walk in closet fmoo~smons

Alexandria Closet Design: New Ideas Inspired by Candle-lit Mount Vernon

5 minute read, by Closet America, on Jan 3, 2018

Bring the historical romance of candle-lit Mount Vernon to your Alexandria home with these custom design tips!

As designers, we draw inspiration from the culture and art of the areas our clients live in. In Alexandria, that means taking inspiration from the nation’s historical monuments and sites we’re so lucky to have right in our backyard.

Every year, I take my family for a stroll down King Street to take in the twinkling lights and wreaths gracing Old Town doorsteps. But this year we took Mount Vernon’s wonderful candle-lit tour. I went with my family and was deeply moved by the estate’s historic beauty. As we toured the 21 rooms open to the public, I was struck by the simple, rustic elegance of the decor and the memory of bygone days when our nation’s first president and his first lady dined, danced, and dreamed here. The romance of the candles bathing everything in their warm, flickering light is a style you easily can bring into your home using a few handy custom design tips.

custom design inspired by Mount Vernon

What Makes Mount Vernon’s Style Unique

Mount Vernon’s exterior is an example of the Picturesque movement in architecture, which was influenced by Palladian style; itself influenced by ancient Greek and Roman temples. Famously, this style was favored by the founding fathers, who drew political inspiration from ancient Greek democracy. Around the time of George Washington’s presidency, there was much discussion over the new American style; how could it be official and governmental without the opulence of European monarchs? Early American style drew inspiration from the Classical world, including columns and marble, but was far simpler and less ornate than the monarchy’s. You can see this sensibility throughout Mount Vernon.

George Washington began expanding his home in 1758 and continued to make improvements to it for the rest of his life. By following his lead you can take inspiration from breathtaking Mount Vernon and give closets a beautiful colonial look.

custom walk in closet cabinetry

Capture Mount Vernon’s Simplicity

The key to why early American Picturesque style is so gorgeous is its simplicity. This is an important idea to apply to closet design, where keeping things simple means items in your closet are always easy to find. Start by doing some decluttering and rearranging.

  • Minimize your clothes into a small collection of mixes and matches. Don’t fill your closet with clothes you never wear, but keep the pieces you love.

  • Reduce your wardrobe to around 20 to 30 items. This applies to daily outfits, not clothes for working out or for special occasions.

  • Organize your clothes by season. A season’s worth of clothes should last around three months. If you wish, you can rotate out the past season’s clothes into storage and fill your closet with the new.

Next, consider what sort of high-quality hardware and closet accessories might help accentuate your desired Picturesque aesthetic.

  • Store last season’s collection with wardrobe lifts. Move seasonal clothes out of the way or utilize high wall space with the help of a wardrobe lift.

  • Showcase your collection with adjustable shoe shelves. Store and display your shoes, boots, and sandals on elegant, chrome-accented shelving.

  • Add closet islands and peninsulas. Add counter space and additional cabinetry by installing a closet island, or opt for a peninsula for a smaller walk-in.

  • Organize dirty clothes with laundry hampers. Sort your laundry with the help of built-in hampers made from heavy-gauge steel. On laundry day, just grab the removable liners and go.

  • Glam it up with jewelry drawers. Store and display your jewelry in single or double-level velvet-lined drawers.

  • Lay out tomorrow’s outfit with valet rods. Use this convenient spot to plan next morning’s outfit or hang your latest batch of dry cleaning.

custom walk in closet lighting

Warm It Up with Extra Lighting

While candlelight is romantic, it’s not very practical lighting for a closet. How did Martha Washington ever manage to find her petticoats in the dark? Luckily, technology allows us to have unique, dramatic lighting that is far more practical than it was in the Washingtons’ day.

  • Give your closet a warm color temperature. Replace the light bulbs in your closet with warm white LED bulbs that have a low temperature between 2200 to 2700 kelvin. These will bathe your closet in that classic yellow tone.

  • Place electric candles on shelves or in sconces. Decorating your closet with accent candles can create a soft, traditional mood with loving detail.

custom pantry lazy susan

Store Your China and Glassware with Custom Storage

If you really want to use your closets in a historically accurate way, use them to store china. The Washingtons were big entertainers and used the first-floor butler’s pantry and the Bull’s Eye Room as closets to store their extra dining service items between social gatherings.

One example set by the Washingtons to not follow, however, is storing china on the third floor of the home! This is a long way from the dining room, and it’s easy to drop heavy things while lugging them up and down the stairs. Martha Washington must have dropped at least a few while moving them in and out of storage.

Instead, try using a custom pantry to:

  • Store anything from food to dinnerware with sturdy, adjustable customized shelving.

  • Stock fresh fruit and vegetables, packaged snacks, and more with chrome slide-out baskets.

  • Easily reach your favorite beverages with wine and bottle racks.

  • Inventory servingware, kitchen gadgets, or linens with soft-closing hinges for drawers.

  • Accommodate boxes, jars, and cans with adjustable heavy-gauge chrome pull-out storage drawers.

  • Stabilize your pantry system with floor mounts.

  • Make the most of valuable corner space with floor-to-ceiling lazy susans.

custom closet cabinets

Add Accents Like Deep Drawers or a Splash of Color

Put a hutch in your closet to separate spaces, such as dividing closet areas into sections for casual clothes or for formal wear. Make sure these hutches have deep drawers. Deep closet drawers reduce the need to keep storage furniture, thus reducing the total amount of furniture needed in the room. A spacious room is easy to move in, relieves claustrophobic clutter, and can give your bedroom that special Mount Vernon feel.

For an extra unexpected touch, take a tip from one of the most striking rooms in the mansion, the dining room. It’s painted a vivid verdigris green Washington called “grateful to the eye.” Why not take inspiration from this iconic room by painting a wall of your closet a bright color your eye will be grateful for?

Bring the Beauty of Candle-lit Mount Vernon Home

My children love the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, but after touring Mount Vernon, I have a new favorite holiday tradition. And by taking in the key elements of what makes Mount Vernon so beautiful, you can model your Alexandria closet design to match one of our town’s most beloved historic sites.

Professional designers are ready to help you achieve the closet of your dreams, whether in Mount Vernon’s colonial style or something else entirely. If you need help in giving your closets that beautiful Picturesque look, contact us today to schedule your free design consultation.


Lead image source: Flickr user Paull Young
Image 1 source: Flickr user Tim Evanson
Image 6 source: Flickr user Todd Young

Closet America was able to work with my unique circumstances in order to give me the best use of my space.

Amy B.,
Fairfax Station, VA

Let’s Start Your Project

Whether you’re interested in a custom-designed closet, office, pantry, or garage, starting your project couldn’t be easier. Just fill out the attached form or give us a call to schedule your free in-home design consultation. You can download our brochure and you’re welcome to visit our Landover Maryland showroom, to see how beautiful our custom-designed organization systems look in person. We want you to experience the Closet America difference and see how we build organizing solutions for life.

Schedule a free design consultation

banner form