Behind Closed Doors

All dressed up and no place she’d rather be.

April 4, 2017
hampton design group
In her new and improved closet, René Dell’Acqua (left) invites friends over to chat and to help pull together the right look for a special occasion or night out on the town. Decisions, decisions...

If there were ever a closet to make you rethink the very notion of what it’s meant to be, we may have just found it. Where a spare bedroom once stood, this girly confection now lives like a black card shopping extravaganza with retail fixtures and full-spectrum lighting, a wet bar, and luxury decor.

Terry Hampton of Hampton Design Group designed and constructed the custom space for Dr. René Dell’Acqua of Dell’Acqua Dental Studio. “I really wanted a closet that felt like a boutique,” she says. “I wanted to have a creative experience in my closet. I wanted it to be unique and elegant.”

Her storage palace wears white-on-white with crystal accents. Glass shelving displays her feathered heels and sparkly boots. A tilted mirror above the jewelry niche provides the best angle from which to match a statement necklace to a full outfit.

“When you’re getting ready inside this closet, you really feel like you’re going somewhere,” Hampton says. He notes that the posh space could easily be changed back to a bedroom. But who would want to do that?

Before he and his partner Peter Sotiriou closed their women’s boutique, Dot, at The Gardens on El Paseo, Hampton designed and managed a full remodel of the store. “Our customers loved the new look, and I was able to fully utilize my education and love for architecture and design,” he says. “Throughout my professional career in retail, I had always loved the experience of designing and constructing living environments.”

Since the completion of Dell’Acqua’s closet, Hampton has accepted a variety of interior and exterior work, always donating what he removes from a project to Habitat for Humanity of the Coachella Valley.

H&D: So, this closet was born over drinks?

Hampton: Actually, yes. Dr. René was a client of our store and we developed a lasting friendship. She is very inspiring and creative herself. Discussions often lead to brainstorming and exploring new concepts for our businesses. We met before a Fashion Week event where she mentioned her love of fashion and how she wished her clothing was more accessible when she needed to get ready for an event. She talked about how she likes to play music and dance around to get inspired. Trouble was, her closet was typical and uninspiring. It didn’t allow her wardrobe to step out. A few cocktails later, I 
came up with this concept.


Once a closet itself, this jewelry niche displays accessories atop glass shelves against pearlized satin wallpaper. An angled overhead mirror reflects how a necklace pairs up with any ensemble.


The custom closet Hampton fashioned in a spare bedroom offers the feeling of shopping in a boutique. “What to wear?” has become a fun question for Dell’Acqua and her friends.

With a Champagne bar, fireplace, mood lighting, 
and HDTV, Hampton’s closet design transforms 
the act of dressing into a fabulous pre-party.

H&D: And that concept is…

Hampton: A fun “Runway Closet” where she could try on clothes, dance around, and even walk in front of a camera while broadcasting with her friends via Skype for an interactive experience. Before she travels, she can present ensembles and get honest opinions. She said, “I love the idea. Let’s do this!” Within a week I had three different design plans using 3-D software. Its walk-throughs really give the feeling of being there already, with the ability to change the lighting, color, and textures.


H&D: What was your time frame?

Hampton: The design process took about 10 days due to its complexity. Most simple designs take about a week. Actual construction took about 12 weeks. There were many intricate details, build-outs, development of custom pieces, sourcing materials, plus delivery. The design is one-of-a-kind, custom to René’s lifestyle. Designs that use ready-made shelving take much less time, but those closets will resemble many others. I do both, depending on client needs.

H&D: What makes it different from other closets?

Dell’Acqua: I love that I can find everything easily. It feels so refreshing to be in this space.

Hampton: The flexibility to change the look and storage capacity without a hard remodel. The use of concealed wall standards gives the impression the wall is just a wall. But it is a working wall that has the long-term ability to add or change the hardware. Purchasing additional hardware is easy, and the pricing is about 200 to 400 percent less than hardware from regular closet stores. Many people don’t realize that closet companies discontinue their hardware designs every five years or so, making it difficult to replace or buy extras. The quality of commercial wall standards and hardware is far superior to the residential grade as well.

H&D: How do you use it?

Dell’Acqua: I enjoy turning up the music and feeling like I am shopping. When my girlfriends come over, we enjoy conversation and Champagne in the closet and watch fashion shows on the TV.

H&D: Your favorite details are…

Dell’Acqua: The fireplace and the handblown Venetian chandelier that Terry found online are my favorites. I also love the jewelry display area. The intricate details make it feel so special.
Hampton: Where to begin? All of it! The seven different shades of white create a clean palette in which to showcase the clothing. It has maximized storage without looking crowded. No matter how big or small your closet, you end up confused and irritated when you cannot find what you need. Here, everything is organized and beautifully displayed within sight. And I love the chandelier, which hangs from a backlit suspended obelisk in the center of the room. Lighting is one of the most important factors to make your closet a real wow, while allowing you to see every piece.

H&D: How has the project changed your closet experience?

Dell’Acqua: It makes getting dressed fun. It is so easy to put outfits together differently each time because everything is displayed. It’s easy to pick items that suit my mood.

H&D: On working with Terry…

Dell’Acqua: Terry is incredibly creative and easy to work with. He came up with this over-the-top concept and I am lucky enough to be the recipient.

H&D: On working with René…

Hampton: Dr. René has a zest for life. Her bubbly personality is contagious, and she inspires others without trying. Her big heart makes you want to do better. René is an artist in her own right, designing and creating amazing smiles that change people’s lives. She recognized my talents and allowed me to create freely. The design is never about what I like, but what the client likes, with my suggestions. I create personalized spaces in the places we call home.

Why We’re Hooked On This Closet

— Seven shades of white paint

— Black cherry hardwood floor

— Hand-blown Venetian glass chandelier

Bar area with crystal hardware and mirror-and-crystal tile

White faux alligator fridge stocked with Veuve Clicquot

Adaptable retail fixtures move up and down and make it easy to swap hanging bars for shelves, etc.

— Gold mannequin for ensemble previews

— Antique whitewashed full-length mirror

Custom tufted lounge bench in white suede and ostrich leather

Louis XIV fireplace with white 
and clear fire glass

Jewelry niche with pearlized satin wallpaper and angled mirror

— Wall-mounted white speaker system

Plasma high-definition TV with built-in motion-sensing camera

Filled with natural light but tinted windows block UV rays to prevent fading

Flattering lighting (which is every woman’s dream)