Wardrobe vs Closet

Wardrobe vs Closet

A properly organized and efficient storage space is a necessity in any home. They provide an opportunity to create an aesthetically pleasing and functional home as they allow every belonging to have an allocated home.

Wardrobes and closets are the two most popular options when organizing these items. Both of them store clothes, shoes, coats, and other home necessities such as linens, blankets, and more.

However, they both have distinct differences, and they cater to different needs in the home ecosystem. In this article, we will go over the main differences between wardrobe and closet to help you make the right decision for your needs. 

What is a Wardrobe?

A wardrobe is a free-standing piece of furniture. It is a unit designed to store clothing, shoes, coats, accessories, and other similar personal items. Usually, it has shelves, drawers, and hanging space to provide the maximum storage options. It is a closet-like structure with one or more doors that can be opened and closed to access the stored items. 

They protect the clothing in it from dust, direct sunlight, humidity, and other similar factors that can cause damage to the clothes, thus keeping them clean and ready to wear. Moreover, its specific drawers are designed to organize smaller items, such as socks and underwear. 

There are many different types of wardrobes. Each caters to specific organizational needs depending on the wardrobe’s contents. The most common types are:

  • Free-standing wardrobe: This type of wardrobe is a standalone unit. It can be moved around within the room or from room to room. They come with internal storage options and more than one hinged door. 
  • Fitted or built-in wardrobe: This type of wardrobe is custom-made to fit precisely the space it is designed for. They are usually designed to have floor-to-ceiling storage to maximize storage capacity and are integrated perfectly into the room. 
  • Sliding door wardrobe: These wardrobes have sliding doors instead of hinged doors. Sliding doors can slide on tracks placed on the floor and the ceiling of the wardrobe. This design is incredibly beneficial for small rooms as it doesn’t require clearance to open doors. 

What is a Closet?

The main difference between a wardrobe and a closet is that closets offer dedicated storage space. In other words, it is typically a built-in storage option in a specific area to provide space for storing items related to that area. For example, laundry closets are usually in the laundry room and store items related to the space, such as hampers, cleaning supplies, and more. 

The closets’ design helps optimize the living space by consolidating items in a designated area. They can be designed to fit the dimensions available in a room precisely. Thus, they are a practical solution for many different places with different shapes and sizes. The most common types of closets include:

Walk-in closet: Walk-in closets are larger and arguably the most sought-after and desired type of closet. They are the most spacious type of closet as they allow additional space. Depending on the walk-in closet size, you can place benches, mirrors, dressers, and more. They can be considered luxury items as they are more than likely found in larger houses. 

Reach-in closet: Reach-in closets are the smaller and more commonly found versions of walk-in closets. They are smaller and compact closets.

They are designed to maximize vertical space as they are floor-to-ceiling. If you have a reach-in closet, you can customize it using different organization solutions such as hanging rods and drawer dividers. If you are considering installing a reach-in closet, you can design one that exactly covers your needs.

big organized closet

Differences Between a Wardrobe and Closet

  • Structure

Wardrobes are available in many different designs, sizes, and shapes. They allow the owner more flexibility as they can be freely moved around as they aren’t fixed to a certain area. If you no longer need or use it in one room, you can move it to a new room that will be more useful. 

On the other hand, closets are built-in units that cannot be moved once installed. However, as they are built to fit precisely into the space, they can blend in, thus offering a seamless appearance. 

  • Capacity

While the available storage capacity and type can vary depending on the specific wardrobe or closet, wardrobes are better at storing large items such as long dresses or coats. They generally provide larger storage space due to their design and size. 

On the other hand, closets are more space-efficient. However, they can limit room for hanging clothes, especially larger ones. That is an issue that can be solved using closet organizers and hangers to maximize the storage potential of the closet space. Moreover, if you are dealing with a small closet, you can supplement it with a wardrobe and use them together for extra storage. 

  • Organization

Although wardrobes and closets are both helpful in keeping your belongings organized, they achieve that goal in different ways. Wardrobes have various compartments, such as drawers and shelves. Therefore wardrobes offer different types of storage options for organizations.

Moreover, as wardrobes have more space, all of the items in them can be in plain view so that you can find exactly what you are looking for easier. 

Closets are more compact and require efficient and smart storage solution ideas. You can utilize hangers, shelves, space dividers, and other organizers to maximize the available space. Creating an easily accessible and tidy closet is possible and doable with some research to find organizers that cater to your needs. 

  • Customization

As closets are integrated into the room’s structure, they have to adhere to the design and layout of the room. In other words, they are limited by the already existing dimensions. That isn’t to say they aren’t customizable. If you are working with an already installed closet, you can customize the inside and try putting in different shelves, drawers, and modules to fit your need.

However, the structure of it is unfortunately not customizable. If you are considering installing a new closet, you can customize the size, dimensions, and modules to your desire. 

Wardrobes offer more customization options in general. You can choose and control the interior layout, color, additional features, and material. Different stores offer different customization options, and you can switch the additional features and modules when you no longer need them. 

  • Material and Appearance

Both wardrobes and closets are available in various materials with unique characteristics and appeal. Wood is the most popular option among the materials, providing a classic, elegant, and timeless appearance. It offers many options, such as oak, mahogany, and pine.

Solid wood can be costly. However, there are budget options available. Engineered wood, such as MDF, is a common alternative for closets and wardrobes alike.  

The appearance can also vary widely depending on the specific aesthetic you are going for. If you want a traditional look, ornate detailing, paneling, and intricate carvings on the wardrobe doors can provide the desired outcome.

Closets with traditional designs can blend seamlessly with the architectural design and details of the room, thus enhancing the preexisting area. 

Contemporary and modern designs pair well with sleek surfaces, clean lines, and minimal design elements. Wardrobes and closets with such elements create an aura of openness and simplicity. Therefore they are ideal for urban living spaces.

  • Cost

The cost of wardrobes and closets can depend on many different factors. Size is arguably the biggest determinant. Larger units require more material and labor for construction. For example, a walk-in closet or a spacious wardrobe will be more expensive than compact storage units. 

Material selection also plays a significant role in determining the cost. Closets and wardrobes made of solid wood will cost more than engineered wood or metal. Moreover, the quality of the wood will also affect the cost immensely. 

Customization, the amount of customization, and how many different features you choose to add will add to the cost. Choosing different finishes and materials can be more costly compared to prebuilt options. 

Installation and delivery costs should be considered as well. Some may require professional assembly and installation. For example, you can assemble some wardrobes yourself or with the help of someone. However, the installation of a built-in closet should be done professionally. 

  • Maintenance and Cleaning

Keeping both closets and wardrobes clean and hygienic is essential for the longevity of the units and their ability to keep their contents clean. Dusting the inside regularly is a must so that the items within can keep their condition. Moreover, wiping the exterior helps prevent the accumulation of dust and dirt. 

In the case of wardrobes, some might have mirror or glass paneling. Using appropriate glass cleaners for a streak-free wardrobe is better if your wardrobe has such materials. Wooden or metal surfaces can be wiped with a soft damp cloth mixed with mild non-abrasive detergent. 

Keeping the space organized will make it look tidy and help with maintenance. When all items in the closet or wardrobe are shoved on the shelves with no organization, cleaning them will be much harder. Therefore, using organizers and dividers will significantly assist in keeping the storage space organized, thus assisting the cleaning process. 

Moreover, maintaining the hinges and the hardware is an important part of maintaining your closet or wardrobe. You should regularly inspect and lubricate the hinges, drawer sliders, and other hardware to keep the closet or wardrobe functioning smoothly. 

In the closet vs. wardrobe debate, both options have their weaknesses and strengths. Closets offer seamless integration into the room, efficient space use, and the perfect option for smaller rooms.

On the other hand, wardrobes allow more versatility and personalization, which is ideal for expressing your style and picking a storage option that fits your ideal aesthetic. 

The choice between closet and wardrobe depends ultimately on how much space you have, your budget, and your preference.

Regardless of your choice, an organized room elevates functionality and aesthetics. They help you create an area that is clutter free and allow you to express your taste while bringing you joy every day. 


What were closets originally used for?

Closets were initially used for storing valuable items. There were used as a space to protect items such as clothing, linens, and other personal belongings from dust, pests, and theft. Over time, they evolved to accommodate various purposes, such as laundry closets and utility closets. 

Is closet and wardrobe the same thing?

No, closets and wardrobes aren’t the same thing. They both serve as storage solutions. However, closets are built into the room and integrated into the architecture. On the other hand, wardrobes and standalone units with more design flexibility and larger storage capacity.