Bedroom: Reach-in Closet height

sbaulchMay 21, 2014


There is no closet forum, so I thought this would be the best place to post.

I am in the midst of a closet reno throughout my house, and I am looking for some input on my sons' reach in bedroom closets.

The ceilings in their bedrooms and inside the closet are 9 feet high. However, the door opening is currently a standard 6 foot 8 high. My sons both have small rooms (no dresser), do I take the opportunity to remove part of the valance (not sure if that is the right word - but the drywall above the closet door) to create an 8 foot high opening?

The door into their bedrooms will remain 6 foot 8, so I am concerned about multiple door heights.

Thanks for any advice provided!

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Photos of my one of my son's closet and bedroom door attached

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 8:56PM
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How deep are the closets?

I don't think you need to enlarge the doorway unless the closets are very shallow. You can put in shelving all the way to the ceiling as long as the shelves are only half as deep as the closet. So, if the closet is 24 inches deep, you could have 12 inch deep shelves.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 9:18PM
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I wouldn't. The biggest reason is that you may be affecting a 'supporting' wall. Unless you know for sure that it is not, you should never remove or alter a wall within your home. Also, personally, I think it might look kind of weird. I would, instead, put the money you would put into custom-ordering new closet doors into closet organization systems. Lowes and Home Depot have fantastic options! And yes, you will be special ordering doors if you do this. Your boys will love helping to buy those organizational systems and you will be able to personalize them for whatever they need. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 10:20AM
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You could add molding above the main door to create a "blind transom" or "false transom" that matches the height of the door on the other side.

I have that in my house. The closet door is extra tall, and the entrance door (to the room, not the house) has a transom over it so that the outer molding is the same dimension.
In my case, the closet door is divided into panels the same size as the main door, and the upper section of it is decorated in a separate panel to mimic the size & shape of the transom.

I'll see if I can get pictures.

It makes the upper section of my closet WAY more accessible!

Some other images.

a fake transom that reaches all the way to the ceiling--would be best in your situation, since your ceilings aren't as high as mine.

Scroll down with this one. There are several doors treated like that. In this case, throughout the house.

Here is a link that might be useful: a blind transom

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 5:44PM
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OK, here's my room, w/ the closet door that's got an extra panel, and the entrance door that's got a transom. You could just do a fake transom there, like the ones I linked to above.

Or, you could leave the entrance door alone, and then make the closet door taller, but put the doorframe molding on the door itself, and make the door above that molding flat and paint it to look like the wall. Sort of the same "trompe l'oeil" effect, but going the other way.

In my kids' room, there's a similarly tall closet door, but the other door goes to a bathroom, so there's no transom and no molding.

(I would be really, really surprised if the closet door was on a load-bearing wall. and even -more- surprised if the closet doorframe itself was supporting any load at all. Even the room entrance door frame very probably isn't holding anything up--the beams at the top of the wall usually And even if it is, there are ways to shift the load higher.)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 9:15AM
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I will tell you that I would pay some extra money for a specialty door if it made my home that much easier and enjoyable to live in.
That's what money's for.

But if the cost of special doors is way too much, you could perhaps go with two-part doors, so the bottom is a standard size and the top is special-made (the door itself could be a simple 2x4 frame for attaching the hinges, and with a piece of flat plywood (with iron-on edgebanding) as the top surface; and paint it the same color as the wall--easier to make it look like it's wall, then). You could have your contractor make it to fit, and it really shouldn't be that expensive.

If you did this, don't put a crossbar above the lower door, though, since it will limit your access; and attach the faux "top of the doorframe" molding to the bottom of the upper door.

There might be a visible gap around that panel, which you could frame in molding (on both doors) for the "blind transom" look. If you want to truly camouflage, you could add that same molding above every window (as in that house above a/ the effect in every room)

Here is a link that might be useful: These people made the upper section of the closet be a set of cubbies!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 12:34PM
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    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 1:33PM
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Thanks so much talley_sue_nyc. I was just about to tell my contractor to leave it alone, but came across your links to blind transoms. I like the look.

I would probably have to apply the blind transom to all the doors on the same level as it is an open concept home. OK, this is something I will need to price out.



    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 3:04PM
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Keep in mind that the storage area you are creating will not be easily accessible. This is not a place they will store things they use every day - this is long-term storage. To access that height, they will likely need a stool or ladder.

I have both types of high storage being discussed here. I have storage cubbies built above a closet and a bathroom in my foyer. And I have near-ceiling shelves in a closet. The transom-like cubbies are deeper. The items on the closet shelves are more visible allowing me to see what is stored up there.

The question comes down to whether you need the entire depth of the closet to store whatever you are going to store, or whether some high shelves in the closet will suffice.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 9:45AM
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Graywings has a point.

I was just at my friend's house over the weekend, andhelped her with some clothes decluttering before a move.

She has compartments above the doors, w/ bins that pull out.

They are not easy to access; and she had a lot of loose stuff deep in the back, incredibly hard to get to, sort of cavernous. Sort of a black hole.

But she does get some of it out now and then. And it was a good spot for off-season clothes.

Here's a pic of my upper closet shelves. Since I have extra-tall ceilings, the door frame is lower than the top of the closet, so I have to be careful that stuff can still get up there. It has to maneuver around that frame. I couldn't use the standard tall bin in one spot--I used two under-bed boxes.

But it's useful--extra blankets, the pillows for the sofa bed, my DH's summer shirts.
(Though as I look at it, I really should reconsider some of that stuff--I don't think I've touched it in a long time. Maybe some of it can go.)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 8:39AM
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I wouldn't mess with closet door size to access that tall space. I'm with graywings - that space is going to be difficult to reach. If you put stuff up there, will it ever come down again, or will the space turn into a graveyard?

I think a better way to maximize space in reach-in closets is to reconfigure the clothes rods. Your sons probably don't have a ton of shoes, or long hanging clothes. I would move the clothes rod down lower, and put more shelves above - easier to reach. Or divide the closet side to side, with double rods on one side, and shelves on the other.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 3:23PM
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I just realized that my pics of the inside of my closet show that you can use that higher space even if your door doesn't go all the way up. You just can't bring the shelf all the way out. And you may have to be strategic about the size of the boxes that go up there, since they have to fit between the inside of the doorframe and the shelf itself.

You probably shouldn't plan to pack it solid (side to side), just so you have maneuvering room.

Out-of-season clothes; off-season sports equipment; Christmas ornaments; all kinds of stuff can go in that space. (Remember that even if the shelf is in the kids' room, it can hold household or grownup stuff.)

Maybe you have boxes that:
-in winter, hold: summer sports equipment, summer outerwear
-in summer, hold: winter coats and snowpants, etc.

There is a plenty of stuff that will come down again if you have a need for it (like that list above). And if it's stuff you don't need often, then why would it matter that it's a bit harder to get out?

With the seldom-used stuff, when you want it, you usually -really- want it, and you'll get the stepladder out.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 10:15PM
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You measure the depth of the closet and then use shelves that are half that depth. If you make the shelves any deeper, you won't be able to get things like boxes up on them. But once a rectangular box is up there, you can turn it 90 degrees and have it extend beyond the shelf.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 9:43PM
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