Does a Bedroom Have to Have a Closet? Answers from Design & Lifestyle Experts

Last Updated on October 30, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Closets, often considered an essential part of a bedroom, serve more than just a functional purpose. They are integral to the organization and aesthetics of the room, providing a designated space for clothes, accessories, and other personal items.

The presence of a closet can transform a room from a simple space into a personal haven that caters to an individual’s lifestyle and needs.

This article will delve into the question: Does a bedroom have to have a closet? We will explore the legal and building code aspects, the role of closets in bedrooms, alternative storage solutions, and the impact on real estate value.

By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of whether a closet is a mandatory feature of a bedroom or if there are flexible alternatives to consider. Let’s begin our exploration.

bedroom has closet

Does a Bedroom Have to Have a Closet?

bedroom closet

The requirement of a closet in a bedroom largely depends on the building codes and real estate regulations in a specific area.

From a legal building code perspective, most jurisdictions in the United States do not require a closet for a room to be classified as a bedroom. Typically, the criteria for a bedroom include minimum size requirements, an egress window for emergency escape, a heating and ventilation system, and sometimes a certain number of electrical outlets.

However, from a real estate perspective, it’s a different story. Many potential homebuyers and real estate agents expect bedrooms to have closets.

In certain real estate markets, a room might not be listed as a bedroom if it doesn’t have a closet. The absence of a closet can make a room less attractive to potential buyers, possibly affecting the home’s marketability and value.

Understanding the Concept of a Bedroom

A bedroom is generally defined as a room in a residential dwelling intended for sleeping. It is a private space that serves as a sanctuary for rest, relaxation, and personal activities.

Though the specifics may vary depending on regional standards and personal preferences, there are several key features that a conventional bedroom typically includes.

Definition of a Bedroom According to Real Estate Standards

In real estate terms, a bedroom is often defined by certain criteria set forth by local codes and regulations. These criteria can include:

  1. Size: A bedroom must meet minimum size requirements. This can vary, but a common standard is at least 70 square feet.
  2. Height: The ceiling height should be a certain minimum. For instance, some codes require at least half the bedroom’s ceiling to be 7 feet high.
  3. Exit: There should be two means of egress, typically a door and a window large enough to serve as an emergency exit.
  4. Heating and Ventilation: A bedroom must have proper ventilation and a heat source to ensure comfort and safety.

While these are general standards, the specific rules can differ depending on the location. It’s essential to check with local building codes or a real estate professional to understand the exact requirements in your area.

Key Features of a Conventional Bedroom

Aside from the legal and real estate definitions, a conventional bedroom usually includes certain features for functionality and comfort. These include:

  1. Bed: The most fundamental feature of a bedroom is, of course, a bed. This can range from a traditional bed frame and mattress to a futon or a Murphy bed that folds into the wall.
  2. Closet: While not always legally required, closets are a common feature in bedrooms. They provide storage for clothes, shoes, and other personal items.
  3. Lighting: Adequate lighting is essential, both for practicality and ambiance. This can include overhead lights, table lamps, or natural light from windows.
  4. Privacy: A bedroom should offer privacy, typically with a door that can be closed and window treatments to block out light and outside views.

Legality and Building Codes

Building codes are sets of rules that specify the minimum acceptable levels of safety for constructed objects such as buildings.

They ensure that the structures we live in meet certain standards to protect our health, safety, and general welfare. When it comes to closets in bedrooms, these codes can vary significantly based on location.

Building Codes Related to Closets in Bedrooms

Interestingly, many building codes do not explicitly require bedrooms to have closets. While a closet is often expected in a bedroom, it’s typically not a legal necessity.

For example, the International Residential Code, which serves as a model code for many local governments in the United States, does not list a closet as a requirement for a room to be classified as a bedroom.

The primary legal requirements for a bedroom often include aspects related to safety and habitability, such as minimum size, ceiling height, ventilation, heating, and means of egress. However, the absence of a closet doesn’t generally disqualify a room from being considered a bedroom.

Differences in Regulations Based on Geographical Location

While the above holds true for many areas, it’s important to note that building codes can and do vary based on geographical location.

Some cities or states might have additional requirements that others do not. For example, in some areas, local codes or housing regulations might indeed stipulate that a bedroom must have a built-in closet.

Moreover, while building codes might not require a closet, real estate appraisers or potential buyers might expect one. For instance, in certain real estate markets, a room might not be listed as a bedroom if it doesn’t have a closet, even though this isn’t a building code requirement.

The Role of Closets in Bedrooms

closet in bedroom

Closets have long been a traditional component of bedrooms, serving a crucial role in the organization and functionality of the space.

They are more than just storage; they contribute significantly to the overall comfort and efficiency of a bedroom.

The Traditional Role of Closets in Bedrooms

Traditionally, closets in bedrooms have been used for storing clothing, shoes, and other personal items.

They help keep these items organized and out of sight, contributing to a cleaner and more clutter-free space.

This not only makes the room more visually appealing but also facilitates easier access to these items when needed.

In older homes, you may often find smaller closets as large wardrobes were more common in the past. However, modern home designs usually incorporate larger, walk-in closets reflecting the changing lifestyle needs and preferences of homeowners.

How Closets Contribute to the Functionality and Organization of a Bedroom

Closets play a significant role in enhancing the functionality of a bedroom. They provide a designated space for every item, which helps reduce clutter and makes the room more navigable and user-friendly.

  1. Organization: With different sections for hanging clothes, shelves for folded items, and compartments for accessories, closets make it easy to organize your belongings methodically. This organization can save time and stress, making everyday tasks like getting dressed more efficient.
  2. Space Optimization: Closets help optimize the available space in a bedroom. By storing items vertically on hangers or shelves, they make use of the room’s full height and free up floor space.
  3. Aesthetics: A well-organized closet contributes to the overall aesthetics of the room. It keeps potentially messy piles of clothes and personal items out of sight, leading to a cleaner, more spacious-looking bedroom.
  4. Personalization: Closets can be personalized to suit individual needs. Whether you need more hanging space, extra shelves, or specialized compartments for accessories, you can customize your closet to make it work best for you.

Alternatives to Traditional Closets

While traditional closets are a common feature in bedrooms, they’re not the only option for clothing and item storage.

Many alternative solutions can serve the same purpose, offering storage while also contributing to the aesthetic of the room.

These alternatives can be particularly useful in homes without built-in closets or for individuals who need additional storage space.

Furniture Alternatives: Wardrobes and Armoires

One of the most popular alternatives to traditional closets are standalone pieces of furniture like wardrobes and armoires. Both of these options offer substantial storage space and can add a stylish touch to your bedroom decor.

  • Wardrobes: A wardrobe is a tall cabinet with doors that open to reveal a combination of hanging rails, shelves, and sometimes drawers. They come in various sizes and designs, allowing you to choose one that fits your space and meets your storage needs.
  • Armoires: Similar to wardrobes, armoires are usually taller and narrower. They often feature a combination of hanging space and shelves, and some even include a built-in mirror. Armoires can be particularly useful in smaller rooms where space is at a premium.

Innovative Storage Solutions for Bedrooms Without Closets

For bedrooms without closets, several innovative storage solutions can help keep your belongings organized:

  1. Clothes Racks: These provide a place to hang clothing and are often on wheels, so they can be easily moved around.
  2. Under-the-Bed Storage: This can include rolling drawers, plastic bins, or specially designed fabric bags, providing a great place to store out-of-season clothes or infrequently used items.
  3. Shelves: Whether freestanding, wall-mounted, or built into a headboard, shelves offer versatile storage for folded clothes, books, and other items.
  4. Baskets & Trunks: These can serve as decorative storage solutions, perfect for holding accessories or less frequently used items.
  5. Coat Rack & Shoe Bench: For a minimalist approach, a coat rack for hanging clothes and a shoe bench at the foot of the bed can suffice.

How These Alternatives Meet the Needs of a Bedroom

All these alternatives provide practical storage solutions, each with its unique benefits:

  • Versatility: These alternatives can be moved around and rearranged as needed, offering more flexibility than built-in closets.
  • Space-Saving: Solutions like under-the-bed storage make use of often overlooked space, while tall wardrobes and armoires take advantage of vertical space.
  • Aesthetics: Furniture pieces like wardrobes and armoires can add character to a room, while other solutions like clothes racks can create a modern, industrial look.
  • Customization: With these alternatives, you can mix and match different solutions to create a storage system that fits your specific needs and preferences.

Impact on Real Estate Value

The presence, absence, or quality of closets can significantly impact a property’s value. This is largely due to their practicality and the high-value potential homebuyers place on good storage space.

The Effect of Having a Closet on the Property’s Value

Having a closet, especially a well-designed or custom one, can add significant value to a property. Custom closets are considered one of the best home improvements for adding value because they are highly desirable to potential homeowners.

A well-designed walk-in closet, in particular, adds considerable value to a home, making it an attractive feature for potential buyers. This is because walk-in closets are often seen as a luxury feature, providing ample storage space while also adding to the overall aesthetic appeal of the room.

The Perspective of Real Estate Agents and Potential Buyers on Bedrooms Without Closets

From a real estate perspective, a bedroom without a closet can be a drawback. While a room can still technically be classified as a bedroom without a closet in many areas, potential buyers often expect bedrooms to have closets. Thus, the lack of a closet can make a bedroom less appealing to prospective buyers.

In today’s competitive housing market, the absence of a closet in a bedroom could potentially make or break a sale. If a potential buyer is choosing between two similar properties and one lacks sufficient closet space, they might very well opt for the one with better storage solutions.


Throughout this discussion, we’ve explored the impact of closets on real estate value, the perspective of real estate agents and potential buyers on bedrooms without closets, and the viable alternatives to traditional closets.

Key points to remember include:

  • The presence of a well-designed or custom closet can significantly increase a property’s value. This is due to the high demand for adequate storage space among potential homebuyers.
  • Bedrooms without closets can be seen as less appealing in the real estate market. Although not legally required in many areas, closets are generally expected in bedrooms by both potential buyers and real estate agents.
  • There are numerous alternatives to traditional closets, such as wardrobes, armoires, clothes racks, under-the-bed storage, and more. These solutions can provide versatile, space-saving, and aesthetically pleasing storage options for bedrooms lacking closets.

As for the question of whether a bedroom must have a closet, it largely depends on the context. Legally, a bedroom may not require a closet in many jurisdictions. However, from a real estate standpoint, a closet can add significant appeal and value to a bedroom, making it more desirable to potential buyers. Therefore, while a closet might not be a necessity, it is certainly beneficial.

In the end, the choice to include a closet or opt for alternative storage solutions will depend on factors such as the available space, the homeowner’s storage needs, and the aesthetic they wish to achieve.