creating cubby space for Jeanne’s husband’s shoes and sweaters, plus storage drawers for his gym and travel bags. Once the master closet was finished, the pair moved on to planning cabinetry and storage for a first-floor laundry room that was in the process of being gutted and renovated. “One day there were five of us discussing design ideas: Betty, the architect, the interior designer, the finish carpenter and me,” Valente says. “It got pretty crowded, but the results were worth it.” Besides a new sink and appliances, the laundry room is now home to a broom closet, a TV cabinet, a hidden ironing board and storage space for the homeowner’s dining room table pads.
Next they tackled the sewing room, which, says Valente is “actually a totally girly-girl hideaway”where she stores memorabilia and photographs in cabinets that feature translucent acrylic panels. She planned to drape fabric on the walls of the tiny room, but since its walls are double sloped, Betty pointed out that would make the small room feel smaller. Instead they had the ceiling and walls faux painted to look like fabric on rods. “The whole room looks so pretty…a real showplace!” says Valente.
Now a self-professed California Closets addict, Valente appreciates the many options offered by the storage-solutions company, and especially Byrne’s dedication to each and every project. “The ‘bells and whistles,’ such as valet rods, slide-out belt and tie racks, built-in ironing boards and pull-out hampers, really add to the appearance and functionality,” she says. “Having my belongings stored so beautifully and creatively gives me pleasure every day.”