Moving a bedroom closet

Victor ChengAugust 1, 2014
We're planning to "move" the master bedroom closet. I'd like some advice/ideas.

As background: We want to put the bed against the wall where the closet currently is. We want a closet on the wall where the bed currently is. So to do this, we need to take out the closet. We then want to put a closet (IKEA, see image) against the wall where the bed is.

Here are the questions I have:
1. What size closet should I put in? If the door is open, the space between the door and the wall is ~79/80 inches. The closet from IKEA I've been looking at turns out to be available in 78 3/4" wide and 27" deep. While more closet space would be great, I'm concerned that may feel claustrophobic. Then again, the closets aren't /that/ deep. Am I going to feel like I'm walking into a wall as soon as I enter the room? Is there a rule of thumb for closet width?

2. There's a heating/AC vent above where the closet would go. Is there a rule of thumb I can apply for how much space to leave between the vent and the top of the closet?

Now on to the current-closet-soon-to-be-bed wall...
3. On either side of the closet, the "wall" sticks out 7". We considered removing the closet "frame" entirely, but this means patching the hardwood (more cost + we don't have the original hardwood).

Would it make more sense to add shallow (7") shelves for a pseudo "nightstand" (say, 25" high?)? The shelves could either i) face in towards the bed or ii) out towards the room. Or we could skip the shelves entirely and just build out a 'ledge' (one contractor recommended 32").

Ideas? Thoughts?
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Joanne Jakab Interior Design
Buy 1/4" graph paper and draw this out to scale! In the end what will you gain as far as useable space?
Yes, closets need to be deep enough to house your suit jackets hanging on a hangar and I have found some older homes and even some high end newer homes have skimped an inch or so and it does make a big difference. What is on either side of your current closet - in the other room? Can you actually gain the full width of the room or are there other impediments such as plumbing, venting, other closets etc.?
    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 2:57PM
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Victor Cheng
It sounds like my initial post wasn't clear - sorry about that! And thanks for taking the time to respond.

I'm actually thinking this will be pretty usable space, so I'm less concerned about that and more about the shelves and the ingress/egress.

Background: It's a small room and unless we move the closet, the only place where the bed fits is against the current wall (as per the photo). What you can't tell from the photo is that the door is at the end of the hallway of rooms, so any time the door is open, you get a clear view down the hallway into the living room (and vice versa).

The other side of the current closet is the exterior. We would not be increasing the size of the room, but simply moving the closet from one end of the room to the other. Therefore, plumbing won't be an issue. Venting is a concern, and for that reason, we won't build the closet to the ceiling - that's where my question #2 comes in: "2. There's a heating/AC vent above where the closet would go. Is there a rule of thumb I can apply for how much space to leave between the vent and the top of the closet?"
    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 8:45PM
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Fred S
It is a common MYTH that a closet is required in some areas. The truth is that Realtors have taken it upon themselves to make this a requirement to list a room as a bedroom in some Multiple Listing Services (advertising). There is NO legal basis for this. It is merely a bunch of bickering realtors trying to ensure that their listings look more attractive than the listings of others.

Closets have NEVER been a code requirement in ANY model code books in the U.S. The IRC is now used almost everywhere in the U.S. regardless of whether the state has given it an officially different name. The only deviations in the codes are generally limited to climate based conditions. (Closets are not a climate consideration)
Per IRC; A sleeping room, aka bedroom, requires the following: A source of natural light (8% of the floor area)(or artificial light) a minimum of which 50% shall be openable (or mechanical ventilation), a minimum horizontal dimension of 7 ft, a minimum ceiling height of 7'-6", code complying means of emergency egress, a source of permanent heat, and a smoke alarm. Carbon Monoxide detectors are starting to be required outside of bedrooms in some areas.

HUD, FHA, and VA do not require closets.
"FHA does not require bedrooms, bedroom closets, or closet doors. The appraiser must consider and appropriately address the potential existence of functional obsolescence."

A room with a closet is counted (generally mandatory) as a bedroom for sanitation purposes when sizing septic tanks and drain fields, but you can also include other rooms in that calculation if you choose to use them as bedrooms. Not having a closet does not exclude it from being a bedroom.

Code reviews in the building department often requires a room with a closet to also have all requirements of a bedroom (egress window, smoke detector,etc), but NOT the other way around. A room with all the requirements listed above without a closet is still legally acceptable as a bedroom. THIS is the confusing part that gets muddied even further by Realtors.
A room with a closet needs to be code compliant for a bedroom, and septic in many jurisdictions, but a bedroom does not have to have a closet. THEY ARE NOT MUTUALLY INCLUSIVE OR BI-DIRECTIONAL RULES. Just because one is true, doesn't make the opposite true.
2 Likes    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 3:40AM
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GN Builders L.L.C
In addition to what Fred indicated as the room sizes go, etc per IRC code, the only thing can classify a room as a bedroom is an Egress Requirement.
The codes require that there should be at least one emergency escape and rescue opening in every sleeping room and in basements with habitable space, without that, the room cannot be classified as a Bedroom.
2 Likes    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 4:33AM
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Fred S
I had that in there, it just got buried in the rest of the explanation ;D
2 Likes    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 4:45AM
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Victor, are you living in my house when I go out? Because that is exactly what we are going to do, move our closet to the other wall to stop us having to climb over the bed to get to the other side.
    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 4:48AM
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@Fred S. Thanks for correct info.
1 Like    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 5:07AM
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@GN Builders: Thanks for egress info.
    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 5:08AM
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You might frame in the sides and top of the current closet wall to make it an alcove. You could even install lighting up the sides and over the top.

I imagine there is some recommended distance between the wardrobe and the vent--I have no idea what it is--but you could always move the vent.
1 Like    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 6:18AM
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