DIY Closet Built-Ins

April 3, 2023

This is officially the nicest closet in our house!

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This is officially the nicest closet in our house!

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This is officially the nicest closet in our house!

This is officially the nicest closet in our house!

It is finally DONE! I am so happy that I can officially check off "nursery closet" from my project list. Eeeek!!

As always, this project took way longer that it should have, mostly because caulking and painting is not my idea of a good time, and it's *certainly* not my husband's idea of a good time, so I procrastinated a bit and was also working on other things.

I'm excited to share this DIY with you, so that you can rip out your old closet shelves and start fresh with new, custom built-ins that make you happy! I'll share the fully stocked closet reveal in a few weeks (giving paint extra time to cure and closet accessories time to arrive!).

If you missed it, here was my nursery closet inspiration blog post; I still love all of the photos that I shared! Before jumping into any project, I usually browse Pinterest for a couple *months* (lol) and then slowly make up my mind about what I want to create in my own home based on my inspiration.

This room was a spare bedroom and my husband was using the closet as his clothing storage. You can see below, it had the (awful) wire shelves (that wasn't even installed correctly!!), and at some point previously, the closet had wooden brackets to support one single hanging rod and a shelf above. It also featured the worst sliding doors - the kind where you can only open one door at a time and access half the closet at a time. Such a pain, so you couldn't ever find anything, it was super dark, and that just won't do for what's about the be a super cute little girl's nursery!

I can't tell you how much joy I felt while ripping out the sliding doors and trash shelves. Woo!! I had to ask my husband to rip out the wooden brackets for me because, unlike the wire shelving brackets, the wood was attached quite well! After some serious effort, elbow grease, and holes in the wall, he got them out. Whoops.

Here's what I was working with or my "clean slate." If you are doing this in your own closet, definitely demo everything, including the baseboards first. Then do your repairs and paint so you have fresh space to work with. I was so excited to start building, that I only primed and didn't really paint the walls well, and that came back to get me at the end of the project.

I mapped out my rough design using painter's tape (great idea, if you need to visualize it like I do!), took my measurements, then was off to Home Depot to buy my supplies.


Total cost was around $300!

After prepping the space, I was excited to build the actual shelving unit. This was my first time to use pocket holes in a project (I don't build much furniture I guess?!) so I was pumped to learn something new. Well, it's super easy, BUT did take me a few tries to get all of the details right (lol). We decided that this would be the bottom side of the bottom shelf, so it would be fine ;) I drilled 2 pocket holes on each under-side of my shelves to attach them into the shelf walls.

After drilling all of your pocket holes, you can lay one side of your shelf unit wall down on the ground and lay out your shelf spacing. My shelves are 12" apart. After you set your spacing, you drill your pocket screws into the two pocket holes that are on the shelf wall side. Do that for all of your shelves.

After attaching one side of your shelves to the wall on the ground, you can add the other shelf wall on the top. Again, make sure you're happy with your spacing and that your shelves won't be crooked. We used a level and a t-square to check each shelf before screwing in the final two pocket screws on each shelf.

We did have a little snafu after assembling the shelf and realized that it looked a little bowed. Turns out, our last shelf was about 1/2 inch shorter than the others, so we had to unscrew it and redo that one. We had our shelves cut at Home Depot, so do that at your own risk! ;)

I was so excited to see how the shelves would look in the closet, so after we fixed our error, we moved the shelves into the closet (see what I mean - should have been painted already!). TBH they didn't look that impressive, but that's because the trim pieces and caulking are where the real magic happen!

Look at what a difference it made below after attaching my 1 x 2 trim boards to the front of the shelving unit. It was starting to look better! We removed the baseboards to try to position the shelves flush with the wall. Turns out, my walls definitely are not square, so it was a mess trying to attach the shelving unit and I had to use "shims" and some creative positioning to finally get it right! You can see on the left hand side where the trim meets the wall that there are a few gaps, but don't worry...not for long!

For the very top shelf, the shelving unit supports the left side of it, and I attached a wooden support bracket to the right hand side of the closet to hold it up. For the middle shelf, I attached one long wooden support bracket to the back wall of the closet with a brad nailer and a short bracket on the left and right sides.

You can see below what a difference the trim boards make! The shelves are trimmed out, but the middle shelf that was last to be added doesn't have trim yet - what a difference!

We added our final trim piece, then it was time to add baseboards and caulk and paint! We actually added closet rods here, BUT I recommend waiting until the very end after everything has been painted to add your closet rods - the sockets made it so tricky to paint around (or on top of, if you're my husband lol)

I wasn't sure what kind of baseboards I wanted to add - I'm planning to replace baseboards throughout the entire house as we update each room, so I picked this style and I love it! 

The baseboards ended up being super simple to install and as opposed to shelving that has to be reinforced, sturdy, etc., baseboards are not load bearing, so they can just be easily secured with a few brad nails! Hooray! I gave my husband a hard time about not being a good painter, but turns out, he's great with baseboards, so that's his official construction role now ;) Thankful for his help!

After the baseboards, I caulked and painted, then ran out of paint, then caulked and painted some more. Wow - definitely not my favorite. It's difficult to smooth your line of caulk with long fingernails, but I wasn't willing to sacrifice them, so I paid the price in extra time. Ha!

I'm OBSESSED with how the closet turned out! So worth all of the work, Now I want to redo the master closet, but we'll see if that makes the cut before baby arrives. Ha! 

I left the old sliding door track in place because I do have new bi-fold closet doors coming. I think I finally decided on a style, but of course they weren't available in store, so it will be a couple more weeks before they arrive and get installed.

I can't wait to see everything! I'll be sharing a full reveal closet tour with all of my closet accessories and baby organization and I'm already excited to organize everything! (nerd alert!).

I hope this helps you as you update your closets at home! :) DM me @rhondajenkins and show me how they turn out!

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