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Remodel bedroom with walk-in closet

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By Pat Logan

Creators Syndicate

Dear Pat: My children are gone now. I am going to enlarge my master bedroom by combining it with one of theirs. I want to add a nice walk-in closet. How do I go about designing and building one? -- Jacquie H.

Dear Jacquie: A walk-in closet used to be a luxury in a home, but today it is becoming the norm in most master bedrooms. It certainly adds to the positive features when trying to resell a house. Since you are cannibalizing another bedroom into your master bedroom, you should have plenty of room to design and build a walk-in closet properly.

Some builders and remodelers try to fit a "walk-in" closet, because it is such a popular feature today, into a bedroom or house that is too small for it. Not only does this look odd, but it is not very functional. By taking space away from the rest of the bedroom, the functionality of the entire bedroom can be compromised.

A walk-in closet should be designed with a minimum depth of four feet from the door. It should be the full height of the bedroom to provide room for shelves and closet rods. The minimum width of the closet depends upon the type of storage (shelves, cabinets, built-in drawers, etc.) you choose while providing space to turn around once you are in there.

Before proceeding on your walk-in closet design, do some preliminary planning for the master bedroom layout. Plan to have the bedroom, closet and bathroom doors open up in an area along a wall or in a corner. This creates a traffic zone that will be somewhat separate from the rest of the bedroom where the furniture and bed are located.

Another consideration is not to locate the walk-in closet door across from the bedroom entrance door if they cannot be on the same wall. Walk-in closets tend to get a bit messy at times, and it is best not to have a mess on the floor of the closet be the first thing someone sees when they enter the bedroom.

The closet door should open outward into the room so it does not block access to items in the closet. Keep this in mind when you decide which way you want the closet door to swing. If it is near the room entrance or the bathroom door and swings the wrong way, it can be in the way and become an annoyance.

Once you have the location and size of the walk-in closet determined, plan on the type of storage you desire inside the closet. A shelf is often located above a closet rod and is typically 14 inches deep for larger items.

Closet rods for hanging long dresses should be about 70 inches from the floor and 12 inches from the closet wall. There should be about 5 inches clearance above the rod to a shelf to make it easy to hang clothes. For hanging shirts, jackets and pants, one rod can be located above another. Leave about 44 inches between them.

Plan for adequate lighting in the closet. A built-in switch in the door jamb is best so the light goes out automatically when the door is closed and it cannot accidentally be left on. Also, install override switches on the outside and inside of the closet. Install full-spectrum compact fluorescent bulbs for efficiency and for the truest colors.

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