Brilliant, Beautiful Storage in ‘Rooms That Work’

I’ve been meaning to write about this book since April, when it was given to me. Some readers may recall I moved in April. (Yes everything is still a mess,  thank you for asking.) Not to be un-grateful, but the last thing I wanted then was another book. But WOW am I glad it came.


Elegant Rooms That Work – Fantasy and Function in Interior Design, by Stephanie Stokes. You can purchase it from Rizzoli or Amazon  via her website here.

This isn’t just another bunch of pretty pages. The title Rooms That Work isn’t kidding. This designer has found a way to wrangle elegant storage in every possible nook and to effect practicality in every conceivable context.

A sliver of space at the end of built-in cabinets is made into vertical drawers for earrings and necklaces.

You can imagine how someone who stacked her suitcases in the shower might feel about this. It gives her (me) hope, I tell you. The eminently more elegant Stephanie stores her luggage and linens in rolling boxes under the bed.

Note the beautiful embroidery on the headboard.

Stokes - underbed storage

With a foreword by Stephanie’s longtime client and friend Xavier Hermes (yes that Hermes) and the highly readable, often funny text written with Jorge Arango, Elegant Rooms That Work is a tome you’ll turn to for inspiration, and better still, solutions.

Here a lovely covered table, with the presto of a button …

Stokes - covered cabinet

… lifts to reveal file storage, while the other side contains drawers.

Stokes - covered cabinet file storage

Principal photography by Michel Arnaud.

Even the poshest New York apartments often must have rooms that multi-task. An office-library also functions as the guest room.

Stokes - library / guest room / office

How cute – and thoughtful for guests – that she has her address and telephone number embroidered on her linens. The sconce lighting is also a great choice here.

Stokes - library / guest room / office

Please read the wonderful interview with Stephanie on 1st Dibs, wherein she talks about how she cooked the whole thing up while she was on drugs. Seriously, she was recovering from horrendous knee surgery, and one narcotically-fuelled idea led to another. It’s pretty funny.

She is okay now, btw, thank goodness, and not on drugs. Lord don’t y’all start a rumor now.

The television is attached to a pull-out unit that stores work files and project binders.

The piece by Alyssa Wolf for Architctural Digest’s blog is also good.

Aww hell just get the book.  Here.

Even a shallow space can provide user-friendly storage. These shelves are the depth of a can of beans, but you can see everything at once.

Whereas I am pretty sure I have Tabasco sauce from 1972 somewhere in the back of a cabinet…

Stokes - Pantry

Platters and trays are so much more accessible–and protected–when stored vertically.

Stokes - kitchen

And just because you’re special, Stephanie shared with us some extra photos not in the book. Never before seen!!!

Below, the supply closet. Boots hang on a rail at bottom. Above that is a file drawer, with shelves above for tools, vases, trays and other kitchen overflow.

Below, a small space left over behind a column houses her collection of bowls and dishes she acquired while living in Japan. (I’m telling you the girl has a fascinating life.) Glass shelves allow easy visibility.

The silver cabinet is only 12 inches deep, so Stephanie measured pieces she could store on the back of the door, at right, and had shelves built with lips to hold them. On the left, very thin adjustable shelves adjust to every quarter-inch. Lining all in Pacific cloth prevents tarnish (in theory, anyway).

Tablecloths are hung on trouser hangers, with tags giving the dimensions of each. The brown box at bottom holds the leaves for the dining table. (“I seat 12 like sardines, but no one complains,” she says.)

When I called Stephanie the other day to tell her I was finally getting around to posting about her book, she was nonplussed, “It’s about time,” she drawled. Chastened, I said well it deserves such a good post that I’ve been paralyzed by it.

Was it Winston Churchill who said another way to spell “perfection” was p-a-r-a-l-y-s-i-s? Hello? So I just wrote the dern thing and to heck with perfection. And it turned out all right, didn’t it?

Yes people there is a lesson there. Store it for safekeeping and where it’s easy to get to.

For new readers, neither nor Frances.Herself receives  compensation for endorsements or other unabashed gushing. It’s all about love.


  1. Frances, I am drooling….I am a “closet” organization freak. Meaning of course that I have inner aspirations to be like Ms. Stokes when, if, I ever get it together. I will be ordering the book promptly. Thank you for sharing! xo

  2. Soooo helpful! Could throw out something, but am attached. True packrat genes came in a deluge to me.
    thank you, Frances

  3. Now THIS is what we’ve been waiting for… Organization is one thing, but stylish, beautiful organization that actually blends with the decor is quite another! It is a constant battle for us to be streamlined, efficient and uncluttered but such a huge goal!! Thanks for the inspiration. Can’t wait to buy this gem of a book and get back on the neat and tidy wagon! Thanks for sharing! Beth and Kristy

  4. Would you know who painted or how to get some of those single flower pictures in the first of the pictures.I can’t wait to get the book Thank youxoxoMW

  5. This post gave me the impetus to (finally) finish my off and on decluttering/donating/organizing project. I am SO treating myself to this book when done! You have Tabasco sauce from the ’70s, I found grits (original packaging) from when I moved into my place almost 10 years ago, when cleaning out kitchen cabinets/pantry this weekend. Most definitely NOT magnifico!

  6. Loved this post !!! Wish I could declutter— but definitely going to order the book to enjoy her “organizational” brilliance

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