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Does A Bedroom Have to Have A Closet?

By Kevin Vitali | July 17, 2020

As a real estate agent who is frequently showing homes the question arises quite often “does a bedroom have to have a closet?”

Contrary to popular belief….. No, a bedroom does not have to have a closet to meet the legal definition of a bedroom.

But where there is older housing inventory it is not unusual to have some bedrooms without closets.  It was not unusual for an armoire to be used in homes with no closets

Of course, modern home buyers want and even require a closet in a bedroom as a matter of practicality.  But, in no way, is a closet required in a bedroom.

What Dictates What A Bedroom Is?

What makes up a bedroom is define by the International Residential Code or the IRC.  The IRC creates minimum building codes for one or two family homes.  50 states have adopted the IRC for their states minimum building codes.

No where in the IRC does it even mention closets in a bedroom.

While the IRC sets minimum standards, town have the right to individually expand on the IRC.  It is always good to check with the town before doing any remodels and modifications of your home.

What Makes A Bedroom A Bedroom?

A bedroom must have:

  • Two separate ways to exit the room.
  • One of the rooms exits must lead directly to the outside of the home.  It can be a door or window.
  • A bedroom must be a minimum of 70 square feet.
  • No floor dimension can be less than 7 feet.
  • A bedroom must have a minimum of one window to provide light and ventilation.
  • The size of the window(s) is determined by the room’s square footage.
  • If a window is the only outside egress it has certain height and opening requirements.
  • There is a minimum ceiling height of 7 feet for at least half of the area of the ceiling
  • Minimum ceiling height of 7 feet for at least 50% of the ceiling.
  • A bedroom must always be able to be heated to 68 degrees from a permanent heating source.
  • A bedroom must have a minimum of two electrical outlets or one outlet and an overhead light.
  • A bedroom requires privacy, it can not be a throughway to another room.

Does A Bedroom Have To Have A Closet?

Nowhere in the IRC does it mention a bedroom having to have a closet.

The IRC is more concerned with the health and safety of a home’s occupants and the IRC concentrates on the health and safety of a bedroom rather than the practicality of a closet in a bedroom.

The Basement Bedroom- Is it Unsafe?

It is not unusual for a seller to create additional bedroom space in a basement.  Closet or no closet the most important thing to remember is the room needs a second egress directly to the outside of the home. As well as it needs a minimally sized window for it to be a legal bedroom.

Th point of the IRC code is to make sure a bedroom’s occupant can exit the home quickly during an emergency as well as emergency personnel being able to enter the home


A bedroom or even a master bedroom does not have to have a closet to be called a bedroom.

Bedroom count usually translates into more money for the seller, so in there want of more money they will be eager to call out any spare room as a bedroom.  Be wary of what a seller calls a bedroom if it does not meet the safety requirements of a bedroom. 

So, does a bedroom have to have a closet? While legally the answer is no, practically the decision is yours.  In a modern home, I think the expectation is a bedroom should have to have a closet.  But if you are looking at older homes or smaller homes you may have to accept a bedroom or two with out a closet.

Other Resources: 

The color of your bedroom can affect how well you sleep.  Blue tops the list of the color that promise the best nights rest.  Xavier De Buck shares other colors that help promote a good night’s sleep.

Your bedroom is a place of rest and relaxation.  Paul Sian gives us 8 tips for creating the perfect atmosphere in any bedroom.

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About Kevin: Kevin has been a full time agent for almost 18 years.Kevin works the Haverhill MA Real Estate market as well as Essexand Northern Middlesex Counties in Massachusetts.Kevin is a regular blogger who enjoys educating consumers about how to make the most of their next home purchase or sale.Kevin can be reached at 978-360-0422.
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  • 2 comments on “Does A Bedroom Have to Have A Closet?”

    1. The size of the window(s) is determined by the room’s square footage ALSO, I BELIEVE WINDOW NEED TO MEET MIN EMERGENCY EGRESS SIZE AS WELL

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