The size and shape of your bedroom will dictate the size and proportions of your wardrobe. Your room might have alcoves or other nooks and crannies which would be perfect for a built-in bedroom wardrobe.
You should decide early if you need to make alterations to the room’s physical layout, such as putting in walls to create a walk-in wardrobe or to divide the sleeping area from the rest of the room. Be aware that some structural changes can have a severe impact on the bedroom’s light, and therefore its overall ‘feel’. Be particularly careful if your bedroom only has one light source, as even partially blocking this can have disastrous consequences for the whole bedroom.
Using fully-fitted wardrobes might free up space, but on the other hand they can overly dominate. They do have the advantage of turning an otherwise uneven wall into an unbroken surface. Sometimes separate furniture can give a room a lighter and more individual feel than built-in wardrobes.
If your bedroom is high ceiling-ed, a full length floor to ceiling built-in contemporary wardrobe might be too much, towering over you as you sleep (or try to!). You can lighten the expanse of doors of a fitted wardrobe in many ways: fitting mirrors on the doors (or even having the whole door as a mirror) can lighten a room and make it appear more spacious, as well as breaking the lines of larger doors.
Integrated or built-in bedroom wardrobes tend to be the most efficient users of space, and can of course be made uniquely to your requirements and taste. They fit your room’s architecture, and so therefore do not leave any valuable space unused. Built-in wardrobes are on the whole however more expensive than their free-standing counterparts – the spaces they occupy need to be measured individually and the wardrobe crafted to fit. This requires, in better quality wardrobes, use of craftsmen to finish the fitting – and this does not come cheaply!
A cheaper alternative to a ‘solid’ wardrobe is a curtained-off alcove or corner of the room. The fabric you choose for the curtain can complement the room’s overall style and be a valuable addition to the whole room’s ‘feel’. However, protection from dust isn’t as effective as in a traditional wardrobe. However, ad hoc ‘wardrobe substitutes’ are easy to move, and assemble and disassemble very quickly, so they’re perfect for people with semi-nomadic lifestyles, such as students. Remember that the wardrobe as we know it now is a fairly recent invention: a curtain over an alcove was preferred method of clothes storage right up to the time of the Tudors!
A halfway point between an improvised wardrobe and a solid wardrobe is a clothes tent – an old solution in competition with today’s contemporary wardrobes: think of an old soldiers’ campaign furniture, and you have some idea of the style. There’s a frame structure made of metal tubes or wood, from which hang cloth shelves or clothes. The cloth shelves store smaller items such as shoes and folded clothes. There’s an outer cloth cover that fits over the internal frame, and the doors have tiebacks to allow easy access. A clothes tent is movable – more easily than a standalone wardrobe, though of course less easily than a simple clothes rail.