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7 Rules to Help You Design the Perfect Walk-in Wardrobe

If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated space for all your clothes, shoes and accessories, here’s how to make the most of it

Houzz Contributor. I write about all things remodeling, interior design, and home… More

Bespoke wardrobe design isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes time to itemise your belongings and create an efficient and organised wardrobe. The best approach is to assess your storage needs and incorporate practical solutions into your design. Here are seven guidelines to follow if you’re lucky enough to be piecing together a new dream wardrobe.

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Know the dimensions of your clothes
This is a big one, whether you’re planning to store clothes on hangers or shelves. You want to make sure you’re getting the best possible storage solution for each garment.

One thing to be aware of is the width of your clothes. The depth of your wardrobe cabinets and panels will range from 14in to 24in. Most clothing items, including shirts, blouses, jackets and coats, will fit inside a 24in-deep area. Anything with less depth won’t always fit your clothing, which means your shirts and blouses will protrude, so plan accordingly.

It’s best to base your design around the types of clothing you have. Here are a few dimensions you should know:

  • Folded jumpers and shirts require 9in to 15in of linear space each.
  • Coats can require up to 68in of vertical space.
  • Trousers and jeans require up to 50in of vertical space (about half of that when folded).
  • Skirts require up to 45in of vertical space.

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Include the right amount of double- and single-hang sections
Evaluate your wardrobe and take an inventory of what you own. Do you have more blouses than dresses? Do you own any large winter coats and jackets? Whether to include more double hang or single hang sections will hinge on your clothing collection. Shirts, blouses and T-shirts belong in double-hang sections, while dresses and long coats and jackets normally need single-hang sections.

If you have a lot of dresses and evening gowns, tally them up so you know how much single-hang space you need. If you don’t have many (or any at all), use only double-hang sections. This will help you maximise your storage space.

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Men’s wardrobe spaces normally don’t require many, if any, single-hang sections (exceptions are for long coats and other items). Adding more double-hang sections will better accommodate a wardrobe composed of mostly dress shirts and casual wear.

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Figure out the best solution for corners
As tricky as corners are in general, they manage to be even more complicated in wardrobes. There’s usually less space to work with.

The best approach is to utilise as much space as possible; you can never have enough storage for your clothing. Corner shelves allow you to do just that. You can use them to hang clothes or store bags and suitcases. They also create a more seamless wardrobe design.

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Suffice it to say, you might not have the space for a corner shelf. If not, it’s perfectly acceptable to have your panel overlap the adjacent wall (as in the wardrobe here). While the resulting corner space may not be super-easy to access, you won’t be wasting any storage space. You can hang seasonal attire, such as winter coats, in these hidden spots.

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Ensure there’s enough room for an island
Islands are a dream addition to any walk-in wardrobe, but the spacing has to be right. A 36in walkway on each side of the island is ideal, but you can get by with 30in or 24in walkways if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of clearance space. This means you need at least 10ft of linear space (12ft to have 36in walkways). The more clearance space for islands with pullout drawers, the better.

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Make the shoes fit
If you’re including a shoe rack, saving space is just one part of the challenge. The other? Making sure your shelves and cubbyholes are big enough to comfortably store your shoe collection.

A pair of women’s shoes generally measures anywhere between 5½in and 10in wide, while a men’s pair is 6½in to 10½in wide. There should be enough linear space to house the pairs you own (or at least the pairs you wear often). The best rule of thumb is to allow 7in to 12in of space per pair.

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If you own boots, ensure some of your shelves and cubbyholes are high enough to fit them. Ankle-high boots normally start at 3in high, while mid-calf and knee-high boots can range from 9in to 17in high.

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Find room for a bench
It’s a nice spot to put on your shoes, button up your shirts and so forth. The easiest and perhaps most affordable option is a free-standing bench.

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Built-in benches are a natural fit below windows, especially higher windows. Include a drawer to add a little extra storage space.

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Don’t forget about your accessories
No household is short on accessories, be they bags, jewellery, ties or belts. It helps to create an organised space for these belongings, too.

Belt and tie racks can be compact and mounted in any dead space you may have along walls. You may also want racks to hang your purses on to more quickly put your outfits together.

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Including a jewellery tray in one of your drawers is also an option. You can always put trays in a drawer in or near a dressing table, too.

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