Building Tips for a DIY Closet

Two weeks down.

Two weeks down and I am a week behind...BUT we have a finished closet folks, and that is something to cheer about!  Yipee!

Plus my daughter gave it the stamp of approval tonight.  "Mom it looks so looks professional!"  
Awesome Building Tips for a DIY Closet by MyLove2Create.

I'll take it!  She scored some serious points for and adorable child that she is. ;)  I can happily overlook all imperfections now and move onto the next project.

This one room challenge really does stretch you, and boy I am feeling it with working full time and taking care of the kids.  Why is it that October seems to be extra busy?  I mean the outside demands on my time seem to escalate only when I have a huge project in the know what I am saying?  Anyway...

Today I am going to share some great Building tips for a DIY Closet as I show you what I did this past week.

Building Tips for a DIY Closet

First I want to direct you to my last post on How to Design a DIY Closet, it will show you the beginning of this build.
DIY Closet progress MyLove2Create.
This is the progress I had made, last week. 

Tip 1: Make sure everything is level in your closet.Tip 1: Make sure everything is level in your closet.

It is super important to make sure that you use a level when building your DIY closet.  In the photos above you can see I am installing my side shelves that will also have my hanging rods under each one.  A level helps to ensure your closet looks and functions properly, plus it just feels good to know it is perfectly straight and level, you have to celebrate all the happy moments in your build!

I used 3/4 inch pocket holes and 1 1/4 inch pocket hole screws to attach the shelves to the closet tower and the wall support boards.  The bottom shelf on the wall side I set on top of the support board and just nailed it on.  I also installed the closet rod holders under the shelves.  Make sure you have plenty of clearance for your hangers to slide onto the rod without hitting the shelf above it.  Technically you don't even need the shelves above the rods, but I like to have it for extra storage and because it looks nice.

Tip 2: Trim out your closet build for a professional custom look.

Tip 2: Trim out your closet build for a professional custom look.
When I wrote up the design I didn't add trim.  I see plenty of nice looking closets that don't have face frames or trim...but I couldn't. help. myself.

I had to add it, it just completes the build and gives that finishing touch that truly is the icing on the cake...mmmm cake sounds good.  So I made another trip to Home Depot and grabbed some pre primed 1/2 inch by 2 (technically 1 1/2) inch trim.

I started by framing out my closet tower, and used a piece of 1/2 inch by 4 inch trim for the top, I used similar method to cut it for a custom look as I did in my master closet makeover, trim, shelves and rods.  I used 2 inch finish nails to add it to the tower, with the overhang of the trim on the inside of the piece.
How to trim out adjustable shelves in a closet, MyLove2Create
I am jumping ahead a bit in my build to show you how I trimmed out the rest.  I cut trim to be attached to all exposed 3/4'' boards.  It covers all fixed shelves, shelves over the closet rods, for the top shelf boards, and for all adjustable shelves.  I installed my adjustable shelves onto their shelf pins and then cut the trim and nailed it onto the plywood with 2 inch finish nails.  This way you can remove them easily for changing where you want them later but they still look finished.  So cool right?!  It is the simple things that make me happy.
Trimmed adjustable shelve in a closet, MyLove2Create
Here are some close ups of my two different adjustable shelves.  The small shelves were able to have the trim go all the way to the edges of the boards, but the trim on the shelves inside the tower were shorter because of the face frame.  It is important that the trim on these are a little smaller than the width between the insides of the face frame.  This way you have some wiggle room to tilt them up and take them out.  I suggest cutting the trim holding it to the installed shelf and trying to move it out before you nail it on. 

For the plywood pieces I mounted on the wall I used 1/2'' by 1/2'' trim to make it even with the shelf trim.

Tip 3: Building and Installing drawers.

Cutting plywood to build drawers for a closet, MyLove2Create
Drawers are not my favorite, I am not going to lie, they take time to build and install and can be frustrating, but I LOVE having them in closets to help hide clothes and eliminate the need for a dresser.  So I do them, because I like having them.  Sometimes we just have to do the hard things in life, except they really they aren't that hard, I just like to complain about doing them. :)
  • I wanted three drawers the same size, so I measured the opening of the drawer section, from face frame to face frame. My opening height was 24 inches and the width was 21 inches.  This helped me determine how wide my drawers needed to be and how tall.  
  • The width will need to be figured out with the help of your drawer slide mounting hardware.  I used the cheap bottom mount slides and they require a half an inch on each side, so my drawer needed to be one inch less than the width of the opening, 20 inches wide.
  • For the height I took the measurement and divided it by three (because I had three drawers) then I subtracted two inches and make my drawers that height, 6 inches tall.
  • I ripped the plywood with my Kreg Rip Cut and Ryobi Circular saw, then built them with 3/4'' pocket holes and 1 1/4'' pocket hole screws.  I screwed on a piece of 1/4'' plywood for the drawer bottoms.
Tip 3: Building and Installing drawers.
To install the drawers put the drawer slides onto the bottom of the drawers and then the side ones needed to be mounted on a piece of 3/4'' plywood to make them flush with the face frame.  I used my kreg clamps to hold them in place while I drilled them in.

Look I am making sure they are level!  Yay!  Be sure to read your drawer glide installation instructions.  Once they were in I was ready to build the drawer fronts.
Building drawer fronts and attaching them to installed drawers, MyLove2Create
One thing to remember is that your drawer fronts need to be the same width as your face frame trim.  Since mine is 1/2'' I used 1/4'' plywood and 1/4'' lath strips (these are super cheap) to make mine.  I started by measuring my 1/4 plywood panel to the opening and then used that to make measurements of where to cut it into three strips.

Once my plywood was cut I tested it on the opening so I could adjust the size if necessary.  I used old blinds to space them in the photo above  When I knew they were the right size I cut the lath strips to fit and glued and clamped them on.
How to attach drawer fronts, MyLove2Create
Once the glue dried I was ready to install...of course I had sanded the pieces before I glued them together, don't forget this step, we don't want rough drawer fronts!

I ditched the blinds as spacers and used playing cards, I used 4 to 5 cards in each stack to get the spacing I needed.  Then I nailed the drawer front into the sides and bottom of the drawer.  After all the fronts were nailed on, I then flipped them over and added 4 screws from the inside of the drawer.

The last thing I did was measure and drill holes for my drawer pulls.  It is taking shape, and I survived the drawer install!  Phew!

Tip 4: Paint sand and then paint again.

Tip 4: Paint sand and then paint again.
One important thing when painting is to remember to sand with a fine grit 350 to 400 sandpaper after your first coat of paint.  This ensures your finish is smooth.  Then paint your second coat, some rough spots could be touched up with a light sanding but I haven't felt it necessary.  

Before painting fill all nail holes and seams in your trim with spackle or wood filler, when dry sand smooth.  Then you are ready for paint.  As you can see in the photos above make sure to remove all adjustable shelves and drawers for painting, and avoid excessive paint on the sides so they don't stick when installed.  

Tip 5: Caulk all wall seams in your closet.

Tip 5: Caulk all wall seams in your closet.
Since walls are not always even or level you will have gaps in your build where it attaches to the wall.  Caulking these gaps will hide them and really polish up your build!  It makes a HUGE difference so don't skip this step.  I have my seams caulked above, but I ran out of time to paint over them (because they are still drying) so I still need to do that, once I do they it will make even more of a difference, my white caulk wasn't quite as white as my paint so you can kind of see a shadow.   I love the magic of caulk!
Built in closet drawers and shelves
You won't use caulk on the adjustable shelves.  
How do build a DIY Custom closet MyLove2Create

And there you have it!  A beautiful custom built DIY Closet!  This is defiantly an improvement from what we had before!  You can see that in my Tween Girls Room Inspiration Post, where I share all the hideous before shots.

Until next week...I hope I crush it because I am getting a little concerned on my time frame.  Wish me luck!

And be sure to hop on over to see everyone else's progress in the One Room Challenge!!
One room challenge

Mindi at MyLove2Create



  1. It's so beautiful! Nice work, it really DOES look professional. Could you tell me the height of the two curtain rods?

  2. Nice job! Especially love the addition of the drawers.


Your comments make me smile! I love to hear what you think!