How to Create a Walk-in Wardrobe

bedroom as featured on

Many of you have asked about the walk-in wardrobe (or to be more accurate walk-through) that sits behind the purple wall in my bedroom and I have finally managed to tidy enough to photograph it and talk you through how we did it so that you can create your own if you so wish.

When we moved in, nearly six years ago, we felt that built-in storage was crucial. In our last house we had an old, not quite antique, painted wardrobe that was very pretty but nigh on useless. It was barely wide enough for modern hangers, the door wasn’t big enough so half the clothes were hidden at the sides, and the drawer underneath was constantly sticking.

It would have looked great in one of those unfitted kitchens with plates inside it, you know the sort of thing. Pretty but utterly useless as a wardrobe for two people who like clothes. We also had a chest of drawers but I can, frankly, never be bothered to fold everything up and put it away and, as a result, you end up with a hideous jumble of stuff that you have to rummage through every time you want a jumper. And then the moths came…

wardrobe as featured on

So, storage, and plenty of it was key. Now, it is a big room. It’s about 17 ft long (or wide depending on how you want to view it). We could have put cupboards in the alcove on either side of the fireplace and the bed at the far end with an ottoman at the end and that would have been that.

But it felt like a lot of wasted space that way. And that didn’t necessarily leave room for a chest of drawers as it’s long but it’s not that wide.

I had seen in a friend’s house in New York, a wardrobe that linked two bedrooms and was essentially a corridor between the two. I emailed her and asked her about it.

“You need to be able to walk through the gap with your hands sticking out from your sides as if you were a penguin,” she emailed back.

So I did that a few times and worked how much walking space was needed between the fireplace and the edge of the wardrobe. Then I added in the hanger space (it’s more than you think) and that was the dimensions.

wardrobe by

This gave us enough room to put the bed in front of what would become a false wall and leave the bedroom clear of any clutter as it would all be stuffed hidden in the space behind.

The key requirement was that it had to look like a wall. So we added a picture rail and a skirting board. Then double sockets either side of the bed and wall lights. On the other side there are two lamps on the bottom shelf that are supposed to create that boudoir feeling when you are in there in the evenings.

The last question was how wide could it be? Cue more penguin walking  round the sides of the bed to see what would be comfortable. The result is that we each have a small bedside table on either side of the bed and there is enough space to walk around about 90cm. As a rule of thumb you need to assume about a metre when planning kitchen islands, or any walking space but, in this case, 90cm was fine.

my walk through wardrobe as featured on

As you will see from the images, the bathroom is at the end (we stole a bedroom to make a giant en suite). So the plan is that I can get out of bed, collect my shoes and clothes and stroll through to the bathroom. Then I can emerge fully dressed (like Venus from the waves!) and put my make up on in front of the mirror above the fireplace.

I get one alcove for my shoes and he has the other for most of his clothes. Yes I have more space. Am I going to feel bad about that? No. Not even remotely.

And, as you can tell from the slightly messy storage picture below, there is lots of storage space for bedding, winter jackets and suitcases up above the hanging space.

wardrobe shelving from

I understand that not everyone will have room to create storage like this so I have included a plan below so you can see the measurements of mine.

Obviously the width of the wardrobe is negotiable and not all of you will have to allow for a mantelpiece which took up a bit more space. But the gap at the sides and to walk down the middle is pretty standard. If you squash it in too much you just won’t want to go in there and it won’t be easy to use.

Bear in mind though, that if you are able to do this, your sleeping space just needs to be big enough for the bed and to walk around it. The idea is that it is a clutter-free zone so you don’t need lots of space there. You can compromise on that part more than you think.

clothes storage as featured on

I know other people will say they want doors on their wardrobes too. We had small doors which were basically to create that boudoir feel and also to hang the clothes over that we couldn’t be bothered to hang up at the end of the day. In addition to that I had doors before, that just makes for dark corners where the moths like to hatch. I’d rather have it all light and open and flick the occasional duster about personally.

shoe storage as featured on

Here’s a little corner of my so-called dressing table. And below you will find the floor plan with all the measurements.

You can make the space around the bed less and you can have a narrower wardrobe but you need the space at the sides to be able to walk comfortably and obviously you need that depth to fit your hangers. Everything else is fluid.

chanel on a shelf as featured on

Here you are. I hope it helps.

measurements for a walk in wardrobe


Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. I totally love the idea! Also, the fact that you have added this little sleeping cat on the bed in your floor plan haha just made my day! I am now creating an open plan closet in my bedroom as I have no space for an internal I am afraid.

  2. Thank you for this post. My wife and I are moving to a bigger flat soon and we’re planning to organize a walk-in wardrobe in the near future. We’ve had no idea how to organize it so far and you’ve provided us with a lot of ideas and details we needed. That’s great you’ve included a plan and measurements. They’re extremely helpful.

  3. Thanks SO much for this! We are (hopefully) moving to a house with a 16 x almost-14 master bedroom and I would love to try something like this (having seen and been inspired by the photos you put up when you first finished your house). It is incredibly helpful to have so much detail and also the measurements.

  4. Thank you Kate, this is wonderful and well-timed too as hubby is just back from a 17 day business trip.
    I just love your dressing, your room, your boots…
    Our room is 560cm long by 350 wide with two windows like yours, so nearly the same configuration.

    Have a great WE.


  5. Brilliant! We did this in our old house and I’m desperate to do it again now Kate. I think it world so well-and I love the cat on your floor plan too-hilarious!!! Feel a bit inspired to get my scale ruler out now! x

    1. I’m so impressed that you have a scale ruler, Caroline! I’m really pleased with how it has worked out and I love that our bedroom – the sleeping part of it – is so empty and calm.

  6. I absolutely love this, it’s such a clever idea. I wish I had the space to do this, I hate having to dig through drawers full of clothes.

  7. Thank you so much for this, especially the plan. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while and the dimensions of my room are very similar to yours. Love madaboutthehouse, I’ve been following for a couple of years and just love your style. I received your book in the post this week (was hoping to receive it for Mother’s Day but alas I didn’t and I couldn’t wait until my birthday in May!). Beautiful book, congratulations.

  8. V impressive – I had considered something similar but was worried about blocking the second sash window. With an open space you don’t lose that light at all! Love the wallpaper – where is it from? Am drowning in a sea of wallpapers at the moment and beginning to lose my wallpaper mojo!

  9. I’ve seen this in a few places. One friend made a sliding door that’s all glass, so it just looks like a full-length mirror, and then you swipe it to the side and a doorway magically appears.
    I find dust to be a problem, even with doors on my closet (which I admit I don’t always close completely because the closet is in a mini-hallway of its own).

  10. Brilliant! Thank you for the plan! Now I have all the ammunition to convince the other half that this is viable. Love the cat too.

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