This is a must-read article if you're planning to create a dressing room and/or walk-in closet. These 40 tips will help you make the right decisions. Many photos.
Designed by ClosetFactory.com
We’ve all witnessed the dreamy dressing rooms that are brought to life on the big screen.
There’s Carrie’s walk-in-wardrobe in the Sex and the City movie:
There’s also Mellie’s power-dressing closet on Scandal, our heroines have the most amazing dressing rooms that we think we would never be able to have for ourselves. However, this simply isn’t true. Whilst we may not be able to fill our rooms with racks of Gucci and Louboutin, we can create the dressing room of our dreams by using some clever interior design tips and making the most of the little space that we have.
Table of Contents
- A. Before you begin
- B. Door or No Door
- C. Walk-in-Closet Furniture
- D. Accessories
- E. Lighting
- F. Storage
- G. General tips
- H. If you don’t have a separate room
- I. Build a Dressing Room on the Cheap
A. Before you begin
Before you can work on the physical aspects of your dressing room, you have to think about the logistical practicalities. Consider:
- Will you use the room solely to get dressed, or will you use it to do your makeup and hair too?
- Are you going to share it with your family, or your partner? If not, check out feminine designs. If so, check out unisex designs.
- Is there anything in particular, such as a knockout shoe collection or a treasure trove of handbags that you’d like to show off?
- What do you want the room to look like?
You can use white wardrobes and silver rails to create a minimalist vibe, or use opulent statement pieces like a velvet ottoman stool or a chandelier for a more luxurious feel. When you come to decide the colour of the room, you’ll need to consider the room’s natural light and shape – bright, neutral colours work well.
If the dressing room is for a male, dark colours are ideal. Lastly, think about the layout – the wardrobe is the most important part of the room so start with this and build the rest of the room around it, rather than trying to squeeze a wardrobe in around everything else.
2 key starting points:
Step 1: Check out walk-in-closet design photo galleries. See what you like and then start planning.
Step 2: Planning: Sketch out some designs with closet design software.
The Hardest Part of Planning a Dressing Room
The hardest part of planning a dressing room is deciding on the shelving, drawer and hanger space configuration. There are so many options, yet your decision will impact the storage capacity considerably.
It’s important you take careful inventory of your clothes, jewelry, shoes and other items you’ll be storing. For example, if you have a lot of dresses, you’ll need more hanger space with decent clearance underneath.
If you have hundreds of pairs of shoes, you’ll need to carefully plan out how you will store them all. Likely, you’ll need to rotate them out for each season, but still you’ll need to consider this carefully.
For guys, if you have a few dozen suits, you’ll need plenty of suit hanging space along with a sufficient tie rack.
Again, configuration planning is where the design software can help you tremendously.
B. Door or No Door
Some dressing rooms can be closed off from the bedroom while others have doorless open entry making it an extension of the bedroom. Both can be great. What you do is really your preference. Here are some examples:
C. Walk-in-Closet Furniture
As we mentioned, the wardrobe is the most vitally important part of the room.
1. Built-in vs. Free standing Furniture
You’ll need to decide whether you want to have it built-in to the walls, or whether you’d rather have it as a standalone fixture.
Both ways have their benefits: standalone wardrobes can be easily moved around, whereas built-in wardrobes are more expensive but they can add value to your home as they are a sought after feature for buyers.
You’ll want to have a chair, chaise lounge and/or sofa in the room for putting on your shoes and setting out any items that you need to take with you.
Designed by ClosetFactory.com
3. Rails, hooks or trees
If you have a lot of items that you want to display, you can use rails, hooks or trees to display them neatly.
4. Chest of drawers
You’ll also want to have a chest of drawers for storing everyday essentials like tights and underwear.
If you have a large room, you can use a centre island as both a table and a storage unit.
6. Dressing table
The last piece of furniture that you will need is a dressing table so that you can do your makeup and hair, as well as to display your jewellery, perfume and other trinkets.
If you’ll also do make-up, nails and hair in your dressing room, why not get a free-standing vanity with mirror and comfortable seat. This not only provides a place to store hour beauty products and various implements, but it also offers a place to get ready.
Designed by Red Rock Contractors
An ottoman is a popular and smart furniture choice if you have the space. It offers a flat surface as well as a place to sit. Check it out:
Designed by Lisa Adams Closet Design
Once you have your basic pieces of furniture, you can start to think about the accessories.
The most vital accessory for your dressing room is a full length mirror, for both practical and design purposes. You will use it to check on your outfit, but also the use of a mirror also adds light to your space and makes it look bigger.
2. Hat/Coat Stand
You could also add a hat and coat stand, to keep everyday items within reach after you get dressed.
3. Jewelry and/or Watch Case/Table
If you have plenty of jewelry, you’ll want a place to store and display it. A dedicated jewelry section can be very helpful.
You will want to carefully consider the lighting for your dressing room. Ceiling pendants and chandeliers create a statement, but they aren’t enough lighting by themselves.
You should aim to have at least five lighting features such as wall sconces, spotlights and wardrobe lights. Think about a fitting room in a store – bad lighting makes you not like the clothes, and the same principle works here. If you’re not keen on lights within your wardrobe, invest in spotlights which shine into your wardrobe for a similar effect. If you have a dressing table, adding lighting around the mirror adds a ‘Hollywood’ feel to your room – ring lighting is also ideal for doing your makeup.
Example of a dressing room with amazing lighting:
Designed by Red Rock Contractors
Should you have a window? On the one hand, the light is nice. On the other, you definitely want privacy. A good solution if you want natural light is to place windows up high. Check it out:
In both a small and large space, storage is incredibly important. It stops the room from looking cluttered and helps you to keep your wardrobe organised.
1. Cotton storage bags
You could use cotton storage bags for your lingerie, breathable storage boxes for knitwear and divide your drawers into segments so that you always know where your tights or socks are.
If you have an unused corner, turn it into a shoe carousel, so that you are maximising every inch of space in the room.
You should always use the same hangers to keep the room looking streamlined and clean, but you can use padded hangers to display any statement items.
4. Shoe storage
Store your shoes in boxes and keep a picture or a label on the side so that you can identify them easily.
Designed by Lisa Adams Closet Design
Display your jewellery, but protect it from dust with a glass case. Lastly, hooks will be your new best friend. You can install them on the doors of your wardrobe for handbags and on the wall for your coats and scarves.
A nicely appointed built-in laundry hamper system is a must-have feature as well since it’s in your dressing room where your laundry will pile up. There’s no need to have to walk to another room all the time.
G. General tips
Once you have built your ideal dressing room, the fun begins. Here are some handy tips to help you make the most of your new-found dream room!
- Hairdryer: If you have a spare hairdryer, keep it in a vanity case in your dressing room, so that you’re always ready to pack quickly for a spur-of-the-moment weekend away.
- Last season’s clothes: Store last season’s clothes when they’re not in use. I mean, you’re hardly likely to need that cream faux fur coat in July, are you? Vacuum pack the items and place them on shelves.
- Buy a fabric laundry bin: fabric bins are so much kinder to your delicate lingerie than metal alternatives!
- Dealing with small space: If your room is small, invest in wardrobes that go all the way to the ceiling to elongate the little space that you have.
- Make your hanging spaces moveable – ideal if you have high walls but limited cupboard spaces as you can move the rails up and down as you wish.
- Pegboard: Make use of a blank wall by using a pegboard (like what you would use for tools!) to store your jewellery and other accessories.
- Space-saving tip: Consider retractable wardrobe features to push things out of sight when you don’t need them. This will give you more space to move.
- Adjustable shelving: Choose shelving which can be adjusted by height and store items of a similar height together.
- Skylight: If your dressing room is dark, an expensive but worthwhile investment could be to install a skylight. This will bring in lots of natural light to the room and put you in a much better mood when you get dressed in the morning!
- Shoes on display: Use colourful shoes as your decor – make the shoe shelf your centrepiece.
- Open wall space: If you’re going to use wallpaper, cover just one wall and leave the other walls blank so that you don’t overwhelm the space.
- Back-lighting: Use backlit shelves to add the wow factor to your shoe and handbag collection.
- Ottoman: Use an ottoman stool to add glamour to your room if there isn’t enough space for a chair.
- Smart lighting: Automatic wardrobe lighting will help you see the full colours of your clothes on dark mornings.
- Capacity: Never fill your dressing room storage to more than 70% full – you want to be able to add to it, not have to take away from it!
- Flooring: I personally like carpet for dressing rooms. It’s warm, soft and quiet. Since it’s not a utility room like a kitchen/bathroom with potential spills and water damage, carpeting is ideal. Of course hardwood with a rug works too.
H. If you don’t have a separate room
If you can’t commit to using a full room as your dressing room, fear not, as there are plenty of ways to incorporate one into your bedroom.
1. Partition wall
You could use a partition wall or a folding screen to add an element of privacy.
2. Mirror for screen
If your bedroom has a corner which isn’t used, switch on your imagination and think of how you can turn it into a mini dressing room with a mirror and storage.
3. Use another space
You also don’t have to use your bedroom – Pinterest is filled with inspiration of how people have incorporated their dressing room into their study, bathroom and even their hallway! The latter is a great trick – keep a storage unit by the front door with your coats and outdoor accessories, with a mirror so that you can check your appearance one final time before you head out to face the day. If you’re going to use your bathroom, you will want to be mindful that the damp atmosphere could damage your clothing, so you will need an effective storage solution.
I. Build a Dressing Room on the Cheap
While not ideal, wire shelving in a small space or room can serve as a walk-in-closet or even dressing room. It’s inexpensive and you can make it nice with perhaps an ottoman, mirrors and shoe display.
Video: Example of woman creating quite a nice walk-in-closet with wire shelving
Here’s a fun video which shows you how one woman turned a spare room into her dream walk-in-closet.
Remember that you have created this dressing room to be a space that you enjoy, not somewhere to store everything you own. If you fill it full of unnecessary items, it will lose the appeal. You’ll need to keep it tidy and organised, which can be time consuming, but the reward of having an Instagram-worthy, Carrie Bradshaw-style dressing room is more than worth it.
Leila Jones is a content writer from the UK. It’s her life goal to have a dressing room, with a huge white dressing table filled with makeup, and a wall of Chanel handbags (a girl can dream!)
Next: Check out our list of free and paid closet design software options and our massive walk-in-closet gallery featuring 100’s of designs.
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