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Your Custom Closet Island Paradise

What you need to know before getting a custom closet island

Posted February 26th, 2012   |   Tags: Closet Design, Closet Island Designs, Custom Closet Island
Custom Closet Island Design

Many homes are blessed with walk-in closets... big walk-in closets.  But regardless of how large or small your closet organizers may be, it's great to be able to maximize any storage space.

Custom closet islands are a great way to accomplish this in larger walk-in closets and many closet companies provide design consultations and installations of closet storage islands.  Not only do closet islands add storage space, eliminate the need for furniture in the bedroom and provide a workable surface area in your closet, they also create additional space for hanging clothing along the closet walls since most of the drawer storage is centered in the middle of the room.  But before you get too ahead of yourself, there are a few considerations and requirements to think about before consulting with a professional.  And even if that much extra closet space is a far cry from reality now, a girl can dream, can't she?

First, Is There Room For A Custom Closet Island?

Making sure you have adequate room for a custom closet island is extremely important.  First, keep in mind that the island must be large enough to stand on it's own without tipping over and that you have enough space to comfortably walk around the island, access your hanging clothes and drawers or other storage that will be built into your closet organizer island.  If you can design drawers into a custom island, it's a great way to free-up space in the bedroom and along closet walls.  Taking accurate closet measurements here is important, you may want to utilize our closet measurement form for help.

How does your closet measure up?
  • There must be at least 3 feet of space surrounding your custom closet island for maximum accessibility and comfort. 

  • Clothes along the walls in a closet will usually hang 17" - 24" deep from the wall and you need standing room to access these clothes. 

  • Result: At least 5 feet of space between each wall with clothing and the island; 3 feet from any other obstacle including the door way or door swing.


Designing Your Custom Closet Island

Depending on the amount of space available for the closet island, there are many possibilities on design and structure.  For smaller custom closet islands, at least one side can be used for storage if the unit deep enough to stand alone without tipping over (2 feet deep is recommended for this option).  For most closet islands, two sides of the island can be utilized for storage, but if you have the room, you may be able to use all four sides of the custom closet island as extra closet storage space.  Talking to a professional closet designer is recommended to ensure that you get the best options, materials and storage solutions that are available for your specific needs.  Design and installation services are also available through custom closet organizer companies or professional closet designers.

Closet Island Basics

What function will your custom closet island serve?  Storage for folded items, shoe storage, general storage?  Will the countertop act as a folding or packing table?  The purpose of a closet island will let you know how it needs to be configured.  Below are some standard storage solutions.

  • Folded items and delicates: Drawers
  • Shoes:  Adjustable or angled shelving, cabinets or shoe cubbies
  • General Storage:  Cabinets with doors, open shelving, drawers or a mix of a few concepts
  • Jewelry: Shallow jewelry organizing drawers near the top with standard drawers or cabinets below
  • Bench Storage: Lower 1/2 of the island to provide a seating space to assist with dressing and putting on shoes.  Drawers can often be designed into the base of the bench unit.
How to Begin
  • Start by using painter's tape or masking tape and mark out the space available for your island in accordance to the measuring guidelines stated above. 
  • Decide how many drawers or cabinets you need and determine if they will fit in the space available.
  • Popular standard drawer measurements:  4" to 12" tall, 18" to 30" wide and 14" to 24" deep.
  • Popular cabinet door measurements: Not to exceed 24" wide; anything larger would be difficult to open and close in a smaller space such as a closet.
  • The height of a custom closet island is usually the same height as a standard kitchen counter (36" - 40") and are convenient for folding clothes, packing or placing accessories such as jewelry boxes.
  • Consult with a custom closet company or professional closet designer to turn your ideas into a functional and stylish custom closet island.
Custom Closet Island Design ExampleCustom Closet Island Example:
  • Available Space: 55" x 34".

  • Design Option: Side-by-side drawers on each of the long opposing sides. 

  • Dimensions:  Two side-by-side rows of 24" wide x 14" deep drawers on each side.

  • Result: An island with 16 to 20 drawers (depending on height); Wow!

  • The two used sides can have flat drawer fronts as a normal dresser would be or dressed up with decorative raised panels.

Custom Closet Island Style

Usually, a custom closet island will be made from the same material as the closet organizer system in the closet - usually melamine, MDF or wood veneer with a possibility of a countertop surface added such as granite, Silestone, Corian or laminate.  The color of the island will also usually match the closet shelving, but with various choices of drawer and door panels, hardware and countertops, the closet island design style possibilities are endless.

  • A traditional style custom closet island may include base moulding, ornate feet instead of a toe kick for support and raised panel drawers or doors.
  • A more contemporary closet island utilize glass doors, flat panel drawers and stainless steel hardware.
What are you waiting for?

Taking a good look at your storage needs and available space will help prepare you for a design consultation with a professional.  Knowing what is realistic and what to expect can speed things up during the design process.  Also, if you are purchasing a modular closet organizer or prefabricated closet island, planning ahead will help you can know exactly what size unit will fit in your space and still be functional.


Example: Long Rectangular Custom Closet

Custom Closet Island Design Long

Shallow drawers near the top of the island can be utilized for jewelry, watches and accessories. Varied drawer heights are used to accomodate different types of waredrobe items such as large sweaters and linens or small items such as socks and underwear.

Open Shelves

The open shelves can store shoes, boxes, decorative items or purses.


Example: Custom Closet Island with Cabinet Doors & Storage Bench

Custom Closet Island Design Storage Bench

Shallow drawers near the top of the island can be utilized for jewelry, watches and accessories.

Cabinet with Shelving

A closed cabinet works great on a closet island to store (and hide) items that you may need frequent access to.  Media devices, keepsakes, sweaters, purses, accessories and more can be kept safe and out of sight in a closet island cabinet.

Storage Bench

A storage bench connected to the island adds stability to the narrow drawer section, provides custom seating as well as extra storage for blankets, towels or sweaters.


See more great walk-in closets and examples of custom closet islands in our closet design gallery!

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