April has arrived, and for the residents of our area, that means it’s time to celebrate the 68th North Carolina Azalea Festival. One of the best parts of this much-anticipated event (at least according to my wife) is the crowning of the Festival Queen. Since 1948, Wilmington has welcomed many talented and beautiful queens who have presided over the week’s festivities.
In the spirit of the season, I enlisted the help of Ginger Thornton, lead designer of Carolina Closet Company, to suggest design solutions for some of our best known former Azalea Queens:
Fred: When it comes to service, Carolina Closet Company treats all its customers like royalty. Can you tell us what kind of features you’d give some of our former Azalea Queens if you were designing their closets?
Ginger: I’d love to! Let’s start with Esther Williams, who wore the crown in 1958.
Fred: Wasn’t she a competitive swimmer and actress famous for those “aqua musicals” that featured a lot of synchronized swimming?
Ginger: Good memory, Fred! Esther was nicknamed the “Million Dollar Mermaid,” so she would obviously need a large walk-in closet with plenty of storage for her collection of retro bathing suits. Pull-down rods would maximize the space, while cabinets with frosted glass door fronts would make her shelves look as flawless as a white sand beach. I’d also add a slide-out jewelry tray to the center island where she could store all the medals she won as a record-setting competitive swimmer.
Fred: Brilliant ideas! Now, what if you were creating a closet for, say, Kelly Ripa? She was the Azalea Queen in 1993, long before she was hosting Live! with Kelly and Michael.
Ginger: I’m a huge fan of Kelly so designing for her would be a dream! Thanks to her morning show, Kelly is an early riser. A walk-in closet with integrated lightening would provide a calm, serene space where she could get ready for her hectic day. In addition to her demanding job, Kelly is also a mother of three, so I’d give be sure to upgrade her kids’ closets, too. Pull-out baskets and closet hampers would help keep the chaos to a minimum.
Fred: How about one more? Last year’s queen, Kirsten Haglund, also served as Miss America in 2008, so she’s got a lot of experience in the royalty department.
Ginger: Indeed she does! For Kirsten, I’d recommend plenty of shelves to store her various crowns, angled shoe storage for her high heels, and chrome hooks for her collection of pageant sashes.
Fred: Thanks so much for these great ideas, Ginger!
Ginger: My pleasure, Fred! I’d just like to add that you don’t need a fancy title to call Carolina Closet Company; take a look at this photo of a closet we recently designed for one of our local residents. Her dream closet incorporates all of the ideas I just discussed, making her feel like royalty too.
Photo by Chris Davis
Fred Kumpel is the owner of Strickland’s Window Coverings and Carolina Closet Company. Fred has more than 30 years of experience in the industry. Strickland’s Window Coverings is a window treatment design center specializing in custom blinds, shades, shutters and fabric treatments for more than 70 years. Carolina Closet Company provides professionally designed and custom built organization solutions. Its complete line of home organization solutions includes unique solutions to organize closets, pantries, garages, basements, laundry rooms as well as Murphy Beds. To learn more, visit www.stricklandswindowcoverings.com and www.closetsbythesea.com. Fred can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 910.762.0944.