Waredrobes are a strange stylistic animal. The largest piece of furniture aside from the bed, they have a very imposing physical and aesthetic presence. Follow kitchen trends? With slab faces, soft closing hinges or silent slides, micro-management and handle-free design — the monumental, built-in or free-standing wardrobe won’t be far behind your German anti-kitchen. Here are some key things to consider before you tailor in those valuable centimetres.
FREE-STANDING OR FITTED?
Some larger ceiling or near to ceiling high free-standing wardrobes with kickboard bases (rather than telling legs) and widths of 1100mm plus — read as fitted. Every genre from French armoire classicism (Neptune’s Chichester range in dove-tailed tulip-wood is a good example) to Bauhaus block units in Zermatt, Mila, Christine, Emer and Jutzler; from €799 for a double (Harveys), can go it alone.
Matching pieces in many flat pack ranges can be assembled tightly against shelving and dressers, anchored to the wall, but ultimately are mobile with just a few screws winkled out. Can you get an assembled wardrobe up those stairs? Explore well-priced buy/deliver/install services from outlets like the Loft Superstore on Cornmarket St in Cork.
Free-standing wardrobes are inexplicably dear (expect €600-€1,400 for a 210cm double in any decent gloss or matt laminate). Be aware, when your new kitchen is going in – many firms offer both products and may bundle a tempting deal with a complimentary full CAD design service.
Free-standing is not a design cop-out nor is a built-in a contemporary nod – the Georgians favoured built-in cupboards. Several high profile design houses include prestige free-standing collections. A shout out here for a teenage wardrobe – the locker look of Argos’ Woood Connect 3 Door 3 drawer is an eye-catching freestanding solution from €620. The mid-century lines of EZ Living for their lovely retro Scandi, Oak & Dark Grey wardrobe, €1,299 off sale, is a fresh alternative to stilted Shakers.
Americans are confused by the lack of Irish closets — standard in the States. Examine your bedrooms for orphaned footprint that could provide an ample closet with a bit of studwork without damaging the proportions of the room. A clever carpenter can transform a weighty free-standing ‘robe with the installation of crown moulding and baseboards to attach it to a ceiling as a built-in.
In a loft conversion — the true built-in can transform cramped metres, push back a ceiling and reduce visual stutter. Built-in robes are also high architectural for masters and brilliant additions for larger spare rooms where they can carry a huge volume of domestic over-flow. Using one short corridor or the bedroom entryway? Short hanging space under a two-metre-plus ceiling height can be banked into two 62cm deep levels. Use pocket (into the wall) or sliding doors to save encroachment.
With the carcass type and fit decided upon, it’s the door that determines the look. If you’re going DIY or electing for fit-out, quality choices for a slide door include SlideRobes, SlideGlide and door choices from B&Q (Valla, Blizz and Shaker), Sliding Wardrobes Direct and many independent firms and carpenters.
A truly bespoke whole wall wardrobe will include drawer elements (rendering a chest of drawers obsolete) and will have second fix detailing that flows into existing skirting board for example. With a fixed panel, fitted ‘robes can even bring the ceiling (and reach) lower and simply infill a vertical gap.
It’s discreet detail that will make a unit fully part of the architecture of the room. A period informed break-front free-standing or built-in ‘robe features a central section set proud of the flanking elements. Check out the Alysbury and Athena range with its glazed pane inclusions at Cash & Carry, cashandcarrykitchens.ie.
In modern choices, for large uninterrupted panel sizes, choose sliding doors with large ratio areas of blind door or mirror. Bi-folds or swing doors are limited in width by both their hinged operation and the space demanded to open them up. Half horizontal tinted mirrors to the top of the panels and doors reduce the glaring view from the bed while inflating apparent space. Don’t ignore the handle choices and the finish colour or texture of any upright panels on the end of the wardrobe. These ends can be used to include an upright post of display or bookshelves.
Wall-mounted framed up modular solutions acting as super shelves include B&Qs Twinny (uprights, brackets and boards), IKEAs Algot (plus endless units to butt together), and customisable Elfa Shelving from organisedstore.ie. Space-intelligent and an easy DIY install, they are easily teased apart and/or added to as needs change. System storage frames feature more open shelving, integrated small chests and hanging space rather than blind doors. If you have to shoulder your present wardrobe door shut over a blizzard of unfolded clothes, this airy display style will just enable bad behaviour.
Oriental style slat forms are well represented by IKEA in their Nordiska open frame wardrobe with its sliding single partial screen door — are you really that tidy? €250, ikea.ie. If you do have a walk-in option, open access styling is ideal for fitting it out. The Home Triple Modular Metal Framed Jute Fabric Wardrobe with a soft cover is a steal at Argos from €60 for a 174cm frame. Rails and zipped nylon wardrobes out on the floor of the bedroom, offer all the glamour of a dry-cleaner’s back room.
Together with the actual materials of the wardrobe form, the unit will demand a budget for stanchions (frame edges), mouldings, door tracks, interiors fittings and lighting if you’re keen. If you don’t’ want to remove skirting for a built-in, wall liners will have to be designed in too.
Exquisite interior detailing can double the price of any standard wardrobe. Metal elements, articulation, glass and back-lit displays are the priciest options. Still, if these inclusions order clothes and deliver them in a sexy glide straight to your hand, they may well be worth the investment to you. Lighting is crucial to judging outfits. If your extant directional spots are not illuminating your dawn decisions, an interior or exterior light to the top rail of the wardrobe can work wonders.
Most women’s clothes hang while about half of men’s clothes are best stored folded. What most of us don’t’ require is long hanging space for dressy, ankle-length clothes and coats. The vast majority of clothes actually extend less than 90cm from the top rail of a tall wardrobe. Two rails, one high and one about 100cm above the wardrobe bottom, will double your hanging space.
Fitted storage that compliments a room, will certainly have an impact during a viewing, but shoddy built-ins or over-whelming trendy fixtures, will be the first thing most people rip out. There should be a seamless, ergonomic wow to sloping ceilings and corner units. Initial measurements are crucial — if the supplier offers this service free — take it.
Budget for the best quality you can afford, and choose a door style that will appeal to the widest audience — neutral colours, an area of mirror, smooth operation and in proportion to the room. A good carcass in standard door sizings will allow re-jigs to the interior and renovation with new doors.
Many people loathe even bespoke storage, in a hutch over the bed — it can read as very 1970s. Bronzed and smoked mirrors and concrete style matt laminate are fashionable – but not as future-proof as white slab sliders. Once damaged foil-wrapped MDF cannot be repaired or easily painted.
A split millimetre perfect install will make the difference between unintentional gaps, stuck doors and irritating disappointment every time you open your eyes and see its cockeyed angles.