Way back in February, we re-arranged one of the closets upstairs so that it faced the master bedroom instead of Tyler’s room. During that process, we removed all the hardware from the inside of the closet, so for the last four months the space has been a large empty box. Super useful.
I asked the carpenter to give us an estimate on building out the inside of the closet. He quoted us a price of SEVENTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS, which horrified me. I was determined to save money by building out the closet ourselves.
I followed some good advice and started by looking at my actual closet needs. (Shocking, I know.) I have quite a few long garments – dresses and a winter coat and maxi skirts – so I knew I needed a few feet of full-length hanging space. I also wanted shelves – both a high shelf for storage and bookcase-type shelves for shoes. I measured how many linear feet of hanging space I’d need, as well as determined ideal shelf depth based on plastic shoe boxes.
Then I grabbed graph paper and a pencil. The closet is big – 39″ deep by 81″ wide – but it’s right on the line between a reach-in closet and a walk-in closet. I decided to use an L-shaped plan, with full-length hanging on the right, shelves in the middle, and a double rod on the left, perpendicular to the back of the closet. I also wanted an L-shaped shelf above all that – 12″ along the back of the closet and 18″ across the width, to accommodate Rubbermaid containers.
We patched and painted the inside of the closet box (using leftover white paint), made a cut list, and headed to Home Depot. We saved money by using pine instead of cedar, and using thick dowels from the lumber aisle instead of the closet rods in the storage aisle. I wanted to dress up the shelves a little bit, so I picked up an antique white stain, which gives the boards a whitewashed look.
The instructions tell you to apply the stain liberally, wait 3-5 minutes, then wipe off the excess, but I got better results when I applied the stain with a rag and wiped it off immediately.
For the adjustable shelves, we chose easy-to-install strips and clips.
It was about this time that Jason made a terrible discovery. I wanted the upper shelf to be at 6’6″, and therefore the bookcase shelves would also need to be that tall. Jason accidentally cut them at 66 inches, which is (alas) not the same thing at all.
We quickly revised the plan to make the shelves float, leaving 12 inches of clear space underneath. Ultimately, I think I like this configuration better – it’s easier to keep clean and creates a more flexible storage space. We floated the shelves by attaching 1×2 boards to the studs in two locations, and screwing the shelves to the boards.
(Two notes on the above photo: first, the bottom shelf is not stained, so you can see the difference the stain makes; second, we did choose cedar boards for the ends of the hanging rods, which makes the closet smell nice but doesn’t cost a bajillion dollars.)
And now, a word about caulk.
I’d never used it before, but I am a convert. CAULK ALL THE THINGS. It made the project look at least 76% more finished and professional.
Before: Amateurish Gaps
After: Smooth Like Butter
Finally, we added LED rope lights around the inside of the door, to provide light to every inch of the closet. During the re-wire, the electricians added a plug and switch just for this purpose. Bless them.
Here’s a panorama of the closet. Not pictured: me, jumping up and down for joy.
And the best part? The total project cost under $250.
That’s a discount of 86%. And you KNOW how I feel about discounts.
I knew that having my own closet would be awesome, but I wasn’t prepared for how great this project turned out. Every time I flip on the light in there I get a little giggly.