This post is completely UNRELATED to sewing, but I figured that since I did the renovation myself and built everything from scratch, it still counted as pretty darn crafty!
As with most homes built “en mass” around our area, we were blessed with an awesome sized master closet- but with HORRIBLE use of space… You can tell the construction crews are mostly male- they put a 1 lightbulb fixture in a closet that was 12 feet deep and 6 feet wide. Before this renovation, I would literally dig out a flash light to find some of my clothes in the back of the closet. They also had very poor use of the space- basically threw up 3 Long wire closetmaid racks and called it a day…
You can see the disaster that we were dealing with in the photos below- HORRIBLE use of space, and lots of rubbermaid bins that were used to hold more stuff (socks, exercise apparel etc) that wouldn’t fit in our dresser.
That’s pretty much a hot mess right there… I searched for inspiration to fix this, and once again, went to www.ana-white.com for my help. She had made some closet towers for her master bedroom that I could modify and use for our closet… I knew that I wanted to add a laundry drawer, as well as shoe sheves, and that our closet was a bit longer than her unit- but at least it was a start. After sketching it out on graph paper (very old school, yes, I know) I picked up my materials and got to work when grandma came to visit and watch my
nosy helpful toddler. For this build I decided to use cabinet grade plywood from home depot for the tower carcasses and 1/2 inch purebond plywood for the shelves, drawer fronts, and drawer boxes. For the closet bars, I used adjustable bars so that it would be a perfect fit and I wouldn’t have to worry about cutting the bar too long or too short (still getting used to the large DIY projects!)
So, to get started EVERYTHING had to come out of the closet. EVERYTHING. This was also a good time for me to purge a lot of clothes that were old, didn’t fit right etc. Once everything was out, I removed the wire shelving- it was pretty basic to remove- and then filled and sanded the holes. Here is the blank slate that I started out with once everything was removed…
I used a Ryobi One multi-tool to cut the moulding along the back, as I was going to recycle it and use it on the front of the closet install. I then created a base for the tower units with 2 by 4’s. I leveled them as best I could (They were being placed on top of the carpet and not directly on a firm surface) and drilled them into the wall studs.
Once the base was in place, it was time to make the two tower units. As I do not have a table saw (ahem HINT HINT Hubby) I had Home Depot rip the plywood into 15.75 inch pieces and I would take the remaining piece and rip it at home. I used my Kreg Rip Cut with my Porter Cable circular saw and it worked GREAT. Set up my saw horses, along with a folding table and a computer table on either end, with pink board insulation as a “work top” for cutting- it was a great system and its nice to have something that I can just pack away when we’re not using them.
The tower constuction was relatively straightforward. I used my Kreg Jig to create pocket holes, and also used my kreg shelf pin jig to create the adjustable shelf holes prior to building the box. With this step- it was extra important that I measure twice and drill once- as I was building the box AFTER the holes had already been drilled. This part was a bit nerve wracking to say the least!!
Once the boxes were cut and ready to assemble, I brought them into the closet and assembled in there. It was simply easier as I have a horrible back and knees (what, jumping out of Airplanes is NOT good for you?) and the pieces were very heavy. I then built each individual tower, and leveled it on the base 2 x 4. I screwed the towers into the studs via 2 pieces of 1 x 3 lumber that was attached along the back of each tower unit.
Once all tower units were in place, it was time to add the hanging bars. I had to account for one section of wall having our alarm system box, but wanted to make the unit look as “built in” as possible. On the back wall I used a piece of matching plywood so that a face frame could be added. In the front wall, by the alarm box, I had to mount the clothes bar directly to the wall, but I added shelves above the closet rods to create the “built in” look.
For the drawers, I knew that I wanted a total of 6 drawers- 3 large ones to hold bulky clothes etc, two small ones to be used for small items ( costume jewelry, accessories) and one large one to hold a laundry basket.
The laundry drawer was rather large, so I used 1/2 inch ply wood to create a “u” (solid bottom, back and front) and then used 1 by 4 pieces of pine to create a top and bottom brace for the side. I then found a rather inexpensive basket at our local discount store, The Christmas Tree Shop- that fit perfectly… I can easily fit 2 loads of laundry in this basket and it works well with the drawer.
Here are the drawer boxes installed, ready for drawer fronts… I used Euro hinges for the drawer boxes, and used scrap pieces of 1 x 3 lumber to attach to the sides of the tower- it simply made it easier for install as I was able to attach pieces of the euro slides to the scap pieces and then attach those (with a level on top) to the towers.
For the drawer fronts, I used 1/2 inch purebond plywood and 1/4 inch cedar planks from home depot (the 2 inch wide ones used for lattice work great). The drawer pulls were simple ones purchased from Lowes- I didn’t want something TOO fancy as this isn’t our “forever home” and you never know what the next owner of the home would want… To create the drawer fronts, I simply glued and nailed the planks to the 1/2 ply wood, then nailed the drawer front to the boxes. The hardware was then screwed through both pieces to help secure the unit as a whole.
Shoe and Clothes shelves were very basic and straightforward- I simply cross cut pieces of the 1/2 ply wood to the correct length and used metal 5MM shelf pins to support them… They hold quite a few pairs of shoes and sweaters/jeans just fine without any sag (about 22 inches wide)
For the trim, I used 1 by 2 pieces of furring strips and cove moulding. I was not going to be able to do crown moulding as I wanted due to the closet towers coming close to our attic access door in the ceiling… so instead, I used my jig saw to cut out small decorative pieces for the two towers, and then used the 1 x 2’s on the long sections. I tried to cut out long pieces of trim to match the small tower ones, but lets just say my jig saw skill are lacking right now.
Once I re-sanded everything down and installed the moulding on the front, it was time to paint. I went with white for the main cabinets and decided to do the shelves in my favorite color- dark walnut with a satin poly to seal it… The wall was painted the same white color in the front to make it “flow” together better and act as a built in unit.
For a fun decorative accent, I purchased a roll of target brand wall paper (at $22 dollars on sale, it was too good to pass up) and installed it on the back wall… It was a bit tough to line up properly and there are some creases here and there, but they’re very small and you can’t really notice them unless I point them out. I also purchased a nice dark walnut looking mirror from Target and installed it on the back wall ( Until now I’ve had no floor length mirror, so I’ve had to stand on our tub to see what my shoes look like with my outfit!)
After impatiently waiting for it to dry, I was finally able to install my final two touches- a pull out valet bar and pull out tie/belt rack for my husband. Both were by Rev-a-Shelf and both purchased off of Amazon.com… they both work wonderfully and I’m very pleased with how solid they seem and how easy they were to install.
Finally it was complete and it was time to put everything back in the closet… needless to say, I’m completely in LOVE with the use of storage (I forget how much we waste vertical storage space until you use every bit of it) and how much larger the closet seems now that it doesn’t have all of those rubbermaid bins sticking out and all of our clothes are neatly put away!
All in all, it ended up costing about $750 dollars- that is including all hardware, screws, paint, my AMAZING $17 dollar 3 lightbulb light fixture, the mirror, wall paper and all lumber. I had priced out the Allen and Roth system at about $1600.00 and it wouldn’t have been NEARLY as good of a use of our vertical space as I would have still had to install shelving above the Allen and Roth system. California Closets would have cost us about $4,000, so I’m very VERY pleased with the savings and the end result of this DIY!
Thanks for reading- and happy crafting!