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

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Pittsburgh’s medical lifesavers rated by their peers, including anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, surgeons, urologists & many more.
Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Stars of 'This Is Us' Are Big Hits with Steelers Nation

Stars of 'This Is Us' Are Big Hits with Steelers Nation

Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia, who portray a fictional married couple who are big Steelers fans, delighted fans of their own during a visit to Heinz Field Saturday.
Why Hotel Rates are Dropping in Downtown Pittsburgh

Why Hotel Rates are Dropping in Downtown Pittsburgh

Rents for Downtown apartments also are declining.
New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

Pittsburgh ties with one other city for having the worst drivers in the nation.
HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

The pilot episode of “Steel City Rehab” follows a Pittsburgh couple as they flip a home in the city’s East End.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Pittsburgh’s medical lifesavers rated by their peers, including anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, surgeons, urologists & many more.
Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive ailment to treat and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a battleground in the fight against the devastating illness, thanks to the decade-long quest of two Pittsburgh researchers whose work is on track to change the face of medicine and affect millions worldwide.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Stars of 'This Is Us' Are Big Hits with Steelers Nation

Stars of 'This Is Us' Are Big Hits with Steelers Nation

Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia, who portray a fictional married couple who are big Steelers fans, delighted fans of their own during a visit to Heinz Field Saturday.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Steven Soderbergh Brings Bolivian Spirit to Pittsburgh

Steven Soderbergh Brings Bolivian Spirit to Pittsburgh

The award-winning director/producer returns to the city where he spent part of his childhood with Singani 63.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Five Essential May Events

Five Essential May Events

Comics (the kind on paper), comics (the kind with microphones), cats and more upcoming delights.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

If Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is still available, the Pittsburgh Steelers would be wise to make him their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Pittsburgh on a Plate

Pittsburgh on a Plate

The way to a beer lover’s heart is mapped out on notNeutral’s plate, which highlights Pittsburgh breweries (and other points of interest) across the city.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Sink Into a Trippy High School at Row House Cinema

Sink Into a Trippy High School at Row House Cinema

The Pittsburgh premiere of offbeat cartoon "My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea" is the local film event of the week.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

You’ll definitely want the story behind these stunning wedding flowers.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Hosted by the Penn State Master Gardeners, the free event, which includes the local daffodil society’s annual show, features exclusive and hard-to-find flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetable plants and other garden accessories from a variety of vendors.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Alex Rodriguez also is one of the league's more controversial stars.

Comments