A luxury walk-in closet is a major status symbol, and people are willing to pay extra for one in their master bedroom. Closets are no longer dark and inaccessible. Now they are personal statements as stylish as the fashions they store. And homeowners consider them to be an essential amenity.
Well-equipped closets have evolved. Men and woman both want a luxury walk-in closet customized to be as awe-inspiring as the rest of their home.
People today have lots more “stuff”, creating the need for clever storage solutions. And that applies to closets, as well as the kitchen. No one is better at space planning than a kitchen designer. Closet design is a natural addition to your skill set because whether you’re finding storage for spices or for shoes, the essential design guidelines are the same.
Keys to Walk-in Luxury Closet Design
When it comes to the master closet, bigger is definitely better. Everyone wants plenty of storage. If space is at a premium, consider an unused bedroom to add a spacious walk-in closet. No matter what size space your customer comes to you with, you can make it work.
An upgrade in storage space is the main reason for a luxury walk-in closet – and for good reason. Today’s working professionals need a large closet to store suits, work outfits, casual attire, shoes, accessories and more. It’s almost impossible to cram everything needed in a small closet with one large hanging rack and a shelf or two. If a working couple is trying to get out of the house in the morning, they need a walk-in closet that is organized and well-lit.
Your client will need to inventory all items he or she wants to store in their new luxury walk-in closet. Additionally, she must create a wish list of all the other things to be included so you can determine if the closet will be large enough to store everything.
Advise your client that a luxury closet won’t look or feel fabulous if it's crammed full. She should not stuff in as many shoes, handbags and clothing as she can make fit. Get her to think about high-end stores and how strategic spacing between articles of clothing and shoes helps the store display their items to best advantage. Maintaining some breathing room makes the space feel much larger, which translates to luxurious.
How Will Space Be Used?
The most popular custom walk-in closet is designed to store, display, and work with the flow of how your clients like to coordinate their outfits and get dressed. Closets are personal and deserve to be personalized; they are not a one-size-fits-all.
Does your client have a shoe collection like Carrie’s in “Sex And the City”? Or do they have designer silk ties in every imaginable color and pattern? Are their outfits color coordinated, or are things stored haphazardly? Is their present closet stacked with folded jeans and sweaters, or do they have mostly hanging clothes? Are there formal gowns, dresses and business suits that require traditional hanging space? What about accessories - belts, scarves, handbags, hats and jewelry?
What they need to store, what they access most frequently, whether they’re neat and tidy or not with their clothing, and even their favorite colors can influence closet designs.
Designers have found that a client’s perceived lack of space is not because the space itself is too small, but it’s because people can’t use the space effectively. A five-foot tall woman is probably not using the top third of the closet, simply because she can’t reach it.
Likewise, a tall person may avoid using racks placed at lower levels that require stooping or bending to use. The solution may be as simple as moving a rack up or down 6”.
Motorized or manual pull-down hardware fittings that bring the contents of high racks down can “give back” enough space to make a small closet seem larger.
In the case of two users of different heights, two separate “zones” can serve each person’s specific storage needs.
Personalizing the Luxury Walk-in Closet
A luxury walk-in closet can be your client's personal haven. Its design doesn’t have to be boring. Bold colors and distinctive lighting an decorate the interior, just like for the rest of your client’s home.
Pieces of furniture can transform the area. A vanity with mirrors can be used for applying make-up or admiring jewelry. A chaise lounge can be for relaxing.
A bench seat or window seat is something the closet should have. Everyone needs a place to sit to put on and take off shoes, and a bench that has room for storage is especially practical, in the closet as well as in a well-designed kitchen. By adding comfortable seating, you create an atmosphere that is both elegant and functional.
An island provides drawer or roll-out shelf storage, as well as a horizontal surface that can be used for laying out clothes to see if they go together, folding laundry, packing for trips, etc.
Mirrors are a must-have. The best arrangement is a 3-way floor-to-ceiling type. Your client will want to realistically evaluate her appearance while selecting an ensemble. And see how she looks coming and going.
Alternatively, if there isn’t space for a 3-way mirror, mirror panels in the cabinet doors can achieve the same effect. If they are placed strategically across from each other, the doors can be tilted to the needed angle so that your client can see herself from all sides. The more angles available for viewing an outfit before leaving home, the better.
Incorporating glass front cabinets and glass shelves in your closet is another luxurious feature. Whether it’s glass in doors, drawers or shelves, it adds a special touch. Frosted glass is especially attractive and modern, and it hides any clutter that may be going on behind the doors.
Don’t forget about decorative hardware. Always the “jewelry” of the kitchen and bath, it can now be added to closets. Unique detailing such as crystals add a “wow” touch. And your client can specify the finish she likes for the rods and hooks and other accessories for the closet.
An ironing board that folds up into the wall when not in use can come in handy.
If you have open wardrobe cabinets, your client will want to invest in high-quality wooden hangers. They will make her garments drape nicely and look appealing when she is getting dressed. They may take up a bit more room than other hanger types, but to achieve the look and feel of a true luxury closet, clothing can’t be crammed in. The more spacious the clothing looks inside the closet, the more luxurious the room will appear
A fabulous shoe collection can be impressively displayed so that it’s the first thing you see when opening the closet door. If your client is a shoe lover, she needs to know that shoe walls are no longer reserved for the Kardashians of this world.
Shoes are the one accessory that accumulates quickly. With a shoe wall, shoes will be properly stored and better protected, and options can easily be seen when getting dressed.
Unique Features in the Luxury Walk-in Closet
Some people incorporate unique features in their closets, such as washers and dryers with dedicated laundry stations. Some have built-in espresso machines, or mini-refrigerators with wine bar. A desk with charging stations is not uncommon. And with enough space, a lounging area and/or yoga/meditation area will add to the overall luxury vibe.
A luxury walk-in closet should incorporate universal design principles. More and more homeowners want to remain in their homes as long as possible. They want to be able to access their clothing as they always have done. The motorized lift brings contents down to the person who may have limited extended reach.
There’s a reason it’s called universal design. Making one’s clothing accessible is not something that is limited by age or physical ability; everyone should be able to reach their clothing easily– in the future or now, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the convenience is there for whenever it’s needed.
A wardrobe lift brings clothes or hanging objects down to the person's level. The wardrobe lifts from Hafele are available in manual pull-down or motorized. Universal design at its finest.
Everyone wants to be able to tell if their pants, shoes, sweaters, jackets, socks – everything, in other words – are black or navy. If you’ve ever left the house wearing what you thought was a black skirt that turned out to be navy in the sunlight, or possibly you discovered too late that you were wearing two different colored socks that looked the same in your old closet, we know you were not happy.
The point is that lighting is critical for a great closet system.
Lighting makes it easier to view the wardrobe items, of course, and it can create warmth and drama. Whether your client’s taste runs toward a crystal chandelier or a sleek contemporary pendant, help her find “the one” that will make her smile every time she walks into her closet.
LED is non-negotiable. LEDs make it easy to add directed lighting to any room or nook or shelf, without the extra heat that created challenges in the past from halogen spots.
The photos below show the difference lighting can make.
Drawers that automatically light when opened, or pull-downs that light up when they are pulled down – even closet rods for hanging clothes light up – can make it easier and more convenient to match colors. And find things, too.
LED light strips can be applied to get light exactly where it’s needed. Plus LED lights save energy and last practically forever.
While the luxury walk-in closet must be functional, the styling is all about fashion. The number of finish options, furniture details and custom touches that add a sense of luxury are limitless, depending, of course, on the budget.
We may be prejudiced, of course, but when designing a luxury custom closet, you will encourage your client to invest in quality cabinetry. She will not want to see melamine shelves.
Many of the closet brands out there are not “real” cabinetry. They are a system of shelves, drawer boxes and rods designed to maximize how much stuff can be squeezed into the closet. They are not wood cabinetry. Emphasize that the best custom cabinetry her budget will allow is the most important aspect of the closet design.
A high-end consumer will seek out items that are not widely available to reveal their unique individual style. A luxury walk-in closet is a personal and intimate space. There are many ways in which to personalize the design of a closet, and one is to include textured leather or burled woods in cabinet doors. We have confidence you know of others, such as
- Leather-lined shoe shelves
- Specifically-designed boot hangers.
- Utilizing the vertical upper space for rotating seasonal shoes (i.e., boots and sandals).
- Including a place for everyday shoes, sneakers, slippers, etc., that shouldn’t be displayed. Open shelving on the back of the island keeps them accessible, but out of sight when you first walk into the room. If there’s no island, dedicate a space behind wardrobe doors.
- Storing small clutches and evening bags behind glass doors propped on acrylic stands.
- Cubbies for storing medium and larger sized handbags
- Glass shelves with dramatic LED lighting. Use lights in the frame of the cabinet/cubbie opening. Or direct the light upward to showcase displayed items.
It’s true. A spacious walk-in closet is a must-have for home buyers. As Forbes reported, large closets “have gone from a desired amenity to an expectation.” Home features – like carpeting on the main-level of the house, Whirlpool tubs in the master bath and a two-story foyer – have been replaced by demand for custom closet organizers, laundry rooms, programmable thermostats and energy-efficient appliances.
A custom closet can be a showcase for your client’s style and taste, and it’s one that makes her feel good, too. She will discover she’s less stressed getting ready for the day when her closet is well organized.
A custom luxury walk-in closet can be a financially smart choice in any home, no matter its size. It will add value by providing more space and organizing the clutter that homeowners want to tame.
Dovetail Marketing is a full-service rep agency whose goal is to match kitchen and bath designers and remodelers with the cabinet manufacturers best suited to their business’ style and clientele. Owner Bob Aungst III represents Brighton Cabinetry, US Cabinet Depot, Presidential Cabinetry, Jay Rambo Cabinetry, Great Northern Cabinetry, and StyleCraft.