The closet can be one of the most fun areas to design with our clients. What can sometimes be seen as a hidden afterthought, can expand into a very special room of the house. Now that we’re digging back into our drawers and refreshing our wardrobes to include garments other than loungewear, consider creating an experience around the art of getting ready with a custom closet. But before you begin, ask yourself these four questions.
The initial step for designing a closet is to quantify how much space you will need. We have had clients that want to downsize and others that want a closet that accommodates their expanding wardrobe. The simplest way to start is to go through and figure out what you want to keep, and what might not make the cut. That way, you won’t be moving around a bunch of garments that won’t even make it to the hanger. From there, measure in linear feet how much space you have in your current closet for the following items: upper-rod items, lower-rod items, and full-length items. Items stored in drawers can also be counted in linear feet. For shoes, there are a variety of ways to store them, so it is best to simply count the number of pairs you have. Next, count and measure miscellaneous items like suitcases, purses, jewelry, watches, etc. Once you have quantities of your existing wardrobe, consider how much room for expansion you might want to account for – have a big trip coming up? A career or life change that prompts a wardrobe refresh? There is no wrong answer, so go with your gut.
For our clients with minimal, capsule wardrobes, a single closet space can typically suffice for two people. For our clients with a bountiful fashion collection or sneaker obsession, different closet zones becomes part of the design conversation as it brings a better flow to the experience. For example: the first level of organization could be separate closets for two partners, and the next level of organization can be whether there are fun areas for display versus hidden, subtle storage. This can be handled at the macro scale with a closet foyer with more displayable items, and a separate room that can be closed away. Display vs storage can also be designed at a micro scale within the closet with display shelves and closed cabinets. Cabinets can be useful to hide visual clutter If the closet space is open to the bedroom space. Cabinets can also help protect more delicate items or store items that aren’t used as much.
When designing a new closet, consider items that may not even currently be stored in your current closet. Heavy coats and ski outfits can be in a portion of the closet that does not need to be reached as often, but is easier to access than a storage unit or attic space. It is also more convenient to store luggage in your closet, but most people don’t have room for multiple suitcases and bags. Luggage can be easily stored in an overhead shelf or in a more accessible place if you are a constant traveler. If you have a specific fashion collection, a closet can be a great place to display it - who said all clothes need to be tucked away and hidden? Shoes can be organized and backlit, scarves can be carefully organization and hung, and accessories can be beautifully displayed to show their unique features.
Another fun element of closet design is in considering the nonconventional closet features. Items such as laundry hampers, hidden safes, steamers, and ironing boards can easily be designed into your closet space and can help reduce clutter. Consider whether you’d like a place to sit to put on shoes or a surface to set things while dressing. All of these details can imbue the space with your personality as well as increase the convenience and comfort.
We have some clients that already have a clear vision of their new closet spaces, but many do not. As your partner, we’d love to discuss all these considerations and help you fine tune your exact needs to really make your closet a fun yet functional statement piece.
Jessica Chang, AIA, is a graduate of the University of Southern California and an Associate at EYRC. She has led projects in both the commercial and residential studios since joining EYRC in 2018. With her passion for design, Jessica brings an energetic perspective and critical eye to the firm. Prior to her tenure at EYRC, Jessica worked at Morphosis Architects for four years on internationally recognized projects ranging from hotels and train stations, to embassies and city-scale masterplans. Her dedication to the field extends beyond design projects as she leads the Digital Practice Committee and co-leads the Design Justice Committee at EYRC. Her determination to innovate and promote equity makes her a valuable and empathetic architect.