Wardrobes Buying Guide

Importance of Your Wardrobe

The wardrobe is typically the second largest item of furniture in your bedroom after your bed and its purchase should be given just as much thought, if not more. There are a number of key decisions to be made when purchasing this versatile piece of bedroom furniture and the below guide will highlight some of the key points to consider.

  1. What you want your wardrobe to do.
  2. Sizing up your wardrobe options.
  3. Freestanding or fitted.

What you want your wardrobe to do

One of the best starting places when starting your search for a wardrobe is deciding on how you will use it.

Long hanging space for ball gowns and dresses or shorter hanging space for suits can make a massive difference in choosing your perfect wardrobe.

Shelving above the hanging rail, it's worth checking if it's adjustable or removable.

Some wardrobes have additional storage options available. A gents wardrobe is typically half (50-70%) hanging space with one or more drawers at the base. They are sometimes referred to as combination wardrobes as well.

Sizing Up Your Wardrobe

The space you have available to accommodate your wardrobe is one of the key decisions when choosing your preferred option. When measuring up the possible locations in your bedroom, make sure you measure the maximum space available. The most common oversight we see is people not taking into consideration the skirting board. The bottom of the wardrobe is normally one of its wider dimensions and the skirting board on either side of an alcove can make it one of the smaller dimensions.

People with sloping ceilings should also take into consideration the height of the wardrobe. With loft conversions becoming a great way for people to expand the useable space of their house, the increase in demand for smaller wardrobes has increased dramatically over the last few years. These wardrobes are often referred to as children's wardrobes however this is often the ideal solution for a smaller space under an angled ceiling. See some of our smaller wardrobes selection here. It is also worth making sure the advertised dimensions are the absolute maximum dimensions of your wardrobe. Often wardrobes are larger at the base or top especially when they have an ornate top or feet. It's imperative to measure the access to your bedroom as tight stairwells and corners can sometimes cause problems. If you are unsure always check with your retailer about the size of individual components.

Another useful tip when deciding on the layout and therefore size of the wardrobe you would like is to cut plans out of joined up pieces of newspaper and place them in the potential sites for your items. There are obvious limitations to this method but it can prove useful when space is tight and you are trying to fit a number of free standing items in your room. When deciding where your furniture will be positioned, something that is often overlooked, is allowing enough space to open wardrobe doors.

Freestanding or Fitted

Freestanding wardrobes are designed to fit in an average alcove, fitted wardrobes will give you more space but can give the room a more formal look.

Freestanding wardrobes do take up a little more space as they rarely fully utilise the space in the alcove or area they are placed. However, there are a number of advantages of buying a free standing wardrobe that are worth careful consideration. One of the major advantages is that they allow you to move and change the layout of your room. This versatility can be invaluable when first living in a room as often you only realise how a room layout works for you once you have lived in it for a few weeks.

Another advantage of free standing wardrobes is the ability to move them with you. In this day and age people move home far more frequently than they used to. Free standing wardrobes by their nature lend themselves to being disassembled and reassembled more often. If you think that you are likely to move your wardrobe around then it is definitely worth thinking about knock down wardrobes or pre-assembled wardrobes instead of flat packed wardrobes. Flat packed wardrobes typically require screwing and gluing in order to achieve a stable finish whereas knock down and preassembled wardrobes do not. See our free standing wardrobe choices definition for a better description of different wardrobe types.

Fitted wardrobes are a fantastic way of maximising your bedroom storage space. By their nature they fill every inch and can also offer a tailored solution to your needs. In recent years there has been a trend away from fitted robes, mainly due to the relatively high cost in comparison to alternatives and also the difficulty in moving your fitted wardrobe when you move house. A number of flat pack specialist companies are driving down the costs of these solutions and making them a much cheaper solution than they used to be.

Free Standing Wardrobe Choices

Open hanging

Open hanging wardrobes are typically the cheapest option for a wardrobe. They are typically wardrobes without sides and sometimes even a top which dramatically cuts the production and subsequent retail costs. When considering purchasing one it is worth considering the impact it will have on the look of your room as hiding your clothes away from sight can sometimes help to make a room appear tidier. The other distinct disadvantage of open hanging wardrobes is dust: as your clothes will be exposed to the room the same amount of dust you would normally find on top of your wardrobe will settle on your clothes.

Flat Packed or self assembly

Flat packed wardrobes are still the cheapest and most commonly sold wardrobe solution in the UK today. The savings in shipping costs makes them extremely competitive to produce and the willingness of the consumer to construct the item themselves saves valuable pounds as well. Flat pack furniture generally received bad press in the 80's and 90's when companies such as MFI brought it to market in huge volumes. In recent years, developments in designs have gone a long way to improve the end quality of the product and its reputation. If possible it is always better to upgrade to a ‘Knock Down' wardrobe, as it is much more likely to serve you for longer and survive some movement.


Pre-assembled wardrobes are less and less common these days as their more versatile brother; the knock down wardrobe, becomes increasingly established in the market. As the name suggests a pre-assembled wardrobe comes pre-assembled with all components pre-fitted. Pre-assembled wardrobes are large items of furniture and so make sure that you accurately measure up all accesses, corridors and corners that need to be navigated.

Knock Down

Knock down wardrobes have been one of the biggest developments in wardrobe retail in the last 10 years. A knock down wardrobe as the name suggests is a pre-assembled wardrobe that uses bolts and non permanent fixings to allow the user to take the item apart and re-assemble it with relative ease and minimal impact on the final structure of the wardrobe. Doors are typically hung in pre-made frames and sometime the side panels can even be hinged to the front of the wardrobe to speed up assembly. See photo's below for an example of a knock down wardrobe. The use of bolts and screws and pre-made rectangular panels allow the final constructed wardrobes to retain a large proportion of the sturdiness and durability of a pre-assembled wardrobe.

The above video details the construction of a Lundy Stone Grey Wardrobe, product code 390.013.