Stroll right in to your very own walk-in wardrobe

The walk-in wardrobe was previously the domain of the rich, stateside, but Kya deLongchamps says they’re fair game for you too — just make sure to maximise your space

It’s a detail that either leaves you tottering on your Jimmy Choos, or completely blank and questioning the indulgent loss of square metres — would you, could you, have a walk-in wardrobe?

Previously the couture den of the rich and spoiled from stateside, the walk-in has become something of a must have in many new homes, and not simply at the executive level (whatever that is anymore, where every middle class baby seems to enjoy an infant ensuite as standard).

Getting the clothes, shoes and other wearable clobber out of the bedroom proper — what a relief visually and practically.

The dressing-room was a mid-Victorian rage, and a man and a woman would have their own, where room allowed.

There might even be a cot for the man to be dismissed to, when he had disgraced himself in some dastardly 19th-century way.

Accelerate a couple of centuries and who can forget Carrie Bradshaw rolling around her dressing-room floor with Mr Big? Terracing her passion for clothes into exquisite order, it was that glittering space that finally sealed that romantic deal.

The walk-in, the curating of clothes in their own miniature room has gone mainstream, and there are some good reasons to consider its inclusion where flabby square metres or a reconfiguration of floor space allows.

Into the closet

Many rooms have areas that are underused and that could be partitioned off with studwork for a step-in, if not walk-in wardrobe.

Study what the Americans consider standard in every room — the closet.

Talk to your architect during renovations about building storage into the walls.

A short rectangular or squared space, two to six rails, room enough to stand sideways and open storage right to the ceiling for hatboxes and winter duds.

Light a mirror on the end wall and leave the door open while in there — it doesn’t have to be huge but it does need adequate light and ventilation.

Tip: When building, the long walls between bedrooms back-to-back can delivers a walled-in closet or built-in wardrobe (at least 62cm deep) on each side that won’t gobble up the bedrooms’ footprint. If in doubt, get a designer.

Three-room suites

To my mind, the master walk-in that takes in the journey to the en-suite makes greatest sense.

Touring some fabulous homes for this paper, dressing/en-suites wrapped in a simple right angle (or L) around one corner of the principle bedroom, creates a luxuriant impression and a workable real suite.

This would include at least one, discreetly shaded windows in the walk-in.

With two doors from the bathroom, one directly back to the bedroom and exit door, a partner can use the ensuite without disturbing the fashionista digging through the Hermes when that suits.

Some chaise style seating, his/hers — his/his — hers/hers runs of storage — you might find this somewhere to withdraw to to exercise, meditate, dream or just sulk. Full cabinetwork or skeletal rails? How neat are you?

Tip: Doors, drawers and interior tailoring can double the spend on built-ins only you will see — become a folder, hang beautifully, ditch the doors, add niche lighting and behave.

Hanging space first

The most efficient and sensible use of an walk-in is to hang things up, so prioritise short and long hanging areas punctuated by drawers and shelving when setting out storage modules.

Hanging instantly shows off clothes, keeps them fresh, wrinkle free and leaves them available to just grab up.

Simple rails can be suspended from walls or left free-standing.

Where the space is completely private and your trousseau turned over and updated enough to keep it clean and dust free, you really can forgo the expense of doors.

Well detailed blind or mirrored sliders (lose the handles to present a wall) allow for corridor spaces between the bedroom and its primary door or that route to the ensuite.

For architectural and structural punch where you don’t want doors, use strong, chunky lengths of stud or system MDF or wood uprights/shelving to hang rails.

Tip: Using one short corridor or the bedroom entryway? Short hanging space under a 2m plus ceiling height can be banked into two 62cm deep levels. Use pocket (into the wall) or sliding doors to save encroachment.

Storage to the centimetre

Building-in, or using a system of built-ins from a quality supplier — none of it makes sense without using every centimetre floor to ceiling.

Some smaller garments must really be sealed into drawers, but where you have the option, an elegant chest-of-drawers in the bedroom proper can deal the clothes out between the bulk in your walk-in and small, intimates, closer to where you rise.

The quality of drawers and closed shelving can run from clear plastic bins to delectable facings in glass and timber.

Cut your cloth to meet the measure, but set out the room using every bit of redundant space in this relatively small andprecious addition.

Tip: Lay some logic. The least accessible shelving under the ceiling should be reserved for off-seasons and specials (hats for the races in their boxes etc.)


Shoes are a major nuisance in a yawning wardrobe with no interior detailing. Corral them and you’re half way there.

Shoe bars are superb for hanging up heeled shoes, but you will need flat shelves for sneakers and pumps.

The traditional shoe bag with individual pockets is great for less formal, expensive footwear and can even hang out on the back of a door if your walk-in is not a flashy walk-through, but more of a private working closet.

Lit cabinets can run to thousands if you are determined to archive to the max.

Shoe maniacs love the illustrated box on shelf solution — take a close digital snap and print it out on paper, box the shoes up, and cut and paste their ID to the end of the box. Slide end on onto a shelf — done.

Tip: Reaching around to finding anything and judging an outfit demands great lighting matched to a full length mirror. Mix up spots and LEDs for sparkling, balanced flattering lighting your eye can trust. Interior shelf lighting — pure Carrie!

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