A walk-in wardrobe can be a girl's (or guy's) best friend. Here are some tips on how to design yours to fit your individual needs.
1. Evaluate Your Needs
Consider your personal clothing style. Do you like dresses? Do you have a lot of separates? Do you wear sweaters frequently? Do you switch out clothes seasonally? Do you have lots of shoes? What about accessories—belts, ties, scarves, handbags, totes? Do you have jewelry and do you want it to have a place in your wardrobe? Do you want to keep your outerwear in this wardrobe? Hosiery—socks, stockings? Lingerie or underwear? Sleepwear? Hats? Umbrellas? Take an inventory of what you have now and anything you're contemplating buying in the near future.
2. Evaluate Your Space
Take thorough measurements of the space. Floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Make very careful measurements of any bump-outs or recesses in the space, and note where any doors, windows or electrical outlets may be. Also, if you're thinking of a wall-mounted wardrobe system, make note of the locations of wall studs and consider what the walls are made of—plaster, drywall—this can make a big difference. Make a scale drawing, if possible. This will help you (and the salespeople who may be assisting you) pick out the best system for you and avoid nasty surprises.
3. Evaluate Your Budget and Expertise
Closet systems can vary wildly in price and quality, so you have many options depending on how much you want to spend. Also remember that if you are going with a wall-mounted system, you have to decide whether you want to do the installation yourself, or have a handyman or the system's professional installers do the work. The good news is that almost every discount department store and home store has its own line of closet organization systems, and you are sure to find a good system for your budget and skill level.
4. Shop Around
While online shopping can save time and money, before buying anything online go to the stores and look at the systems. Most stores will have the components of their systems set up so you can see the possibilities in 3-D, and you can see how good the materials are and how well they're constructed. Remember that even though closet furniture doesn't get a lot of rough usage, items like drawers and doors get a lot of wear and tear over time, so check those elements especially carefully. If the store has literature about the system, take it; otherwise, write down the measurements of each component you think you'll need.
Take your brochures and measurements home, grab your inventory list, get out the graph paper and make a plan. You can do a bird's-eye plan, where you make a scale drawing of the floor area, then make scale cutouts of each furniture item's footprint—that way you avoid planning for an item that ends up blocking the doorway. But also, make a graph of the wall or walls you want to install the system on, and make cutouts of the front dimensions of each item. This way, you can plan the vertical space as well. Most systems are designed so that the components can be stacked or combined many ways—play around until you get a configuration that works for you.
Now go shopping, either online (beware shipping charges!) or in the store. Try to get everything you'll need at once, to avoid the disappointment of having to stop mid-install, and also to avoid out-of-stock issues later on.