Dear James: We created a master bedroom from two smaller bedrooms. Now, we want to build a walk-in closet into a corner. How big should one be, and how should we build it? —Aaron M.
Dear Aaron: A walk-in closet is found in almost every master bedroom these days. This is a pretty simple do-it-yourself project because you just have to build a framed shell, cover it with drywall, and hang a decorative pre-hung interior door.
Because it is such a popular feature, some builders and remodelers try to fit a walk-in closet into a bedroom or house that is too small for it. This not only looks odd but also isn’t very functional. By taking space away from the rest of a small bedroom, the functionality of the entire bedroom can be compromised.
After combining two bedrooms, you should have plenty of room for a decent-sized walk-in closet. It should have a minimum depth of 4 feet from the door. It should be the full height of the bedroom to provide room for shelves. The minimum width depends on the type of storage (shelves, cabinets, built-in drawers, etc.) you choose. It should provide enough space to turn around once you are in there.
Before proceeding with your walk-in closet design, do some preliminary planning for the master bedroom layout. Plan to have the bedroom, closet, and bathroom doors open up in an area along a wall or in a corner. This creates a traffic zone that will be somewhat separate from the rest of the bedroom, where the furniture and bed are located.
You should not put the walk-in closet door across from the bedroom entrance door if they cannot be on the same wall. Walk-in closets tend to get a bit messy at times, and it’s best not to have a mess on the floor of the closet be the first thing someone sees when they enter the bedroom.
The closet door should open outward into the room so it does not block access to items in the closet. Keep this in mind when you decide which way you want the closet door to swing. If it’s near the room entrance or the bathroom door and swings the wrong way, it can be in the way and become an annoyance.
Once you have the location and size of the walk-in closet determined, plan on the type of storage you desire inside the closet. A shelf is often located above a closet rod and is typically 14 inches deep for larger items.
Closet rods for hanging long dresses should be about 70 inches from the floor and 12 inches from the closet wall.
There should be about 5 inches of clearance above the rod to a shelf to make it easy to hang clothes. For hanging shirts, jackets, and pants, one rod can be located above another. Leave about 44 inches between them.
Plan for adequate lighting in the closet. A built-in switch in the door jamb is best so the light goes out automatically when the door is closed and cannot accidentally be left on. Also install override switches on the outside and inside of the closet. Install full-spectrum compact fluorescent bulbs for efficiency and for the truest colors.
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