When Theresa Roemer began the recent renovations on her Houston, Texas-area home, she had one goal in mind: Build a closet so big it could not only house and display her $2 million wardrobe — including 60 Birkin bags, 75 pairs of Christian Louboutin shoes — but could host the philanthropist's frequent fundraising events. The resulting three-story "she-cave" cost $500,000 to build and spans 3,000 square feet. And you need that much space if you're going to include a Champagne bar.
Roemer's beautiful doozy of a closet has made headlines, but, as she says, the woman in the closet is ready to come out of the closet. Here's what it's really like to be a 52-year-old mother of six, grandmother of seven, beauty queen, body builder, grief and loss counselor, and self-made millionaire.
It seems a bit of a misnomer to call your closet a closet.
I'm lucky enough to have a space that big. And it's big. That's why I call it a retreat.
Why a retreat?
If there's one spot in a house where a woman can feel like who she is, it's the closet. It's part of her identity. I pray, meditate, hang out with my girlfriends in there — that's just my space. Men have their space and women should have their space.
What do people love the most when they get inside your closet?
Shoes always catch people's attention. Shoes and handbags. They hold them like babies, they cradle them.
How do you keep track of everything?
Everything has a picture and a number and it's in the computer. My stylist will pull up my inventory on his phone and say, "Why don't you wear number 72?"
When did you start collecting everything that's in your closet now?
When I was 18 and I bought my first Louis Vuitton clutch. I still have it. For almost 10 years, I kept it in its protective bag because I didn't want it to ever look old.
Why is it so important to you?
I was born extremely poor on a ranch. I never got to have new clothes — all I ever got were hand-me-downs. It wasn't until I started working as a busgirl at a restaurant when I was 12 that I had my own money and I could buy a new piece of clothing. It took me a year of saving money to buy that clutch, and when I got it, I felt like a queen.
Why did you incorporate a Champagne bar into the closet?
It's a girl's closet and women love Champagne.
How often is it in use?
Every week. I'll have girlfriends come over and we'll pop open a bottle of Champagne, or we'll use it when I'm having an event.
Is sex allowed in the Champagne room?
Of course! You have to have sex in the closet! And every position, too! And on the staircase and on the bar and on the makeup station.
Is your husband allowed in the closet other than for sex?
Yes, but it makes him uncomfortable. He says it's too clean and pretty.
How would you describe what you do in your professional life currently?
I'm an entrepreneur — I have a truffle line, a candle line, and I'm coming out with a clothing line. Everything under my company goes back to Child Legacy International, a charity in Malawi. I'm a licensed real estate agent in the state of Texas and I buy and flip houses. I also help my husband in the oil industry.
To what do you attribute your success?
When you're passionate, you don't want to give up. Everything in my life, the way I've overcome adversity, it's been because I've been extremely passionate. I was passionate about being normal when the doctors told me I was going to be a sick child. When I was told I couldn't climb that mountain [Roemer climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2011 for charity] because I looked like a Barbie doll, I was like, No. I'm not a quitter. I don't give up.
What is it like being rich?
Being wealthy is the same as being poor, it's just that you don't have to worry. Being wealthy allows you to, in my eyes, help more people. It's fun. I don't usually have to worry about the price of things, I just buy them. It definitely is a life that I never had when I was little. I know how hard it is to save money. I know how hard it is to get a hold of money. I never forget the value of a dollar.
Did you always want to be rich?
Yes. I saw pictures of celebrity homes when I was little. I told my mom that I was going to live in a house like that and that I was going to be famous. I was so sick as a kid and I was going in and out of hospitals in Nebraska. I remember asking my mom if we could give the hospital back a dollar or two because they helped me so much. I've always felt this need to help people, and I thought that if I had more money, I could help them more.
Does it hurt your feelings when people call you a rich bitch?
It hurts. Human beings all have feelings, I don't care who you are. People only look at the outer shell and they just assume that I have the perfect world. They don't understand that I've buried my own child. [Roemer's son died in a car accident when he was 19 years old.]
What's your favorite piece of advice to give to people?
Reach for the stars. The sky is the limit. There's no one standing in the way of your success but you. We live in a world of instant gratification but anything worth wanting is worth working for. Anything you want in life, you have to put in the hard work to reap the benefits.
You also have a very successful marriage. How do you make it work?
We've been together 11 years, married six. Life can get in the way sometimes but you just have to refuse to let that happen. You have to keep things alive. You have to think outside the box sometimes. You have to have sex in the closet. Why do we have to have sex in the bed? Let's have sex in the closet. Let's have sex in the pool.
I like that.
When I'm in my rocking chair at 95, I want to be able to say that I did it all. I went for it. I tried and I have no regrets. I'm not the norm and that's OK.
Photo: Courtesy of Theresa Roemer