Home: DIY Closet Shelves

closet7Photo of the spare room – I forgot to take a proper before shot, so this is the previous owner’s storage/things (from 2 yrs ago). The closet that we added shelves to is on the right (you can see the items hanging from the very top of the closet, the shelf with the shoe boxes stacked, and the other hanging rod down below.

Closet1It was also pretty in pretty bad shape. One of those upper brackets was literally screwed into the wall from behind the door frame! How they managed that I’ll never know. Let’s just say I used a lot of Spackle in that space once my husband pried/pulled it loose.

I should preface this post by stating that neither myself nor my husband really like DIY projects. They do not bring us closer together and often cause more stress and frustration than not. If we had it our way, we would hire out for every little thing. But, being the homeowners that we are (and because I like to save money), we do most of our house work ourselves. With that little introduction, I am very proud to introduce our latest DIY project: my closet shelf building project! Our house is relatively old and fairly small – it’s perfect for us, but there is not a lot of closet space. The majority of my clothes are in what is our dressing/guest/ spare room . The closet came to us with just one shelf and 2 hanging rods, one of which was so insanely high I never used it. My goal going into this project was to create 4 additional shelves for what I currently had stored in the closet (mostly shoes) as well as space to empty out a dresser. Ultimate goal? Turn our guest room into a more functional office/guest room.

closet4Finding wood, paint, buying wood

I actually started brainstorming this project about 5-6 weeks ago, around the end of June. After attending my personal styling classes, I knew I needed a better dedicated office than the one we currently had which triples as a library/husband’s music room. I turned to Pinterest, where else?, and started gathering inspiration. It was also where I ran across this little tutorial on creating closet shelves that made me think we could do this. Sooo, we measured. And it took about 2 weeks to finally figure out the measurements. Because I am a very type A person and because my husband is a very common sense person, I  needed to figure out exactly the layout of the closet and what storage bins I needed before I could finalize the measurements. I’m also not a math person, so this was a lot of measuring and re-measuring. I drew a lot of diagrams in this process.

Closet2Electric sanders are the bomb, primed wood in my basement space, putting the caulk and paint to work

I won’t bore you with all of the horrendous details but just know that a lot of things went wrong and this was a fairly slow project. A lot of it boils down to not having an arsenal of tools (yet) and borrowing what we needed from my husband’s parents. Another is that we took this project in very. small. steps. It’s how we survive DIY. One night we would cut all the boards and I would sand. Another night I would do all of the priming. And then another night we would nail some of the boards in. It’s a method we’ve found that works for us (if you are ok with things not happening in one day and living in slight chaos for a few weeks, then I highly recommend this). Also, in terms of the step-by-step process, you can basically follow it from the pinterest link. We measured the shelves we would need for the back plus the supports on each side, but since the closet is L shaped and we wanted to take advantage of the side portion, we had to do some extra math and buy the right sized boards and brackets for that.

Closet3The closet in its mostly caulked and primed stage


Husband cutting those bracket, testing the shelves, putting up the first support bracket 

The whole project, once we got going, took about a week. My husband was in charge of cutting the wood while I was in charge of sanding, priming and painting. Once the boards were in, I caulked and the primed everything and the caulk does wonders for making it look less like a DIY project and more like an intentional closet.  Once it started to come together I got REALLY excited. The back shelves were in and we just had to tackle the side shelves. The last step before painting. The metal brackets we bought weren’t going to work, so we cut some out of wood. The only problem? For whatever reason, they were not flush with the other brackets so when the shelf was laid on top it slanted downward. Basically, it didn’t work (this was about #987 if you are counting things that went wrong). BUT my husband is a genius and decided to just screw the brackets into the two shelves on the underside and voila, it worked.


The shelves!, adjusting the boards for the new bracket configuration, Rupert approved, success!


ALL the shelves, adding in shoes, filling the rest of the closet, disaster of a room

SO, there you have it! The closet shelves are done and I’ve spent the past week putting things in. I get the floor, three shelves and top shelf for storage. My husband has one shelf for pants, etc. But already it is holding more and looking so organized. I love having a space for everything. The bottom picture is a little scary – it’s what the rest of the room looked like last week. So far, I’ve taken down those sheer panels and unpacked the rest of the dresser. This week I will be removing all the furniture, sanding/painting the trim in the room and gearing up for an office transformation. Give me two more months. Maybe by then we’ll have bought some tools.


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