By Ilyne Hayes

Four years ago, when eminent St. Petersburg architectural interior designer, Ari Loar, decided to update her own master bedroom closet, she called the company that could offer her the diversity of materials and customization services that her upscale tastes and creativity demanded: California Closets.

Shannon Fisher, Senior Designer for California Closets Tampa Bay, answered that call, and during their collaboration, both designers knew that their meeting was kismet. “We communicate so well together, that we feed off each other’s ideas and take the designs to an even higher level,” Shannon explained.
Ari concurred, “We are able to work together easily to find solutions to what could otherwise be problematic design situations and make certain that we don’t miss any details.”
One of their more recent collaborations was the new vacation home of dynamic and successful businesswoman, Marci Wilhelm, who had first contacted California Closets to see how they could maximize the functionality and space of her condo’s master closet. As Shannon was designing the closet, she came to understand Marci’s vision for the rest of her new condo, which was to have an upscale, glamorous space for entertaining. She immediately knew that Ari would be the perfect interior designer for her and arranged to have them meet. “When I was brought in, the master closet had such beautiful details and high-end finishes, that it set the tone for the rest of the condo, which had been basically bare, poorly lit, and colorless,” Ari stated.
Ari created rich, colorful and luxuriously designed rooms by installing unusual treatments, such as gold silk wallpaper and a tufted Italian leather wall that aids in sound reduction and creates coziness in the large living space. She also designed a granite-clad wall with built-in light sconces, which glow and make soft reflections on the stone when the other lights in the room are turned low. She turned to Shannon for her expertise when she wanted a bar unit built into a limited space that was meant to be a closet. The bar was designed to be a functional storage piece as well as a focal point, so Shannon used gold back-painted glass, a Shagreen top, added vertical storage for serving trays, and a drawer that lights up when opened.
In the master bedroom, Ari needed to find a dresser that would be simple but elegant, and long enough to proportionately fit the wall. She also wanted to make certain that it did not compete with the dramatic nightstands she had placed in the room. Shannon knew that California Closets would properly carry out their custom design of a floating 98" wide dresser, replete with leather drawers across the top and glossy black drawers below. It became the perfect, functional complement to the nightstands.
Even the laundry room became a collaboration when Ari was looking for space to add an ice maker (of prime importance when entertaining!) but could not find room in the kitchen. Shannon suggested that they forego the planned ironing board, and instead install the ice maker, as the necessary water hook-ups were accessible. Because the positioning of the laundry room almost made it an extension of the entrance, glamorous finishes, such as gold accents and Shagreen cabinets were chosen to disguise the basic purpose of the space. The electrical panel was hidden behind a beautiful hinged mirror, and California Closets added a cubby to accommodate the ice maker.
The final result is a stunningly beautiful condo, with maximized storage, all designed to help Marci enjoy entertaining in her vacation home.
Ari summed up how she feels about working with Shannon and with California Closets, “I used to think of closets and closet companies as cookie-cutter designs, but with Shannon’s capabilities and her California Closets team, they are never afraid of a challenge. If you can dream it, they will find a way to make it happen.”