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7 Considerations When Designing a Built-in Wardrobe

We bring you through the considerations to think about when designing a built-in wardrobe, from the pros and cons and whether you should go for drawers or hanging space to the measurements you should know.


1. Advantages and Disadvantages

Design: DistinctIdentity

The Good

  • Fits in exactly to your space. Great for odd-shaped rooms.
  • Maximise space in a small room. Maximise storage.
  • Make a room seem visually taller or larger if you’re going for a full-height or wall-to-wall wardrobe.
  • Fits in exactly to your lifestyle needs as you can decide on the number of drawers/shelves or hanging space you want.
  • Able to coordinate with your interior design theme or colour scheme.

The Bad

  • Lack of mobility: you can’t bring it to your next home and you can’t move it around the room/house unless it’s a modular built-in.
  • Won’t get to re-arrange your room at a later date.
  • Costlier.
  • Will take a while to build.

Tip: Bear in mind your future plans before you decide to take the plunge with a built-in wardrobe.


2. Measurements to Know

Getting to know the basic measurements needed for a built-in wardrobe can help you plan your space better to give you an idea on how to maximise your wardrobe. We ask Anna Ng from Closetdesign to share the standard dimensions to be aware of:

Tip: Don’t build shelves too deep or items stored there will get lost indefinitely. Most folded clothes take up a space of about 30cm across and 35cm deep.


3. Shelves/Drawers or Hanging Space?

Should you go for more shelves and drawers or hanging space? While this is largely dependent on your needs, Anna suggests going for more hanging space for greater convenience. “Hanging your clothes looks a lot neater than if you were to fold them. The former is much easier to maintain in the long run and saves you more time keeping away your laundry.”

Design: Ascenders Design Studio

However, you shouldn’t dismiss drawers and shelves completely. These are great to store delicates, nightwear, bed linens, towels, socks and fashion accessories—things that can’t go on hanging rods or things that you’d rather conceal from view. Some clothes also work better in drawers or shelves such as knitted sweaters, leggings and shorts. Have a good mix of all types of systems, but think about hanging most of your clothes. The key to making your hanging space look good is not to overcrowd them. Leave some breathing room, which also prevents your clothes from getting wrinkled easily.

Design: Fineline Design

Tip: Segment your hanging spaces depending on the type of clothing and have different hangers for different types of clothing. Slippery materials like silk or satin should be hung on padded hangers or ones with rubber-tipped ends. Go for dedicated trouser hangers that come with a long bar to prevent your trousers from slipping and dedicated skirt hangers with padded clips so that there won’t be dents left on the fabrics.


4. Wardrobe Ergonomics

Design: Icon Interior Design

Depending on whether you are going for sliding or hinged doors, it’s going to change where you place your shelving and drawers to maximise access and use. For sliding doors, shelves/drawers should be placed at the side. For hinged doors, shelves/drawers should be placed in the middle columns.

Design: 9 Creation

Store open shelves where you keep folded clothes at eye level so you don’t have to keep bending down to reach for them. Pull-out drawers and trays can work at lower levels. Bulky items and less frequently used items like bed linens or winter wear should be kept at open shelves above the hanging space. Items kept at top shelves should preferably be kept in labelled boxes or organisers to prevent dust and to prevent things from being forgotten.

Design: VOILÀ


5. Open or Closed Concept?

Design: 3D Innovations

Open or closed wardrobes? While most folks tend to stick with closed wardrobes, more people are getting on board the open wardrobe trend. With open wardrobes, you get to see all your clothes at a glance, making getting ready in the mornings go a lot quicker. It can also provide a greater incentive to keep things stored in the wardrobe neat.

Design: Icon Interior Design

Open closets are also cheaper since you do away with doors. But if your home tends to be on the dusty side e.g. you’re located close to construction works or have pets at home, you might want to invest in see-through glass doors to get that open concept look while keeping dust at bay. Don’t go for open closets though if you don’t see yourself constantly keeping things neat and tidy.


6. Materials

According to Anna, most built-in wardrobes are made with plywood as these are sturdy enough and can hold heavy weight materials. The only disadvantage to this is they tend to produce a very strong smell from the glue that is used to piece these plywood pieces together. After the renovation, place odour-absorbing things like baking soda or activated charcoal to get rid of the smells. The smells will take time to go away.

Design: The Interior Lab

If you are particularly sensitive to the smell or if the wardrobe is located in your children’s room, Anna suggests going for melamine chipboard rather than plywood for the material as the glue used for melamine chipboard produces less smell.


7. Lighting

Design: Cozy Ideas

Light fittings in your built-in wardrobe aren’t always necessary, but it’s a great way to create ambience to your bedroom. If your closet is located at a particularly dark area in the room or if you have a packed wardrobe, you might also want to invest in light fittings in the closet so you can see where everything is located.

Design: Akihaus

You want closet lighting to be diffused to spread as much light to every part of your closet. Go for LEDs, which are less glaring than conventional fluorescents and doesn’t emit as much heat. Go for a colour temperature between 3000K to 3500K for a more neutral lighting. Go below 3000K for a warmer lighting. Warm lights will look better with a wood-laminated wardrobe or a darker coloured wardrobe, while cooler lights will go well with a white closet.


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