Top 3 Styles of Closets

From walk-in to reach-in to wardrobes, learn about all of the different choices you have to work with
Cabin Reach-In Closet

Cabin Reach-In Closet

Photo courtesy of California Closets

Photo courtesy of California Closets

By: Jeannie Matteucci

Before you move on to the next step of the planning process, it helps to understand the differences between closets. Armed with this knowledge, consider your options and make an informed decision that satisfies your storage needs and meets your budget.

Walk-In Closets

Offering more depth and space than a traditional reach-in closet, walk-ins are frequently found in master bedroom suites and loved for their versatility and storage opportunities. Walk-in closets can be a few square feet or as large as a bedroom. But while extra space for a dressing area or vanity comes in handy, you still need to give careful consideration to your closet's design.

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"You want to set up different zones in your walk-in closet," says Lisa Engel, ClosetMaid representative. Use the top of your storage system for seasonal storage. At belt level or the 'hot zone' of the closet, you want to maximize storage for things like jewelry or men's watches. And you want to keep shoes visible and accessible.

Walk-In Closets with Character

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For the Love of Shelving

Capitalize on closet space with sufficient shelving and drawer space. This California Closet design takes advantage of the natural light streaming in from the window. The closet system, in Hardrock Maple, features a hutch, an array of drawer sizes and granite countertop.

A Closet Divided

For those who share their space with that special someone, this master closet is divided down the middle for his and her peace of mind. Her side features extra shoe storage while his side makes the most of hanging rods. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Spacious Serenity

The distinctive characteristic of this master closet is the open floor plan. An area rug and dressing chair create an inviting feel. For closet systems that don't extend to the ceiling, add decorative boxes that double as storage. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Photo By: ClosetMaid

Classic Sense of Style

Your closet should reflect your sense of style and the home's personality. This Rubbermaid design combines a wire system with custom shelving for an affordable and classic look that will retain lasting beauty over time.

Perfect Placement

Eye level storage is the most important real estate in your closet. A collection of clothes takes center stage, with shoe racks lining the floor. Extra storage space for seasonal items and linens can be found over head in decorative canvas baskets. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

A Backdrop for Your Wardrobe

A white, wooden storage system is a great backdrop for a colorful wardrobe. This closet is light and airy, which is very welcoming in the mornings. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Photo By: ClosetMaid

Pocket Doors

For closets that are open most of the time, pocket doors are a great option. The openness allows natural light to stream into the closet and master bedroom through the uniquely shaped windows. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

A walk-in closet can also include a center island that frees up storage space on your walls. "But the extra space won't do you any good if you can't get to what's inside," says architect Duo Dickinson, author of "Staying Put: Remodel Your House to Get the Home You Want". A walk-in closet should be at least 6 1/2 feet wide for easy access.

Also keep in mind the corners and angles in a walk-in closet can be tricky and need to be utilized correctly for optimal storage capacity.

"The tendency when buying a closet from a builder is they run a hanging rod all the way around the closet, and that isn't the best use of space," says Kay Wade, vice president of design for Closet Factory. Instead, adding something flat on the back wall of the closet, like shoe shelves, can make the entire closet run more efficiently and feel larger and more open.


Usually anywhere from 3 to 8 feet wide with a limited depth of 24 to 30 inches, reach-in closets are commonly found in hallways, kids' rooms and bedrooms of older homes. These closets were originally designed with a single rod for hanging clothes under a shelf, with return walls that can limit access inside. But these days a wide variety of products allow you to create a more efficient space with numerous storage opportunities.

Many affordable wire starter kits offer an adjustable mounting system that allows you to reconfigure as your storage needs change. You can also add stackable storage components like cube organizers and drawer units, which will give you storage for folded items and accessories.

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Make it Your Own

Not all storage options have to match. This closet features a wooden storage system and white shelves that frame the space, giving the design an eclectic look with lots of personality. Photo courtesy of California Closets.

Rustic and Organized

A rustic barn door that slides along a top track offers a nice design detail for this space. Let your imagination be creative with door options that add character to your well-organized space. Photo courtesy of Rubbermaid

Keep Style in Mind

While it's especially important to make smart use of space, don't leave out your sense of style. This closet uses higher shelves to store seasonal clothing in bright red canvas baskets that pop against the wall color. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Photo By: ClosetMaid

His Closet

A masculine approach mixes functional with a classic color palette. Hanging storage in smaller sections tend to stay neater and are ideal for shirts and pants. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Hard-Working Foyer Closet

There is storage space for everyone in the family in this foyer closet. A variety of shelves and rods provide an easy grab-and-go approach in this ClosetMaid system. Creating a place for every item eliminates clutter.

Decorative Display

Getting ready in this space is nothing less than enjoyable. Shoes are neatly displayed in a vertical row alongside custom shelves, which feature a place for perfume and small items. When the doors are open you can easily locate all of your belongings. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Curtain Doors Add Character

Folding closet doors can pinch little fingers. To keep a child's closet easily accessible with great style, consider replacing the doors with curtains that complement the space. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

The Teenage Boy

This closet design is sure to keep his clothes off the floor. Wire systems are functional and work well with a teenage wardrobe. From guitars to board games, this design provides a space to showcase all of his personal belongings. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Lighting with Ease

Good lighting can make a huge impact by illuminating your closet design and wardrobe. For convenience, use a closet light that switches on and off automatically. Photo courtesy of California Closets.

Modern Style

Pocket glass doors are a great option for a space with modern style. The green, black and white color palette can be found in every design element, from storage bins to the wire closet system. Photo courtesy of Rubbermaid

"Even having two small drawers can allow you to have your socks and undergarments right there, making getting ready in the morning so much faster," says Nick Mangiapane, Rubbermaid representative.

A double-tiered hanging system for folded pants, skirts, jackets and other like items is the way to gain space in this kind of closet. And for reach-in closets with traditional hinged doors, you can increase storage by adding hooks or over door racks and pockets to the back of the door for things like keys and shoes.

Wardrobes and Armoires

Sometimes you need storage but you don't have the proper closet space, and building a closet isn't in your budget or complementary to the design of your home. A nice alternative, wardrobes and armoires create storage in underutilized spaces, creating a "closet" hidden behind doors or panels of fabric.

"We have seen the wardrobe is no longer storage only, it's more a dressing room that sets the mood for the day ahead or the big party that night," says Roar Vaernes, president and CEO of Studio Becker. "It's important that your wardrobe includes features that not only organize your stuff, but items you will actually use."

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Clever Curtain Placement

This loft apartment features spacious storage for belongings to be neatly tucked away in the corner. Purple curtains complement the room's color scheme and provide easy access to showcase or conceal a collection of personal items. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Modern Style

Everything about this system is stylish and easy to locate, which makes getting ready a breeze. The artistic cabinetry created by California Closets features adjustable glass shelving to store a variety of accessories, perfumes and purses.


This wardrobe is created in a room that lacks any existing closet space. Designed by ClosetMaid, this functional focal point utilizes a balance of drawers, shevles and hanging space to store clothing and accessories.

Matching Design

The abundance of storage space in this wardrobe competes with a full walk-in closet. While organization is essential in closet planning, it's very important to consider how the closet system fits with the surrounding design elements. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Old World and Functionality

Timeless, custom cabinetry with full-height storage neatly displays his and her belongings. This closet system, designed by Studio Becker, is made from Mahogany and can easily pass for a fine antique.

Dramatic Elements

Getting ready for a night out on the town is a treat in this space. Recessed lighting and elegant velvet curtains create a dramatic effect, showcasing this custom-designed, ClosetMaid wardrobe.

Wire System Wardrobes

For those on a budget a wire system wardrobe is a wonderful option. It can easily be installed and uninstalled, and is functional for almost any space. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

For some of these high-end wardrobes, that might include in-drawer "cellarets" (built-in drawer inserts) that organize socks, ties and scarfs, a pull-out pant press or glass shelves that lock in place. But for those with a limited budget, many retailers offer affordable wardrobe and free-standing closet organizers that incorporate hanging bar and drawer storage. You can find standing zippered-front fabric wardrobes, wardrobes with sliding doors, corner wardrobes and wardrobes on casters, all in a variety of finishes designed to blend with the rest of your home.

And don't forget about armoires. They're the perfect size for the clothes of infants and toddlers. An armoire with a short rod, drawers for bedding or folded clothes and shelves for other baby essentials can be a one-stop closet. You can add colorful baskets and bins on the armoire shelves for toy storage and use the inside of the doors to hang a blackboard or decorative hooks to display the outfit of the day. Later on, it can be used in a guest bedroom or home office space.

Armoires also don't typically extend all the way to the ceiling and often are set on feet above the floor so they don't take away from the volume of the space. On the downside, armoires offer limited depth and you may need to change the configuration of the inside if moving the unit to another room with different storage needs.

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