Advice - Refresh Renovations | Designing a Reach-in Wardrobe
Whether designing a house from new, or planning a renovation in your existing abode, storage is definitely a key issue today. So the challenge is; “How can I maximise my storage area, without reducing my living area?"
The critical thing to understand first, is that the storage capacity of a hall closet or a bedroom wardrobe for storing clothes, is directly related to your ability to access what’s stored inside it. So if the door frame opening is a lot narrower and shorter than the overall width and height of the wardrobe, then that limits the storage organiser design simply because access is constrained to the total area of the wardrobe. To make the most of a modern wardrobe organiser design you really need full height, full width access to the inside of the wardrobe.
Maximise the door frame size
So the first and most important step in improving storage in reach-in wardrobes or other storage cupboards, is to maximise the access to that space; in other words make the door frame go up to, or as near as possible to, the ceiling height and as wide as the total length of the wardrobe.
What is the best door system to use?
Without doubt, a lightweight, sliding door system with high quality track and roller guide technology is the most functional, and with the many design styles available they can be fitted to all interior decors from the traditional through to the latest in Italian design.
And remember; a sliding door system operates within the doorframe unlike hinged door systems that use valuable floor space in your bedroom or living areas when swung open. This means that less wasted floor area is required in the design of a bedroom or area where a storage cupboard is located. And in areas of the home where there are two or more doorways opening on to each other, sliding doors remove the problem of doors hitting against each other.
Sliding door systems can be easily made to measure to suit your particular wardrobe regardless of the size of the doorframe.
They should be fully bypassing (able to slide completely to both ends of the wardrobe), and should have an anti-jump system to ensure that they do not leave the tracks. They should be fully adjustable to avoid problems with out-of-level floors and jambs that aren’t perfectly plumb. Most importantly they should be easy to slide; if you can’t slide a door easily with one finger only, don’t buy it.
If you have a sliding door system it is important to “partition” the design of the organiser into sections that match the different doors. For example with two sliding doors you will be able to get into either the left side of the wardrobe or the right side, but not both sides at the same time so the design would have different items stored on the different sides. E.g. Longer hanging items (full length dresses, overcoats, etc.) together with shelving and drawers on one side, with two levels of shorter hanging items (shirts, jackets, skirts) on the other. So when you approach the wardrobe to retrieve an item of clothing you will know which side of the wardrobe to go to.
The only other type of door you could consider would be a bifolding door. There are limitations to the size they can be made to, unlike sliding door systems, but they can be fully opened to allow good access to the storage space and, while to they do use floor space outside of the wardrobe when opened, because they fold they don’t use as much as standard hinged doors.
Bi-folding door option
Designing the wardrobe / storage organiser
Never underestimate how much storage space you require for hanging clothes, don’t plan too much space for long hanging. Most clothing items only require a hanging height of 1000mm meaning that two levels of hanging can be easily achieved.
When designing in drawers, ensure that they can be accessed and pulled out easily without meeting any obstruction.
Leave the left and right ends of the wardrobes for hanging clothes. Putting shelving into the corners of the wardrobes generally makes access difficult if you have walls to reach around, and occasional use hanging items can be hung into those corners where they don’t need to be accessed so frequently.
The first thing to do is to take stock of what it is that you want to store in
Divide the clothing you hang up into the 3 different hanging lengths (long hanging – full length dresses and coats; 3⁄4 length hanging – long skirts, trousers that are hung full length; 1⁄2 height hanging – shirts and blouses, jackets, waistcoats, trousers that are folded over hangers) and then calculate the length of hanger bar that each group will require. There are also slide-out trouser racks available which are preferable to folding your trousers over a hanger.
You need to work out how many drawers and shelves are required. Remember; bulky items like woollen jerseys are better stored on open shelves than in drawers. They are more visible and easier to retrieve when wanted, and are less likely to become squashed and damaged when drawers are opened and closed and because of this not as many drawers are required as in days past. Drawers are needed for smaller items that do not stack well: socks, underwear, vests, etc.
Scarves, handbags, belts, and of course ties for him. They all should have a place just for them. There are racks available to store almost anything these days which can be incorporated into your design.
The first thing to do is to sort out the “everyday” shoes from the “occasion” shoes. Ideally the everyday shoes should not be stored in your wardrobe, but instead in a cupboard or on shelves at the entrance to your house or in your garage where they are readily accessible. The dress shoes can then be stored carefully in your wardrobe either on shoe racks or shoe shelves. Be aware that a pair of women’s shoes measures 200mm in width, so any shelves to store them should be made in multiples of that width (400mm = 2 pair, 600mm = 3pair). As an aside, one brilliant way to store your shoes is to store your shoes in the box that you bought the shoes in. Then you can mark the outside of the box with what type of shoe they are, what colour they are, for what season, and whether they’re casual or formal. (Or simply take a photo of the shoes and stick it on the outside of the box). You can keep the appropriate shoe cream inside the box, it keeps the dust off the shoes, and it keeps them cleaner. Plus if you put in a sachet of silica gel inside the box, it will stop any mould.
* Allow additional shelving for other items such as hats and handbags.
Again the hanging clothing should be divided into the 3 different lengths; long for overcoats and other full length items, 3⁄4 length for trousers hung full length on clips. Some men prefer to hang their trousers over a hanger which will mean they probably do not need 3⁄4 length hanging at all, or alternatively use a sliding trouser rack. !/2 height hanging for shorter items. Business jackets and shirts will fit into the 1⁄2 height hanging area too (as long as there is at least 1000mm in height between the 2 levels of hanger bars. Allow plenty of room for shirts; cramming ironed shirts together means they will have to be ironed again.
A good tie rack and belt rack should be incorporated into the design.
Open shelves for jerseys, sweaters and other bulky folded items. Drawers for underwear, socks, t-shirts, etc.
Men’s shoes are wider, about 250mm in width, so the length of any shelving for their shoes should be calculated on that basis.
Boston designer system
It has to be taken into account that children will grow and therefore the design must be flexible and be able to change as the years go by. Children need more shelving than hanging generally, and baskets for t-shirts, underwear, socks, even shoes for little kids. As they grow their need for hanging clothes will too, especially girls. Boys will probably never need to have a hanging area for longer clothes; shorter hanging for shirts, jackets, trousers which will allow for more shelving space.
Long Hanging – A hanger bar set at a height of at least 1750mm above floor level. For items of clothing such as long overcoats and full length dresses.
Three quarter length hanging – A hanger bar set at between 1200mm and 1400mm above floor level. For items such as trousers hung full length on clip- type hangers and long skirts.
Short hanging – A hanger bar set at a height of 1000mm above floor level. Can be two hanger bars positioned one above the other, thereby giving twice as much storage in the same width of wardrobe space. For items such as shirts, blouses, suit jackets, trousers hung in half, etc.
Wardrobe depth – The distance from the back wall of the wardrobe to the outside front edge of the doorjamb. The minimum depth should not be less than 600mm, which allows for 510mm for hanging clothes, and 90mm for the doors.
Hanger bar – The metal bar that a clothes hanger hangs from. The ideal distance to fix the hanger bar is 250mm out from the back wall. The bar should be specifically manufactured for the purpose with a non-scratch surface that hangers can easily slide along, and designed in such a manner to reduce sag. Hanging clothes can mount up to a lot of weight, so much so that virtually any bar will sag if it extends unsupported for too long a distance. Ideally the maximum distance a quality hanger bar should extend is 1200mm and no more.
Door head – the section of wall that extends from the ceiling down to the top of the doorframe. In most reach-in wardrobes this obstructs access to the top part of the storage area and therefore the doorframe needs to be as high as possible to the ceiling.
Wall returns – these are the sections of wall that are built out from the sides of the wardrobe to the edge of the doorframe. Again wall returns obstruct access into the sides of the wardrobe and should be minimised.
Shelf depth – The distance from the front edge of the shelf to the back wall. Since even large sweaters usually fold up to a size of no more than 380mm square, a shelf depth in a wardrobe of more than 400mm is unnecessary. Remember, being able to see what is on the shelves is important. Where shelves are too deep in a wardrobe (say 600mm), the temptation is to increase storage by stacking items in front of other clothes that are stacked at the back. More storage but you can’t easily find anything. Of course Linen cupboards require deeper shelves for blankets, duvets, sheets and towels. 450mm should be adequate for those types of items. Bookcases don’t generally require shelves much deeper that 250mm. Shoe shelving should be 300mm deep. (Incidentally, women’s shoes require a shelf width of 200mm, while men’s shoes require 250mm.)
This article was supplied by Boston Wardrobes. For more detailed assistance on the design of your wardrobes, please contact:
Phone: 09 377 5799
Showroom: Nugent St, Grafton, Auckland
Postal Address: P. O. Box 2748, Auckland