All about closets

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A walk-in closet in a residential house in the United States

An antique closet

A closet (especially in North American usage) is an enclosed space, small, and is most likely not bigger than a garage, or basement, etc. so to say this, a closet in North America is about the size of a cupboard and no bigger. Rooms like the attic, basement, and garage do not apply to be a closet. A cabinet, or a cupboard in a house or building are used for general storage or hanging or storing clothes.

Modern closets can be built into the walls of the house during construction so that they take up no apparent space in the bedroom, or they can be large, free-standing pieces of furniture designed for clothing storage, in which case they are often called wardrobes or armoires. Closets are often built under stairs, thereby using awkward space that would otherwise go unused.

In current British and Pakistan usage, a wardrobe can also be built-in, and the words "cupboard" or walk-in-wardrobe can be used to refer to a closet. In Elizabethan and Middle English, closet referred to a larger room in which a person could sit and read in private, but now refers to a small room in general. In Indian usage, a closet often refers to a toilet. This probably originated from the word water closet, which refers to a flush toilet.


A typical modern wall-mounted space-saving closet

Broom closet: A closet with top to bottom space used for storing brooms, mops, vacuums, cleaning supplies, buckets, etc.

Coat closet: A closet located near the front door. Usually used to store coats, jackets, hoodies, sweatshirts, gloves, hats, scarves, and boots/shoes. This kind of closet does not have shelving. It only has a rod and some button space used for clothes stored in boxes.

Linen closet: A tall, narrow closet with shelves in a bathroom used for storing towels, sheets, washcloths, and toiletries.

Utility closet: A utility closet is a closet most commonly used to house appliances and cleaning supplies. Most of the time, you may find a hot water heater and possibly the furnace. The closet may have shelves for storing appliances on top where they are out of the way.

Walk-in closet: A walk-in closet is a closet where someone walks in to store things. They may have lighting, walls, and a floor from other spaces. The walk-in closet can have hinged, bi-fold, or sliding doors.

Wall closet: A wall closet is a closet in a bedroom that is built in to the wall. It may be closed by curtains or folding doors, which clothes can be stored folded on shelves.

Wardrobe: A wardrobe is a small closet used for storing clothes.

Pantry: A pantry is a closet or cabinet in a kitchen used for storing food, dishes, linens, and provisions. The closet may have shelves for putting food on.


Figuratively, a closet is a place where one hides things; "having skeletons in one's closet" is a figure of speech for having particularly sensitive secrets. Thus, closet as an adjective means secret—usually with a connotation of vice or shame, as in "a closet alcoholic" or "a closet homosexual," though sometimes used as a humorous exaggeration for any potential embarrassment, as in "a closet comic book fan." To "come out of the closet" is to admit your secrets publicly, but this is now used almost exclusively in reference to homosexuality. The documentary film The Celluloid Closet uses this reference to gay people in its examination of how Hollywood films have depicted homosexuals on the screen. This is also extensively used in a controversial episode of South Park.

Psychologically, bedroom closets are the centre of many childhood fears. Children fear during the night that a monster or any other paranormal creature hides inside the closet, and is destined to frighten the child. The Bogeyman is one prominent example. This is a common theme in films. In the first Poltergeist movie, the closet was where ghosts hid. The "monster in the closet" fear was developed for comedic possibilities in film Monsters, Inc.. In the newspaper comic Bloom County, the character Binkley had an "anxiety closet" in his bedroom, from which his fears would manifest themselves, while he was sleeping. Similarly, the strip Opus also has a closet which houses his worries. Recently a closet was one of the focuses of the film Sex and the City.


Though some sources claim that colonial American houses often lacked closets because of a "closet tax" imposed by the British crown, others argue that closets were absent in most houses simply because their residents had few possessions.


Closet organizers are integrated shelving systems. Different materials have advantages and disadvantages:

  • Wire shelving: Moderately difficult to install, wire shelves cannot hold much weight without giving in, but are cheap.
  • Wood shelving: Difficult to install, wood shelving is sturdier and more expensive than wire.
  • Tube shelving: Easy to install, tube shelving involves few pieces and requires no cutting or measuring.

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