Closets have the tall order of maximizing space in a very confined area. And if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I often suggest placing rods and shelves high up on the walls to keep the area functional while ensuring that everything fits.
While this gets all of your clothing into one space (most of the time!), it can pose a new set of issues for people who are wheelchair-bound or have limited mobility. Everyone deserves a closet that’s both functional and accessible, so if you’re thinking about a custom walk-in but aren’t sure if what you want is even possible, don’t worry. We’re very resourceful. Here are a few common design options.
Single Hanging Rods Instead of Double Hanging Rods
If you add stacked hanging rods to your closet, one rod will usually be higher than arm’s reach, which can create accessibility problems.
Instead, try opting for a single rod and letting the length of your favorite clothing dictate the height of the rod placement. Let’s say that I wear a lot of tops and slacks—I might place my hanging rod approximately thirty inches from the floor. The goal here is to place items that you use on a regular basis at the most comfortable level possible.
With the space that you’ll have left above your hanging rods, you can usually fit three to five shelves. The lowest of these should still be fairly accessible—I’d suggest reserving it for items that you use at least weekly. Any shelving above eye level should turn into a spot for seasonal items that you don’t currently need and won’t access frequently.
Wardrobe lifts are also an excellent option—more on that in a minute.
Think Outside the Box
One of my favorite design ideas for my disabled clients is adding a lazy susan to the closet. Yes, the same kind of lazy susan that you’d normally use for pantry storage. Because they have the ability to rotate, you don’t have to reach deep into your shelving to retrieve items that you need, and you don’t have to sacrifice any storage space.
I’ve found that lazy susans work particularly well for accessories—think shoes, purses, clutches, and sunglasses. Basically, anything bulky enough to take up a lot of shelf space.
Place Your Drawers Strategically
While I sometimes advocate for having as many drawers as possible, strategic placement is more important if you’ve got physical limitations. The rule of thumb? Think about how far you can bend down without placing any physical strain on yourself. This might mean that you can’t have drawers going all the way to the bottom of your closet, but the open space below could become excellent storage for large, bulky items like luggage or spare bedding.
The construction of the drawers themselves is also important. Soft-close features and the ability to fully extend each drawer will both work in your favor: it will be easier to get the drawers open and closed and easier for you to reach all the way to the back of each drawer box.
Let Your Accessories Do Your Work for You
If your mobility is limited, slide-out storage features should definitely be included in your closet design. They’re a great way to store smaller accessories, like belts, ties, and scarves. Since our racks are on rollers, you’re saved from having to reach into your shelving system to access items. You can pull the racks out and let your accessories come to you.
Our slide-out laundry hampers are extremely helpful, too. With full extension sliders and detachable bags, it’s easy to bundle everything up to get it to the laundry room, and custom placement lets you choose a level that requires as little bending as possible.
Wardrobe Lifts Are Lifesavers
For any closet, wardrobe lifts are a lifesaver. They not only allow you to use upper wall space more efficiently, they bring your clothing to you. All you have to do is pull the hanging rod down, select the item you’d like, and release the lever to put the rod back in place.
Having a limited range of motion can be frustrating as you attempt to navigate your closet on a daily basis. But by designing a custom walk-in that works for you and incorporates a few key features, you can fall back in love with the function and appearance of a beautifully organized space. We’d love to help you get started with a free design consultation.