Built-In Wardrobes Make Chic Walk-In Closet Alternatives—and They're Back In Style

Providing a unique design feature and function, here's what to know about this customizable storage-saving piece.



Walk-in closets are the aspirational storage solution many only dream of (especially if you're a renter)—but there's another option making its way into the mainstream design world that actually makes better use of square footage: built-in wardrobes.

When you think of a wardrobe, you probably picture an antique, bulky wooden armoire in an older home or those compact, modern versions you have to put together yourself. But built-in wardrobes are entirely customizable and use existing space in creative ways.

Related: 25 Closet Door Ideas for Every Design Style

Wardrobes purchased from a retailer, whether in-store or online, are mass-produced. A built-in wardrobe, however, allows homeowners and their designers to choose the exact storage options they want, whether with shelves, drawers, or other compartments. Once built, these wardrobes aren't mobile like an armoire. They can also be placed anywhere in the home; in smaller spaces, they can make the most out of every inch—following any quirks, angles, or existing odd walls, unlike a closet with symmetrical doors.

This trend has gotten its traction mainly from Millennials—this generation is more drawn to custom furniture rather than big-box items that lack character. According to research by Lectra, a manufacturing technology company, 40% of Millennials want pieces that reflect their personal style, compared to 26% of the rest of the population. Curating a home, whether with vintage pieces or furniture designed to fit their needs, is important to their aesthetic and lifestyle.

<p>Julie Soefer</p>

Julie Soefer

How to Incorporate a Built-In Wardrobe In Your Space

In an open room, like a loft or converted barn, a built-in wardrobe creates the illusion of separation while providing function: Not just for clothing, it can house a Murphy bed, pantry, or even a mini laundry room. Work with a designer to create one that's suited to your needs, especially in an area where space isn't a concern.

These wardrobes also work as stylish room dividers—one side can act as a headboard in a bedroom, while the other stores clothing and personal items. For a room with an attached bathroom, a built-in wardrobe can add an extra layer of separation from the sleeping space to the dressing area, which can be helpful for couples on different sleep schedules (or just want a bit more privacy while they get ready for the day). They work similarly for kids or teens who share a bedroom, providing solitude while keeping storage separate, with closet space on either side for each to use.

Like custom walk-in closets, built-in wardrobes fall on the expensive end of the spectrum since they're designed to the homeowner's specifications and usually need to be assembled on-site. But unlike walk-in closets, built-in wardrobes add a design element to a room, which can eliminate the need for investing in furnishings like wall units, bookshelves, artwork, or dressers.

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