Designing the Perfect Fitted Wardrobe: Shelves vs Drawers vs Hanging Space (Which is Best)?

When it comes to designing the perfect fitted wardrobe, you may be wondering how you decide what hanging, shelving and drawer space you need. The possibilities can seem endless with various configurations of pull down hanging rails, shelves, vanity units, baskets and shoe racks!

With over 20 years combined joinery experience, we’ve both designed and installed a wide range of internal storage options and would start by saying there really is no ‘one-size fits all’. However, to help you get the most out of your investment, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to shelves vs drawers vs hanging space that will help you design the perfect fitted wardrobe for you.

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Designing the Perfect Fitted Wardrobe: Where to Start

We find the easiest place to start the design for your wardrobe internals is the hanging space. Look at what you currently hang up and mentally or physically group them into height sizes. This will help you identify how much full-length and short-length space you need.

From there, think about what other items you need to accommodate. In order to keep your bedroom clutter free, every item should have its place.

T-shirts are good for being stacked so shelves will suit them well but smaller items such as socks and underwear will be better placed in a drawer.

Consider how you currently store your jewellery, shoes, handbags, ties and belts. You could consider drawer inserts, or hanging rails to make them easier to sort through.

List them all out and rank what’s important to you. For e.g are you known for your stunning shoe range or are dresses your thing? Being able to easily see and access your favourite clothes will help you retain that ‘wow’ factor each time you slide open one of those doors.

Have a go at sketching some ideas down and jump into Pinterest for some internal storage inspiration too. That way when you speak to your designer, you’ve some initial designs to help you both get started.

Fitted Wardrobe Internal Storage: Shelves vs Drawers vs Hanging Space (Which is Best?)

When planning your fitted wardrobe, you will naturally get to a stage where you have to decide on the storage layout. To make these decisions it is probably easier to think about what clothing is stored best in each way.

Fitted Wardrobe Drawers – Advantages
  • Drawers are easily subdivided into compartments to allow separation and easy filing;
  • They conceal items you might not like on show;
  • They provide an attractive clutter-free finish, hiding a multitude of sins;
  • For irregular shape items they provide a much better use of space;
  • They can provide better access to items at the back of the wardrobe;
  • Perfect if you are a fan of the Marie Kondo decluttering process!
Fitted Wardrobe Drawers – Disadvantages
  • You will find a drawer will fill quickly with bulky items such as jumpers, two or three will fill the drawer;
  • Clothes might get trapped in the opening and closing mechanism if the drawer is overfilled;
  • The drawer needs to be shut in order to let the wardrobe sliding door move in front to close;
  • Without proper subdivisions, a drawer containing small items such as jewellery or make-up will quickly get messy;
  • Above shoulder height they don’t work as well, because you can’t see into them without a step.

Fitted Wardrobe Shelves – Advantages
  • Shelves can allow you to display your clothes properly even when not in use. For e.g if you have collection of shoes, you don’t want to hide them away;
  • It is easy to stack clothing such as t-shirts or trousers on shelving;
  • You can use removable boxes and baskets to keep shelves in order and allow you to make better use of higher shelves;
  • You can vary them in height depending on storage needs, e.g. shoes.
Fitted Wardrobe Shelves – Disadvantages
  • Items will move around and likely to get removed from their original homes;
  • They provide less support for stacked clothes so will likely need dividers to help items such as jumpers from toppling over;
  • If not kept in order, it may start to look messy.

Fitted Wardrobe Hanging Space – Advantages
  • Hanging space will keep clothes from wrinkling up and getting creased;
  • Great storage for items that are hard to fold, such as silk tops or shirts;
  • Items are easy to find and quick to access;
  • You can file items easily by occasion, colour, season.
Fitted Wardrobe Hanging Space – Disadvantages
  • If an item is not hung properly it will fall off and get crumpled;
  • Wasted space underneath if the optimum hanging length is not used;
  • If too many clothes are hung in the space it’s easy for garments to hide at the back hidden from view.

Shelves vs drawers vs hanging space – The verdict!

Storage space is at an absolute premium in our modern homes. Not only has the average bedroom size got smaller, our selection of clothing has got bigger! Therefore it is imperative that we make the most efficient use of the space available.

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However realistically, it will not be a single storage solution for your fitted wardrobe but a combination of a few.

Designing the Perfect Fitted Wardrobe: Shelves vs Drawers vs Hanging Space (Which is Best)?

What you really need to do is figure out how much you need of each of them.

The best way to do that is to take a look at your current clothing and think about how you would like to access them:

  • Do you want them on show or discreetly folded away?
  • Is it likely that you will keep on top of presentation or would a drawer be better as you can hide it all away?
  • Will you also be looking to tuck away that laundry basket, your collection of jewellery, and selection of winter coats too?

While it can feel daunting, and there’s no ideal standard configuration, a little bit of time and thought early in the process can ensure that the end result works for your lifestyle.

Do You Have More Questions About Buying A Fitted Wardrobe?

Our handy ebook covering everything you need to know about buying a fitted wardrobe from Millers can be accessed here. Dive in and if you are ready to chat with the team, then do get in touch.

Over To You

Are you considering a fitted wardrobe to solve your storage needs? What options are you considering to make the internal storage work for you?

Or perhaps you’ve had your fitted wardrobe installed already and can feedback on what’s worked for you?

We’d love to hear your views in the comments below.

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