Monday, June 2, 2014

How to build a custom closet

Who out there wants a more organized and spacious closet? Me! Me! Me!

And thanks to handy Husband Justin, I now have my very own custom closet. As part of our Master Suite Remodel, we moved our closet and built a custom closet system to best maximize our space and get the most out of it's size. And now it's done!

How to Build a Custom Closet System

Who out there wants to know how to build their own custom closet?  We're going to give you a general overview of how to build a custom closet system. If you want an excellent and in-depth tutorial, we'd recommend this tutorial from The DIY network.

Step 1: Design your space! 

I started by designing the space. I sketched out a few different ideas on how we could get all our my stuff into a small-ish walk in closet, and this is where we landed.

Closet Plans1

Step 2: Build your closet system's frame

Using MDF for the side panels, Justin put together the frame of the bookcase. He glued and nailed the top/bottom of the closet system to the sides using wood glue and 1-1/4" brad nails. These nails are to hold the pieces together until you put the actual screws in place.

Building a Custom Closet System

Then, to prevent the material from splitting, pre-drill holes using a countersink drill bit (this can be used on a regular drill). Then after the holes have been pre-drilled, screw the pieces together using 2" coarse thread drywall screws.


Step 3: Attach your closet system's Face Frame 

Next step is putting the face frame on the closet system. For this we used select pine. We secured this into place using wood glue and 1-1/4" brand nails - but no screws!

Building a Custom Closet System Frame

Next, it's time to go around and fill in all of the nail & screw holes. Instead of using wood filler, we use Bondo body filler + cream hardener. This is a little trade secret because it fills the holes and gaps nicely and does not shrink or crack like wood filler does. But move quickly, because this stuff dries fast!

Better than Wood Filler

After the filler has dried, sand with 100 grit sandpaper using your orbital sander.

Step 4: Build your shelves

While we let the Bondo filler dry, Justin went on to building the shelves using MDF for the shelves and select pine for the facing on the front edge of the shelf. Secure the pieces using wood glue, then nail together using 2" finish nails (and your finish nailer). Then apply the Bondo + Cream mixed filler, just like you did on the frame's facing, and let dry.

Building a Shelf

The next step for our closet system was to drill all the little holes in the side so my shelves are adjustable.

To easily achieve perfectly spaced holes, Justin made a "guide" using a spare piece of plywood, measuring out the exact spacing for each hole at 1 inch. He was then able to tape the guide to the frame of the closet system (2 inches from the front edge) and put in all the holes very quickly using an Adjustable Shelf Bit which we found at Rockler.

Adjustable Hole Drilling

Then Justin installed the shelves and the closet shelf & rod brackets.

Installing Closet System

Installing Closet Shelves

Step 5: Attach back of Closet System, affix to walls and add trim

Next up is attaching the back of the Closet System. Because our Home Depot didn't carry 1/4" MDF, we used 1/4" plywood for the back of the bookcase. The MDF is a little better because it doesn't warp over time, but because this will be pretty well secured (using a staple gun), we weren't too concerned.

For the true "built-in" look, it looks best to have a back on the shelving unit parts of your closet system vs. leaving it open to the wall. Having a back on your shelving built-ins also helps to hold everything together and makes a sturdier piece.

Custom Closet System

Lastly, put the bookcase in place and secure to the wall using 3" screws along the top piece into the wall studs. We added trim to the top & bottom of the shelving unit parts of the closet system to help make it look a little fancier.

Step 6: Paint your closet system and style! 

We put on two coats of white primer and one coat of xx paint using our paint sprayer. Rolling paint on with a smooth roller would work fine too.

And then it was time to get all my clothes in there and start organizing. I've got a TON of clothes and they all fit in there really nicely.

How to Build a Custom Closet System

So while the square footage of this new closet is the same as our old, it's designed much more efficiently and we have so much more room for our things.

DIY Custom Closet System

DIY Custom Closet

Custom Built Dresser

And later this week, we'll share how Justin DIY'ed that built-in dresser. Awesome, right?

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  1. Looks great! I've been planning on fixing ours, but using IKEA closet systems and make it looks built-ins. We'll see, it looks tedious. You did a great job on yours though!

  2. Looks amazing! I am sure you are loving it!

  3. Looks awesome! Can you come do mine now?

  4. Gorgeous! Oh how I wish my husband was handy! You are SOooooo lucky!

  5. I have closet envy! I love how organized and clean it looks. I am pinning for my next house, hopefully I will have a bigger closet and can do something like this.

  6. Looks amazing! Love the grey and white together. Great job : ]

  7. Holy cow! Another AMAZING project, Kayla. So inspiring. My master closet is a mess. I need to add it to our list of projects! Thanks for the inspiration. Pinning in sharing!

  8. You guys are such go-getters!! This looks so high-end and very functional. Job well done. XOXO

  9. Looks great! Where are the storage bins on the top shelf from?

    1. The ones on the top shelf are from The Container Store. The square ones above my dresser are from Target. Thanks Samantha!

  10. Thanks for the kind words everyone!!

  11. Geez girl is there anything you guys can't do? Awesome closet - I am super jealous! Thanks for sharing at The Makers! Pinned :)

  12. Wow!! You guys are seriously amazing.

  13. I really would like to try and make my own custom wardrobe to try and utilize the space in my closet more. Especially since my fiance will be moving in soon, we will need the extra space. This seems like a really nice do it yourself-er. The end product looks seriously amazing and it would my OCD fiance very happy to see such an organized closet.

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