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Dealing With a Window in Closet Design

How to Maximize Storage Space When Dealing With a Window in Closet

A closet may seem like a simple thing — just a place to put stuff you plan to use later — but every space is unique. There are many challenges in designing the best possible storage solution. The best closet designs will maximize storage while keeping the space pleasant and convenient for everyday use. There are two schools of thought when it comes to dealing with a window in closet design. One strategy is to eliminate it, while the other is to work with the window and turn it an asset. If the window is located in a reach in/wall closet, you will probably have no alternative but to get rid of it. If it is part of a walk-in closet, however, you have more options. It is difficult, but not impossible, to effectively hang clothing from rods near a window, but there are other types of closet storage ideas that work well with windows and can be incorporated into your walk-in closet.


REMOVING A WINDOW IN THE CLOSET

TAKING IT OUT COMPLETELY:

If you must use the wall space where the window is located for closet rods in order to have enough space to hang your clothes, you will need to eliminate the window opening in some way by either getting rid of it totally or covering it over. The best way to permanently eliminate a window is to take it completely out and reframe the wall, covering it on the inside with drywall and the outside with clapboard, brick, or whatever siding material is used on the rest of the house. If you are handy, there are some good step-by-step instructions on how to do this by Matt Weber from extremehowto.com. Although this window removal solution is permanent and will give you uninterupted wall space to work with, the downside to this approach is that it requires good basic carpentry skills and tools. This is not something that everyone possesses, and to contract this service out can get expensive. It can also be very difficult to match the existing exterior if brick or stone was used on the outside wall where the window is located.

COVERING IT OVER:

An alternative to permanent removal is to cover the window from the inside, leaving it visible from outside the house. Advantages to this approach are the low cost and ability to reverse the window loss if your needs change in the future. There are two ways to do this.

  1. First clean the window and caulk around the opening from the inside to prevent dirt and insects from getting in since you will no longer need to open this window. Install horizontal binds or a heavy window roller shade in the closed position as the first step in covering the window. This window treatment will be seen from the exterior of the home, so choose a window fashion that is timeless and neutral. You can then remove the wood trim from around the inside of the window. Cover the hole with a piece of dry wall, tape the seam, cover the tape with joint compound, sand and paint. From the inside, you will have a blank wall to attach your closet rods and shelving. The problem with this approach is that the wall section that covers the window lacks the support of studs behind it and may not be able to handle the weight of your clothing. In order to make this work, you must be certain that rods and shelves are fully supported by the suds on either side of the window. This works best when the window is relatively narrow so that access to the studs is not a problem. Reversing this procedure is fairly simple, although messy, in the event that you want to return the window to the space later on.
  2. A second solution is to use backer board in conjunction with a custom closet system instead of drywalling the open space in front of the window. Once again, you will want to clean the window thoroughly and caulk around the inside before you begin. If you are installing a floor based closet system, you do not need to remove the interior trim around the window or purchase a window treatment. The view from the exterior of the home will be of the backerboard. If you select backerboard that is white on the side facing the window, it will look like a closed window shade from the outside. Simply build the closet system in front of the wall with the window. You will want the system to extend to the ceiling in order to prevent dust from getting behind the backerboard — (you will not be able to vacuum this area after the closet is finished). Use crown moulding to finish off the top of the closet and prevent any odd light leaks from the window. To save money, the backerboard only needs to be on the wall of the closet system facing the window. This solution will give you a very polished looking closet from the inside and an ordinary looking window from the outside. The floor based closet system carries all the weight of the clothing. With proper installation, support for the weight of the items you are storing in the closet will not be an issue. It is also relatively neat and easy to remove the closet system and restore the window back to working order in the future.

Window in closet covered from the inside
Window cleaned and covered from the inside with a custom closet system using backerboard for a bedroom to closet conversion.
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INCORPORATING THE WINDOW INTO YOUR CLOSET DESIGN

The other option is to work with the window and turn it into an asset for the closet. There are health benefits when we are exposed to natural light that are not present with artificial light, including improved productivity, feelings of comfort, lower stress levels and an overall happier mood. The human body even receives certain essential vitamins, like vitamin D, from sunlight exposure. Additionally, natural light is free.

To include a window in the closet design, you really need to have a walk in closet. There are numerous ways to work with a window in a closet. The most obvious is to leave that section of the wall empty of storage and simply enjoy the window. This can work well when the window is located on a narrow wall that would not be able to receive a lot of storage regardless of whether there is a window there or not. In other instances, it is essential to consider the type of storage that works well around a window and design the closet with that in mild. Cabinets, drawers and shelving for folded clothes or shoes work better near a window than storage areas for hanging clothes. You want to avoid hanging your clothes in front of the window at all costs. Closet shelving units and cabinetry can be designed around the window to create a built-in look similar to the way bookcases often surround a fireplace. If hanging space is in short supply and you absolutely must hang clothes near the window, a cabinet — with or without doors — can be constructed next to the window that includes a clothes rod. The sides of the cabinet will prevent any clothing from being hung directly in front of the window.

Incorporating a luxury feature under the window such as a vanity table or built in bench with storage is another way to turn a closet window into an asset. The natural light from the window is perfect for putting on makeup at a vanity table and transforms the space from simply a closet into a more elaborate dressing room. Similarly, a window seat is a traditional type of built-in storage used in areas of the home outside the closet. Adding this bench with storage under your your closet window creates a cozy nook that is also practical as it provides the perfect place to sit down and put on your shoes.

Window in closet surrounded by shelves
Shelving was used around a window to solve the storage dilemma for this closet with both an awkward slanted ceiling plus a window wall.
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Window in closet turned into a vanity table corner
A vanity table was installed under the oval, odd-shaped window near the corner of this closet, transfoming the simple storage space into an elegant dressing room. The window becomes an element of both beauty and functionality in the closet design.
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The window solution that is best for you will be determined by your situation and your budget. If you have many windows in the closet to contend with, eliminating a few may be necessary. However, don't be afraid to try something new in your closet design. Handled correctly, a window can become the jewel that tops off a truly exquisite closet. Never let an odd shaped window in the closet hold you back from using this feature to its fullest advantage. Many window fashions are available to fit any size or shape window. Closet built-ins like shelves, desks and more can frame your window, allowing the space to be bathed in natural light while simultaneously maximizing your functionality and storage potential in the closet.