June 9, 2020 – Published in Design & Decor Summer 2012 issue
The designer wardrobe
Words: Kenneth Tanti – Interior designer
Many people dream of having a huge walk-in wardrobe, surrounded by the latest fashionable must haves, designer shoes and an array of decadent handbags. Set up more like a boutique than a wardrobe with colour-coordinated clothing, accessories and wall-to-wall mirrors. For many of us that is a dream but for some with the luxury of space that dream can become a reality.
The notion of the walk-in wardrobe is one that came to life after World War two. Before this in certain country’s taxes were paid on the number of rooms you had and a walk-in closet was deemed as a room and people did not want to pay a “closet tax” as such.
In the 1950’s the walk-in wardrobe was a luxury feature for one’s home abroad that was typically situated adjacent to the master bedroom and often not much larger than a standard wardrobe and possibly no more than 6 feet deep.
Continuing into the 1970’s and 1980’s it was almost deemed a prerequisite for a new build home aboard to feature a walk-in wardrobe in the master bedroom and seen as many to be as important and luxurious as having a master ensuite bathroom.
Today’s version of a walk-in wardrobe has developed even further and now at the high end one can make use of a full-size room and turn it in to a complete dressing and wardrobe area.
Two years ago we were commissioned to work on what has to be one of the largest apartments in Malta. The owner had bought several apartments and opened them up in to one vast space. Whilst being taken on an initial show round of the property we came to a large set of double doors and were simply told this is the wardrobe.
This “wardrobe” was actually a 140 square meter apartment that had been joined to the main residence and was to be converted in to his and hers bathroom, dressing and wardrobe area.
We started working on this project with a meticulous structure. Considering how tall our client was for the height of the rails. What type of clothing this space would hold? How many shoes the client had etc. What space did she need to store bags and luggage.
The key element to a walk-in wardrobe is organization. It can easily become the messiest room in the house and a hidden away disaster zone if not properly laid out and well organized.
Hollywood’s stars and the elite have the luxury to make use of a stylist and wardrobe dresser who will catalogue everything. Photograph when an outfit is worn and to what event etc and even document what can be worn with what for future events giving you the ultimate organisation.
The closet organising industry is becoming a huge business to the extent of interior designers abroad specialising in closet design.
In America it was estimated that Americans spent four billion dollars in one single year on closet organization.
Organisation can be as simple as colour coding your clothing, removing and storing winter clothing and making room for those summer essentials.
Compartmenting jewelry, belts, ties and so on in their respective space makes it much easier to then choose and visualize the complete outfit.
Storage bins present a solution for gaining added space and can be stackable and are an excellent idea for putting away one season’s collection and making way for the next.
The luxury of a walk-in wardrobe is that there is no need to close everything behind doors. That way your eyes can skim over your wardrobe and help you to select the desired look.
Some clients also know that they have no need for more than two or three bedrooms so an additional bedroom could then be turned into a walk-in wardrobe.
This is what we did in our own home when renovating we originally had a 4-bedroom house. We knew that we had no need for more than two bedrooms so the 3rd bedroom became the study and the fourth bedroom, which was adjacent to the master, was turned into a walk-in wardrobe.
However, a walk-in wardrobe is not always requiring a full-size room and many of us do not have that additional space to spare. Even in limited spaces there are possibility’s for doing a walk-in wardrobe but one must remember not to compromise the bedroom space for the sake of that walk-in experience.
I have seen walk-in closets where the word “walk” definitely needs to be erased out of the equation as one can barely squeeze past the clothing to make any selection.
An alternative when space is limited for a walk-in is wall-to-wall fitted wardrobes where one entire wall can be transformed into storage even being floor to ceiling giving you a lot of added space.
It is important when designing a wardrobe space no matter what size is that it needs to be functional.
To many shelves or not enough drawers can play a factor? Do you have enough full-length hanging space; do you need full length hanging space? How is the lighting surrounding the closet, do you need built in or overhead lighting?
Planning your wardrobe is key and the ability to stay organized and neat is essential in achieving a fabulous closest space.
So even if your space is limited and you can not do a walk-in, spring is here and it gives us all the chance to open our wardrobes, give away what is not needed and get organized.
There is nothing better to help kick start a great day than getting dressed in the mornings in a well-organised and workable space.