Give in to those closet urges

New order: custom-made walk-in wardrobes are the key to a clutter-free life

There is something just not very British about a walk-in wardrobe. A crammed wooden cupboard with sagging door hinges, yes. An overflowing chest of drawers, yes. A jumble of shoes under the bed, yes. But an entire small room devoted to hanging space, neatly divided pull-out storage solutions, special pigeonholes for shoes and cunningly designed holders for ties and belts, bags and hats and jewellery? It all seems a bit New-York-Carrie-Bradshaw.

However, the closet, as CB would call it, is catching on. Part of this popularity is down to a change in priority for home-owners, says Tim Le Blanc-Smith, director of the Chelsea office of John D Wood & Co estate agents. "Formerly, everything was about the number of bedrooms in a property," he says.

"New builds had lots of little bedrooms. Now people talk about space all the time. People don't mind losing a bedroom to a walk-in or a dressing room." In fact, he adds, clients "moan like hell" if there is no cupboard space at all.

Another reason for the rise of the walk-in is that we simply have more clothes these days and we love them more, says Peter Hickey, managing director of California Closets. "We have three times more clothes now than we did 30 years ago. Designer clothes are available to people across all income levels and when they count up, clients are amazed at the value of the contents of their wardrobes. Storing those items correctly keeps them in far better condition and extends their lifetime."

Lee Wood is managing director of the Sliding Door Wardrobe Company, based in Cambridge, and one of the few British specialists in the field. He says that travel has also played a part. "People go on holidays to the States or Italy, see what they have over there, and come back with ideas. Houses in this country are generally smaller, so space is at a premium, and when people see how beautifully organised and laid out that space can be, they want the same."

This is not, however, just a question of having some fitted furniture shipped in, says Hickey. It's more of a life makeover. "Any kind of mess in your life creates problems," he says. "One of our mottos is 'simplify your life' ". Our designers visit your home and count your clothes and ask how you would ideally like to store them: long-hanging, double-hanging, folded on shelves, in drawer units, and so on. Our design and product combination gives an incredibly efficient solution in which all of your clothes are very visible – there's no more rummaging around for stuff, as everything is stored in the specific spaces created for them, creating a thoroughly organised system."

There is a science to this. Hanging space is generous; clothes won't hang properly in a space with a depth of less than 60cm, says Hickey. Conversely, his shelves are only 350mm deep, which is the depth of a piece of folded clothing. The idea is that if nothing is hidden behind anything else, order is maintained: the proof lies in the fact that clothes shops, where displays are re-folded many times a day and always have to look neat, follow the shallower-shelves principle. Because every design is individual, there's a place for everything: ski suits, jewellery, golf clubs, hats, handbags, suitcases. And, most miraculously of all, once there is a place for everything, tidiness becomes easy.

Hickey says that all property types can be fitted with a walk-in; even older homes with "crooked floors, sloping ceilings, walls out of plumb". He has installed walk-ins in all kinds of homes, from Georgian houses, to Victorian terraces, to new builds and lofts. It's possible to convert an existing small bedroom or take a chunk off a substantial master bedroom.

Wood says many of his projects are in "fairly standard three- or four-bedroom houses. People might turn two bedrooms into one large bedroom with an en suite and dressing-room or walk-in."

Because the components of the walk-in are built and finished before they are delivered, installation is relatively painless and can be accomplished in a day. So how much does it cost to put your clothes (and life) in order?

At California Closets, prices range from £800 up to £12-£15,000. Hickey says the average price for a "walk-in to dream and die for" is in the £2,500-£3,000 bracket. At the Sliding Door Wardrobe Company, prices start from £1,200 and their most expensive project to date cost £8,000.

For those working to a tighter budget, Wood says that a DIY attempt requires careful planning and measurement. "I've seen some fabulous examples of people doing it themselves who have then come to us for the doors and tracks." No room for a walk-in? There are other possibilities; for example the walk-through, which can be fitted in a corridor between two rooms, says Hickey.

He has also incorporated features of the walk-in into a standard reach-in (that is, a normal wardrobe to you and me). And California Closets are now turning their attention to pantries, utility rooms and garages. Clutter has nowhere to hide.

California Closets: 020-8208 4544; www.calclosets.co.uk. The Sliding Door Wardrobe Company: 01223 424243; www.home-storage.co.uk. John D Wood & Co: 020-7352 1484; www.johndwood.co.uk.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Arts and Entertainment
TV Review: Sabotage, a meltdown and, of course, plenty of sauce
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100'Geography can be tough'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
sport
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Property search
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of IT (Not-for-Profit sector) - Lewes / Brighton

£45000 - £50000 per annum + 5 weeks holiday & benefits: Ashdown Group: Head of...

PE Graduate?

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Are you a PE graduate looking for a ...

Primary Teacher

£90 - £135 per day + travel expenses: Randstad Education Newcastle: Key Stage ...

Humanities Teacher

£100 - £150 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Permanent Teacher of Humaniti...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?