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Custom Closet Shelving ~ A Tutorial!

 

So we live in this OLD house, right? And apparently 112 years ago, storage solutions weren’t on the forefront of home-builders’ minds. Because our old farm house is without a single coat closet, linen closet… and pantry (until we made our own).

But instead of complaining about our LACK of storage, I should just be grateful that we even have closets in our bedrooms! Because we’re pretty sure they were added some time after the house was built!

And yet, the bedroom closets have high ceilings and a ton of wasted space. Take our master closet for example:

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I’m sort of obsessed with organization, (and would commute many miles to work at The Container Store just for the employee discount if there were one in our state), so the fact that all our towels have been piled on the floor in the hallway since we moved in 3 years ago is a serious problem, and the sheets/blankets have been stuffed into the guest bedroom closet… well to have all that wasted space in the bedroom closet started making us feel like there’s an obvious solution.

Knowing how EXPENSIVE custom closet shelving is, we decided to tackle it ourselves. We knew we could since we whipped out a few shelves in our ‘pantry’. And by we, I mean Nick.

I helped by first emptying the closet of all our clothing. Ya don’t realize how many clothes you have until you have to take every last piece out!

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…And dumped it on the other side of the room. (Yes, those are Crocks. I was so fashionable 10 years ago.)

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We started by removing that top shelf. Then, using 1×4’s cut to size, we put them up on the wall with drywall screws. These will act as ‘braces’ to hold up the shelf.

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We ripped (cut in half the long way) the existing shelf. Who needs a shelf that’s 2 feet deep when it could be TWO shelves!

This was my view for much of the day. It was very scenic.

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Take note that when you’re putting screws close to the edge of a board, you should first drill a hole just smaller than the screw… otherwise the board may very well split. Which is totally a no-bueno-situation. This is called a’ ‘pilot hole’. Look at you absorbing so much new carpentry vocabulary today!

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This is what your joints will look like in the corners. Nothin’ fancy!

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I’m ALL about maximizing space, and I talked Nick into putting shorter shelves all the way down either sides of the closet. OH YES.

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Next, we applied Edge Banding to the edges of our shelf boards. Because we’re using Melamine as our building material of choice (it’s cheap, and already white!), we needed to cover up the exposed edges. The Edge Banding comes in a roll, and has excellent instructions with it.

Basically you just cut it to size, iron it on, and slice off the little edges with a razor blade. Like so, yo:

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See how crisp it is with the edge banding, compared to the board without it?

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The boards got cut to size, and we tested them out to make sure they were the right fit!

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THEN, I myself was able to contribute by filling the holes where the screws were on all the braces. I just used drywall compound and a putty knife. This will make it smooth and seamless once these boards get painted!

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After the drywall compound was dry, I sanded and painted! This went pretty fast, because only the braces needed painting since the Melamine shelves are already white! Score!

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Since the loooong top two shelves will wrap around the edges, Nick used a 3/4” router bit to create “T’s” that will merge the side shelves to the long shelf. This makes everything more structurally secure, AND it creates a seamless transition from shelf to shelf.

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So those “T’s” got pilot holes and then nailed on using little brad nails. You can just barely see the “T’s” where I added the arrows.

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Then we could put the side shelves in place! “Like a glove” (in Jim Carey’s voice)

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And because that long top shelf is SO long, we added an ‘L’ bracket in the center to help support things.

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AND THAT’S IT! So now, having all the shelves in place, we had some leftover Melamine, so Nick whipped up a shoe-shelf! I’m a lucky lucky girl.

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Here’s a pic of the “dado joint” so you can see how he made it all snug-like.

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Would you look at this? Can you hear the angels singing?

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Speaking of angels, my babes loved checking things out.

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I mean, custom closet shelving like this would have cost us hundreds of dollars if we hadn’t done it ourselves. And I personally don’t think it would have looked this sleek and AWESOME.

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And now look with all our clothes in it. ANNNND, notice all the sheets and towels on the very top shelf! Our very own linen closet! Oh the things we take for granted when we have them!

The FUNNEST part for me was loading ‘er up! Gotta love having a place.for.every.THING!

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I just keep going upstairs to look at it. It’s callin’ mah name.

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We were slightly worried that adding shelves on the sides would make the closet seem smaller, but after having cut the original shelf down to 1’ depth instead of 2’, it actually opens things up a LOT. I can actually walk into my closet now without getting clotheslined by an excessively deep shelf.

Not only did we get all our clothes, sheets, and towels in, we also completely emptied our 5 drawer dresser into the closet as well!

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I feel like we’ve maximized the heck out of this closet! …And for a small fraction of what we would have paid for custom closet shelving units! Ugh, can you even imagine?

Here’s our cost breakdown:

  • $29.99 ~ 4’x8’ sheet of melamine
  • $13.74 ~ 1”x6” (ripped in half) (Qty 2)
  • $1.49 ~ 1”x4”  (side shelves afterthought)
  • $10.88 ~ white melamine edge banding 25ft (Qty 2)
  • $0.79 ~L-bracket
  • Prime/paint ~ already had
  • Labor ~ FREE! (well, that’s a lie… maybe it cost me a backrub or two)

Total:   $56.89

Comments

  1. So cute – just what those lower shelves are meant for – those cute little baby girls!! :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nice job, I really need Nick to visit me! My husband can’t use a hammer let alone a saw, but he can do laundry! So I’m keeping him. Mary in NY

  3. INCREDIBLE!!!!

    I need to make over my closet so bad. Thanks for the inspiration/support.

  4. Great job – I totally see how you could fall in love with a closet! The best is the picture of the two little beauties on the shoe rack! I can see that shoe rack being used in heated game of “hide and seek” in the future!

  5. I have lived in many houses with little or no closet. Currently We have 2 closets and 3 bedrooms so we are still short. But If we could do that to our closet rainbows would come out my eyes and ears.

  6. LOVE the closet.
    But, the funny part is unrelated. As I sit here and read your blog, my fiance (oh yes, I got ENGAGED this weekend!) says to me, “Is that sawdust and grenades?” So I said yes, but corrected him of course. And he says, “Pretty much the same thing, they both just sit there for a minute and then change your life.” LOL- the sad thing is, HE IS RIGHT! (we are both pro-baby, the grenade thing was not meant to be negitive.)
    LOVE LOVE LOVE reading your blog!

  7. Amazing !
    Your blog is a very good source of inspiration, thanks a lot <3

  8. O.K. I am going to give you a great closet tip, ready? Organize your clothes by color-that way, when you are looking for a green top, they are all together, etc. I am not OCD at all but I do this and it is wonderful when I have to get ready. Try it and let me know if you like the idea, but I know you will. It is so helpful and you also will see if you really need another black tank top, etc.

  9. Love your new closet organization. It’s absolutely fabulouse. I agree with suzieq. I, too, organize my closet by color….it makes it so easy to find things!

  10. OOPs. Fabulous not fabulouse!

  11. what an awesome closet. well done!!! and those babies are sooo cute!!!

  12. Love it! My closet is a pinch smaller than this, but I can see where this would totally help. Hmmm…. :)

  13. i think you should spraypaint all the hangers the same color…maybe something bright like yellow…it would look even more perfect!!! LOOVE IT

  14. Awesome tutorial. Now I want to do MY closet.

  15. The best pic is the one with your babies. How cute!

  16. Your all post fantastic.I see your all post.

  17. Anonymous says:

    You saved my sanity with this with shelving post.

  18. great job. love how much room it adds.

  19. Super inspirational – ready to tackle mine! And awesome sense of humor you got – love reading your tutorials! Thanks!

  20. Looks great! Thanks for sharing your how-to. Curious about the dimensions of your closet. Also, how deep are the shelves on the side?

    Thanks!

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  1. […] Crunch SHOULD NOT be in the same vicinity… ew. And think of how nice it would be if we could build more shelves down to the floor in the pantry to accommodate my once-a-month grocery shopping? (can you tell […]

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