I’ve lived in Taunton on and off now for nearly twenty years and in that time there have been certain shops that have probably always been there, but which have passed under my radar.
And then you buy a house and suddenly you start noticing things and thinking about things that you’ve never thought about before, like boiler insurance and bespoke shelving and built in wardrobes.
We have a Sharps showroom in our town centre, but all this time I honestly thought it was just one bed and a wardrobe, just casually in a shop window. Oh and sometimes balloons advertising special offers.
When we knew we were buying this house, and that we were going to go from having big built in bedrooms cupboards to NOTHING, I decided to pop in to the Sharps showroom with Belle and my MIND WAS BLOWN. Turns out it isn’t just a bed and a wardrobe. That place goes back for MILES. Okay, maybe not literally miles, but a long way. I smelt a nice juicy blog project…
Let’s back it up a bit first though.
Let me set the scene in our bedroom so you can see what we have to play with.
It’s not a massive room – roughly 4m x 3m – but part of that is a fairly deep alcove, approximately 2 metres wide. I was VERY proud of myself remembering to take a photo of the empty space before we moved in:
We’ve been here for a about six weeks now, (although it feels like forever), and the alcove is currently filled by two chests of drawers. Don’t even ASK where these are going to go when we have the built in wardrobes or I MAY have a small breakdown.
Now, you might think they fit quite nicely in the space, and so they do. We’d all be perfectly happy if it wasn’t for the fact that we have this monstrosity taking up the whole wall at the end of the bed:
It makes me feel sad inside.
I feel like at 39 I shouldn’t ever have to have my clothes on a rail.
(Belle put lights on it, bless her, to try and make it less soul destroying for me, but to be honest they just make it worse because the hangers get tangled in them.)
To get to my side of the bed I have to shuffle myself between the rail of doom and the bed in a most undignified way. We also have suitcases full of shoes under the bed, along with Fiancé’s suits in bags. He will collapse with the stress of it all if they don’t get hung up soon.
So, to Sharps we went.
The Sharps showroom is really designed just to whet your appetite for all of the different fancy bits and pieces that you can get as part of your built in wardrobes and to give you the chance to see all of the different styles of door in person. They don’t do the designing for you, but the chap in the Taunton store was certainly very helpful and had quite a few suggestions that I wouldn’t otherwise have thought of, so it was really helpful.
There is a lot of information on the Sharps website too, and you can request a catalogue, but if you do have a Sharps showroom near you then it’s worth popping in for a nosey.
The next step, once you’ve had a browse in the showroom or on the website, is to request your free Sharps design visit. This is the fun bit, where a designer gets creative in your bedroom (ooer) and comes up with lots of the different ideas for how you could best maximise your space.* They bring with them samples of all the different finishes too, and you end up with a sketch of your proposed wardrobe design like this:
(I wonder if I have missed my calling as a Sharps wardrobe designer?? I used to spend HOURS when I was little drawing scale plans of my bedroom and rearranging cut out furniture…)
In our old house we had cupboards that were pretty much exactly the same width, but they were literally just a rail that went straight across, with a shelf above, so we had an awful lot of wasted space underneath. Picture if you will piles of old shoes, Christmas presents I bought last year and forgot about, washing that Fiancé has thought he can hide in the bottom of the wardrobe without me noticing, that sort of thing.
With this wardrobe design, the idea is that every little bit of space is utilised, so for the same space as in our old house, we get to store a lot more stuff. The shorter hanging rail is for shirts and skirts and the longer one is for dresses and suits. Fiancé has one of those funky trouser rails, as he’s a fan of a colourful trouser, and we have some additional drawers and shelves too. It’s VERY exciting.
Once the Sharps wardrobe designer has mocked up your proposed wardrobes, you’ll then get a visit from a surveyor just to finalise the details, draw up accurate plans and just make sure that everything is doable from a technical point of view. The surveyor who came to see us was very thorough and talked us through exactly what we would need to do in advance and what to expect. The surveyor also creates accurate drawings and plans, so you can see what your wardrobes will look like in the space:
The key things to keep in mind are that you will need to entirely clear the room for the duration of the fitting, AND you’ll need to roll back the carpet. (This bit is freaking me out a little bit as the carpets are new throughout the house, but I’m trying to remain calm.) The wardrobes have to be fitted on a hard floor so that they are as sturdy as possible – fitting them over carpet leaves them prone to movement. You will need to organise to have the carpet refitted around your wardrobes afterwards as this isn’t part of the Sharps service. Sharps are very upfront about this.
The one thing we struggled with was our choice of wardrobe door. It’s a bit like going to a restaurant with a huge menu, where you feel overwhelmed by choice and wish they’d just offer you scampi or a burger and that was that.
We decided to go with something from the Sharps sliding door range as we have quite a small room, plus it means we can have things in front of the wardrobes if we need to (i.e. Fiance’s clothes on the floor) and still be able to open the doors. There are a LOT of options though when it comes to finishes.
Basically you can choose to split your doors into sections, and then mix and match materials in each section:
I was quite tempted by this combination, with the bronze mirror running through the middle, and there was a lot of love for it when I posted a picture on Facebook:
While I do really love the pinky tones, I was a bit worried though that it would be quite prescriptive when it came to decorating, and that the five different panels might be a bit too busy for a small room. When I looked at the samples in real life too, they did feel a bit darker than in the picture, which is why you need the designer to show you all the samples, so you can see exactly how they work with the light and furnishings in your room.
In the end, after a LOT of indecision, (I had my period on the surveyor visit where we made our final choice…), we opted for something more like this:
We will only have two doors as it’s a smaller space, but I liked the idea of keeping it neutral so we could be more adventurous in the rest of the room. We did toy with mirror, but in the end settled for two different types of white glass, so we still got some reflective properties in terms of keeping the room light, but we didn’t have to look at a strip of our tummies all the time.
And that’s it! That’s the Sharps wardrobe design process in a (fairly substantial) nutshell. All we have to do now is wait for the pieces of our wardrobe to be prepared in the factory and then hopefully within the next few weeks we’ll have them fitted.
I honestly cannot wait. I will lie in bed every night and look at the space where the rail used to be and be forever grateful.
Watch this space to see how they turn out!
*Because we are doing this as a project directly with Sharps, and are receiving the service and product free of charge for the purposes of this review, we actually skipped this step, but as a regular customer you’d definitely do this bit.