What is a walk-in wardrobe?
A walk-in wardrobe is a closet space that has enough room for a person to enter and walk around, as well as store all manner of clothing. A walk-in robe can be a small walk-in robe that’s comparable to an oversize built-in wardrobe, or it can be a large room that has enough space to accommodate more than one person’s clothes and belongings, a chair, a mirror and lighting features. A walk-in wardrobe is useful because it’s a purpose-built for storing clothes, shoes, jewellery and accessories in an organised and accessible manner, something many of us can’t always achieve in standard built-in wardrobes and cupboards.
What functions should every walk-in robe have?
Every walk-in robe needs to fully cater to the requirements of the family who will be using it. If it’s a walk-in closet for mum and dad, then there needs to be enough space for both people to easily store their belongings and get dressed without feeling cramped or uncomfortable.
“In most cases a walk-in wardrobe is found in larger bedrooms, such as the master suite, which is usually connected with an ensuite bathroom. The most common and practical placement for a walk-in wardrobe is to have it located next to, or in line with, the ensuite for accessibility,” says Bostik renovation specialists Mark Menegatti and Adrian Franchina.
“A good walk-in robe should be a sanctuary; a place of order and organisation,” says interior designer Bronnie Masefau. “It should have enough long hanging space for coats and dresses, shorter hanging space for shirts, skirts, pants and suits. A walk-in closet needs plenty of shelves or drawers for t-shirts, jumpers, pyjamas, active wear, underwear, socks, shoes, bags and jewellery.”
Bronnie also reiterates that a good walk-in wardrobe needs to have a place for hats and for dirty laundry. Baskets are a great way to store seasonal gear such as ski gear or swimmers. “One important thing that is often forgotten is a space to place things at the end of a long day. This could be the top of a drawer unit, an upholstered ottoman or stylish chair. Having a dedicated area to rest or air your goodies between hanging them or wearing them means you’ll be less likely to develop a messy ‘floordrobe’.”
“The most inspiring walk-in wardrobes are those with personality. Getting dressed should be an experience, not a chore. Place items of visual value at eye level, such as bags, shoes, accessories, a tie or a watch collection. Don’t be afraid to display artwork in this space.”
Furthermore, opportunities for storage and organisation should be identified and maximised before the design is finalized in order to achieve a functional robe.
“Every walk-in robe needs plenty of storage. If you have the luxury of designing your walk-in closet from scratch, then think about all your existing clothes, your shoes, your accessories and how much room you need for them, and allocate storage accordingly,” says interior designer Lydia Maskiell, of the Tasmanian business Lydia Maskiell Interiors “Organisation is key to a successful walk-in wardrobe. Dividers are a great way to section off your winter and summer clothes, and for grouping items such as accessories, jumpers or jackets, together. Put things that you need quick access to in open shelving.”
What design elements should every walk-in closet have?
A walk-in robe is a room like any other design idea, and as such the design of it should be thoughtful and considered, and pay plenty of attention to the visual appeal of the space. “It’s important that your walk-in robe seamlessly connects to your bedroom. You can do this by using a similar colour palette, materials or lighting throughout,” says Lydia. “Lighting is also really important. If the walk-in wardrobe doesn’t get any natural light then look to using cool artificial light over warm light, as this will allow you to see your clothing better. If you do have the space for a sit-down make-up area, ensure you have an even distribution of light for makeup application.”
As an interior designer, Lydia explains that the walk-in closet in a luxurious space for people to have, so the design of the room should reflect this. “Carefully consider your flooring. A walk-in robe is a luxury space so make it feel luxurious with soft carpet. Hard flooring materials such as timber deviate from that comfort and luxury of carpet.”
"The most inspiring walk-in wardrobes are those with personality." Bronnie Masefau
Tips for walk-in wardrobe design if you’re on a budget
Your design plan isn’t limited by your budget either. Regardless whether the space you have available is suitable for a small walk in robe or a large one, get creative with what you have and come up with unexpected design ideas. “Even if your budget will only allow you to use white melamine board, get creative by using wallpaper or painting the walls with a pop of colour behind open-shelving. This will save you money on a backing board and look great. You should also take your robe to the ceiling. It’ll give you a sense of height in a space that’s normally small. If the budget doesn’t allow you to do this, add some baskets to create visual height.”
Bronnie also suggests creating a feeling of space using visual tricks. “Mirrors are great for creating visual space, and a rug or upholstered item is fabulous for adding warmth for those chilly winter mornings. Make a list of what you’d like your walk-in robe to hold and if you can afford it, speak to an expert planner or engage a designer.”
What do people who DIY their walk-in robe need to remember?
“One mistake many people do is to not secure the rails for hanging clothes properly,” says Bostik renovation specialists Mark Menagatti and Adrian Franchina. “Ensure that the rails are nailed and glued to make sure that the rail will be able to carry the weight, and won’t fall down. Another thing to remember is the spacing between the shelves: you want to measure it out, so it can fit the items you plan to have on the shelf. Plan it well and remember that t-shirts and singlets don’t take as much space as knits for example. “
“There are endless of variations and features available for a walk-in wardrobe these days, which makes it possible to custom it to fit your needs. One thing many people underestimate is putting enough rails for hanging clothes in.”
Top 5 tips for building a walk-in wardrobe
If you’re planning to build a walk-in wardrobe yourself, or construct a flatpack walk-in closet, follow these tips to ensure success.
- If you’re going to build the walk-in from scratch, spending some time researching strong timber, rather than going for a flatpack solution.
- Before jumping into the design brainstorm how you envision your wardrobe to be used and plan it to suit your needs. For example, if you have many suits you may want a longer rail.
- As you want your walk-in wardrobe to stand the test of time and not fall apart, I always use a suitable timber glue and then add nails to ensure its secured.
- Make sure to maximise the space and take advantage of every single centimetre, even if you have a small walk-in wardrobe, leverage the space up to the roof because you can never have enough storage.
10. The luxury walk-in wardrobe
This all-white walk-in robe has plenty of hanging space, drawer storage and a dressing table laid out in a very spacious, minimal and simple floorplan. This layout it suitable to those who have space at their disposal and are looking to create a luxury experience at home. The seating in the middle of the walk-in closet is a great place to sit and put on shoes, lay out clothes or rest clothes and accessories that aren’t yet ready to be put away. This can be achieved with stone tiling on the floor, subway tiles on the walls, a chrome open racking system and all-white drawers and cabinetry.
9. The walk-in wardrobe with sliding doors
An excellent small-space solution, this walk-in wardrobe looks elegant and modern. The sliding doors clearly zone the space as a wardrobe, but the mesh construction actually creates a sense of space, rather than shutting the walk-in wardrobe off from the rest of the room.
8. The walk-in wardrobe with extra storage
Although quite typical in design and layout - with hanging space and shelving on one wall, a centre space for drawers, and mirrors on the opposite wall – this walk-in closet has plentiful storage options that include hanging space, enclosed drawers, see-through drawer storage, basket storage and shelving. This is a great option for anyone who only has a long and narrow space to work with but is looking to create as much storage as possible.
7. The small walk-in wardrobe
Don’t feel restricted by the size you have available to you, it’s all about examining the space with a creative eye. Here, a small space has built-in cupboards on one side, a bookshelf filled with shoes at the end, and a large chest of drawers used as a dressing space. The result is a neat and tidy walk-in wardrobe that doesn’t need lots of floor space. This particular walk-in wardrobe is an easy DIY option if you already have built-in wardrobes and just need to build a dividing wall.
6. The supersized walk-in wardrobe
Taking up a large amount square metreage, this walk-in robe require time, money and space to complete. However, once complete, this space is pretty much the full package, with plenty of hanging space, lots of drawers in different sizes, extra shelving and compartments for accessories.
5. The walk-in wardrobe with extra shelving
Shelves are an incredibly important storage element to have in a walk-in wardrobe. They can be used for everything from shoes and accessories to knits, seasonal gear, tees and more. This walk-in closet has shelf space at multiple levels so you can prioritise what stuff needs to be in the most accessible positions.
4. The small and easy DIY walk-in wardrobe
The easiest DIY walk-in robe is one that doesn’t require a huge commitment of time, money, space and energy, and this is it. A small space such as a large closet or old built-ins could be converted into a walk-in closet using the method here. Just add some flatpack shelving at multiple levels, a few extra spaces for hanging clothes and enough large storage compartments to cater to suitcases, ski gear or other seasonal essentials.
3. The room-within-a-room wardrobe
This unique approach to building a walk-in wardrobe involves building a small room within a larger room. As you can see here, the space above the walls is open and a window is visible beyond. This allows natural light and increases airflow in a smaller space. A medium-sized walk-in robe, this design idea is simple and elegant, with timber warming the space, white to keep it bright and pendant lighting to glam it up.
2. The multi-purpose walk-in wardrobe
If you need your walk-in wardrobe to fulfil many functions then this layout and design is something to look to for inspirations. Spacious, simple and easy to recreate using flatpack furniture or affordable Ikea alternatives, this walk-in closet has a large hanging space for clothes, lots of shelves in all different sizes and compartments for diving up things such as shoes and accessories. The multi-level shelving make storing all sorts of things easy, and using baskets will keep everything neat and tidy. The bench seat is a nice touch and gives the family a space to sit and remove shoes, or leave a handbag or coat to put away later.
1. The Ikea walk-in wardrobe
Ikea is a problem solver when it comes to thinking up inventive ways to insert a walk-in robe into any home. This ‘Pax’ wardrobe unit can be mixed and matched to fit any corner or space. The best thing about this type of flat-pack wardrobe construction is that you can choose how much hanging space you have and how to arrange your drawers and shelf space.