How to create a dressing room

Create your dream dressing room or walk-in wardrobe with this expert advice

TODO alt text

Walk-in wardrobes and dressing rooms are on a growing number of renovation wishlists, and rightly so — their popularity means they can add value to your home. As well as being a luxury, dressing rooms offer a number of practicalities, too:

  • Clothing fibres contribute to dust, so storing them separately will mean your bedroom is a cleaner, healthier environment for sleeping in.
  • Bedrooms tend to be humid as we breathe (and sweat) while we sleep, which can lead to mould spores growing on clothes if they become damp.
  • A dressing room shared by several family members can make better use of your home’s footprint, as bedrooms do not need to accommodate wardrobes.

See our gallery of dressing room ideas

1. Choosing dressing room storage

Carefully consider whether you prefer hanging or folding your garments, not forgetting storage for shoes, handbags, swimwear and accessories, as these are often the most challenging to stow away neatly.

Shelves instead of drawers for your jumpers and jeans are a good solution, using dividers and designated compartments to keep your clothes in a neat pile. Hanging space is a must; make sure you have enough room for full-length garments, and try to double your storage by incorporating shorter hanging if you only need to hang trousers.

Barbara Genda

fitted wardrobes in a closet with a mixture of hanging space and shelving

Choose storage options which suit what you need to stow away. Here shelves have been put to great use for folded items and shoes, keeping hanging space for dresses and blouses

2. Get the most out of your budget

Fitted options are more expensive than off-the-shelf wardrobes, but have the advantage of being fully customisable to your space, increasing your storage by, on average, 30 per cent. Remember that a fitted walk-in wardrobe is a selling point that, if done well, adds value to your home.

When it comes to choosing your storage, have a combination of types, but be mindful that drawers cost more than shelves or hanging space. If you are on a budget, use shelves and storage boxes in place of drawers. Also, choose an affordable, good quality carcass for your wardrobe and dress it up with investment doors, handles and soft-close hinges.

shore storage ottoman from Barbara Genda

A seat can provide somewhere to sit while you dress, and create extra storage space too

3. Seating and surfaces

You’ll need a place to sit; somewhere to try on shoes, sort out items or simply relax. A wooden bench with concealed storage under a window is a good option, whilst an ottoman placed in the centre of a dressing room is a great way to add grandeur to a space.

Barbara Genda

Double dressing table from Hammonds

This stylish Hammonds dressing table set-up allows two people to get ready together

4. Mix up your dressing room storage

An open display cabinet is perfect for showcasing treasured belongings, and will also allow easy access. Other simple ideas – like wicker baskets to store your toiletries or wall hooks to hang jewellery – will help to keep smaller items in place.

Barbara Genda

5. Choose fitted furniture in awkward spaces

A custom-made piece of furniture can be tailored accordingly and work harder — ultimately allowing you to make best use of every inch of available space. For example, built-in drawers and cupboards in a dressing room between the rafters is a fantastic use of an attic area, as it does not eat into the floor space so will make a room feel bigger.

Barbara Genda

shoe storage under eaves

Under eaves space can be used for shoe storage

6. Create the illusion of space

If you are cramming a small space with storage, you need to prevent it from feeling enclosed. Use cabinets that don’t go all the way to the ceiling as they feel less obtrusive, and use mirrored doors to enhance the light and illusion of space.

Chelsea wardrobe with translucent door panels

Dark, exotic timbers is growing in popularity when it comes to choosing materials, adding warmth, depth and colour. This design is broken up with translucent panels which prevent the wardrobes from being an overpowering feature of the room

7. You don’t need a separate room

If you don’t have a dedicated room for dressing, there are clever ways to incorporate it into your bedroom. Use wardrobes or a stud partition wall behind the bed to make a dressing area that feels like a separate space — just ensure the lighting is adequate.

space between bathroom and bedroom being used for wardrobe

This dressing area by Barbara Genda Bespoke Furniture utilises the space between a bedroom and en suite

8. Think about how to maximise space

Whether you have a dedicated dressing room or not, it is sensible to make the most of all of the available storage space.

Think about those awkward unused spaces you might have around a chimney breast or under an angled ceiling and invest in fitted storage which maximises every inch.

9. Lighting and sockets

Lighting is key, so, where possible, try to locate your dressing table in front of a natural light source. If this isn’t possible, make sure you add some spot lighting (even in small rooms). Aim for the magic number of at least five light sources, not only for practicality and visibility, but to create mood and pools of interest.

Don’t forget sockets too – the last thing you need is to create your perfect dressing area and then have to stand the other side of the room to dry your hair!

Sarah Slimm

dressing room with hollywood style mirror lighting

This dressing room by Hammonds has a large window for natural light, but spotlights, a desk lamp and a well-lit mirror create perfect task lighting

10. Don’t forget mirrors

A mirror is a must, and floor-to-ceiling designs can really give the wow factor. If you don’t have wall space (and why would you if you have fully utilised it for storage?), consider mirrored wardrobe doors, or hanging a mirror on the inside of a door.