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How to plan your perfect built-in wardrobe

It's the UK; storage space is a premium. The solution? Built in wardrobes. Whether it's clothes, shoes, or general bric-a-brac that you need to store, a built in wardrobe can be designed specifically for what you need.

Say goodbye to that spare useless space around your freestanding wardrobe. You know, those awkward gaps of space that you can’t fill with anything other than old pairs of boots and coats you don’t have space to hang.

A built-in wardrobe will fit any space you have and give you the answer to your storage problems.

Why built-in wardrobes?

Built-in wardrobes are designed to maximise space. They can be custom-made to meet your exact specifications. And they can even fit into the most awkward alcoves and unused areas of your bedroom.

Installing built-in wardrobes in your bedroom will unlock a range of benefits.

With a built-in wardrobe you can:

  • Save space in your bedroom
  • Create a calm and clutter-free space
  • Neatly arrange your clothes and accessories
  • Have more space for new clothes
  • Transform the overall look of your bedroom

Let’s see how they compare to standard freestanding wardrobes.

Built-in wardrobes vs freestanding wardrobes

Both built-in wardrobes and freestanding wardrobes have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s compare the two options.

Freestanding wardrobes pros

  • Increased mobility
  • Easily replaced or resold
  • Same day purchase and delivery
  • Available with matching furniture

Freestanding wardrobes cons

  • Limited size options
  • Wasted space (especially around corners and height)
  • Cluttered feel to a room
  • Difficult to organise

Built-in wardrobes pros

  • Ability to maximise space
  • Customised internal storage
  • Bespoke styles, colours, and finishes
  • Increase the feeling of space in your room
  • Designed to utilise awkward spaces
  • Optimise natural light (full length mirrors, light coloured finishes)

Built-in wardrobes cons

  • Cannot be moved for decorating, resale
  • Slightly higher cost
  • Harder to rearrange your bedroom
  • Longer delivery/installation time

Although freestanding wardrobes are more versatile and can be easily moved, built-in wardrobes can be tailored to you.

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Creating a plan for your built-in wardrobes

Carefully planning your built-in wardrobe project will help you get the best storage space for your clothes, shoes, and accessories.

A methodical approach is best. In general, you should follow these steps to achieve the perfect built-in wardrobes:

  1. Choose the best location for your built-in wardrobe
  2. Take accurate measurements for the size of the wardrobe units
  3. Decide on the layout including doors, shelves, hanging space etc
  4. Choose the material and style of your wardrobe

By following these steps, you’ll soon have the perfect built-in wardrobe in your home.

Check out our ‘how to build a wardrobe guide’ for more inspiration.

Built-in wardrobes styles and materials

A teal fitted wardrobe

Styles

The style of your built-in wardrobe will very much depend on your personal taste and how your bedroom is decorated. You may also want to consider how it will complement any existing pieces of furniture and your fixtures and fittings including lights, curtains, and carpet.

You may want to go for a sleek modern style, which may include chrome handles, mirrors, and a cool grey or light blue finish.

Alternatively, you may prefer a more traditional appearance. Solid wood or timber effect finishes are best for creating a classic appearance for your built-in wardrobes.

Materials

In terms of materials, there are several options for your built-in wardrobes. Some of the most popular include:

  • Laminated plywood – cost-effective and good for low moisture areas
  • Particle board – affordable and sustainable with an easily paintable finish
  • MDF – medium density fibreboard is also cost-effective but is prone to expansion in moist areas
  • Wood plastic composite – low maintenance, eco-friendly and water resistant – good for bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms
  • Solid wood – most expensive but most attractive and very strong and durable

Making a built-in wardrobe

If your bedroom is standard box-shaped and you are a confident DIYer, you may want to build your fitted wardrobes yourself.

If, however, your bedroom has lots of awkward angles, corners, and alcoves, which is highly likely if you’re considering space saving built-in wardrobes, it’s best to work with a professional.

How much do built-in wardrobes cost?

Built-in wardrobes are bespoke products designed to fit into your home’s available space. Therefore, they are slightly more expensive than freestanding wardrobes.

Take a look at our fitted wardrobes cost guide for all you need to know about the potential costs of a built-in wardrobe.

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Which fitted wardrobes do I choose?

Again, this one’s for you and your tradesperson to decide.

Your space will largely dictate what your choice limitations are.

For example, if your bedroom is small and there isn’t enough room for a double wardrobe with doors opening outwards, then you could go for a sliding door arrangement.

A professional will be able to advise you on making the most of your space.

How to build a wardrobe

Struggling for ideas?

Head over to our built-in wardrobe ideas for the latest trends and inspiration.

How should you plan the inside of a built-in wardrobe?

When you’re busy planning your made-to-measure wardrobes, it’s worth checking out Pinterest for inspiration. You can find a wide range of built-in wardrobes in a range of room styles. It’s worth taking a look at the style of the outside as well as the layout of the inside and what storage is available.

Think about the number of hanging rails, the necessity of a trouser rack, what you can use the fancy pull-out shelving for, the length of your shoe rack, whether you need a jewellery drawer, and whether you can get away with twice your partner’s wardrobe space!

wardrobes internal organisation

What type of doors are best for built-in wardrobes?

This will really depend on your preference and how much space you have available. You’ll be looking at the outside of the wardrobe most of the day, so try and put just as much thought into the doors as you do the inside.

Narrow spaces will work better with sliding or bi-fold doors. Mirrored doors can make a small room feel much bigger and brighter (as well as doubling as a dressing mirror, saving further wall space elsewhere). Horizontal lines can make a room feel wider, and dark colours can sharpen a wide empty wall.

FAQs

Can I build a built-in wardrobe in the alcove?

If your home is older, it’s likely to have a chimney breast and alcoves, which is the perfect place for built-in wardrobes.

What trades are needed for built-in wardrobes?

When you want a professional finish to your built-in wardrobes, it’s best to work with a skilled joiner or carpenter.

Are built-in wardrobes a good investment?

Yes, bespoke fitted wardrobes are a great investment to make. If you go to sell your home on the future, the storage space will be a good selling point.

Do built-in wardrobes add value to a house?

Yes. Built-in wardrobes are a bespoke item and are viewed as a luxury home improvement. They improve a bedroom’s storage space and therefore are an attractive attribute to any homebuyer.

Should built-in wardrobes go to the ceiling?

Yes. Although built-in wardrobes don’t need to reach the ceiling, it’s better if they do.

When fitted wardrobes reach the ceiling, they create a neater aesthetic. Plus, it means no more cleaning the dusty top of a wardrobe!

Do built-in wardrobes go on top of carpet?

Built-in wardrobes can be fitted on top of carpet. This can, however, increase the risk of the wardrobe sagging over time.

It’s best to fit a built-in wardrobe onto a hard wood floor and cut the carpet neatly to finish at the wardrobe’s edge.

Do you screw built-in wardrobes to the wall?

Yes. Built-in wardrobes are fitted to the wall with screws. They may also be fitted to the floor and ceiling, depending on the design.

If you opt for sliding doors, you will also need a track system for the doors to slide along. This will be fitted to the floor.

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