How to Decorate Wardrobes


A wardrobe is defined as a cabinet, closet or small room designated to hold clothes -- which means that any place you park your threads meets the definition. You can show off a wardrobe designed as stylishly as your wearable wardrobe, hide one discreetly in plain sight, recycle furniture from elsewhere in your house to house your shirts and shoes. Make your wardrobe personal and practical -- with decor worthy of your designer duds.

A Place for Odds & Ends

  • Whatever the form of your wardrobe, every item in it should have a place so odds and ends are not jumbled, tangled and spilling everywhere. Edit, donate, organize -- even colorize your clothes and accessories -- so you can close the door, pull the curtain, shut the drawer, avoid tripping over things. If you have shelves, it helps to attach hand-lettered labels below each one to designate the contents: sweaters, slacks, shirts, socks, scarves. Add a double hanging bar to get more use out of less space, and splurge on color-coordinated hangers. Assign hats, shoes and bags to cubbies decoupaged with black-and-white illustrations of the items, so they end up where they belong. Hang or store bagged seasonal items in the back of the closet or the shelf, and rotate them as needed.

Flea Market Armoire

  • You're a free spirit in a cramped rental, and closets weren't invented when your apartment was built. Grab a distressed armoire from a thrift store or weekend flea market, and dress it up to match your bedroom. Paint it inside and out with milk paint; follow the directions for chipping if you want a shabby chic-style exterior. Replace missing or boring hardware with painted porcelain door knobs or drawer pulls. Separate hanging sections for dresses, jackets, skirts and pants with inexpensive lacy table runners folded over or clipped to a slacks hanger. Stencil a pastel botanical design on inset front door panels, and attach a lightweight, full-length mirror to the inside of one door. Tuck a couple of fancy hat boxes on a top shelf or on top of the armoire itself to hold accessories and hats.

Closet Door Decor

  • No more closet doors painted to match the trim -- the portal to your costume collection can be as design-forward as what's stored behind it. Wallpaper the doors along with the walls in reproduction antique wallpaper -- hand-painted court or formal garden scenes, copies of medieval tapestries, contemporary watercolor images or even a paper facsimile of ceiling-to-floor library shelves. Cover the wall and wardrobe with a mural of the London skyline or a street map of Paris. Camouflage the doors with panels of emerald felt, trimmed in gold braid -- identical to the faux panels that cover the rest of the wall. Upholster the doors in pale Chinese silk, with a matching silk-cushioned bench for slipping on boots and shoes.

Couture Corner

  • Place an old glass-paned breakfront next to a shallow closet and remove the closet door. The breakfront-wardrobe becomes an extension of your closet space. Install a fat painted dowel across the closet doorway and whip up a curtain of bright, cheerful fabric -- a contemporary print or stripe -- to hang on the dowel with large plastic rings. Now tackle the breakfront before you reorganize your clothes. Remove the hardware and pull a color from the curtain fabric to paint the cupboard and shelves. Don't be shy -- daisy-yellow, lime-green or hot pink will transform that old piece. Glue panels of curtain fabric to the back interior wall of the top; it will be slightly visible through the glass, above the folded clothes and shoes you store there. Replace the old hardware with shiny glazed porcelain balls in bright colors that contrast with the paint.

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