The Dream Closet You Already Own

An unused spare bedroom can find new purpose as a spacious closet and dressing room.




photos by laura petrilla

 

Michele Beier loved her large master bedroom, and she envisioned a perfect walk-in closet to go with it. But merging her room with a nearby spare bedroom to create that dream space would have required completely rebuilding the master bath and rerouting the plumbing. 

That kind of project involved more construction than this busy mother of two young boys wanted to undertake. 

So Beier, 44, of Shadyside, found the perfect solution: Turn that spare bedroom into a walk-in closet, but without construction that would connect it to her bedroom or make the change permanent. Like a growing number of homeowners, she simply gave her guest room a new identity. 
 


 

Many older homes in Pittsburgh, even large houses with four or five bedrooms, have tiny closets, says designer Catherine Davin, founder of South Hills-based Davin Interiors. Converting a spare bedroom into a spacious closet is a great solution, especially for empty-nesters or young couples who aren’t, at least yet, using all of their bedrooms. 

“On one hand, it’s great for homeowners to have a space for guests to retreat to during their stay,” says designer Bethany Williard, founder of Studio 1049 in Bridgeville. But if you host guests only occasionally, Williard suggests that space may be better used as a dressing room or as the ultimate his-and-hers walk-in closet.  

“By removing dressers, overstuffed nightstands and extra clothing-storage solutions from the bedroom,” Williard says, you are “opening the bedroom up to become again what it should be, a stress-free sanctuary and space for relaxation.”
 


 

Staying Flexible

For homeowners who want a huge closet now but may want to convert the room back to a bedroom eventually (or who want to make sure the house will appeal to future buyers who want more bedrooms), here are tips for creating a cool closet without permanent change. 

Storage: For freestanding storage, search your house for spare furniture you can repurpose. Davin says bookcases work well for smaller items such as shoes and purses. Old hall trees are great for hanging items, as are any type of hooks. Embrace a mismatched look, or paint all of these pieces one color to unify the look.

To create a center island, place two dressers back-to-back in the center of the room. If they aren’t identical heights, place something underneath one to get the heights to match. Then securely attach a granite slab or other solid surface on top to create one large workspace. Arrange your jewelry boxes here. 

If you’d like something slightly more permanent, choose a closet system that attaches to walls but can be removed without too much trouble. Beier custom designed her system online, adding shoe shelves as well as compartmentalized lingerie and jewelry drawers in the center island. 

“Rather than going through one of the more expensive companies, I designed it all online .... and had my dad do all of the installation,” she says, adding that some closet companies help customers to customize to their needs. 

“The contact I worked with suggested a hidden ironing area which looks like a drawer but folds out as an ironing board,” Beier says. “She also suggested jewelry trays in the drawers and drawer spacers for socks and lingerie, which are some of my favorite features.”  

As you choose pieces you already own or order new ones, consider your wardrobe as you plan. 

“Think about how many hanging items versus folded items you will have,” Beier says. “I do wish I had added additional hanging rods for long dresses.” 

Add mirrors but don’t feel obligated to hang large ones on your walls. A full-length, framed mirror looks great leaning against a wall.
 


 

What You'll Love 

Sunshine and fresh air: Natural light from windows is a rare treat in a closet. It makes matching outfits easier. Closets also don’t usually have vents for heat or air conditioning. Because rooms do, you get fresh, temperature-controlled air for your clothes. 

Your closet has a closet: The bedroom that has become your new walk-in closet likely has a closet of its own. Take the door(s) off and turn it into open storage space, but keep them handy in case you or another owner one day will convert the space back to a bedroom. 

Accessories: If you have enough space, add a dressmakers’ form or mannequin for displaying potential outfits or storing scarves, hats and shoulder bags, says Davin. Or add a coffee and tea station, along with a plush loveseat and a vanity table, to create a luxury dressing room space. Beier included a fluffy shag rug to make her closet even more cozy and comfortable when getting dressed on a chilly morning. 
 


 

Challenges, And How to Fix Them 

Windows: That lovely natural light from bedroom windows can fade clothes if it hits them directly day after day. Install thick shades that shield your items from sun and also provide privacy. 

Lighting: Bedrooms tend to have minimal overhead lighting, and some have no ceiling fixture at all. You’ll want to install good lights to really see your clothes in the evening or early morning. Adding new lighting also is a great opportunity to add some style. Beier included an elegant chandelier in her closet for a dose of beauty and brightness: “The chandelier I bought has eight lights,” she says, “and putting it on a dimmer light switch allows me to put the lights up super-bright when getting dressed or searching for an item, or to dim them for ambiance.”  
 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

With a tear in our eye, we bid the “Flower” Au Revoir.
Finally, a Faster Way From Pittsburgh to Oakland and Beyond

Finally, a Faster Way From Pittsburgh to Oakland and Beyond

A proposed route for new electric buses will connect 30,000 people throughout 24 neighborhoods.
Extras Wanted: Cate Blanchett Shooting Movie in Pittsburgh

Extras Wanted: Cate Blanchett Shooting Movie in Pittsburgh

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” a movie based on the best-selling comedic novel, will begin filming in the ‘Burgh next month.
What We Know about Anthony Bourdain’s Visit to Pittsburgh

What We Know about Anthony Bourdain’s Visit to Pittsburgh

While Bourdain and his crew aren’t talking, they left plenty of hints about what’s likely to be in the Pittsburgh episode of “Parts Unknown.”
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

On the eve of its largest annual event, the Pittsburgh Curling Club has plans to increase Pittsburgh’s appreciation for its intricate sport.
Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

With a tear in our eye, we bid the “Flower” Au Revoir.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Look for some big changes at the Upper Lawrenceville restaurant, which is expected to shutter for at least a year.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

The North Shore landmark's new ropes course is a draw for adults and youths alike.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
History Can Wait Until Penguins Are Done Making It

History Can Wait Until Penguins Are Done Making It

The desire for more a year ago helped fuel the Penguins’ quest to repeat this season. Should their thirst for yet another Cup prove as unquenchable next season, there’s no limit to what they might yet achieve. Even a Three-peat.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

The Strip District-based woodworker's cutting boards can be custom made with the wood of your choice.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Reviews of "Cars 3" and "47 Meters Down," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Enchanting Summery Trends to Illuminate Your Wedding Palette

Enchanting Summery Trends to Illuminate Your Wedding Palette

You’ll definitely want to pin these new summer wedding trends to your Pinterest board.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

From a forest of Japanese maples to a rocky urban sanctuary, the annual tour covers 14 very different gardens across the East End.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

On three days this summer, the college will host visit days for prospective students.

Comments

Edit Module