Old closets can leave a lot to be desired. For instance, the opening to the closet is often much smaller than the width inside – sometimes with a foot or more to each side of the opening, making those areas really hard to reach. And in older houses – well, let’s face it. Although the clothes hanger was invented in the 1860’s or 70’s, it wasn’t until much later that they became common. Before then, clothes were folded or hung on pegs or hooks. I’ve seen houses built in the 1930’s that still didn’t originally have closets. And even when they did, they usually weren’t much deeper than 19-20.” A clothes hanger with a coat on it needs at least 24” and modern building code calls for at least 27”.
This closet was 67” wide with only a 36” wide door. Moreover, it was only a whopping 18” deep! Try measuring a wire coat hanger shoulder to shoulder. They’re 17” at least. All the clothes, even dress shirts, had to be hung at an angle and it was almost impossible to close the door. And the ceiling was just over the door casings on the inside.
Luckily, the master bedroom was large enough that sacrificing 9” of floor space was not a big deal. Once the new framing began, we brought the depth of the closet out to 25 inches, which made a vast improvement in being able to hang clothing. Suit-coat sleeves still brush against the walls, but it’s livable. We also switched out the 36” standard door with a pair of bi-fold doors to give 60” of open access — no more blind groping into inaccessible spaces!
When I started ripping out the old walls, not knowing what I would find above that low seven-foot ceiling to the closet, even though the ceiling in the room was almost 9 feet high. We were all pleasantly surprised to find that it was empty. Mind-boggling to me that anyone would take a full 16-½ cubic feet of space and wall it off to (almost) never see the light of day again.
So rather than go the traditional route of adding shelving above the clothes, which can often be tricky to reach, I turned the upper 2 foot section into its own little cubby with custom built bi-fold doors. It’s perfect for storing those suitcases and other bulky items you only use a couple times a year.
In the center of the closet, we added a cabinet with a 6 foot wardrobe mirror on the door.
Inside the cabinet, there is an upper storage cubby and six 8” drawers – perfect for tee shirts, sweaters, or whatever else you stuff into a closet rather than hanging.
Birch veneer plywood, white P-95 acrylic, MDF panels painted, faux wenge, aluminum edging, and stainless steel pulls.