Are you up to the challenge of creating a custom walk-in closet? Combining your love for fashion with functionality is no small task. Whether you have a modest space with which to work or the freedom to draw your walk-in closet design for the future, it takes careful consideration. Organization and beauty can go hand in hand for your enterprise when there’s thought and resourcefulness at the beginning.


Here are some basic walk-in closet design tips. Use them as a guide on how to design the walk-in closet of your dreams.

Planning 101

Woman sorting the clothing for her closet.

Begin the planning process by organizing your clothing and determining what matters most in terms of space. Maintaining order starts by consolidating the clothing and accessories you want to store in the new clutter-free zone.

A simple way to do this is to lay out the goods and sort what will be hung and what will be folded and put away. After taking everything into account, you should have an idea on the sizing needed for storage areas. It’s advised to create a chart to track the items as well as their measurements. Having these specifics on hand is helpful when maximizing space. You could also reduce any bulk by donating unwanted garments.

To further assess your needs, consider questions such as these:

After answering these questions and any others that may come to mind, it’s time to take measurements. It’s advised to use graphing paper for the floor plan. If you prefer paper-free, there are apps and computer programs offering design tools and innovative planning services.


Take accurate measurements of your closet space

Begin with measuring the width and length of the walk-in closet as well as the height from floor to ceiling. Be sure to mark doors, windows, outlets, light switches, air vents, and anything else on the walls or floor. Not only does this help with design, but these measurements may prevent you from needing to make last-minute accommodations.

Measured drawing of closet space
Walk-in closet design tips: Take accurate measurements and use graph paper to draw to scale.
Where to take measurements of your walk-in closet.
Walk-in closet design tips: Take measurements of you space before you begin. Have a general idea of the type of closet components you hope to install in mind while measuring. Understand the difference between hard and soft measurements. Dimensions are referred to as soft measurements when one side of the wall or space measured is open. This type of space is easier to deal with if your final dimensions are off by a small amount because components will still fit. Hard measurements, on the other hand, need to be exact and extend wall to wall. There is no room to fudge so you had better measure your wall in three places, top, middle and bottom in case the walls aren’t straight.
Where to measure when recording dimensions of closet space.
Hard measurements need to be taken anywhere closet storage will extend from wall to wall. Because walls are rarely perfectly straight, be sure to measure your space in three places. Use the smallest number as your measurement for that wall. Also measure from the floor to the ceiling for height. However, Height is usually a soft measurement because closet components usually stop well shy of the ceiling at 89-inches height. This allows for storage on the top shelf.

Design and Layout

Two people looking at walk-in closet design on laptop computer
Walk-in closet design tips: Review several closet configurations before committing to a single design. A computer program can help with this.

Now comes the design. Divide the closet into logical sections on the floor plan and take time to configure as many plans as you can. With numerous possibilities, you’ll be able to choose the best to fit your needs.

Focus on function first, then switch to aesthetics. Optimize the space by creating a plan for each cabinet, drawer, or shelf. Be sure to label the ideas on the plans. You may also want to generate a number system to make putting everything in its proper place at the end a breeze.

Lighting is another important step in layout. Having a luminous storeroom isn’t easy with a walk-in closet unless there’s natural light from a window. Add track or recessed lighting, motion sensor LED lights underneath the top shelfs, or a decorative ceiling fixture. Whatever’s in the budget.


Consider a Standard Closet System

walk-in closet design rendering
Walk-in closet design tips: Standard closet system components can be a good place to start when building your custom design.

Pre-designed solutions are available in the form of stock “closet systems.” Many of these come complete with a variety of storage options such as shelves, closet rods, shoe racks, drawers, built-in hampers, and more. With customizable assembly, these systems provide a streamlined look, timesaving accessibility, and keep the items visible for convenience.

The other option is to select adjustable rods, shelves, clear containers, and other closet accessories. Utilize the vertical space as much as possible to build high storage to suit your needs and budget.


Important Walk-In Closet Design Tips for Success

The first closet design tip is a big one: Build in phases. This allows you to adjust; hiccups in the process are bound to happen. Also, you may realize better solutions when working with the area hands-on.

Next, take lots of notes throughout the process. From planning to assembly, it helps you to remember ideas and small details when the project takes longer than expected or there are interruptions. Utilize sticky notes. Or write installation notes on the back of the building materials, if needed.

Plan for convenience as well as appearance. Consider how high you can reach comfortably when arranging built-ins or shelves. Having such forethought could prevent hassles in the end.

Here are some quick tips:

  • During item measurement, measure from the top of the hanger’s hook to the bottom of the hanging item.
  • To get items on and off, give yourself extra room above the hanging bar. Depending on the hangers, 3 inches to 4 inches should be adequate.
  • Utilize space above hanging areas for purses and folded items.
  • If the room allows, anchor the design with a focal point such as a built-in dresser or jewelry hutch.
  • Double the space with adjustable hanging rods for related items.
  • Create an open feeling by placing the hanging areas and shelves near the door.
Finished custom walk-in closet with drawers, shelves, hanging, and lighting.
This finished walk-in closet custom design was carefully planned. It successfully includes drawers, shelves, hanging, and lighting to bring the owner’s dreams to reality.

Additional Walk-In Closet Design Factors to Keep in Mind

Evaluate costs during the planning steps to stay in budget. For example, materials can rack up the cost for drawers versus open shelving. Building them requires hinges, knobs, etc. Going the simpler route could not only save money but can make the space more accessible.

Similarly, maximize your materials by reducing waste. While there’s inevitably scrap left after a project, being creative and careful by making minor adjustments before cutting might lower the budget for materials.

Last, if you have painters’ tape or moving boxes lying around, try organizing the area with outlines. Situating boxes and outlining with tape can help you get a feel for the space as well as visualize your plan. This could end up saving you from a measurement error or spark an idea that makes the whole project come together.


Further Resources

Looking for more walk-in closet design tips? Need more ideas on how to build a walk-in wardrobe? Click here to try our free professional closet design tool.


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