In the Closet(s)
Some closets are well worth going into.
Take a peek at the grand closets of the rich and well organized
By H.M. Epstein; Photography by Philip Jensen-Carter
Mirror, Mirror, Everywhere
Award-winning television producer and writer Angela Santomero is more interested with weaving stories that educate and thrill the pre-K crowd than wearing the latest threads. Yes, there are beautiful designer dresses in her closet, some custom-made for the many Emmy Awards shows she¡¯s attended as a frequent nominee or spouse (husband Greg is a three-time Emmy Award winner). But it¡¯s the imaginative world the Santomeros each create on television that first drew us to their country home (there¡¯s even an ice-skating rink in the basement!) in Fairfield County.
Angela Santomero¡¯s five-room dressing suite between the master bedroom and bathroom is as fantastical a place to visit as one would expect from the co-creator of Nickelodeon¡¯s Blue¡¯s Clues and the new PBS Kids hit, Super Why. With fairy-tale details like solid cherry-wood furniture pieces, crystal chandeliers in the dressing room and main closet, matching crystal sconces and a Venetian reproduction mirror in the private vanity room, it¡¯s no wonder their two daughters like to play dress-up as much in Mommy¡¯s 17-by-9 foot main closet as in their castle-themed bedroom.
Their custom-built closet features a vintage-style cherry-wood vanity (shown in photo No. 3) and a velvet-lined, 13-drawer stacked jewelry dresser (51.25 inches high by 53 inches wide). An 8-foot-tall, silver-framed mirror the couple brought from their previous home in Manhattan leans against a wall of the dressing room. One sign of the couple¡¯s fiscal creativity is the three 90-inch-tall wall units. And, though they look like solid wood, they¡¯re made of melamine treated to match the custom-stained cherry furniture pieces. That¡¯s smart make-believe.
1. The Santomeros¡¯ two daughters, ages 6 and 4, like to dress up in Mommy¡¯s closet, but they¡¯ll have to wait before they can try on the Pucci dress shown hanging in front of the shoe shelves. The window seat beneath them is also all shoe storage, as are another six shelves of shoes on the opposite wall.
2. A private vanity and makeup room is off the main dressing room. The Venetian-style mirror is flanked by two crystal sconces that match the dressing room¡¯s chandelier seen in its reflection. The cozy room¡¯s two windows also provide lots of natural light.
3. Angela Santomero reclines on a round, white damask ottoman in front of the custom-designed dress she wore to the Emmy Awards the first time she was nominated. She¡¯s been nominated 14 times for Blue¡¯s Clues and Blue¡¯s Room as an executive producer and as a writer.
It¡¯s a Man¡¯s World¡ªthe Closet Edition
Hedge-fund manager Brian McVeigh may like to keep matters under his hat, but his caps and his closet tell tall tales: of record-setting fishing expeditions; of shooting skeet, trap, and big game with Texas gazillionaires; of sailing on the 130-foot racing yacht Endeavor; and of a dinner with Roger Penske¡¯s Indy 500 racing team. Although reticent to share his adventures on land and sea, each and every hat on the six shelves reserved for his collection comes with a story. McVeigh¡¯s favorite? The time he and his father-in-law went fishing in British Columbia and witnessed hundreds of bald eagles stalking the same fish they were pursuing.
A self-proclaimed ¡°sweater nut,¡± McVeigh has a 10-shelf, glass-door sweater cabinet which is a colorful testament to his lack of sartorial pretensions. One stack is reserved just for caps from sporting clubs he¡¯s visited over the years. Drawers are filled with attire necessary for serious fishermen, golfers, sailors, and marksmen. ¡°When choosing a shotgun, fit is most important,¡± McVeigh says.
McVeigh lives with his wife, Heather, and their two sons in a renowned 1902 Georgian Colonial in Briarcliff Manor.
1. Outdoorsman McVeigh, in shooting vest, sits on the window seat in his custom- cherry closet with two green shotgun cases and camouflage jacket. The McVeighs¡¯ carriage house is visible in the window. A fly-fishing rod, case, gear, and tackle are by the end window.
2. One of two matching cherry cabinets, each has 10 shelves behind glass doors and six drawers for sporting gear. This cabinet is for casual sports clothes and for street wear. The other cabinet¡¯s shelves hold sweaters only. An Orvis bug-resistant fishing hat sits on the fly-fishing case. A hunting hat rests on a fishing hat on the hamper.
3. McVeigh¡¯s collection of more than 100 caps chronicles his life¡¯s adventures. The lone red, white, and blue cap on the bottom shelf is from Ivan F. Boesky & Company¡¯s baseball team from the late 1970s.
Closet with a View
Debbie & Kevin Geiger
Debbie and Kevin Geigers¡¯ Mediterranean-style home has been on the Pelham house tour, but visitors missed out on their master bedroom¡¯s combination closet and dressing room. Their loss. Spending time in this closet feels like a stay at the best room in a bed and breakfast.
It started life as a second-story sleeping porch with views on three sides of the surrounding hills and homes. The Geigers were eager to keep the generous daylong light and views, but not so keen to let neighbors watch them dress in the morning. Local husband-and-wife architectural team Charles and Jean Ippolito converted the porch into a master dressing room/closet with three walls of windows that run along the top third of the room, and custom cherry wood built-ins on four walls.
The space is tactfully divided into his-and-her storage spaces: each spouse has a built-in dresser of at least 12 drawers, each has 12 shelves for shoes, two bars of hanging space, and four large sweater shelves. Kevin has an extra small drawer on his side; Debbie has a double-wide, floor-to-ceiling hanging closet for longer items. They share a large double-door linen closet. That¡¯s fair, isn¡¯t it?
Efficient and liberal storage plus natural light equals an amazing closet, but four walls of wood can feel austere. So, it was transformed into a sumptuously lined jewel box by interior designer Heather Bartling. Bartling gift wrapped the room in soft blues and creams.
High hats on dimmers set into the papered ceiling and blue art-glass pendant lamps for dresser-top task lighting control the lighting and the mood. With enough room left over to add a chaise, one might try to book the Geigers¡¯ closet for a weekend getaway.
1. Debbie Geiger holds a favorite sweater jacket. Her outfit is imported from Paris by stylist Alexis Chasman. A large mirror (the chimney¡¯s former exterior is behind) fits between a floor-to-ceiling linen closet and 24 shoe shelves. Two open rods on the right hold her in-season work clothes. Evening gowns, dresses, and other longer items are stored in the double closet behind and to the left of her. Geiger serves on the board of Hope for Humanities.
2. Here¡¯s an easy solution for out-of-season shoe storage: a deep drawer. Both ends of the closet have wall-to-wall, built-in cherry dressers to hold undergarments, out-of-season casual clothes or items worn infrequently.
3. A turquoise necklace and a cherry quartz necklace sit in a jewelry drawer along with several of Kevin Geiger¡¯s watches and cufflinks. His favorite shoes are a pair of fringed Cole Haan loafers; Debbie¡¯s, a pair of Anne Klein red pumps.