How a Couple Turned Part of Their Bedroom Into a Walk-In Closet

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Sacha and Troy Strebe own a lot more jeans than the average couple, and understandably so. He’s a denim designer, and long before she became the editorial director of EyeSwoon, she was a fashion editor. “We have a lot of clothing,” Sacha stresses, “and we are both collectors of vintage denim.” So why then would they move into a house with essentially zero built-in storage? As longtime renters in Los Angeles who were looking to buy their first house, the allure of owning property on a quiet street in Altadena at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains outweighed the fact that their closets were minuscule. 

The bedroom and closet, before.

To paint a picture in measurements: The closet in the couple’s primary bedroom was a mere 5-by-4 feet. Even though you could technically walk inside of it, there was no way both of them were squeezing stacks of pants and bulky leather jackets in there. Luckily, it was only the closet that was teeny. Their bedroom is unusually long and narrow (21-by-10 feet). Troy came up with the genius idea to section off the end of the space with a wall and an archway, creating a true dressing room that could house their combined wardrobe. The new closet is still small by most walk-in standards, but at around 163 square feet “it feels big for us,” says Sacha. 

Carve Out Your Corner

room under construction

The closet, under construction.
archway closet wall

The closet, under construction.

Before the couple and their son moved into their new house, Troy drew a rough line on the floor where he envisioned a curved closet wall could go. They then reached out to a local contractor, who built the wood framing for the divider, added drywall, and skim-coated the whole structure with plaster.

plaster wall up

The closet, under construction.

He even installed a second ceiling inside the closet and added a new switch to the right of the arched entry, and the whole thing only took seven days. Once the major construction had wrapped, Sacha painted the space with Morning Ritual by Backdrop (that is, after first dousing the green stripe on the wall with six coats of primer). 

Mark a Clear (But Narrow) Pathway

archway leading into closet

view into closet

Because the curved wall effectively makes that side of the closet unusable for cabinets, Sacha knew they’d need professional help maximizing the areas where they could incorporate built-ins. They collaborated with Sabina Loos at California Closets to create a custom arrangement for their space. “We made sure to use every single square inch for storing clothing with a little left over for room to move when trying on outfits,” says Sacha. The cabinets are laid out in a U-shape in the longest part of the closet, and there are also two more cupboards with closed doors right across from the archway. There might only be 25 or so inches of walking clearance in the back of the space, but it’s wide enough for one person to move around comfortably. 

Peep Your Jeans From the Belt Loops to the Bottoms

jeans lined up

jeans lined up

While Sacha tends to fold most of her jeans and store them on the highest shelves, Troy prefers to see which pants he’s plucking before getting dressed. To help him out, Loos dedicated a hanging rod for his pants. “The hangers for his jeans are actually patternmaker’s hooks, which he designed at a former denim company in Australia,” says Sacha, noting you can buy similar packs of hooks on Amazon.

metal hooks

Lonikstep Pattern Hooks 24 Pcs, Amazon ($18)


Guard Your Garb From the Sun

While the beautiful sunlight streaming in from the window inside the closet is great for when the Strebes are getting dressed, it’s not so ideal for keeping black clothes in pristine condition over time. “Sunlight is a closet’s worst nightmare,” says Sacha. To help prevent their prized garments from fading, they had the Shade Store install UV 1% roller shades (in the color Tan) with wool flannel flat roman shades (in the color Fog). The layered combo allows them to let the light in when they need it and shut it out when they don’t. “I just leave a little crack open at the bottom because I love the warm afternoon light,” she adds. 

Host That Garage Sale

woman organizing jeans

The couple technically began preparing for their closet reno before they even moved into their house last summer. “We purged a ton with a pretty epic garage sale at our former Silver Lake apartment, and Goodwill also received several bags,” says Sacha. Then, after their 30-day escrow came to an end, she decided to get rid of even more rarely worn items to help minimize and streamline their space. 

These days, Sacha is extra cognizant of anything new she brings home. “I make sure I don’t have something similar first or buy it vintage,” says Sacha. “I’m a huge fan of resale sites, thrift stores, eBay, and the Rose Bowl, which is now just around the corner from us.”

Play Dress-Up

white dress on hanging rod

Objects in the Strebe household are in perpetual motion. “I am constantly styling and restyling my home, so why should my closet be any different?” says Sacha. She dedicated a nook near the window where she can lean her EQ3 mirror, display a mixed-media work by Aliyah Sadaf, light a candle on the tall iron holder, and plop a purse or her Casa Catinella basket on an Olive Ateliers pedestal.

As someone who appreciates the art of getting dressed, this serene corner only motivates her to get more creative with her outfits. “This new space has already inspired me to dive into my archive and wear pieces I haven’t worn in a very long time,” she says. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

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