7 Well-Dressed Locals Invite Us Inside Their Luxury Closets
These dream closets have it all, from custom-built jewelry displays and tie racks to shimmering chandeliers and Swarovski crystal hardware.
Melissa Cianciulli in her vanity area. Photographs by Tessa Marie Images.
After living in the same home for 18 years, Melissa Cianciulli was ready to downsize. Though her children had moved on, her husband loved their Collegeville home and didn’t want to leave.
So they struck an agreement, and Cianciulli transformed a space once used for exercising and as a spare bedroom into her dream closet. The space adjoins the master bedroom—and by further opening it up, the two flowed together seamlessly.
Cianciulli had the help of Jennifer Molinelli of the Closet Works Inc. The pair had previously worked together on a laundry room and pantry, among other projects. This time, the focus was on an extensive jewelry collection—everything from costume pieces to sentimental gifts from family members. “When each of my children got their first job, they purchased something small that they could afford and were so proud to give it to me,” she says. “I still have those pieces.”
Their solution was a pullout drawer system where everything is tucked away but still easy to see. “There are two-tier Lucite jewelry inserts, so it’s a velvet-lined drawer,” says Molinelli. “The top Lucite tray you can actually slide back and forth or fully remove.”
Drawers feature velvet lining for Cianciulli’s extensive jewelry collection.
Molinelli also created a vanity area. “I wanted to be able to sit down, relax and do my makeup,” says Cianciulli. “For 30 years almost, I did it in the bathroom standing up.”
Shelving with glass doors surrounds the vanity. It’s where Cianciulli displays some of her favorite purses. Against the window, Molinelli installed a window seat with storage for hats and other accessories. “It’s still functional and gives her storage,” says Molinelli. “It also gives her a place to sit down and get ready for tennis—or for a night on the town.”
A nearby closet is home to Cianciulli’s tennis apparel. “I love the fact that all of my gear is in one place,” she says. “I can come into this room and get everything out.”
Cianciulli’s husband loves the space as much as she does—even with feminine touches like a chandelier, a furry throw rug and teal accents.
And that’s what compromise is all about.
Bridgett Battles knew she wasn’t going to settle for any old closet. The longtime accessories lover wanted to feel like she was walking into a luxury store every day of the week. “I wanted that superstar experience,” says Battles, who helps others become their best—and best dressed—selves through her personal-development firm, the Bridgett Battles Experience. “I want to be able to see everything, touch everything—and I want to feel gorgeous and glamorous every time I’m in here.”
Working with Cheryl Harvey, a Wayne-based senior design consultant with California Closets, Battles converted a guest room into an accessories closet in her Drexel Hill home. “Bridgett wanted to really focus on her shoes,” says Harvey.
Bridgett Battles needed the right closet to accommodate and accentuate her massive shoe collection.
The result: floor-to-ceiling shelving—some of it installed on a slant with heel catchers, so each pair can be easily seen. “One of the finishes we used looks like leather, so it has a warm, rich finish,” Harvey says.
Battles has amassed an impressive shoe collection, with brands ranging from Jessica Simpson and Christian Louboutin to Jimmy Choo and Gucci. To highlight certain designer pairs, Harvey added three feature boxes with lighting elements. “Each time I flip the switch, the light shines on those items,” says Battles.
Among the shoes, Battles has added Chanel candles and Tiffany & Co. champagne flutes, both housewarming gifts from friends. She also incorporated a throw rug and an ottoman for additional storage. “It gives me the opportunity to actually sit there and try on the shoes, look in the full length mirror and say, ‘How does this outfit look? Do I like this together?’” Battles says.
Elsewhere, Harvey created space for smaller accessories like sunglasses and handbags, each piece matching Battles’ personality and style. “I love a lot of classics that have a twist—I like to call it my secret sauce,” she says. “When it comes to [dressing], I believe your accessories are the exclamation point.”
Hers (and His)
When Ashley and Rusty Procopio decided to buy the Malvern home they’d been renting, they wanted to make some adjustments to their master suite. The room had walk-in his-and-hers closets, but Ashley admits she was using most of the space in both.
So they converted some unused space into a new closet for Ashley. And with a new wall for the closet, they were able to make their bedroom more functional, moving furniture to more practical locations. “The space was obsolete,” says Ashley of the area, which was likely meant be a sitting room. “We were putting our towels there, making piles.”
Ashley and Rusty Procopio hired Closets By Design for help.
Closets by Design’s Debbie Ashton installed a center island for wardrobe staples, then added plenty of hanging space for dresses and tops. “Before, I was jamming everything in so tight that you couldn’t see anything. I had things hidden behind stuff that was hanging—it was constant digging,” Ashley recalls. “I wanted something where I could see everything, and everything was on display.”
That center island quickly became the focal point. “It helps to eliminate real estate from the wall. By putting drawers where we’d possibly put shelving, it opens it up for something else,” says Ashton, an Exton-based senior designer.
Preferring to steer away from granite or any plain surface, Ashley’s husband found a beveled mirror for the top of the island. It reflects the chandelier, adding sparkle to the space—as do the glitter accents in the wallpaper, the touches of pink, and the Swarovski crystal hardware. Ashton used crown and baseboard molding for a finished look.
Ashley Procopio’s husband found the beveled mirror that tops her closet’s center island.
On the other side of the closet, Ashton added shelving to display Ashley’s impressive sneaker and heel collection, which includes such names as BCBG and Christian Louboutin. She also has about 30 pairs of Nike sneakers in a rainbow of colors. “When I first started teaching, I always had matching sneakers for whatever I was wearing,” says Ashley, who’s specialty is health and physical education. “I teach elementary kids, and they got so into that. They’re always making sure my matching is on point. It just became a thing.”
A fitness fanatic, Ashley has an impressive array of athleisure and workout apparel. There’s also a hamper for laundry conveniently hidden away in her expanded closet.
As for her husband, he got both walk-in closets—but not before Ashton modified them to meet his needs.
Deon and Monique Vigilance’s closets weren’t cutting it. The previous owner of their Villanova home had installed a storage system that didn’t fit their needs—or flow with the rest of the house, for that matter. “There wasn’t significant functionality to the space,” says Deon, who is chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital. “The layout was poor, and it was basically just rods and a couple of shelves.”
One of the things Monique Vigilance needed for her new closet was more storage space for shoes.
So they reached out to My Custom Closet’s Bryan Fulop. “Both of them are busy professionals and have busy family lives,” says the Collegeville-based designer. “They needed a space that could help support them.”
Maximizing space, Fulop consolidated everything, incorporating storage and display spaces for shoes into the entrance of the closets. “I have a lot of shoes, so I wanted more shelving and a little more style in the closet,” says Monique, who works as a nurse.
Custom shelving helped make their accessories and clothing easily accessible.
“We wanted to keep that entrance nice and open so it invites you into that space,” adds Fulop, who also took advantage of nine-foot ceilings, making the shelving as high as he could.
Inside the his-and-hers walk-in closets, there’s plenty of hanging space and an abundance of drawers. “Now we don’t even need to have dressers,” says Monique.
All of which helped with the overall flow of the couple’s master suite. Situated next to one another, the closets are connected to a shared dressing space. “I’ve never seen anything like it in any other home,” Monique says. “You walk out of our closets, and there’s a big area for us to look in the mirror and walk around and see how we look.”
Deon Vigilance and his collection of dress shoes.
Fulop also added a hidden ironing board. “It was important to us to have it in the common area,” says Deon. “If we need to iron something, we have an open space to do it.”
The final change was the color scheme: They opted for light gray. “We wanted some textured wood and color,” Monique says.
The gray proved a popular choice, as they later carried it into their kitchen cabinetry.
Joe and Therese Rose couldn’t be happier with the his-and-hers closets in their new home. Where Therese once had to store clothes seasonally, now everything is accessible year-round. For Joe, it means being able to see everything easily—a real benefit for someone who’s colorblind. The extra space, paired with a window in his closet, means Joe gets plenty of light. “It just helps to be able to see the blacks from the blues and the browns from the greens,” he says.
Joe in his side of the closet.
When the couple built their Newtown Square house, they brought in Diplomat Closet Design’s Laura Bryan, who supplied 3-D elevation renderings and evaluated their wardrobes to ensure that each walk-in closet had ample hanging space and shelving. There’s also an armoire-like installation that allows them to store essentials. “Everything is in the one space,” says Therese, noting that it helped them cut back on furniture in their bedroom.
“[The armoire’s] drawer-bank section has velvet trays for watches, jewelry,” says Bryan. “I think it’s a great spot in the closet, a landing station to put everything and be able to get ready in the morning.”
Therese chose a lighter color scheme for her side of the closet.
Situated off a dressing area, both closets have their similarities—like adjustable shelves for shoes. Other features include a belt holder, hidden hampers, clothing hooks and valet rods.
Each spouse opted for a different color scheme, with Therese choosing a lighter finish to make up for her closet’s lack of natural light. “It’s about seeing your clothes,” she says. “The whole idea is to be able to pick the outfit for the next day and see what you’ve got,” she says.
Joe wanted a display drawer for his tie collection.
Joe opted for a darker finish, along with a large display drawer for his roughly 100 ties. “It has it’s own little cubby worked in, so it’s a whole display of ties instead of a few,” he says.
The roof pitch that runs through part of Joe’s closet could have meant wasted space, if it weren’t for the bench below the window. Aside from its obvious purpose, the bench is a place for Joe to stash things like socks. “We tried to utilize every square inch of the closet so they’re not losing any of that valuable storage space,” says Bryan.