Save cost by building a custom DIY closet that is elegant and stylish.
Building a custom DIY closet ended up being easier than I thought and a lot cheaper. At first we had our closets bid out to see how much it would cost. After getting those back I quickly nixed that idea because those numbers were definitely not in the approved budget and I didn't want to go with wire shelves.
I figured I could create a DIY closet system for significantly less cost in labor and supplies. Turns out, closets are NOT that difficult to do. Although they do require time and precision.
Take a look at how I accomplished my DIY plywood closets.
Supplies for My DIY Master Closet:
- 4'x8' baltic birch plywood (for my whole closet I used 15 sheets of plywood from Home Depot)
- ¾" MDF for spacing
- Ryobi nail gun
- 1" brad nails
- Wood glue
- Table saw
- Circular saw
- Tape Measure
- Closet rods
- Stud finder
- Rip 4'x8' sheet of plywood down to 16" wide strips. I did 16" because I could get exactly 3 strips out of each board.
- One sheet I ripped down to 3 ½" thick for my shelf hook.
Make sure to measure everything twice, cut once! Plus, a level is a good idea in any type of project like this.
My master bedroom closet measures 12’ wide x 15 ½’ long. For our custom closet build I am going to build organizers down both sides of the room. Then we will add a floating island in the middle. Thankfully our cabinet company is making this for us. Drawers are tricky to build. We do not have closet doors on our closet so a messy closet is not an option. My goal was to create enough storage space so everything can be nice and organized.
How long does it take to Build a DIY Custom Closet
I built my entire walk-in closet in a weekend. I was surprised I built it as fast as I did. It was a big space and I had never built a closet before.
I would say the hardest part was figuring out the sizes I wanted for all of my shelves. ( I have included that below for you) Once I got all of the pieces of plywood ripped down the new closet went up pretty fast.
Where to Start a Closet Build
I started on the right side of the closet, up against the corner wall and worked my way out. This was easier for me so I didn't have to plan the whole closet. I could just plan each section as I got there.
The first section I used ¾" MDF to space it from the wall. I did this because I am going to put a front piece of trim on the closet as plywood isn't pretty from the sides.
You can use edge banding to hid the sides of plywood, but I wanted my dividers to be thicker than ¾" so I will use a piece of trim will look best.
I then lined the plywood right up to the MDF and nailed it in to the wall. I would recommend using a stud finder to find as many studs as you can. It is best to nail into a stud if you can!
Building the Base and Shelf Hook
Next, I built the base. I used 32" x 3 ½" strips of plywood to do this. I put one in the back and one in the front and then a 15" piece of 3 ½" plywood in the center for the support board.
After the base is built I added shelf hook to the wall. Shelf hook is the 3 ½" strips of plywood from the cut list. The shelf hook is what your shelves will sit on top of. Make sure these are placed with the correct spacing for your shelves
It is also what you will nail the dividers into down the road. Since they are used for strength make sure to find the studs to nail into. And use wood glue to attach them to the sheetrock. This will add lots of strength.
Adding the Next Section
I added the next divider and nailed it into the shelf hook on the wall. The dividers are the 8' x16" strips of plywood from the cut list. Then I nailed the bottom into the base for added strength.
I know you are thinking this isn't strong enough. Don't worry I promise we will make this one strong closet.
Now nail the ¾" thick scraps to the 8' divider. After the spacers are attached I added the next 8' divider. This will give me 2" thick dividers. Thicker dividers gave my DIY custom closet a more custom look.
I continued working down the wall. I placed the shelf hook where I wanted a shelf to be. Once I got all the way down the wall with the main structure, I went back and finished the shelves off.
DIY Closet Shelves
I added a piece of plywood over the top of the base this will create your bottom shelf. Next I put up the shelf hook on the dividers.
You also put the shelf hook on the sides of the plywood, they are your shelf supports. These are not adjustable shelves. I felt like we had enough extra storage in our walk in closet that it wasn't needed. Plus, adjustable shelves are more expensive.
I made shoe shelves in 2 different sizes. One to fit our tennis shoes and the other to fit boots.
There are also a few different sizes for my hanging rod. I have one size for shirts, one for coats and one for long dresses. I made sure I had plenty of hanging space for everything. My husband also has 10"x10" cubbies for his hats. You can see all sizing below.
Sizing for a DIY Plywood Closet:
- Small hang up 36" tall
- Medium hang up 40" tall
- Tall hang up 60" tall
- Shoe shelf 6 ½"
- Boot shelf at least 10"
- Clothing shelf 16" to 20"
Finishing off the Closet
Once all of my shelves were in I added plywood to the top. I nailed down into each divider, making the closet even stronger.
Our ceilings are 10' tall and the plywood is 8' tall. I thought about going all the way to the ceiling. However it is hard to reach stuff that high up. instead we left it at 8' and use the top shelf for added storage.
Adding Finish Trim
I started with added MDF molding to the top of the closet. For the top and shelves I used 2 ½" molding. Using a little bit bigger molding covers more of the shelf hoo.
The top molding gave me something to run the dividers finish trim into. My dividers trim measured 1 ¾". I ran the dividers trim all the way to the floor. Then I added the shelf trim in between the dividers trim.
Caulking and Filling Holes
I am going to be honest and say caulking a closet is long and tedious work. Since my shelves are stationary every single shelf and shelf hook has to be caulk. But don't skip this part. This is what will take good finish work to GREAT finish work. It will also give you an even better finished product.
I used putty to fill in all of the nail holes. Again, this is time consuming and boring. It will make all the difference in the finished product.
Painting a DIY Custom Closet
First start by priming everything with a primer. Since this is all wood priming first will give you an even better finish. I then sprayed the entire closet, walls included, with Chalk White in satin by Benjamin Moore. I applied 2 coats and let it dry over night.
Finished Custom Closet
Here it is all finished up. I am so happy with how this turned out. It gave us that custom expensive look for a fraction of the cost. The total cost for the closet came in right around $2000. That is a huge savings from the $10,000 I was quoted.
The countertop for the island is porcelain. We decided to waterfall the edges for a fun design element. For the cherry on top I added an elegant chandelier to bring the space together.
Finishes for My Plywood Closet
- Paint - Everything is Chalk White by Benjamin Moore
- Light - Progress lighting
- Island - Natural White oak from Foxwood Cabinetry
- Countertop - Porcelain from Dal-Tile
- Flooring - Vintage Beige from ADM Flooring
- Hanging Rods - White
- Drawer pulls - D. Lawless Hardare
I hope this helps you build Custom DIY closets in your home!
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