7 Designer-Approved Ways to Transform a Closet into a Multifunctional Space

published Sep 14, 2020
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Closet turned into a workstation
Credit: Julie Soefer

If you’re only using your closets to store clothing and other items, you could be missing out on a real design opportunity to create a multipurpose space. Believe it or not, even the smallest hallway closets can be transformed into something that goes well beyond just storage. I asked a handful of interior designers how to make an underused closet more functional, and these ideas might be worth exploring in your home, if you’re lucky enough to have an extra closet or two up for grabs.

Credit: Aisha Ude

Turn a shallow hallway closet into an entryway

Stuck with a narrow entryway closet that has barely enough room to hang your coats? Designer Amelia Strat of Kroesser + Strat Design suggests turning it into an open storage display, as she did in this recent project seen above.

“After removing the doors, we added a cabinet that serves as entry table with drawers for storing scarves, gloves, and such,” says Strat. “Then we painted the cabinet and interior of the closet in the same color and finish as the trim to tie the space all together.” The result? An entry nook that looks like a designer built-in. This is a great solution for small spaces that need miscellaneous storage but lack dedicated entryways.

Convert a walk-in closet into a home office

According to designer Melissa Warner Rothblum of Massucco Warner, an underused walk-in closet is the perfect place to create a workstation when you don’t have a spare room. “Bring in a slender desk, chair and a table lamp and you’re good to go,” she says.

Carve out space for a vanity

That glam room you’ve always wanted just might be within your reach. According to designer Abbe Fenimore of Studio Ten 25, it’s easy to set up this kind of getting ready area for yourself if you have space to incorporate a vanity in your closet.

“In this closet, we removed the double-hanging configuration to carve out room for a vanity with drawers to keep baubles and accessories,” she explains. “We took the boring white wall to the next level with a bold floral wallpaper and added a vintage mirror and lamp for an over-the-top glamorous feel.” Similar to the space Warner Rothblum set up above, you could also work at your vanity if need be.

Convert an entry closet into a homework nook

With so many kids attending school from home, designer Michelle Lisac says there’s no better time to convert a spare closet into a small homework nook. “You’d be pleasantly surprised as to what you can fit into a closet,” she says. “We actually turned an entry closet into a homework space for one of our clients by removing the doors and adding a rolling desk, a plug-in wall sconce, and peel-and-stick wallpaper for warmth.” Anything to get kids excited about distance learning, right?

Transform a hallway closet into a bar

Your hallway closet is teeming with home entertaining potential—it just takes the right accessories. Even if you don’t have a sink or a hook up for a small refrigerator in your closet, you can still create a little mini bar in this area for cocktails.

“By simply removing the doors of your closet and adding a handsome chest or cabinet, you can turn a closet into a bar,” explains designer Marcus Mohon. “Incorporate ambient lighting and a piece of art to brighten up the area or soften the look by draping the doorway in sheers.” If you want to set off this feature further, consider decorative barn style doors, which Mohon used here.

Turn a walk-in closet into a little lounge area

If you’re lucky enough to have a walk-in closet, designer Lori Paranjape suggests removing the clothes and clutter and making it a pint-sized entertaining lounge. In lieu of custom built-ins, like the ones she used in the above photo, she recommends installing floating shelves and bringing in storage cabinets to stash barware and beverages. “You can also add a barstool or two if there’s enough room,” she says. 

Credit: Julie Soefer

Make a one person workstation

With the right decor and accessories, designer Marie Flanigan says you can transform a spacious closet into a proper home workstation in no time. “In the current age of working and schooling from home, finding a dedicated workspace amongst the chaos can be challenging,” she says. “Nestling a small desk in a spacious closet provides just the right amount of privacy and storage for you or your child.”

If your closet doesn’t have a door, Flanigan suggests hanging drapes for added sound control. Use a tension rod and you don’t even have to put holes in your walls or the doorway to hang them. Add task lighting in the form of a desk lamp or a plug-in sconce, and you’ll be all set for whatever comes your way during working hours.