Build Closet Organizers

Build Closet Organizers

Level: Experienced

A well-organized closet does more than arrange and manage your belongings. It simplifies your day-to-day routine. While closet organizers can be purchased or custom-made by professionals, these options can be expensive. You can save some cash and build a sense of self-reliance by constructing your own closet organizer.

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Project Steps
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    • Step 1: Empty the Closet

      Remove everything from the closet. You'll want to be able to see the space clearly to envision how your organizer will fit in the space and best suit your needs (this includes existing rods and shelving). Once you've emptied everything, vacuum and dust all surfaces.

      Do some mental organizing, keeping in mind how often you use different items in your closet. Items worn often should be easily accessible. Lesser-used items can be stored on higher shelves or in bins at ground level.

      Get rid of unnecessary clutter. If you haven't worn a piece of clothing in the last year, consider donating it. Don't forget to leave plenty of space in your organizer for future clothing purchases and items still in the laundry.

    • Step 2: Plan the Organizer
      metal shelving

      Design your organizer. You can build it anyway you like. This project features an easy-to-make system that is adaptable to fit your closet needs and is a fraction of the price of store-bought kits. It is simple to modify this design for whatever you want to do. It combines a shelving unit in the middle for storing items such as sweaters, shoes, etc., with two rods on one side (for short clothes like shirts, pants, sport coats, etc.) and the other side supporting one rod for long clothes (dresses, coats, etc.). There are shelves over the rods on each side as well for items to which you don't necessarily need everyday access.

      Use a stud finder to locate the studs behind the closet walls. Mark their locations with a pencil. Use a tape measure and get the dimensions of your closet and the distance between the studs. The lower rod on the side planned with two rods should be 3" lower than the bottom where shorter clothes would hang to give room for the hangers. Measure your longest item of short clothes that was already hanging in your closet and add 3". Also, take into consideration that the brackets at the ends of the rods need to be attached to studs. The sides of the shelving unit should attach to wall studs as well.

      Measure where you want the top shelves over the rods to be placed. Use a level and pencil to mark on the wall a line long enough to be a guide for the shelf brackets.

    • Step 3: Cut Shelving Sides and Over-the-Rod Shelves

      Use a circular saw (preferably with a carbide blade) to cut the two side pieces for the shelving unit as well as the two shelves that will go above the closet rods. Use ¾" solid wood boards or plywood. The shelving sides should be cut to be 20" deep and as high as your design calls for. The two over-the-rod shelves should be 20" deep and long enough to reach to the wall opposite the organizer. When cutting the wood, the top (finished side) should be face-down to avoid splintering it. To keep from splintering the front and back, cover the cut line with masking tape before you cut. Sand the shelves and sides with fine-grit sandpaper.

      Safety Alert!

      Always wear goggles or safety glasses when working with a saw and follow all other safety precautions required by the equipment you're using.

      Helpful Tip

      Apply primer and paint — or stain, depending on your preferences — to the shelves and the sides now. It's easier to do it before you put them up. The shelves for the unit will be cut to the proper dimensions and painted/stained in a later step.

    • Step 4: Attach Standards to Shelving Unit

      Shelving standards are slotted metal strips that are usually attached vertically to a wall to hold brackets, which then hold shelves in place. Cut shelving standards to fit your design so that they are long enough to run from the top of the shelving side to the bottom. Use a hacksaw to cut them. Attach the standards, using 3/4" screws (driven into the wall studs) on both sides of each shelving side. They should be placed 1" in from the front and back ends.

    • Step 5: Attach Shelving Unit Sides

      Attach an angle bracket to the top and the bottom of the shelving side using the 3/4" screws. Place the side at a right angle to the wall and use the level to make sure the side is vertical. The side needs to be positioned so that the other end of the angle bracket is on the stud. Mark on the wall where the holes in the angle bracket are. Drill 1" screws through the bracket, attaching it to the wall stud. Repeat with the other side.

    • Step 6: Attach Shelves and Rods

      Measure shelves to make sure that they will fit between the shelving standards. Cut to fit and sand if they are too wide. Paint or stain the shelves and allow them to dry. Put shelf clips into the standards (count the holes in the standard as guides so the clips are at the same height). Put in the shelves.

      Attach combination brackets to the wall studs using 1" screws. Use the lines you marked earlier on the wall as guides. Put a rod into the combination bracket and attach the shelf to the bracket, using 1"screws. Repeat this for the other shelf and rod.

    • Step 7: Attach Lower Rod

      On the wall, measure down the wall to where you are putting the closet rod and make a mark. Measure 12" from the back of the closet and mark so that you have an "X" where the rod goes. Mark 2 lines that are 1" above and 1" below the "X". Find the studs on either side of the "X" and measure the distance between the two studs. Cut a 1 x 2 board that length, this is what the flange is affixed to. Using the 2" screws, attach the 1 x 2 piece to the studs. The piece should be between the two lines. Measure the distance from the 1 x 2 to the shelving side. Cut the closet rod ¼" shorter than this distance (this makes it easier to slide the rod into place). Slip the two flanges onto the rod, one for each end. Slide the rod into position. Use a level to make the rod horizontal. Attach the flange to the 1 x 2 board using 1" screws and attach the other flange to the shelving side using 3/4" screws.

      That's it! You're done. "Keep it organized; keep it simple" will be your new mantra when it comes to your closet.

  • Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

    Before you begin, use the shopping list below to uncheck the tools you already have to complete this project.

    Then, print or save your updated list and bring it to your local True Value hardware store, where an expert Hardwarian will give you the remaining tools and expert advice you need to complete this project.

    You can also shop online for these project items at and receive FREE shipping to a participating store.

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