Types of fitted wardrobe

There are different approaches to creating a fitted wardrobe but here we identify four main types.

They differ in cost, installation difficulty and performance. If your aim is for a DIY fitted wardrobe then you will want to be clear as to which type you are aiming for to ensure you get the result you want. For example if you set out to make the one we describe as “Doors attached to the walls” and you don’t have carpentry skills then you may be wasting your time and your money!

Broadly the options are presented in order of increasing cost. The simplest option is a wardrobe rail between two walls. This might be the kind of thing you do when you’ve just moved house and you need an immediate clothes hanging solution.

The next step up from this is to close the space off with some doors. This is where things start to get tricky. To attach a door you need a frame which might be battens of 38mm or 50mm square timber. The doors could be ready made internal doors or 18mm thick MDF and typically butt hinges are used. However the skills to put this together are, well, carpentry skills. If you are not a carpenter then you have a challenge. Wardrobe doors are typically 2metres tall so if the alignment is not good you will see gaps or the doors will not swing right – this is the stuff that carpenters go to college to learn!

You have come here probably because you are not a carpenter. What are the options for a non-carpenter (or for the carpenter who wants a quick sure-fire solution)? The next step is a ready-made kit comprising doors within a frame. This could be sliding doors from a sliding doors vendor or if you would like hinged doors then this is something we can supply at https://www.diywardrobes.co.uk. Given the dimensions we create custom sized doors together with a frame (usually 100mm deep) and both the doors and frame are pre-drilled for hinges. You offer up the frame to the space, using packers and scribes as necessary, and secure to the wall.

This is a job that doesn’t require carpentry skills and the novice who is prepared to work methodically can achieve good results. Indeed in Germany this is the normal way that they have been fitting internal doors for years using door and frame sets that are pre-drilled for hinges, handles and locks.

If we supply this kit then we include Blum style hinges rather than butt hinges. The advantage of the Blum hinges is that they are adjustable so you can achieve perfect alignment even if the installation space is challenging.

For self-builders this can be a good option as if you are careful with the design then this can be classified as building materials rather than furniture and therefore can be zero rated for VAT as detailed in VAT Notice 708.

Being careful with the design means things like not having an end-panel and not being a corner unit – the wardrobe must be wall to wall and you must see a back wall when you open the doors. A big caveat: you may be able to save on VAT but in some ways you are compromising because internal shelves or drawers are a no-no to achieve the zero VAT status.

Finally the full carcass cabinetry option is the one we have built our company around. Here a wardrobe comprises one or more cabinets. A space up to 1metre wide can be satisfied with one cabinet but wider than that multiple cabinets can be used. You can enter your sizes into our fast quote tool to get a suggested starting configuration together with price.

The key advantages to the full carcass approach are:

  • each cabinet can be built and slid into position. The cabinet will be perfectly square and rigid leading to perfect door alignment. It’s an assembly task rather than a carpentry task.
  • shelves and drawers can be incorporated with ease. You don’t need to battle with out of plumb brick walls.
  • the wardrobe interior can look just as good as the outside

An aside on VAT. If you plan to pay 0% VAT as part of a construction scheme under VAT Notice 708, we will still charge 20% and you will need to reclaim the VAT. There are cases where we have been happy to supply goods at 0% VAT: supplying cabinetry for medical or research or to locations such as Jersey and Guernsey.

Walnut veneer drawer box

Usually we make drawer boxes out of 12mm thick Birch Ply which makes for a robust drawer.

Sometimes for the look of a project we offer walnut veneer. This is a 0.5mm thick veneer bonded to 12mm thick MDF and sealed all round so you get the full Walnut look but with the stability of MDF. With a total thickness of 13mm, this material works with both Blum Standard 430 and Blum Movento drawer runners.

Assembling a rigid small cabinet using dowels and glue

The recommended method for assembling our cabinetry is dowels and screws. We pre-drill the dowel holes in the factory so the cabinetry can be put together fast and cleanly.

Sometimes when the application requires invisible fixings and the outsides of the cabinets will be show faces then using glue is an option.

This works well for small cabinets as whenever you work with glue you need to be fast and be able to work cleanly.

Free standing Birch Ply wardrobes

With this wardrobe project the customer wanted to use their own choice of feet. This essentially creates a free standing set of wardrobes but dimensioned to fit exactly in the alcove space. When undertaking something like this, ensure you leave enough space either side.

For handles we have drilled 35mm diameter holes to create finger pulls. The doors and drawer faces are inset in the carcass to highlight the laminations of the Birch Ply edges.

Our cabinetry used in industry

We have a wide range of customers – whoever needs bespoke cabinetry. And this is a real example of a bespoke cabinet.

Bespoke cabinet containing AIS equipment
Bespoke cabinet containing AIS equipment

The customer makes AIS (automatic identification system) equipment for maritime use and they needed to make a test rig. AIS reports a ship’s name, position and course.

We supplied the cabinetry with a number of features:

  • cutouts in the doors to hold the AIS units
  • heavy duty hinges to support the additional door weight
  • cutouts to house ventilation fans
  • machining for electronic door locks – it’s so annoying when someone messes with your AIS settings isn’t it?
Cutouts in cabinet door and top panel
Cutouts in cabinet door and top panel
The CNC machining process produces crisp cutouts
The CNC machining process produces crisp cutouts

The material chosen is Egger U999 ST9 Black. Quite a dramatic material which we use in special applications like this or home cinema cabinetry.

Mirrored bathroom cupboard in white MFC

Mirrored bathroom unit

The mirror is bonded to the door with mirror adhesive.

mirrored cabinet

You notice that the mirror is a tick smaller than the door so there are no sharp edges to catch.

If you are within the M25, we can arrange sourcing of the mirror as well as the bonding to the door.

If you’re further afield or you’d like to do the job yourself, bring your door into a local glazier for them to cut mirror glass to size. Either ask them to bond the mirror or acquire some mirror adhesive:

https://www.orbitalfasteners.co.uk/products/everbuild-mirror-mate-sealant-and-adhesive-white-310ml

Tall sloping ceiling cupboard

Tall sloping ceiling cupboard

Here the client chose Cordoba Olive for the tall and deep floor to (sloping) ceiling cupboard. Tip-on modules on drawer units and doors create a clean look. The cupboard comprises of several large units.

The bottom part of the cupboard is divided between a large cupboard area with shelves behind 2 doors to the left. And 4 large tip-on drawers, with varying depth, getting bigger from top to bottom, large enough to hold big toys.

The upper part of the cupboard comprises of several shelving units behind tip-on doors, as well as a large cubby hole type space, large enough to hold a good sized TV screen.

The doors of the top cabinets are all hinged on the right. Hinging on the left would mean that the doors would hit the ceiling on being opened.

The top door near the wall features 155degree hinges, so to allow the doors to open wide, for easy access.

Birch Ply Wardrobe

The Birch Ply aesthetic with visible laminations on the edge is popular and this project highlights the aesthetic to the full.

The installation comprises five separate units bolted together and where they join we get a double thickness that conveys of a re-assuring sense of solidity.

Each cabinet has ‘inset’ frontages so rather than the door or drawer faces covering the cabinet sides/top/bottom edges it is situated within the cabinet edges.

For handles we routed rectangular cutouts which is a process we can do with Birch Ply or MDF.

What is bespoke fitted furniture?

Bespoke fitted furniture is furniture made exactly for the space in which it is installed.

Made to fit a space means:

  • for floor to ceiling units the height is the exact floor to ceiling height (minus a space to make the fitting easier but then you will get an exact size filler piece for the gap)
  • for units under a sloping ceiling the angle is chosen to exactly match the sloping ceiling
  • the units have cutouts for the socket/pipes etc that may be in the room
  • choose any material you like
  • mix the materials as you please (different materials for doors, cabinets, drawers etc)
  • integrate the features that you want e.g shoe racks, TVs, ironing boards etc
  • all the material preparation is done in the factory not on site so the finishing quality is high

There are two types of furniture that sometimes get confused with the term ‘bespoke’:

  • off the shelf furniture (e.g Ikea) that has been modified by a carpenter. Typically off the shelf furniture has been designed for mass production and ease of transport so it lacks the structural integrity to tolerate substantial modification.
  • custom size furniture. Large parts of the furniture supply chain don’t want to hold stock so the furniture only gets made when there is a customer order. Within this system is the opportunity to customise the height, width and depth dimensions so it starts to offer some of the sizing benefits of bespoke.