When designing a walk-in closet, get a good idea of the minimum width the closet should be, which is essential in dictating just how much space any bedroom requires to have a walk-in closet. For many designers, this is the standard by which they begin planning and designing rooms.
Walk-in closets require two essential components: space to walk in and room for hanging clothes. The former requires at least 30 inches. Typically, a person of average size will want this much room just to stand or walk comfortably without bumping into anything. Large people require a little more room, up to 36 inches. Shelving takes up about 24 inches of space. Combine these two essentials, and the minimum width for any walk-in closet is 5 feet.
A larger walk-in closet may be anywhere from 8- to 20-feet wide. The larger end of this range is for two-person walk-in closets storing lots of clothing, shoes and other accessories. The larger walk-in closet is only feasible in homes with very big rooms and lots of spare space; otherwise, the size of the walk-in takes away space that otherwise is reserved for living. You have many reasons to build walk-ins this large, but the main one is storage space. With 20 feet of wall space, numerous shelves and clothing racks are a possibility. So you can store dozens of clothing items and hundreds of shoes if needed.
Small Closet Advantages
A smaller walk-in closet has advantages over large closets. With a minimum width of 5 feet, a larger bedroom is a possibility even in smaller homes. A walk-in of this size still has plenty of room for clothing. With a double-hung rack, meaning two closet rods hung one on top of the other, your clothing hanging space is doubled. Since the walk-in also has depth, closet rods can be hung on one wall and shelving on the other, which is important to consider when choosing your walk-in closet size. Making the closet a little larger, say 6 feet square, only adds storage space without taking away too much space from the room.
Choosing the Right Width
One person usually needs 4 feet of closet rod space to hang up her clothes. This same person will use three to four 12- to 15-inch high shelves to store the rest of her non-hanging clothes like sweaters and shorts. If you install two double stacked rods along one wall, each at least 4-feet long, that provides space for two people to hang their clothing. You have room for additional shelving on adjacent walls. Up to the full 5 feet of space is available to install shelves, assuming the double hanging rods do not extend all the way to the other adjacent wall. If they do, the width of the hanging area will take up 2 feet of space on the adjacent wall.