See inside: Check out two custom craft rooms in a lakefront Cornelius home

See inside: Check out two custom craft rooms in a lakefront Cornelius home
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This content was created in partnership with California Closets.

Retired marketing professional Shirli de Saye believes that “a blank or empty wall is a missed opportunity.” It’s a philosophy she’s taken to heart when designing her home.

Shirli has lived in her lakefront house in Cornelius for over 20 years, but only recently started updating it to fit her personal style, which she describes as eclectic. “I like to be surrounded by color and pretty…everywhere I look, I want to smile,” she says.

Shirli loves to be creative, but for a while, she used an upstairs storage room for all of her projects. “I ran out of room and I realized that I need to be downstairs more.”


She called in the pros at California Closets to convert her formal dining room and sitting room into beautiful and functional creative spaces.

With the help of design consultant Ashley Payne from California Closets, the sitting room became Shirli’s “studio,” which she uses for paper art projects like scrapbooking and cardmaking.

Across the hall, California Closets transformed the dining room into a sewing room, which Shirli mostly uses for home decor projects. Upstairs, they installed a custom vanity in what Shirli calls “The Sanctuary.” The room also has a massage chair and overlooks the lake.

“Shirli has a beautiful taste in design, and bringing her vision to life was so much fun. Shirli really let me use my creativity in collaboration with her ideas to bring these spaces to life,” says Ashley.

“Fortunately, our product line is so vast, that collaborating in the showroom and bringing everything together in our 3D CAD program was hands down my favorite part. From our first appointment, I knew Shirli was looking for something very specific to her needs so inviting her to the showroom so we could pick out finishes that would compliment her in every way made the most sense.”

Yup, California Closets does way more than just closets. Shirli’s home is proof that they can transform just about any room in your house.

“Every detail we chose was specifically because these rooms are in high traffic areas of the home,” says Ashley. “The selection of finishes was so important. By mixing complementary finishes and creating focal points with lighting, it truly was a space designed for Shirli”

Most of the walls downstairs are covered in custom murals from a local painter. Shirli has plans for murals upstairs, too. With so much going on already, she picked neutral finishes from California Closets to balance it all out. “I didn’t want to go all white,” she says, so instead chose a darker cabinet tone to complement the new flooring she put in.

“We used a combination of materials,” says Ashley. “Mixing finishes is SO fun and makes the project feel even more custom.”

Ashley adds, “while choosing finishes is always fun, we also worked together to make sure countertop heights, drawer dimensions, shelf heights, etc. would function in a ‘working space’ setting. This project truly was a combination of function and aesthetic coming together.”

Here are some of the features you’ll find in the studio and sewing room:

  • “Ash” for the system finish and “Washed White” for all the countertops + accent cubbies
  • Glass lit shelves
  • Floating shelves in “Aloe”
  • Colored “RGB” up-lighting
  • Magnetic marker board with custom back-painted glass
  • Crown molding
  • Bronze handles + knobs
  • Glass doors
  • Docking power stations placed throughout for easy plugin access

Shirli’s favorite feature from the project is the lighting on the shelves. On the upstairs vanity, the warm puck lights are key because they help show off her jewelry collection. They also “dressed the system up with upgraded door fronts, beautiful gold hardware, and glass doors,” says Ashley.

The magnetic whiteboards were another addition, which Shirli uses to plan projects or display finished ones. She was able to customize the background color to match the rest of the house, too.


One of Shirli’s handmade cards.

Power cord management at the base of cabinets keeps things tidy

Ready to upgrade a room (or two) in your house? Set up a free virtual design consultation to see how California Closets can transform your space.

(This content was created in partnership with California Closets.)


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