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Building a walk-in wardrobe.

By Jack Miles

A walk-in wardrobe is typically only seen in larger properties and is a sign of luxury that is often put in place by developers who have a high price tag on their offerings. Yet it is not difficult to add a walk-in wardrobe to any property to increase its appeal and its value.

The basic concept of the walk-in wardrobe is essentially a wardrobe room, which also, more often than not, has a built-in make-up or grooming area and seating to boot. The area for hanging clothes can be open or closed, or it can contain a combination of both types of hanging space.

The first consideration when looking to add a walk-in wardrobe to a room is where to position it. The best approach is to allocate some space from one side of the bedroom. The most natural positioning is to place it such that its length is parallel with the length of the bed such that it is on the left or right side of the bed as opposed to running along the bottom.

If there is an en-suite bathroom already attached to the bedroom then building the walk-in wardrobe in parallel to the bathroom entrance will bode well as it will give even better separation between the main bedroom and the bathroom area. The entrance door to the walk-in wardrobe should be in line with the bathroom door rather than offset. If offset to the maximum it will mean walking through the walk-in wardrobe in order to access the bathroom. Yet, if the doors are in line you can access the bathroom without navigating the full length of the walk-in wardrobe, which is good for access and will still provide plenty of privacy. The walk-in wardrobe will also benefit by being immediately accessible from the bathroom so that occupants can use it directly wearing bathrobes.

A real walk-in wardrobe should have a separating wall that is made of bricks. A wooden partition can be used but the acoustics will probably be a giveaway. Whether your property is a house or a condo, (but especially if the latter), be sure that the place where you plan to build a wall is load bearing enough to take the weight. Typically most buildings will have plenty of spare capacity in this regard. In the event you cant build a brick wall then a wooden separating partition can be made by using a solid framework that has the same thickness as a wall and by using wood cladding on both sides.

As for the size of the walk-in wardrobe, long and thin is better than a square shape since an extended length will be in keeping theme of “walking-in”. The length can be the same as the length of the room that you are partitioning so you can consider this to be already in hand. The width is the key thing. The wider the walk-in wardrobe the smaller the remaining space will be in the bedroom. With a large bedroom this may not be a concern, but with a smaller bedroom it may be sensible to go with a relatively narrow walk-in wardrobe. The difference will be in the layout. The narrowest space that you could get away with would be about 1.75 meters allowing approximately 80cm for the width of the hanging space and another nearly one meter for the actual walking space. With a thin design like this, the hanging area and the seating area would need to be on the same side. If space allows for a wider walk-in wardrobe then consider a width of approx. 2.6 meters, which will allow you to create a walking space that is flanked with wardrobe areas on either side. You may even have the flexibility to place hanging spaces on one side and a seating space and cupboards and drawers for smaller items of clothing on the other side.

If the bedroom itself is too small to accommodate a walk-in wardrobe, another approach is to use an adjoining room. This can quite easily be done with a 3 or four bedroom house, which may have a small sized room amongst its bedrooms. The wall will already be built so all that might be necessary is to place a doorway between the rooms and to fit out the smaller room as a walk-in wardrobe.

For the finer details of the fittings inside the walk-in wardrobe it is worth considering what the true benefit of the overall project is. The aim is to provide a lot more storage space than a traditional wardrobe without cluttering up the main room and at the same time to allow some seclusion and privacy when dressing or grooming. So be sure to put in plenty of hanging space for a wide variety of clothing. Allocated spaces for underwear will be also expected. Shoe racks will offer space for shoes and will also act as a showcasing display for proud owners, whether or not anyone else will ever see them! The seating area should be built in with a comfortable stool. Use of mirrors in the grooming area and also at the far end of the walk-in area will bode well to give a feeling of extra depth. The internal woodwork can be done by a craftsman or can be fairly easily achieved with pre drilled furniture assemblies. Be sure to make a detailed plan of the internal layout so that the final look can be just as expected.

As for colour schemes light and mid tone wood effects are most readily accepted.

White is quite hard to keep clean but can be a good choice to give an extra feeling of spaciousness. Dark wood tones look chic but can make the room look overly dark, especially considering it will not likely have any windows in it. Look to use extra lighting when using dark wood and for other schemes lighting in the ceiling as well as under shelves will be a sensible thing to have in place. Consider using LED strip lighting, which is now being more and more commonly used. This technology makes use of lines of single brilliant white LEDS that are already mounted on a flexible strip. You can attach the strip to any surface using staples or even adhesive. They work on a low voltage and they don’t get very hot so are quite safe, but they are exceptionally bright and make a big difference to places that need localized lighting. The main advantage is that they can be placed in very small spaces where previously old technology lighting may not have fitted well.

It is worth considering a small air-conditioner and/or dehumidifier in this new room. Maybe a floor standing unit will suffice since it is a relatively small space. Without one in place the room will be hot and humid and not comfortable to use and it maybe that the safe storage of expensive clothing and shoes will be compromised.

With all the above in place you can significantly increase the value of your property with minimal outlay and also have a functional storage and grooming space to enjoy.