Creating a separate dressing room is a smart move and doesn’t always require as much space as you think. Plus, clever cabinetry, whether commissioned or bought off the peg, can maximise storage space for a smart and streamlined look. Whether you have a walk-in wardrobe or capsule bedroom storage, here’s how to make a dressing space effortlessly calm and organised.
WHAT DO YOU USE A DRESSING ROOM FOR?
The most important thing to do when planning a dressing room is to look at everything you own – clothes, shoes and accessories – and work out what storage you need. Designer Nathalie de Leval says, ‘Thinking about how you store clothes – whether you prefer hanging or folding – helps define what you need.’ Interior designer Louise Bradley recommends assessing what you use most. ‘Which items do you reach for daily? Having them closer to hand will make mornings effortless.’ Deborah Bass, creative director of Base Interior, counsels against too much uniform storage. ‘Have freestanding items as well – an antique chest, for instance – to avoid that show-home look,’ she says.
HOW MUCH SPACE DO YOU NEED FOR A DRESSING ROOM?
Few of us have the perfect set-up. If you can, says Philippa Thorp, director of Thorp, locate a wardrobe between the bedroom and bathroom, so you can dress after showering. ‘We like to design all three rooms as a self-contained suite so there’s no rushing around in your towel.’ In tighter spaces, such as corridors or eaves, build to fit as much as possible – shallow niches are ideal for shoe shelves. Pocket doors are good for awkward spaces, says Sandrine Zhang Ferron, founder of Vinterior. ‘They won’t impact the space either side, so you may gain more room.’
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO CONSIDER WHEN CREATING A DRESSING ROOM?
Getting lighting right is crucial for dressing and make-up. Downlights can be harsh, so think about integrating LED strips into joinery, says Sally Storey, creative director of John Cullen Lighting. ‘They’re easy to install behind downstands above doors, in cupboards or under eaves. Soften with dimmers, so you can’t see the LED dots.’ With dressing tables, ensure your face is lit evenly. ‘This can be achieved by back- or front-lighting the mirror, or having wall lights either side,’ says Sally. Don’t forget touch and sound. ‘Choose handles carefully and ensure drawers slide smoothly,’ says Nathalie de Leval. Line drawers with velvet or wool to protect accessories, dampen noise and add an extra tactile element. Cedarwood shelves protect against moths and have a delicious scent.
Wardrobe doors have impact – think of them as part of the room design. ‘Paper-backed fabric is a lovely way to add texture – we often use grasscloth from Thibaut,’ says Lucy Barlow, creative director of Barlow & Barlow. ‘Gravitate towards natural materials like timber, rattan and linen in bedrooms and dressing rooms,’ says Deborah Bass. You can also use mirrors on doors, but if you’d rather not, try Deborah’s canny technique. ‘Have mirrored panels inside the doors, and a freestanding mirror you can move around.’
WHAT ARE THE DRESSING ROOM TRENDS?
The current trend is for ‘his and hers’ dressing rooms. Sleek, masculine black walnut with mirrored detailing creates an ideal masculine look, while a hand-painted collection with exquisite details such as mother- of-pearl and silver has a more feminine feel. Beautiful materials also help create a glamorous dressing space. Examples of these include antiqued mirror, silver leaf and opalescent paint finishes for cabinetry and glass dressing table tops complemented by ornate handles,’ says Steven de Munnich, Design Director, Smallbone of Devizes.
1. CHOSE A SLIMLINE SOLUTION
If a conventional dressing table doesn’t quite do it for you, this narrow wall-mounted design is a sleek, discreet alternative. Concertina doors open to reveal an arrangement of shallow shelves, with room to tuck a stool underneath. When you’ve finished getting ready, the whole thing simply shuts away, while cupboards above and either side mean none of the surrounding wall space is wasted. A bespoke joiner could make something similar; here, the tongue-and-groove doors suit the design’s functional nature and the grey paintwork matches the rest of the decor. A stepladder for the top shelves would be handy; Design House Stockholm has a simple one in white, black or oak.
2. PUT ON A LIGHT SHOW
The owners of this home had the luxury of space for a walk-in wardrobe, but didn’t want to block off the light from a large window at one end of the house. The solution? A contemporary, black steel-framed glass screen, which adds sharp definition to the pale decor without inhibiting the flow of light. Keeping the same dark parquet flooring throughout creates a sense of unity and flow. Crittall Windows supplies screens and doors like these, with glazing specially designed to maximise natural light levels and soft-close doors that reduce noise (an important element of any bedroom storage design, but one that’s all too easily forgotten).
3. UTILISE A COMPACT SPACE
A bedroom with en-suite bathroom is on many people’s home wish list, but getting the two to work in harmony can be challenging. Not so with this compact dressing room designed by Suzy Hoodless, which creates a calm pause between sleeping and bathing zones. Taking inspiration from the pale-pink bedroom walls, Suzy created a ‘strong but complementary contrast’ by painting the whole dressing room space in Little Greene’s Theatre Red. As it’s on the darker side, lighting was crucial. ‘It’s lit simply with downlighters on the ceiling, and the cupboards are illuminated inside,’ says Suzy. ‘The sliding doors don’t interfere with the space and create a sense of easy flow.’
4. CHANNEL A BYGONE ERA
Flamboyantly romantic wallpaper paired with plain stonewashed linen and a silky soft carpet, continued from the adjoining bedroom, creates a luxurious, cocooning feel in this inviting dressing room.
5. GO FOR A BESPOKE OPTION
Consider customised storage when designing a dressing room space. A bespoke cabinet maker will incorporate every item to be stored, from jackets and long dresses to sportswear, ensuring that the space suits a client’s requirements. In addition, it is important to have a place to lay out and accessorise outfits. Seating areas, full-length mirrors and dressing tables are invaluable if you have room.
6. GET CREATIVE WITH WALLPAPER
Fitted wardrobes need not be dull or conventional. A dressing room is the perfect place to experiment with style. An inventive way to soften a wall of wardrobe doors in a dressing room is to cover them with a pretty wallpaper.
7. FIT IT IN A SMALL SPACE
Hard-working storage is key to any successful dressing room. If you don’t have the luxury of a room to spare for this purpose, there are plenty of other options. Specialist designs allow for a dressing space to be carved out of the most overlooked areas, including redundant landings and passageways between a master bedroom and en-suite. Even one wall can contain enough discreet storage for a successful dressing area. Paint your wardrobe and dress table to match the rest of the furniture in the room for a well-thought, cohesive scheme.
8. OPT FOR PURE ARTISTRY
Celebrate the exuberant charm of murals and statement wallcoverings. The painterly mural covering the doors of the built-in wardrobe creates a focal point in this glamorous area, offset by smart brass detailing and soft pink walls.