While kitchens and baths get most of the attention, walk-in closets are finally stepping out of the shadows and becoming a coveted room in home layouts.
“A walk-in closet, by definition, is one you can walk into. But, I think it’s more than that,” says Jasmine Roth, HGTV host and interior designer. “A walk-in closet is a bit of a ‘dressing room,’ meaning everything you need to get ready is in one single space. It’s a luxury that truly can improve your quality of life immensely.”
As luxury-driven or as simple as you please, these designated dressing areas have everything you need (somewhere to sit, great lighting, plenty of drawer and hanger space) and some things you might want (hello, sneaker and heel “walls” and temperature-controlled cabinets).
Ricardo Rodriguez, a realtor with Coldwell Banker Realty in Boston, agrees. “In luxury homes, they’re not just closet spaces but an actual room in the home, with a use that sometimes goes beyond utilitarian,” noting these can even be more "trophy” rooms for your collections of high-end handbags, sneakers, jewelry, and other valuable possessions.
A luxury walk-in closet is like having very own boutique, so set it up like one—have your favorite items on display and give yourself plenty of room for try-on sessions. We asked home experts what walk-in closet ideas they see topping the most-wanted lists for efficiency, style, and luxury. Here’s what they had to say about designing one of the home’s most important spaces.
Use a beautiful chandelier to brighten up the room
If you can’t tell the difference between your navy blazer and your black one, you need more light. A beautiful fixture can be appreciated from both a functionality (you can see your things) and design (it elevates your look) standpoint, according to Roth. Her favorite fixture for creating a luxury walk-in closet is a chandelier. “Something with a little bit of glam and sparkle can make all the difference,” she says.
Rodriguez has also seen an uptick on the use of smart lighting and LEDs to create a mood. Choosing a variety of lighting throughout the space and its cabinetry (from track to recessed puck and every bulb in between) won’t leave your dressing decisions in the dark.
Although a window is a nice detail, your clothes won’t stand a chance if exposed to sunlight, says Mary Lou Andre, stylist and the author of Ready to Wear: An Expert’s Guide to Choosing and Using Your Wardrobe. Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause significant fading to your clothing, so this is where adequate window coverage comes into play.
“Make sure your walk-in includes pulldown, sun-blocking shades on every window,” she suggests.
A closet island features ample storage
“Usually, a dresser is far away from a walk-in closet, which doesn’t really work when you’re trying to get dressed,” says Roth. “I love to add enough drawers that you can forgo a dresser. You want all your clothes in a single place.”
In addition to the actual wall cabinetry of the walk-in closet system, one such place that works for storage is a closet island. Just like a kitchen island, this can serve several purposes, from extra drawers for socks, lingerie, and underwear to allowing you to showcase items such as jewelry and watches on top.
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Create a designated spot for your dirty laundry
A built-in laundry basket is non-negotiable for Roth to help keep your closet organized. “If you finish your walk-in closet but forget a spot to throw your dirty laundry, you’ll be kicking yourself later,” she says. To avoid the unsightly plastic laundry baskets lying around, have your designer install a large hamper, or a series of them to take the guesswork out of splitting darks, lights, and delicates on wash day.
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A full-length mirror allows you to check out your fit
To be able to effectively “shop” in your closet and see how items work with each other head to toe, a full-length mirror is a must, according to Andre. Whether it’s standalone or mounted, it’s an essential item for your closet so you can dress your best. If the square footage of your walk-in closet is lacking, the mirror also doubles as a design element that gives the illusion of more space.
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Closet valet rods and hooks act as extra storage
A valet rod is intended to function as a temporary place to hang clothing. A step up from a hook, it can hold several hangers at a time and make for a great staging area, whether it’s for items you’re about to wear or those that need attention, like steaming.
If you’re lacking the space, valet hooks are also good options, some offering extendable lengths. “Valet hooks allow you to put complete outfits together on one hanger and have them ready to pack, wear, or just admire,” says Andre.
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Get a stylish ottoman to sit and relax on
Being able to take a seat before or after a busy day adds a relaxation element to the walk-in. From a simple yet elegant ottoman all the way up to a small sofa, a choice of seating is also a practical place for putting on and taking off your shoes. As Rodriguez taps the inclusion of sound systems as rising in popularity for walk-ins, taking a seat as you listen to the morning news with your coffee or enjoy a glass of wine gearing up for an evening out with your favorite music is sure to elevate the luxury in the room.
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Custom storage and displays offers added bonuses
While some basics are no-brainers, Rodriguez sees the real trend in luxury walk-in closets as being all about customization. Think “climate-controlled sections for luxury handbags, shoe storage as more as a sneaker display, retail-inspired jewelry displays, and upgrades that include individualized security systems, among others,” he explains. This is your special room, so make it what you want.
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Decorate with photos and art for a personal touch
Roth notes that the private nature of the room can also lend itself to even more personal touches. “I love adding a little shelf somewhere that they can display a few fun, personal photos. If it’s an old photo of a group of friends or a photo of their dog as a puppy, this small touch makes a big difference. Our closet is personal, and it’s one of the places in our house where only we go. It should make us happy no matter what.”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.