Living in a small house has it’s challenges. It is especially compounded when you have children with lots of clothes and toys, and the rooms provide little closet space. My boys share a 10 x 11 ft. room, and their small closet was virtually useless for two years. It had sliding mirror doors, which made only half of the closet accessible at a time. Additionally, the inside was just a bunch of wire shelves that were not attached to the wall studs in some areas, so they sagged.
The closet was in desperate need of a makeover, so I did just that. I started with the vision of having a center “dresser” of sorts with several drawers, and then shelves on either side, with a spot of hang clothes, and a long shelf on top of everything to hold things they don’t use on a day-to-day basis.
The result is incredible. This is how we built the closet organizer.
- (2) ½ in. plywood @ 6 ft. x 19 in. (sides of frame)
- (2) ½ in. plywood @ 24 x 19 in. (center frame shelf and top shelf)
- (1) ¾ in. plywood @ 24 x 19 in. (base)
- (1) ½ in. plywood @ 74½ x 19 in. (long top shelf)
- (12) ½ in. plywood @ 21⅞ x 5 in. (drawer fronts)
- (12) ½ in. plywood @ 18 x 5 in. (drawer sides)
- (6) ½ in. plywood @ 24¾ in. (shelves)
- (6) ¼ in. plywood @ 18 x 23 in.
- (1) ¼ in. plywood @ 36½ x 25 in. (optional for the back of the “dresser” portion)
- (12) 1⅝ in. wide lattice strips @ 20½ in.
- (12) 1⅝ in. wide lattice strips @ 5¾ in.
- (2) 1 x 4 @ 19 in.
- (6) 1 x 2 @ 19 in.
I used ½ in. plywood, which worked fine and was sturdy, but I found, it would have been easier to use ¾ in. plywood since it would make attaching screws a little easier.
Additionally, our closet is just shy of 75 in. long, 24 in. deep, with an opening height of 81 in., so while my measurements provided will work for that size closet, if your closet is smaller or larger, adjust accordingly.
Step 1: Build the Frame
Drill ½ in. pocket holes into both 19 in. sides of both 23 in. long ½ in. plywood pieces. One of them will be the the center frame shelf and the other will be a top shelf.
Drill ¾ in. pocket holes into the ¾ in. plywood piece. Attach it flush to one end of the 6 ft. long ½ in. plywood pieces using wood glue and 1¼ in. pocket hole screws. This is the base of the frame.
Measure 36¼ in. up from the bottom of the sides and mark it on both sides. This is where the ½ in. plywood center frame will attach.
Attach the center frame shelf with 1 in. pocket hole screws and wood glue, making sure the opening between the ¾ in. plywood and the ½ in. center frame shelf is 35½ in.
Step 2: Build the Drawers
Drill 2½ in. pocket holes into short ends of drawer fronts and attach them to the long sides using 1 in. pocket hole screws and wood glue. Attach ¼ in. plywood drawer bottoms using 1 in. nails and wood glue.
Step 3: Attach Drawer Glides
Follow drawer glide installation instructions provided with product, by measuring 1¼ in. up from the drawer bottom and attaching the removable portion of the glide to the both sides of the drawer.
Put the rest of the slides back on the removable portion, then, starting from the bottom, place the drawer carcass inside the frame (with a ¼ in. pieces of plywood as a spacer underneath), and measure the placement of the glides.
Remove the drawer carcass and the glides (except for the part that was screwed onto the drawer sides), and attach the glides to the marked location. Use a level and double check your work.
Each glide will need to be exactly 4¼ in. from each other (top of one to bottom of the next).
Once all the glides are installed, push the drawers into place and check for even spacing and to make sure they all slide in and out smoothly.
Step 4: Attach Trim to Drawer Faces
To hide the plywood joints and the drawer glides on the side, attach 1⅝ in. wide lattice strips along the perimeter of the drawer face, only overlapping by ½ in. on the sides (so it covers the drawer glides), and ⅛ in. on the top and bottom. Attach using wood glue and ½ in. nails. Cover nail holes with wood glue and once dry, sand to a smooth finish.
Step 5: Attach the Shelves
Place the center “dresser” portion inside the closet and center it. Place the long shelf on top so it is supported in the center by the frame.
Attach the smaller top shelf between the two frames, 8 inches from the top, by using 1 in. pocket hole screws and glue.
Attach 19 in. long supports just under both ends of the long top shelf, 6 ft. from the ground, into the studs of the wall using 3 in. long screws.
Attach the 1 x 2 support pieces on the wall, the first being 28 in. below the bottom of the 1 x 4, and then each successive one 10 in. apart, so that there are three on each side.
The space between the bottom 1 x 2 support and the ground should be about 18 in.
Attach each shelf, one at a time by placing one side on top of the support on the wall, then place a level in the middle, and mark where the top of the shelf hits on the frame.
Draw a level line on the other side of the frame where the screws will need to be driven into.
Drive 1½ in. long screws from the frame on the opposite side into the shelf. For the remaining shelves below the first one, just measure 10½ in. below the line of screws on the side frame.
There shouldn’t be any interference with the drawer glides, but the drawers will need to be removed to do this part.
Attach the top shelf and the side shelves into the supports using 1½ in. screws.
Step 6: Attach the Wood Veneer
Step 7: Caulk and Paint the Closet Organizer
Fill seams, joints, and edges with white caulk. Let it dry, then paint everything with two coats of satin-finish white paint or your paint of choice.
Step 8: Install Lights, Closet Rods, Drawer Pulls
Measure and mark closet rod supports on either side of the top compartment, 10 in. from the back wall. Attach the closet rod supports and put the closet rod in place.
Attach the lights by placing the double stick pad on one side, and placing them 3 inches from the outside edge, and centered.
Attach a drawer pull at the center of each drawer.
Re-install the bi-fold doors, and fill the shelves with storage.
An idea I came up with for my boys’ dirty laundry is to use 20-gallon tubs that I sprayed with two coats of paint to match the storage baskets.
Additionally, I filled smaller 4-gallon flip-top totes with things like their hats, art supplies, and games, to store at the top of the closet.
Their toys fit into these large baskets.
I love how much this closet fits now, as there is a place for everything!
The drawers have ample size for all their every-day clothes, while the nicer clothes and jackets can be hung up.
My boys especially love they have their own little mirror and easy to turn on lights.
Rachel Pereira employs her artistic passion through hand-painted furniture makeovers, budget-friendly interior design, and DIY home decor and crafts on her blog, Shades of Blue Interiors. She lives in St. Louis with her husband and three children.
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