In today’s real estate market, luxury spaces where you can pamper yourself at home are growing in demand. The private dressing room suite is no exception. For those who have one, it’s like owning a high-end walk-in closet with its own built-in beauty salon and personal valet. On the surface, this seems very exclusive. But the truth is anyone can have one. In fact, you can create your own dressing room closet. Learn how to transform an ordinary closet into your own luxurious boudoir by adding these key features.


Dressing Room vs. Walk-In Closet

In order to transform your walk-in closet into a dressing room, you must first understand the difference between the two. Every dressing room includes the functions of a walk-in closet, but not every walk-in closet is a dressing room. Know the difference. There are several must-have features in order for a closet to be considered a dressing room. Adding these components can transform your closet experience. The 10 key elements your closet needs in order to be considered a dressing room are:

  1. Enough space to walk around
  2. Mirrors
  3. A sit-down vanity table for hair and makeup
  4. Jewelry storage
  5. Clothing storage
  6. Lots of storage for shoes
  7. A built-in dresser or closet island with drawers
  8. A comfy chair or other seating
  9. Lighting
  10. Elegance

That’s quite a bit. But with the exception of space, everything can be added to a standard walk-in closet. However, even if you don’t have a lot of room in your closet, don’t give up. There are ways to get around the space conumdrum.

1. How much space is required for a closet dressing room?

A dressing room is just that — a room designed for specific activities. That means it’s more than storage. You need enough space to get dressed, apply makeup, style hair, select jewelry, etc. And do it all within elegant surroundings. Your closet dressing room needs to be the size of a small bedroom. Maybe you’re lucky and already have a large walk-in closet that will do the trick. But if not, don’t worry. If your closet is on the small side, consider expanding it out into a bedroom. An unused bedroom makes an excellent dressing room conversion because it has the needed square footage. It doesn’t have to be a large bedroom. Small bedrooms with tiny reach-in closets work very well.

One caveat. If you decide to convert a bedroom into a dressing room closet, do not remove windows or do any type of remodeling that will prohibit a future owner from turning it back into a bedroom. That’s because bedrooms increase real estate value more than dressing rooms. You’ll want to leave that option open for future homeowners whose needs may differ from yours.

Example of a dressing room closet plan with dimensions
Example of a dressing room closet plan with dimensions. Numbers are in inches.

2. Mirror mirror on the wall — are mirrors really needed?

Your new dressing room must include a way to see the clothing and shoes you’re wearing. That means a mirror. After all, who can apply makeup or style hair without one? Include several in your design. You’ll need a mirror that you can sit down in front of as well as a full-length model. Pull-out closet mirrors are a good solution if you’re tight on space. However, if you have the room, include a 3-way mirror so that you can really see how a set of clothes looks on you. If that seems like a lot of mirrors, make some dual purpose. Use mirrored doors over some of your clothing storage to keep dust out. As an added benefit, they help to visually declutter the room by covering the clothes and also brighten the space. When hinged properly, mirrored cabinet doors can be used as a three-way mirror.

closet cabinets with 3-way mirrored doors
This closet uses cabinet doors arranged to function as a three-way mirror.

3. Add a vanity table.

A well-equipped dressing room always includes a vanity table. A vanity table is a desk used for styling hair and putting on makeup or perfume. Think of famous actors and other performers. They’re always pictured in their dressing rooms sitting in front of a table with a mirror and lights. To make your closet into a true dressing room, you will need one of these. But it doesn’t have to look exactly like the ones on TV. Repurpose any desk into a vanity table. Or create a custom built-in table to suit your style and needs. Many custom units include space designed specifically to store makeup. Optional charging stations and electrical outlets are also handy for supplying power to hairdryers, flat irons, curling irons, etc.

Try to make sure your vanity has access to electricity. A deep drawer for hairstyling supplies is a must as is a mirror over the table. But be sure that the mirror is well lit. That way you’ll be able to apply your makeup evenly. A comfortable chair or stool is essential so that you can relax and sit while dressing your hair and putting on makeup at the vanity table.

Closet vanity next to window in dressing room closet.
Closet vanity.

4. Include jewelry storage.

Whether necklace, earring, bracelet, or pin, jewelry is a type of wardrobe accessory. It, therefore, needs a place in your closet dressing room. Jewelry storage can be in the form of a special velvet-lined jewelry drawer organizer, a separate jewelry table, or a closet island with jewelry storage under a glass countertop. The best solution will depend on your space. If you have a large collection, try more than one solution. Costume jewelry necklaces can often be stored on hooks near the vanity table. Hanging them prevents tangles. Rings and bracelets are best in small acrylic organizers with multiple compartments. Expensive pieces and fine jewelry need special care and security. Velvet or soft suede bags are good at preventing scratches. Lock up your expensive pieces for extra safety in a small closet safe or use a hidden stealth lock system on your jewelry drawers.

Velvet-lined closet jewelry drawer organizer with pearls
Velvet-lined closet jewelry drawer organizer with pearls.

5. You’ll need a place for your clothes.

The difference between a walk-in closet and a dressing room can sometimes get a bit murky. Their functions overlap. Since it’s a place to get dressed, you’ll need to keep your clothes in your dressing room. But that doesn’t make this room just another name for a closet. In fact, a dressing room may contain one or more reach-in closets. Or clothes may be stored on open closet organizers. The choice is yours. But keep it neat. Do not overcrowd your clothing storage. You’re better off removing out-of-season items than overstuffing the room. Pack away what you don’t need because you won’t feel like you’re in an elegant dressing room if the space has the feel of being packed to the gills like a storage locker.

Uncluttered closet organizers.
Uncluttered closet organizers keep clothing neat in this closet dressing room.

6. Put your shoes on display.

One thing all high-end dressing room closets have in common is that they offer storage for a lot of footwear. They also put the shoes on display. If you own an exquisite collection of expensive shoes, show them off. Treat each pair as a piece of art. Install a wall of open shelves for footwear and add lighting to highlight its contents. Or use a rotating shoe rack to organize a large collection. If you’re worried about dust, cover the shelves with glass doors. But keep those shoes visible.

Even if you only have a few fancy dress shoes, boots, or vintage pieces, put those on display in your new dressing room. Hide the everyday flip flops and slippers behind a cabinet door. But don’t just dump them in a pile. Use a shoe rack so even your humblest footwear remains organized. Special built-in shoe rack models are available that pull out when needed but slide discreetly back into the recesses of the closet when not in use.

walk-in closet dressing room with lighted shoe display and island.

7. A closet island or dresser for accessories and lingerie.

Your dressing room will need more than just hanging space for clothes. You need drawer storage for your small accessories, nightgowns, and underwear. This usually means a dresser or closet island. A closet island is basically a two-sided dresser installed in the middle of the room so that you can walk around all sides. It usually offers a lot of drawer storage, but also be designed with open shelves or cabinets instead.

In order to ensure enough space to walk around all sides of a closet island, you need a very large dressing room or closet. Many homeowners are better of with a built-in closet dresser. As its name suggests, a closet dresser is single-sided. Just like an island, it is usually mostly drawers but can incorporate open shelving or cabinets instead. It always attaches to the wall and is generally constructed chest high. Add extra storage in the form of overhead cabinets above your dresser, transforming it into a hutch. This will give you approximately the same amount of storage as a closet island. Use the empty wall space between the top of the dresser and the overhead cabinets to install a big mirror.

8. Don’t forget a comfy chair, chaise, or daybed for relaxing.

Your closet dressing room should be more than just a place to get ready. Make it into a private refuge by including a comfortable place to sit and destress. In many families, the private dressing room is the only space you can truly call your own. Yet, everyone needs some private time. Let the dressing room be your personal sanctuary through the addition of plush seating. The next time you have a headache or simply need some time alone you’ll be glad to have someplace to go.

Reading corner with chair in dressing room closet.
The reading corner in this dressing room closet is equipped with a comfortable chair..

9. Lighting is essential for every dressing room closet.

A space that is small, dark, and dismal is never inviting. That’s why you should make sure your dressing room closet has lighting that is both functional and beautiful. Ideally, the light fixture selection should enhance the feeling of luxury and elegance in addition to practical illumination. Chandeliers work very well towards this end. And they come in all styles from simple modern fixtures to traditional crystal fixtures like those seen on ITV’s Downton Abbey. Add one even if you have a nice size window because you will want the opportunity to use the room after dark when necessary.

Another type of lighting to consider is an LED closet lighting system installed on your various closet organizers and shelving. This style of lighting tends to be more task-centered but is elegant nonetheless when used by an artistic hand. Put LED strip lights under your shelves, above clothes rods, and inside glass door cabinets to highlight your favorite clothing. Use it vertically along the side panels of your shoe shelves to further accentuate your footwear. LED puck lights are a practical touch above any closet dresser mirror. Put your LED lights on a dimmer to control the amount of illumination and mood of the room.

Luxury dressing room closet with chandeier in center.
This closet dressing room uses a large chandelier over the island in addition to LED strip lighting behind the crown moulding.

10. Set an elegant mood with upscale finishes and accessories.

Use elegant finishes and accessories in your dressing room closet to further the feeling of luxury. Consider an upgrade from plain old white to something with a little texture or color for the furniture/built-ins/bones of your room. If you prefer an ultra-contemporary look, think high gloss. The more expensive finishes don’t have to be on everything but use them as an accent to provide a deeper sensibility to the space. Get creative with your window treatments, area rugs, and seating. These highly visible features can set the tone of the whole room, so don’t skimp. And don’t be afraid to use glass in conjunction with lighting for shelving, cabinet doors, even countertops. It comes in many thicknesses and is not too fragile for most dressing room/closet applications.

Closet accessories are equally important. Used well, they can be like having an extra set of hands to help you stay organized. Focus on the kind of closet accessories that are semi-permanent via installation with screws or other means. For example, use a slide-out closet valet pole to hold your accessorized outfits before you put them on. Other built-in closet racks can organize scarves, belts, ties, and more. You may even want more than one of each to fully accommodate your wardrobe needs.

And don’t forget the hardware. Nothing destroys a sense of elegance faster than cheap and junkie hardware that falls apart when you use it. Consider real wood soft-close, under-mount drawers in your islands and dressers. Upgrade your handles and knobs from the standard offering. These little touches go a long way to creating a sense of luxury.


Still wondering how to create your dressing room closet?

It’s the features that ultimately define the difference between a walk-in closet and a dressing room. Dressing room closets simply offer more of them than a standard storage space provides. So if you want to morph your big walk-in into an elegant dressing room, start by adding as many of the features listed here as you can. Once you experience the benefits, you’ll be hooked. You’ll probably wonder why you waited so long to get started in the first place.


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