Custom Master Closet
Took 6 weekends start to finish, which was a real challenge with a 10 month old! I have to thank my wife for watching our son the whole time, since I pretty much spent the entire weekend working on this during those weeks.
My wife and I wanted to improve on the wire shelves in our master closet, which was already pretty large. We built our home a few years ago, and one of the options from the builder was to extend the garage by 6 feet, which happens to be below the master closet. I wanted more space for my tools, she wanted more closet space–win/win, right? Unfortunately, despite the huge size, it felt like there was a ton of wasted space.
The wire shelf was running along either side of the room, making for only one row of hanging clothes. The angle of the ceiling also meant we couldn't buy anything pre-made, and custom options started around $10k–not a good use of $10k in my opinion.
Ripped out the shelves and painted.
Wanted the insides of the sections of the close to have a contrasting color, so much easier to paint the room first.
I saved a lot of time drawing it all out before hand vs. running up/down the stairs everytime I had to check something.
The plan was a combination of a few online versions I saw, with my own modifications. I figured I could cut the uprights and cross slat supports from MDF, and then secure them to a 2×4 base, topped with MDF. Attach everything with pocket holes (kreg jig). Once I had two uprights level with the base, I'd attached it to the wall by screwing through the back support into the studs. This worked really well and was remarkably solid.
I ended up only needing the top and middle support. The one I planned for the mid-way up the back of each section wasn't needed once I felt how stable it was.
Planning out the space
I also sketched out the space on both sides and the end to help estimate material. Excuse my crud drawings—more for concept than dimensions. (And to make sure my wife and I didn't keep changing our minds)
Ended up buying a whole pallet of 3/4" MDF at Big Orange–that's 16 sheets. This stuff runs $29/sheet vs. $50/sheet for plywood which saves a ton of money on a project this size. Unfortunately, it weighs 90lbs a sheet. Amazingly, I used 15 and 2/3 sheets on the project.
my setup outside to rip everything down.
I can't over emphasize what a difference the right tools can make in a project like this. I've done a few projects in our house thus far, and each time I'm able to justify buying the tools I needed by still paying well under half the cost for the custom route, and I'm left with the tools afterward. In this case, I needed a table saw for ripping all of this lumber down, and I had the space, so I opted for a large Ridgid hybrid saw vs. the job site table saws a lot of people get. This allows for a lot of flexibility for future projects!
I also built two of the rolling carts, like the one on the left…I made them the same height as the table saw so I can use them for an infeed/outfeed tablet when handling large sheets of material. When not in use, they store my air compressor and miter saw.
ripped and ready for paint
I ripped all of the MDF long ways into 16" strips. Since all of my uprights and shelves were going to be this width, this allowed me to paint everything at once, then cut every other piece as needed to fit. Saved a ton of time. I'm usually a "paint in place" kinda person, but I have to admit this was probably way easier than painting it all after it was installed.
lined the room with 2×4 bases just to have a nice solid platform. I could have removed the carpet, but I'm lazy and this will allow us to remove it if for whatever reason we wanted to. Topped the bases with MDF, and made them 13" deep to allow for a 3" toe kick when finished.
so much painting
just laid them out and painted. 2 coats of Sherwin Williams superpaint on everything. I hoped to use a air sprayer, but it took longer than just rolling it so I just did that.
I was hoping to cut all of the uprights the same, but the room was 1/4" off here and there, so ended up cutting each upright to fit to avoid gaps. I probably could have made a jig or something for the angle and offset from my circular saw, but it was easy to just mark each piece and measure, then cut…only had to do ~15 of them and this way I knew each one was right.
The process worked well, squared them to each other and attached them to the bases with more pocket holes.
one side done
I varied the width slightly between some of the "sections" so I'd have an upright against the wall on either side to properly square up and tie shelves into–definitely glad I did that instead of try to anchor into the very crooked walls.
uprights done and crown molding
all of the uprights in, and then I opted to add crown molding. This helped hide the reveal between the top of the uprights and the ceiling to five it a very clean, finished look.
Drilling shelf pin holes sucks. I upgraded from my usual pegboard method to a shelf pin jig I picked up from Rockler. It came with a spring loaded, self-centering bit set to a 1/2" depth which made it as easy as possible.
Shelves and Rods
My original plan was to buy closet rods and cut them to size, then I found ClosetMade adjustable rods in brushed metal for $10/each that adjusted from my min required width past my max width–so I spent a little more and was very pleased with the outcome of using those.
The hangers we got from ikea–$4.99 for an 8 pack of black wooden hangers. struck a good balance between cost and quality. I was test fitting each rod to make sure the clearance from the back wall was good. A standard height is 40" between rods for hanging on two levels. I threw a shirt in there to make sure I was happy with the placement before doing the rest of them.
you can also see the rockler shelf pin jig in the bottom of the pic.
I realize the back supports are also visible through the whole thing, but once our stuff got in there I figured we'd never notice them. I don't notice them now.
If I was really wanting to dress it up, I suppose I could have lined the whole wall with paneling/shiplap or something like that. I had to keep reminding myself it was just a closet though.
had to do 3-4 coats of paint on the edges of everything…MDF really soaks up the paint, which I knew was gonna be an issue heading into it.
This was my first attempt at drawer building, so I wanted to keep it super simple.
I could have made these from 1/2" MDF, but I had some 3/4" still from the lumber I originally bought, so why not. I left enough clearance on the sides for the drawer slides, and opted for simple rather than traditional drawer building methods.
I just made a box with simple pocket holes, then put a cleat in the bottom to hold the drawer bottom. That I did make from 1/2" MDF.
Drawer close up
test fit drawers
I was pretty pleased that after all of the 1/4" differences in each piece for the uprights and my efforts to square everything, I was able to stack all of the drawers in the opening with equal clearance all around.
Slides mounted and they run pretty smoothly. Bought the slides from home depot, whatever their cheap full extension side mount slides are…about $10 each in 14" depth. I originally got some fancy $20 a piece soft-closing slides from Rockler, but they didn't work well and I returned them. Cheaper was better in this case.
really proud of these drawers
both sides done
all 10 drawers done and installed.
Folding Table Plans
We liked having a few dressers in the middle of our old closet, but they were relatively small (Ikea Malm 4-drawers) and were always covered in junk. So, for this build, we wanted a longer table down the middle. We also wanted to conceal our laundry bins in the middle so you couldn't really see them from the entry–making for a nice, neat appearance. So, I designed something that would store a lights/darks/dry cleaning laundry bin.
These were my plans, just based on what I wanted. I've made a few similar pieces for around the house so was familiar with a good method for making a piece like this, but I just sketched this out to estimate the material and make sure I had everything I needed in one trip to the store.
Folding Table Base
Folding table trim work
Folding Table Painted
I did the whole folding table start to finish in about 6 hours on a Sunday afternoon–turned out to be a quick one.
Folding Table Top and seat top
Went with an ebony stain on Oak plywood, trimmed with 1×2 pine molding to clean it up.
I sanded the plywood to #220 before staining, but it was pretty good to start with.
Folding Table moved upstairs
Here's the folding table put into the closet. This is when it started to hit me that this was all gonna come together pretty well.
I may go back and add a piano hinge for the seat top on the end of the table, just to store shoe shine materials or something else in there.
We wanted something really long for the drawer pulls for the drawers.
These are 14" long drawer pulls, got them from Ikea for like $8 per pair. I can't find similar hardware cheaper anywhere else and have gone there for several projects with great results.
Folding table and seat tops installed
Mirrors and Hooks
Above the banks of drawers on either side, we added cheap mirrors ($20 each from Target) to make it into a dressing station of sorts. I also added hooks on my wife's side for necklaces. She ended up getting a lot of felt lined inserts for the drawers from Bed, Bath, & Beyond for her jewelry. I got a few trays for watches and other random stuff also.
Replaced the builder "boob" lights with nice, modern pendants. They're 18" orb lights, and when I ordered them, I thought they may be a bit too big. They turned out to be perfect for the space and the bottoms overlap with the folding table, so you wouldn't walk directly under them anyway.
finished, reverse angle
Starting to move in
It was really gratifying starting to hang stuff in there after a month and a half…
My side all done
I also made a print to hang above the window to top it all off.