Thursday, 24 June 2010

A room with everything in its right place


Is your wardrobe bursting at the seams?  Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall looks at some cool storage solutions

If your house is like the majority that I encounter (including my own) then clothing storage is likely to be a bit of an issue. Garment hoarding appears a national obsession and frankly that is no wonder given the Seasons change from minute to minute requiring instant access to both full Summer regalia and Artic Winter wear.

Obviously, we can have a wardrobe clear out ensuring we only keep things worn in the last year, but there is still usually plenty to cram into our wardrobes, so what are the options?

Before you start, the interior is vital to consider. Review how much full and half height hanging space you really need. Interior flexibility is often the preserve of fitted wardrobes, but Ikea sells the Komplement range that features everything from trouser hangers to sock boxes which fit inside some of its wardrobe ranges to give you ultimate choice (

If you want a piece of furniture to keep wherever you move a free standing wardrobe is your only option. Consider build quality and bear in mind that there is usually a financial price to be paid for longevity. Be aware that even a lot of the solid looking pieces come flat packed – the ruin of many a good marriage! Many retailers and some enterprising locals offer handy man make-up services, it is unlikely to cost a fortune and if put together properly your wardrobe will last a lot longer.

These days antique furniture represents a very good buy having generally plummeted in value in recent years. Check for quality and woodworm, but good pieces were built to last and speckled mirrors can usually be replaced. Look at the interior depth as some older wardrobes are not full width so give you less storage as clothes have to hang at a slight angle (my tip: take a coat hanger with you and hang it on the rail to confirm if this will be an issue).

If your home will not suit darker wood, customise a period piece by painting in a colour that suits your room scheme using a satinwood or eggshell finish (either oil or acrylic based). For those who are really adventurous add panel detail with inserts of fabric or wallpaper for a look that is absolutely on trend. If you like this idea, but lack the practical skills check out vintage revival companies such as The Old Cinema, who feature pieces such as the wonderful Union Jack wardrobe for £775 ( – 0208 995 4166).

Before signing on the dotted line for a free-standing wardrobe take vital measurements of the access route (including staircase ceiling heights & widths) and ensure you can navigate your piece comfortably throughout the house, before it reaches its resting place. Also, if usable space around your wardrobe is tight, then consider a design incorporating sliding doors to minimise inconvenience.

If you want to maximise storage then a fitted or bespoke option is likely to be your best choice. Again you can find solutions in the High St which can be tailor made to your requirements. However, I would also advise making enquiries with local carpenters and craftsman who frequently love the chance to shine and can create beautiful one off pieces that reflect your individual requirements. Leather panel inlays and bespoke handles add wonderful finish touches which raise the game of even a standard piece. The price point may be a little more, but mixing in painted MDF with wood should help with that and the pleasure you get each time you use it is likely to be intense.

Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Institute of Interior Design. If you have any queries contact him on 01777 248463 or at

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