For the woman with too little space to store all her shoes, or the man in happy possession of 50 Armani suits, the advent of the walk-in wardrobe-come-dressing room is the answer to a truly first world problem.
No top-end developer would market a property without a dedicated space for clothes. It’s a trend born in America, fuelled by Carrie Bradshaw’s overflowing trophy room in Sex and the City, which has now firmly crossed the Atlantic.
When heiress Tamara Ecclestone was renovating a £47 million house in Palace Green, Kensington, she included a dressing room featuring a mechanical handbag carousel, a dedicated evening wear aisle to store party outfits, and a cabinet lined with Hermes leather for her sunglasses and jewellery.
Back in the real world, Tina Mahony, director of Go Modern (www.gomodern.co.uk), recommends budgeting between £600 and £800 a metre for an Italian-made wardrobe with doors that are either wooden, lacquered, or, best of all, folding glass. This price does not include fitting.
“They are amazing because you can see the whole contents of your wardrobe at once, and they are much lighter than a normal wardrobe,” she says.
Another good point about walk-ins is that they do not take forever to fit — Mahony tells clients to allow between half a day for a small wardrobe to two days for a full-scale dressing room.
Interior designer Laura Hammett (www.laurahammett.com) says that walk-in wardrobes have become a vital element of large London houses; whether they work in smaller properties, however, is a matter of personal taste, since you may need to forsake a bedroom to create an all-singing, all-dancing number.
“If you are doing up a property with resale in mind then I think it is fine to go from five to four bedrooms, but if you are at four bedrooms or less then it might not be the best way to go,” says Hammett. “If you’re creating the best home for you then it is a matter of what works best for you.”
The great benefit of going bespoke is that your wardrobe can precisely fit your lifestyle. You need to assess what you need to store and make sure you get the right balance of hanging space, drawer space and cupboards. Decide between hinged and sliding doors, mirrors can be inbuilt, and tilted shelves for shoes and boots are very practical.
At the very top end Joe Burns, managing director of interior designer/developer Oliver Burns (www.oliverburns.com), says that his clients are now demanding not one but two dressing rooms — his and hers.
Despite this excess, Burns feels that a more pared-down approach can work well, too. “My own home is more regular, but I have one in a spare room,” he says. “It means my wardrobe is organised and it takes less time to get ready in the morning. It is definitely time-efficient.”