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What are the different types of closets?

Closets, closets, closets!!!!!

closet consult

When it comes to designing a closet there are many ways to create a layout and a lot has to do with the shape and type of closet you are working with! There are a few basic closet terms used to describe different closet styles/size: a reach-in closet, walk-in closet and wardrobe.

“A bedroom closet can be a : reach-in, walk-in or wardrobe”


A reach-in closet, just like it's name states, is one that you reach your arm into but will not physically stand in. Functionality is usually top priority in this closet style.

Things to think about for a reach-in closet:

  • Inventory and use of closet. Is this your primary closet? Is this for a family member who lives at home? Is it a guest closet or in an office that will not be used on a daily basis?

  • If you are wanting drawers in the closet - what kind of doors are on the closet? Sliding/bi-pass doors limit where drawers can be placed.

  • if the space is not big enough for your entire inventory what matters most to have in the closet?

  • Have some kind of idea of what you would like to spend. Getting on the same page for budget with your designer is important. There is no point in having a discussion on lighting or shaker drawers if you want to spend as little as possible. Transparency will get you what you want and to make sure you are seeing the right options!

***My biggest pet peeves with reach-ins: door height & return walls. If you have 10ft ceilings and a 7ft door frame on a reach in - guess what? You are going to have wasted space at the top of the closet. Why? Once you put a top shelf at or above the door frame it will be extremely hard to get items on and off that shelf. Tall ceilings = tall door frame on that reach in to maximize the space. Return walls- the walls beside each side of the door casing. I have seen a reach in closet where that return wall is 24" in length. When the closet depth is roughly 24" you are going to have a hard time getting into the sides of the closet. In a perfect closet world those return walls should not be more than 8-10inches.


A walk-in closet is one that you can physically walk your body into. There are many ways to customize the space to create the needed hanging, shoe, purse, folded, hat etc. storage

Things to think about for walk-in closets:

  • Does your inventory fit the space?

  • Is it a shared space and do you want it divided as such?

  • Are you trying to maximize space by going to the ceiling?

  • Accessories to include: laundry hampers, drawers, jewelry storage, hooks, pull out accessories and more

  • mixing finishes, adding lighting, doors, full length mirror and tailoring the closet aesthetic to your home are a few different ways to

  • Once again :) Have some kind of idea of what you would like to spend. Getting on the same page for budget is important. Choosing a quality company means you will have quality materials used regardless of the level, but there is a cost difference between picking a classic material vs. upgraded texture, flat vs. 5 part door frames and adding more details like top treatments and lighting.

***My biggest pet peeves with walk-ins: electrical/audio panels and inappropriate window heights. Older homes have the old alarm panel box in the closets and newer homes have large audio panels in closets. If you are putting something on a closet wall- the closet has to be designed around it. It can be simple like adding hanging over the panel - but that still impacts layout and options for where certain items can or cannot go. The windows- take up wall real estate in the closet. Sometimes they are higher so the closet can sit underneath, sometimes they get covered and sometimes they are designed around. There are options but again that can be a factor that dictates the design.


A wardrobe is a freestanding closet and added to a space where nothing was previously. They can be built into alcoves or completely free standing.

Things to think about for wardrobes:

  • Where is the wardrobe being placed in the room? it is important to take into account the depth of wardrobe and space between other items in the room. You need space to be able to comfortable open the doors/drawers and walk between.

  • When the wardrobe is a focal in the room, the door/drawer faces and hardware matter more because it is on display all the time.

  • And for the 3rd time..Have some kind of idea of what you would like to spend :) Custom wardrobes from a reputable closet company will cost significantly more than Ikea. FACT! I have seen the DIY Ikea Pax systems on Insta and they look great- but having a contractor and resources to bring that Pinterest vision to life is a task on it's own.

***My biggest pet peeve on wardrobes - having the shelves too close together with the deeper depth makes it hard to get things/easily forgettable in the way back. Pull out shelves are very helpful!!

If you have an additional questions on closet types that I did not mention please click here and will do my best to answer.

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Andrea Litsch closet designer


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