Stylish Storage: Design a Wardrobe That Will Serve You for a Lifetime

How disappointing would it be to spend thousands of dollars on a built-in wardrobe only to have to replace it sooner than you expected because it just doesn’t fulfil your needs? This could be due to poor design or manufacture, so let’s cover some basics in wardrobe design that is sure to serve you well now and into the future.

Timeless Design

A built-in wardrobe is a fixture of the home and is usually quite an expense. Keeping the style to either classic design or in keeping with the architecture will ensure the wardrobe is never out of place or outdated.

Adding unique free standing feature pieces, such as this mirrored drawer unit, can bring your wardrobe up to the minute, and you’re not committing the whole design spend to a fashion piece.


Be Room Aware

While storage is highly important, if the wardrobe is part of a bedroom, the bedroom is the priority. An oversized monolithic wardrobe can ruin a bedroom resulting in early demolition because the bedroom feels too cramped.

A way of avoiding this problem is illustrated in this photo. By creating a dressing table in the middle of the wardrobe space, the walls of wardrobe don’t close in the room. In fact, by adding the mirror, more depth and interest is created on this wall.

Careful assessment of your storage needs can often achieve this. By detailing the actual area needed for storage, then designing to those requirements will offer a more interesting and less invasive design than the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling default option.


Less Is More

Avoid over designing your wardrobe. Compartmentalising helps to order the space but over compartmentalising will, in fact, limit what can be stored.

I wouldn’t blow my money on redundant shoe compartments. Whether you store shoes in boxes or have them loose, adjustable shelves maximise shoe storage without over-designing.

Avoid novelty storage systems for shoes, trousers and accessories. Nearly all of these have moving parts that are likely to break over time. Nothing serves as long as the tried and true shelves and hanging space.



Your storage needs will change over time. Whether you’re growing up, out, in or old, our style needs change, and so do fashions. If your wardrobe interior is not adjustable, including the hanging sections, the maxi dresses of one era, for example, will leave great voids in the space during the mini era. The only way to cater for this is with adjustable height in hanging as well as shelving. By using adjustable fittings for the shelves that are used for rigidity within the wardrobe, the heights will always be flexible.

The same applies to shelves when catering for varying heel heights in shoes or switching from shoe storage to jumper storage. Adjustability equals space maximisation, because if you adjust your shelves to hold exactly what you need, you know you can change the height later when you need to, and you can utilise every centimetre of space there is.


Ergonomics and Functionality

Well-designed wardrobes make your life easy.

Drop the hanging areas and put the shelving above where you can see and reach it. It’s the same amount of storage space put right in front of your eyes and hands where it works most efficiently.

Shelf depths of 360mm ensure order, by preventing items migrating to the back of the space. Closely stacked, shallow shelves also guarantee order no matter how blasé you are about folding.

Shelf widths of 300, 600 and 900mm modules take full items neatly so that the shelves stay tidy.



No matter how great the design, and materials, if the wardrobe is not manufactured and installed with quality workmanship it will be inferior and will fail prematurely.

Seek out manufacturers who are recommended by architects, designers or have a solid reputation.


Quality Lasts

If durability is important the basic componentry of the wardrobe has to be high quality.

The average wardrobe interior is melamine – a durable, practical and economical material. However, unsupported spans in excess of 750mm for 16mm board and 850mm for 18mm board need to be avoided because they will likely sag over time. Consider moisture-resistant board if dampness is a potential factor.

Quality door hinges and drawer runners are essential. It’s not worth economising on hardware. When it comes to pricing, the cost of hardware can be nearly $100 greater per drawer for top-quality runners. It isn’t essential to have soft close or top-range runners in the wardrobe, but quality basic runners as a minimum are money well spent.


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