There isn’t a lot I envy about the lives of the rich and famous … the benefits all seem to come at too high a price. But there are the occasional things, like the exotic holidays (albeit with your cellulite thoroughly documented by sneaking paparazzi), having someone who tidies up after your kids before you sprain an ankle tripping over the Lego-strewn floor (they would probably sell the story of your slothfulness and your children’s unruly behavior), but it’s really the dizzying wardrobes that have me seeing stars; the beautiful, drool-worthy clothes, bags and, Oh. My. God. The. Shoes.
Back in reality, I can barely deal with the meager shoe collection that I have (well, meager by celebrity standards) and regularly play shoe roulette, where I can find one black and one red but neither of both. So, it was with genuine excitement that I watched Nigel from Cabinetmaker’s Choice open what looked like an ordinary (if ordinary came beautifully laminated in a gloss wood finish) cupboard only to reveal a kind of pullout pantry for shoes. It was shoe nirvana, with room for more than 40 pairs of shoes, including boot shelves, and even room for your significant other to have a couple of rows, if you’re feeling generous.
In the opposite corner, a spinning Lazy-Susan cabinet that just begged to show off those special bags and shoes, with a in-built ironing board on the side, complete with hanging rack.
Everywhere I looked there were storage surprises. A glass-topped bamboo cabinet to show off a tie or scarf collection, with soft-close drawers on concealed runners underneath. All the drawers pulled all the way out – so no more getting your wrist caught trying to reach to the back. There were pullout trouser racks; jewellery display cases hidden in drawers and lighting in the cabinets, because who has a window in their wardrobe?
A feature that particularly appealed to me – a short person living in a house with high ceilings – was an 8-foot storage unit, with push close drawers and fully-extending jumper racks below a high hang rail with a pull-down lever. Seriously!
It actually feels a little disrespectful to the generations of women who have been dragged around hardware stores to be enthusing about cabinet fixtures, but there it was. Enthusiasm. Over hinges and drawer sliders and pull-down clothes rails, noting that not even our favourite silk scarves wouldn’t get snagged on the super-smooth 2-pac finish on the bamboo storage unit.
I had seen some of these amazing Hettich storage solutions in my regular forays into Home Beautiful, Home, Belle and Vogue Living. To see it in action was so much better. It was the like being in a magical wardrobe that didn’t need a secret panel to Narnia to get my imagination firing. My inner child was spinning so fast she was going to need to have a lie down soon.
Back in the days when my most spectacular shoes were plastic dress up Barbie heels, there were few more consistently thrilling ways to pass the time than sneaking into my mum’s wardrobe, putting on a dress that was at least a foot too long, hanging on every necklace and bracelet I could find, and, of course, clomping around in Mum’s going out shoes. I couldn’t help imagine doing just that in this wardrobe.
The innovation on show is bang on trend, but the experience behind it is three-decades of cabinet making. And there is definitely a touch of 1980s indulgence about secret compartments in a wardrobe, with shelves that spin around or hidden accessory drawers or the very, very fabulous shoe pantry. The clever invention of it reminded me of another fabulous wardrobe full of tricks, created by a down-and-out carpenter, played by Kurt Russell, for the yacht of the extraordinarily wealthy and snobbish character of Goldie Hawn, in an outrageous 80’s rom com Overboard.
If you haven’t seen it, YouTube the Overboard Shoe Cupboard for a glorious 1980’s flashback, it will make you want your own secret shoe pantry so much more.
Article as appeared in Ruby, the thinking women’s magazine, Summer 2015.