A walk-in closet: how to plan yours correctly

Torben Schröder

Sophisticated coats, elegant evening dresses, high-quality suits. Neatly hung and attractively presented. We have all seen walk-in closets in TV series, movies and celebrity home stories. You can make this dream come true for yourself. We will help you with our ideas for planning and design.

Close-up of a hand passing through garments on hangers.
© Getty Images/ Arman Zhenikeyev

In this article

Why opt for a walk-in closet?

The obvious advantages of a walk-in closet are of an aspirational nature: enter through sliding doors, walk slowly past filled shelves and clothes racks, be inspired by the possibilities. The feeling of being on a shopping spree – but in your own home. Depending on how much place you intend to use, you will also have considerably more storage space than in a conventional closet.

View of a walk-in closet with white shelves. The main focus is on a rod with coats hanging from it.

The space available, the size of the closet and the structural conditions of the room – the furnishing of a walk-in closet should be well planned.

Planning your walk-in closet

Your approach to the project will initially depend on your real estate situation. Do you want to build a house or buy one? If you already own a home, do you want to convert unused space? Or is there only limited place available, for example due to a sloping roof?

Another important factor is the extent of your wardrobe. You should therefore ask yourself the following questions during the planning stage:

  • How many pieces of clothing do I own? And how many pairs of shoes?
  • Which of these would I like to keep in the units in the closet? Even seasonal items like a ski jacket or sandals?
  • Which clothes need to be hung up, and which can be folded?
  • Which do I want to show openly, and which should be concealed in drawers?

A tip on how to keep things tidy from the outset: don’t forget to work out where to store supposedly unimportant clothing such as underwear, T-shirts and socks. Accessories such as scarves, headgear and sunglasses also need a place of their own.

And how big should a walk-in closet be? Let’s look at a calculation to find a minimum size. An area of 90 by 90 centimeters leaves enough space in the middle for you to turn around and take clothes out of the cupboards. The cupboard systems and shelf units should be 60 centimeters deep, both at the front and on the two side walls. According to this calculation, the room should be 1.50 meters deep (90 + 60 centimeters) and have a wall width of 2.10 meters (60 + 90 + 60 centimeters).

View of a walk-in closet made of dark wood.

Open elements show off the clothes in a walk-in closet better, although closed units look tidier.

A custom-made dressing room

If you’re planning to build a house and would like to have a walk-in closet, the ideal solution is a tailor-made creation that meets your requirements right from the start. It’s best to discuss your ideas directly with a carpenter in your area. Regional craftsmen can be found for example at Houzy.ch.

If you want to go one step further, you can opt for a complete dressing room. This not only gives you particularly generous storage space, but also represents an oasis in your home: an extra-large changing room. There are no limits to the size and furnishing possibilities – and hence also to the costs. A jewelry cabinet with a mirror, a dressing table or a tailor’s dummy will enhance the dressing room, which should be located next to the bedroom or bathroom so that you can maintain your usual habits and routine.

View of a dressing room. A mirror can be seen on the left, and on the right there are drawers, shelves and hangers for clothes, shoes and various small items.

A dream for many people: a complete dressing room with storage space for clothes – and its own styling area.

Do-it-yourself planning with an online configurator

Are you already a proud homeowner? Then think about which room you would like to turn into a walk-in closet: a vacated children’s room, a study that is no longer needed or a spacious storage room – they could all be suitable. To make sure you can actually take a few steps inside, it’s best to allow floor space of ten square meters, which is considerably more than the absolute minimum requirement from our calculation above.

Various online shops such as ecoleo offer 3D-view configurators. These will help you to visualize the interior and gain a first impression of the appearance and an idea of the price. Sloping roofs can also be partially taken into account in the configuration. For a room measuring ten square meters, you should expect to pay 3,000 to 5,000 francs purely for furniture.

A DIY-store alternative: ideas for a “lite” version

If you don’t have enough extra space for a walk-in closet, you could integrate it into an existing room such as a bedroom. Simply convert an unused corner or wall. Store your clothes using open elements or cupboard fronts. You could put up a screen at a slight distance to achieve a walk-in closet feeling and to separate the area from the rest of the room. Thanks to this simple solution, you can reduce the cost to well under 1,000 francs.

The freestyle version: set-up and design

Your walk-in closet should match the furnishing style of your other rooms in terms of color, materials and finishes. Bright tones such as white appear more friendly. You need to make sure the lighting is bright enough for you to easily identify and coordinate items of clothing, although cleverly positioned light sources, for example behind shelving, can create an atmospheric ambiance.

You can use storage places such as cupboard units with drawers for items of clothing that need to be kept away from dust, or that do not add anything to the overall visual appearance of the closet. Sweaters, t-shirts and shoes should be placed on open shelving systems. Coats belong on clothes rails.

If there is enough space, you can decorate the room with pictures, rugs or vases.

Appealing for both sexes

In the past, the suppliers of walk-in closets often primarily chose women as their target group. But there are also fashion-conscious men. Suits sorted by color, extraordinary LED lighting, a special shelf for a wristwatch collection, maybe even a flat screen TV on the wall – there are multiple possibilities, even for men.

View of a walk-in closet. There are mirrored cabinet units on the right and left. A man is putting on a shirt in the middle.

A walk-in closet can appeal to both women and men alike.

Conclusion: a cupboard is not just a cupboard

A walk-in closet offers two advantages: firstly, it enhances the appearance of the house or flat, and secondly, it is practical and makes it much easier to store your clothes. If you want to enjoy even more space and possibilities, a dressing room is a good choice.

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