The Closet Lady

Posted:  Feb 12, 2016
KML interviews famed New York Closet Designer
Over the past three decades, Doreen Tuman has earned the nickname, The Closet Lady, because she possesses a unique skill. She is the pro that busy New Yorkers turn to when they need to bring sanity to the chaos of their closets.
A space specialist and closet designer, Ms. Tuman's resume of clients reads like a celebrity who's-who list. She has worked with everyone from Harrison Ford, to Harvey Keitel, to the Letterman Show's Paul Shaffer and his wife, Catherine, to film producer Mira Nair. And while not every one of her clients is a household name, they all seem to love her -- as evidenced by her reviews on the upscale, invite-only review site, And each of client's homes reflects that distinctive Closet Lady touch you will get to read more about below.
Doreen Tuman has used KML products on several of her closets and we have struck up a growing friendship with this closet design maven. We had the chance to catch up with the Closet Lady and we are excited to share her thoughts with you.

The difference is in the details

KML: Doreen, what is your design philosophy?

The Closet Lady: I maximize every inch of accessible space, taking into account the client's needs and desires. I have to work within their boundaries, which in New York City means size. Space is at a premium in New York apartments.

I also believe in facilitating the client's inventorying, organizing, moving, and purging processes. It's very personal.

Then, when it comes to design, I always design with their personal details in mind.


KML: What are some of the details that you care about that other closet designers or architects don't seem to think about?

The Closet Lady: I want to know the client's dominant hand so that her most used items are effortlessly available to her. I measure her feet so that her shoe storage fits her shoes perfectly, often leaving more space available for other purposes. That's something most people don't think of.


KML: And I imagine the whole closet is designed to the exact specifications of the clothes they actually have?

The Closet Lady: Yes, exactly. But I also make sure to leave a little room for growth. Most of my clients are collectors. We have to leave room for expansion.


KML: What's your dream closet?

The Closet Lady: It's my actual closet. [laughs] It's 17x5 feet, classic white and simple, nothing fancy. It's my space, my happy place.

      Visible storage solutions for visible clients

      KML: What do you find is your most frequent design challenge?

      The Closet Lady: I'm always problem solving to create visibility. Whether I'm designing a reach-in closet — we have a lot of those in the city — or creating a gorgeous walk-in closet with exotic laminate textures like KML's, the client always needs to be able to see where his or her stuff is.


      KML: What is it like designing for celebrities?

      The Closet Lady: It's different with each one. It's very personal. I recently worked with a super model —


      KML: Who, if I can ask?

      The Closet Lady: Unfortunately, I can't disclose. Bottom line, though, she had a lot of clothes. [Laughs] Most celebrities I've worked with are very personable. I keep things professional, straight forward, and comfortable. It's not my job to get starstruck. It's my job to design them a beautiful closet.

      As I said before, it's very personal. Your closet reflects who you are, the chaos in your life, how you deal with life. I try to give my clients order. I try to give them a peaceful place to start the day.

          Click to enlarge A closet designed for visibility A closet designed for visibility

          A custom-designed closet can help you see your attire options

          Closet trends in 2016 and beyond

          KML: Are there any trends in closets that you see going forward?

          The Closet Lady: The trend is toward higher-end, walk-in closets. Everyone wants a “Sex in the City closet" constructed with unique and beautiful materials. That's why I've gravitated toward KML's designer finishes, like their Linen-Canvas texture, which as you know, I've used on several projects.

          I'm excited to take a look KML's Allusion and Edgewood samples too. (They should be arriving shortly. Yea!).

          Will clients pay a bit more for these high-end laminates, yes, but they offer a look my clients can't get elsewhere and they like that. That's why we need to get a distributor who services New York City to carry KML so we can work together more. [Laughs]

          What else?

          Let's see...Interesting lighting is also taking off. Whether it's chandeliers or up-lights beneath glass shelves to really display your shoe or handbag collection. With my clientele, closets aren't just about storage but about display. It might sound strange, but closets have become this thing that you invite your friends over to peek at. They're like this expression of your personal taste.


          KML: How can KML Designer Finishes and others in the surface and panel industry better supply people like you in the closet design industry?

          The Closet Lady: Giving me special pricing…[Laughs] There are some items I can't seem to find: raised panel and shaker drawers in the custom laminate finishes that you carry, with upscale laminate crown moldings. I could really use lines like those to add to the beautiful finishes you have.


          KML: Duly noted. Thanks for your time today.

          The Closet Lady: My Pleasure.


          For more on The Closet Lady, Doreen Tuman, check out her website, read her reviews on the The Franklin Report, or better yet, pick up a copy of her book, My Closet Myself.

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