How to create a dressing room

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

Dressing room by Ikea
(Image credit: Ikea)

Walk-in wardrobes and dressing rooms are on a growing number of bedroom redesign wish lists, and rightly so – their popularity means they can add value to your home. As well as making a luxurious addition to your bedroom, dressing rooms offer a number of practical advantages: it will help de-clutter your bedroom by providing extra bedroom storage; your clothes will look better and last longer; and storing your clothes away from where you sleep will contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment. Follow our complete guide to creating a dressing room and enjoy a serene and stylish bedroom...

Designing a bedroom completely from scratch? Go and have a read of out guide to designing a bedroom too

Where to put your dressing room or walk-in wardrobe?

If you're lucky enough to have a box room next to or near to your master bedroom, this is the perfect place to site your dressing room – and it can stay separate from your bedroom, saving you the cost of knocking through.

If you're planning a major renovation anyway, blocking up the door between the box room and the hallway and opening up the wall between the box room and your bedroom will give your space more of a master suite feel.

In both cases, lining the walls of this set-up with clothes storage and perhaps room for a dressing table, with a bench for seating or extra storage in the centre of the room is the best use of space. See our pick of the best dressing tables if you want to upgrade from just using the top of your chest of drawers to do you makeup. 

No room for a separate dressing room? You can recreate the feel of a dressing room or walk-in wardrobe on a long run of wall or large alcove in 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. You can also use a curtain to create the illusion of a separate space.

See our dressing room and walk-in wardrobe design ideas for inspiration.

Clothing storage by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Assess dressing room storage needs

Carefully assess your clothes storage needs and preferences. Do you prefer to hang or fold the majority of your garments? How much rail vs drawer vs shelf space will you need? Factor in shoe storage, handbags, swimwear and accessories, as these smaller items are often the most challenging to store neatly. Don't forget makeup storage and jewellery storage, too.

Shelves instead of drawers for your jumpers and jeans are a good idea, using dividers and designated compartments to keep your clothes in a neat pile. Hanging space is a must, but make sure you have enough room for full-length garments as well as shorter ones, and double your clothes storage by incorporating shorter hanging if you only need to hang trousers or skirts. Hangers or slide-out fixings? A combination of both is good.

Gliss Master Window by Molteni & C

The Gliss Master-Window storage solution from Molteni & C transforms a dressing room into a glamorous display, with each pair of shoes given its own shelf. A great option if you like a minimalist, clutter-free approach to storage

(Image credit: Molteni & C)

Get the most storage for your budget

Fitted or freestanding dressing room furniture? 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, and therefore freeing up more floor space. 

Remember, too, 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 furniture, 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.

full wall of wardrobe clothing storage from Hammonds

(Image credit: Hammonds)

Position seating and dressing table strategically

You’ll need a place to sit; somewhere to try on shoes, sort out socks or simply relax. An ottoman with concealed storage under a window or placed in the centre of a dressing room is a great way to add grandeur to a space. Check out our pick of the best ottomans for your dressing room. 

The dressing table is important to get right: if you are sharing with another person, consider a dressing table arrangement that will let both of you to use the space at the same time.

It was a day of highs and lows 😂 HIGH: I did four loads of washing, filled an entire bin bag with shit from the children’s rooms (plus thirty empty contact lense containers belonging to Joe from next to the sink which made me boil inside 😑) and made a start on my ‘dinner from a recipe book every evening’ NYR by making @nigelslater (LOVE OF MY LIFE) lamb and mushroom wraps minus the pomegranate seeds as @aldiuk don’t sell them 🙄 LOW: My tyre blew on the way to Monks Cross so Leo and I spent an hour on the side of the road with Leo flossing at passers by and me looking like Mother Theresa with a massive scarf wrapped around my head as I’d not taken a coat. Ella was with us when disaster hit but deserted us immediately after calling a friend to take her to @nandosuk #noloyalty 🙄 In other news, those of you who follow my stories will recognise the little bedroom chair I picked up for a fiver from the Community Furniture Store last month 💕 And you may also spot my favourite Christmas present from Joe (much deserved after the contact lense situ) 👜 Happy Wednesday! 😘 #youcanneverhavetoomanybags #neverever #dressingroom #bedroom #bedroominspo #bedroomdecor #bedroomgoals #wardrobe #wallpaper #pink #clouds #dspink #ihavethisthingwithpink #coral #postitfortheaesthetic #interiorinspo #interieurs #interiores #interiordetails #interior_design #apartmenttherapy #sodomino #dressingtable #gallerywall #inmydomaine #originmagazine #myhomevibe #sorealhomes #makeyousmilestyle LISA DAWSON

A photo posted by @_lisa_dawson_ on Jan 2, 2019 at 12:24pm PST

Include open dressing room storage

An open display cabinet is perfect for showcasing treasured belongings, and will also allow easy access. Mix and match open and closed storage options to combine ease of access with tidiness. Foldable items and shoes do best on display, while smaller items, such as belts, scarves and underwear, can be put away in container storage (oh loook, we have a buying guide for that! See of pick of the best storage containers).

Dressing room by Sharps

Dressing room by Sharps

(Image credit: Sharps)

Renovating an awkward room? Opt for fitted furniture

As we've said, custom-made piece of furniture can be tailored to your needs and work harder – ultimately allowing you to make the 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. Corner spaces also yield readily to bespoke solutions – think plenty of shelving and drawers. 

On a budget? You can recreate a fitted feel with careful measuring and buying from storage specialists, such as Ikea.

Gliss Walk-in Wardrobe Molteni & C

(Image credit: MOlteni & C)

Fit mirrored doors to make the dressing room look bigger

If you are cramming a small space with storage, you need to prevent it from feeling enclosed. Wardrobes that reach all the way to the ceiling will maximise your storage, but will make the room feel smaller. You can combat that with mirrored doors on wardrobes, or furniture in light-enhancing colours and high gloss finishes. 

Gliss Master Window fitted range by Molteni & C

This sleek built-in mirrored wardrobe is part of the Gliss collection by Molteni &C

(Image credit: Molteni & C)

Not going for mirrored wardrobes? A freestanding mirror is a must in your dressing room, and floor-to-ceiling designs can really give the wow factor. If you don’t have floor or wall space available, consider mirrored wardrobe doors, or hanging a mirror on the inside of a door.

Create a practical lighting scheme 

Lighting is key in your dressing room – thinking your lighting scheme through carefully will enable you to make the most of the space. 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 if the room is small. Aim for the magic number of at least five light sources, not only for practicality and visibility, but to create atmosphere and spotlight accents.

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

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

Store clothes well

There's no denying that the craze for tidying, started by Marie Kondo, reaches its peak in the bedroom, with her KonMari method for folding clothes a genius way to make each item of clothing accessible and to keep it neat. Use our guide to find out how.

Folded clothes the Marie Kondo way

(Image credit: Lucy Searle)

Read more: