The need to maximize storage space is a fact of life in the 21st century. That’s especially true for anyone living in a small home, where having enough closet space is a big part of staying sane.
Stacy Risenmay can attest to that based on personal experience. She writes about home improvement on her blog Not JUST a Housewife. She certainly knows a thing or two about storage and organization.
She built a whole new closet in her home recently, and here she shows the basic steps in how to build a closet. Read on for her closet building tips.
I live in a 1580-square-foot home that was built in 1938. And I share this home with five boys! My husband, four little guys and I not only share this small space but half of the basement is not even finished! To say that storage can be a problem is a bit of an understatement. So I built a new closet!
THE PROBLEM: My husband and I currently have a closet that we share in our room that is 3 feet wide, with one bar for hanging clothes, and that is it. If all the laundry is clean (and let’s be honest, that isn’t very often), then our clothes don’t all fit in the closet and dresser. Luckily neither of us are a fashionista and do not have very many clothes, but I think we can all agree that 3 feet for two people is not exactly ideal.
THE SOLUTION: I recently finished a bathroom in our basement next to our bedroom and left a space just outside the bathroom with the intention of turning it into a closet. After stepping over piles of clean laundry at the foot of our bed one too many times, I decided it was high time to work on the new closet.
This used to be where the washer and dryer went before we moved them to another part of the basement.
The first thing I needed to do was frame out the face of the closet.
Supplies needed to frame the closet:
- Drywall compound, a.k.a. “mud”
- Ramset hammer
- Drywall screws
- Drywall joint tape
- Putty knife
- Compound miter saw
- Framing nails
I framed it with 2x4s. One wall was the outside wall (and pure concrete), so I used a Ramset .22 caliber single shot hammer to attach the 2x4s.
The rest was basic framing. I had left over drywall from the bathroom and used that. I taped and mudded the drywall. Then, since I didn’t have a ton of space to cover, I plastered the sheet rock using a plastic putty knife.
Since the back wall was wood planks (original to the house) I decided to add wood planks to the sides. I had some planks left over from the bathroom. I ended up going back to Home Depot and getting more to do the ceiling.
You don’t have to use planks. You can just sheet rock it if you want, but I thought the planks added an extra touch. I used Liquid Nails to adhere the planks to the wall that was cement.
Normally I would have furred out the wall (like I did in my laundry room) but I did not want to take away precious inches from the closet width. The other side of the closet was framed with sheet rock already so the planks got nailed with my brad nailer. I caulked the seams with paintable caulk.
I had some damage to the back wall I also needed to address. Since this is where the washer and dryer use to be there was an abandoned water line, electrical box, and some other holes that were cut for plumbing in the neighboring bathroom. I cut pieces of 1×4 boards (scraps I had on hand) and nailed them into place. I caulked around them and painted over it.
Since this closet is in our basement and our basement ceilings are less than 8 feet, normal off-the-shelf closet doors would not have worked or would have had to be modified. I decided I could just build them from scratch.
Supplies needed to build the closet doors
- (7) 1×6 select boards
- Behr paint
- Bypass closet door track
- Air compressor and brad nailer, which you can rent from The Home Depot
- (1) 8′x4′ sheet of 1/8″ plywood
- Kreg Jig Jr.
- 1 1/4 screws
Now I could give you the measurements for my door but chances are my door and your door size will not be the same. But you will need two sides, a top, bottom, and center piece.
I used my Kreg Jig to drill holes in the ends of longest boards and the center piece boards. Then I used 1 1/4 screws to attach the boards together. I flipped the door over to the front side and sanded it in preparation for painting.
I had the guy at Home Depot cut the plywood for me even though I have a table saw because that is the only way I could fit it in my vehicle to get it home.
You can do one of two things with this step.
A) You can use a router to cut out a space for the plywood to fit on the back (think of a picture frame), and then nail it into place or
B) You can just nail it onto the back. Since I was dealing with a deadline and you won’t see the backs of these doors, I chose this option.
My husband helped me attach to door track to the top of the closet doorway. The roller pieces screw onto the back of the doors. I don’t know why but I was the most worried about adding the track to the doors. But it was the easiest step!
So I had a closet and closet doors, but now I needed a way to organize everything.
I debated back and forth about building custom inserts or buying ready made. Since I had built the closet from scratch and the door no less, I opted to buy ClosetMaid shelving. This closet is a basic shape and not very big so it made a lot of sense.
Supplies needed to assemble the closet shelves
The ClosetMaid shelves were very easy to put together.
I thought it might be hard to try and lift the top piece onto the bottom one, but I was able to mange by myself. I actually enjoyed the process. I was so excited to have drawers for belts, ties, scarves, shoe polish, and other random things that didn’t have a home before.
I threw down a carpet remnant I had on hand until we get flooring in this corner of the basement. I cut it to fit with a utility knife. Since I do not have permanent flooring I did not add the piece of the door track set that keeps the closet doors in place on the bottom.
But other than the door track on the floor, the closet is complete! Our clothes have a new home.
I probably need to find bigger baskets that fill up more of the space, but I like these that I already had. They will work for now and are much better than the shoe boxed we had before!
I also realized I am sadly lacking in the dress department.
I was working on this closet in my spare time (remember I have four boys!) over the course of a week and a half. No laundry was cleaned during this time.
Once I get caught up, the closet will get filled up more. I love that it will go in the closet and drawers instead of staying in the laundry baskets!
It is hard to tell at this angle but the tower unit is lined up so that when you slide the doors over to the other side you can open the drawers.
I love how it looks.
And here is a side by side of the before and the after.
We are so happy with our new closet. I actually look forward to getting caught up on laundry now!
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