10 Questions to ask when designing a wardrobe


By Rebecca Grose

When it comes to designing a wardrobe there’s a lot to consider, from space planning and functionality to aesthetics and ergonomics. You’ll need to consider what lighting to choose; where to position the mirror; and whether your joinery comes with or without handles? So, I asked two experts, Sally Hart of the Clever Closet Company and Anton Randall of In The Closet, who both know every nook and cranny of the wardrobe business. Here are 10 questions I put to them about the aesthetic and functional design of a wardrobe, followed by what they say you need to know.

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1. Should I choose light or dark coloured joinery?

Choosing joinery is very much related to the style and colour palette of a home, and both Hart and Randall suggest clients choose a colour that they are more likely to feel comfortable with for a long while. “Joinery is a significant investment and generally clients want longevity from such an investment,” says Hart. She suggests matching or relating joinery to that which is already used throughout the rest of the home. “Take a lead from the kitchen or keep to a classic style in the direction that the home will be renovated,” she says.

Of course that’s not to say you can’t take a colour risk, as Hart explains. “If you don’t care about longevity or resale, the wardrobe and dressing room can be where you go to town. If this is the case, be confident and use your favourite colour – it is a personal space after all.”

2. Should I go with a natural or synthetic material for joinery?

The choice of joinery made from natural materials, such as timber, or a synthetic material, such as laminate, may in part be determined by what you can afford as well as the joinery in the rest of your house.

“Timber can become very expensive in comparison to using a laminate,” says Randall. “However, your wardrobe really needs to complement the rest of your bedroom, so if you have gone for a very high-end look with high-end finishes, it’s best to follow through and complete the look, especially if the robe’s cabinetry and bedroom are visible as one story.”

3. Is joinery better with or without handles?
This choice also goes back to keeping your joinery consistent with the style of the rest of your house. “If your home has more of a contemporary look, then handles are not really required. Just go for soft-push doors/drawers,” Randall says. “If your home is more of a classic feel, then choosing a great handle really should tie in with that: a brushed bronze is always safe. If you want to add a touch of femininity, then finish it off with a crystal handle – there are some fantastic designs out there.”

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4. What type of lighting is best for both viewing and maintaining the condition of items in the wardrobe?

“LED lighting on sensors is best,” says Hart. This can help save on energy costs, plus, as this kind of lighting doesn’t emit much heat, it is well suited to narrow spaces. Hart explains that the choice of vertical versus horizontal strip lighting may be determined by the space available. “If space maximising is an issue, the heights of drawers, shelves and rails will vary. This means that vertical strip lighting will give a more consistent line than horizontal strip lighting, which will follow shelf and rod heights.”

Randall suggests warm lighting is best for viewing clothes, “this way you get a true colour of the clothing, and it’s a lot softer on the eye.” It also helps with maintaining the longevity of clothes and other items. “If the light is too strong, it can damage the clothing over time with discolouring and sometimes even burn marks,” he says.


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5. Where should lighting be placed?

Lighting not only needs to be functional for accessing a wardrobe and viewing items but the placement of lights can help create a mood or feel in the space. “Recessed lighting provides a lovely moody effect for walking through to ensuites,” says Hart.

Randall explains that it is “quite on-trend to have your closet area backlit to give the illusion of grandeur and opulence.” However, he adds, “for a more classic timeless look, having lights built into a bulkhead along the top is a pretty safe way to go.”

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6. Where should the mirror be positioned?
Mirrors, like lighting, also serve a dual purpose by enabling you to check your outfit before leaving the house as well as enhancing visual space. So where should the mirror be positioned? “It’s best to place a mirror at the end of your closet,” says Randall. He recommends a full-length mirror. “This creates the illusion of space, and of course, is practical when getting ready.”

7. What are the pros and cons of wardrobe doors?
While the choice of whether to have doors is often up to personal preference, it may also be dictated by budget, space and style. For Hart, “cabinet doors are a pro, if that’s the appearance you like. They’re convenient for clothes rarely worn, such as formal gear, to keep the dust off.” However, on the cons list, Hart says, “closet doors add to the overall cost by at least double and become annoying in a small area because they effectively become an obstacle.” She says that she’ll often install doors in just one section to get the benefits of both having them and not having them.

For Randall, “the one benefit of having doors is that you can hide any unwanted mess; but of course, I would not condone that,” he says. “I personally think that if a wardrobe is left open without doors, it feels more luxurious; especially if you have high-end finishes and joinery. Show it off, but keep things organised and in order.”

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8. Is there a ratio of hanging space to drawers and shelving?

This will of course depend on whether you have more tops or bottoms in your wardrobe, but both Randall and Hart say it’s about two-thirds of hanging space to one-third of shelving or drawers. Although, Hart explains, “many people now have lots of shoes, so it’s moving toward a 50:50 ratio.”

9. Is the temperature of the room important?
Temperature and ventilation can play an important role in keeping a wardrobe smelling fresh and fabrics in tip-top condition. If you have the luxury of a window or being able to control temperature in your wardrobe then factor this into your design.“The temperature of the room can be important if you have very expensive pieces, or items that are made of a certain fabric,” says Randall. “Try to always keep the room with some sort of airflow; this is important with natural fabrics. If you have a window, open it sometimes; this helps with smells, especially if your shoes are stored near your clothing.”



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10. Any last tips?

Asked for final words of advice, Hart emphasises the need for investing in the planning and design of a wardrobe. “A well-designed wardrobe costs no more than a poorly designed wardrobe, which will have you re-tidying every four to six months and constantly losing things,” she says. “It’s important to get things right as the same amount of material put in the right place will mean that your clothes stay where they should and you can access them easily.”



Houzz is a platform for home renovation and design, bringing homeowners and home professionals together in a uniquely visual community. These guest posts are supplied by their community of authors and first appeared on www.houzz.com.au

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