Master suites are our sanctuary, an area away from the stress of
daily life and work, and we are seeing sitting rooms, morning
kitchens (or at the least a coffee maker) and luxurious master
bathrooms becoming standard requests to complete the suite. We’re
also witnessing an evolution from the common walk-in closet to the
extraordinary custom dressing area.
While a walk-in closet provides storage for clothes, a dressing
area expands on this concept, not only creating a space large
enough to dress in, but also providing room for storage of clothes
as well as items to assist in the dressing process. Where the
closet is for storage, the dressing area is a living space that
includes this storage.
Another difference is the relationship of the dressing area to
the rest of the suite. A walk-in closet typically has one door,
through which a person walks in, selects items of clothing and
walks out. A dressing area works with the circulation and traffic
flow of the suite from the bathroom to the bedroom and back again.
The dressing area is to the bathroom and bedroom as the butler’s
pantry is to the kitchen and dining room. The room is often open
with no doors, and we are seeing a trend where the line between the
dressing area and bath is becoming less defined.
A dressing area includes all of the necessities from head to foot
literally. The first and most important component of the dressing
area is storage. While standard-depth closets can be included
within the room, the open layout of the dressing area provides an
opportunity for built-in cabinetry and furniture pieces with
personality, such as an antique armoire.
Incorporating an island of cabinetry similar to a kitchen island
provides a work surface without interrupting the traffic flow.
One of our clients incorporated a walk-in cedar closet at one
end of the dressing area so that there’s no need to haul clothes
from the attic every season.
In addition to storage, you should allow 42″ clear floor space
for dressing, a full-length mirror and a plus a bench, when
possible, for putting on socks and shoes. Often, a dressing table
or make-up counter is positioned to take advantage of any natural
light. We’ve even seen bath lavatories or additional lavatories
placed in the dressing area.
Lighting is critical in all components of the dressing area.
Fluorescent lighting is recommended for interior closet lighting,
with its minimal heat generation, and incandescent or natural
sunlight is the choice for the best color rendition.
For clothes maintenance, the dressing area might also include a
steamer, ironing board or other appliances that remove odor and
wrinkles from clothes. Although not as common, front-loading or
stacked laundry equipment in the area is a great convenience.
In addition to overhead task lighting, plan for a lamp and
possibly a magnifying glass than can be repositioned as needed.
Ventilation should not be overlooked, since air flow, odor and
moisture control are important in the preservation of clothes,
especially if the dressing area is open to or adjacent to the
bathroom. A vent with multiple intakes and low cfm is often a good
choice for removal of excess moisture from the room and to help
Programming procedures for planning a dressing area are similar to
the kitchen and bath if you ask detailed questions about daily
routines and storage preferences, the result will be an unlimited
opportunity to customize a space for your client. The height of the
hanging rod depends on the height and reach range of your clients
and their common clothing lengths.
Some standards we use can be adjusted as needed for individual
needs. Long dresses and overcoats may be as long as 60″, and medium
length dresses and slacks hung by cuff average between 48″ and 56″
long. Comfortable rod heights are 60″ to 64″ above the floor for
women and 64″ to 68″ for men. These heights allow room below often
used for shoe storage.
A typical installation for short hanging items such as dress
shirts, blouses, suits, sports jackets, blazers, and folded slacks
is to layer the rods at 80″ and 40″ above the floor. This
installation maximizes linear footage, and it places more items
between 15″ and 48″ above the floor, the universal reach range.
Your clients may prefer folded storage, and the same components
and hardware features used in the kitchen and bath can be used for
folded clothes storage.
Pull-out basket for belts, drawers with full-extension glides
and dividers for socks, roll-out shelves for folded dress shirts
and sweaters, and pull-out work surfaces for folding clothes are
all good choices. Adjustable shelves are popular for their
flexibility and visibility; 12″ deep might be too shallow for
folded clothing items, so consider 16″- to 18″-deep shelves.
To avoid an “avalanche” of falling clothes, some experts plan on
stacking no more than two to four sweaters per shelf and three to
five T-shirts or thin knits per shelf. Look to store merchandising
equipment for storage solutions. Many manufactures offer grid-like
wall systems that have a variety of storage accessories such as
rods, hooks and shelves.
Hafele America provides accessories specific to the wardrobe.
There are literally unlimited tie and belt rack accessories that
slide, swing, rotate, pivot and telescope. Other space-saving
accessories include pull-out trouser systems and tilt-out shoe
cabinets. A typical problem, especially in bedrooms with over 8′
ceilings, is accessing hard-to-reach overhead storage. A creative
solution is a lift mechanism that swings a rod and its hanging
contents overhead. A wand attached to the rod is used to bring the
storage down within reach.
As the role of the master suite grows in importance, the line is
blurring between the master bath and the closet. The result can be
a dressing room where there’s a place for everything and every need
is met. Any room where space is dear and storage is needed is
another opportunity for kitchen and bath designers to exercise