Do Bedrooms Have to Have Closets?

The bedroom in your house or apartment isn't legally required to have a closet, but just try to sell or rent that space to anyone but a monk and you'll discover how non-negotiable closets are. Extra square footage is always welcome, but you need a place to park your stuff. Preferably out of sight. Close at hand. Stashed on hangers and shelves. Summer snorkels and winter skis deserve their downtime, and you deserve the option to shut the door on all that. So, what do you do if your bedroom is missing its closet? How do you live with a museum-quality shoe collection crammed under the bed?

Antique Charm Sans Closet

Your century-old apartment has gloriously high ceilings, ornate medallions, hardwood floors, the occasional skittering of tiny feet -- which you ignore -- and an ungenerous bedroom with no closet. Quelle horreur! You've crammed in the queen-size bed, but you can hardly stack it with your wardrobe. So add a wardrobe -- an old armoire or a couple of tall slender cabinets flanking the bed. Retrofit an antique armoire as old as your housing with a hanging bar and drawers or shelves; hooks on the inside of the doors snag belts, hats and scarves. Custom-craft tall but narrow "closet-cabinets," which work as nightstands, with narrow hanging bars and shelves for sweaters, T-shirts and shoe boxes. Next to the the bed, at table-height, cut a shelf niche into each cabinet to hold a reading lamp, a book, your alarm clock or your phone charger. The cabinet doors close to present a seamless surface that looks like part of the wall.

Behind the Bed

Move your bed away from the wall and use the space behind the headboard for a makeshift closet. Hanging racks and stacked drawers or a deep bookcase give you the closet architecture. String a curtain in front of the space on a cable stretched from wall to wall. Simply pull the curtain closed to hide your mad couture habit and present a pretty backdrop to your bed. If you can't squeeze a closet at one end of the bed and still navigate around the mattress without barking your shins, you can always commandeer the guest room for a closet and offer occasional visitors the pull-out couch.

Lofty Ideas

Raise your bed to discover an instant closet below it. The underside of a loft bed provides a good-sized closet space that can handle a hanging bar, a dresser, shoe rack and other shelves or boxes as necessary. Keep it meticulously curated and your closet becomes a visible clothes gallery. Cut yourself some slack and curtain or shutter the view. In a shared room, two loft beds with half or complete closets give each resident a personal space, and the layout might even leave room for a desk.

Backstage in the Bedroom

Stage a theatrical event in your closet-less bedroom with a rolling costume rack and some sleight of hand magic. If the bedroom has an alcove, curtain it off and fill it with hatboxes or an old trunk for folding clothes and accessories, a costume rack for hanging clothes with a shelf for hats above and one for shoes below, and a full-length mirror. Pull back the curtains with tasseled ties to make your selections and check out the effect. Rolling racks move where you need them and will slide behind a three-panel folding screen when you don't feel like displaying all your gear. In an industrial space -- converted lofts are often closet-free -- suspend pipe racks from the ceiling for hanging clothes, and station a couple of galvanized-pipe rolling racks along one minimalist wall with your uber-organized monochromatic wardrobe, current picks you are considering for an event or a trip, or just-worn favorites airing out after a wearing.