Horizontal Closet Organizer

diy closet organizer
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More shelving space, less bending over?  You betcha!  This horizontal closet organizer is designed for efficiency and those that love shelving. This is a free project plan with step by step diagrams, custom closet design tool and lots of photos and plan details from Ana-White.com

What is worse than piles of dirty laundry?

I'd have to say piles of clean laundry with no closet to put it all away.  Then it gets mixed up with the dirty laundry, and you end up with twice as big piles of laundry that you have to treat as dirty laundry.  You know what I'm talking about here.

We've recently moved into the new house, and first up, I insisted that we have one working closet in the house.  

We've done lots of closets in the past, but this time, I got a little crazy and ditched the vertical organizer.

Yep, we went all horizontal on this closet. 

And this is why -

No more bending down low to reach a bottom shelf.  Or reaching up high to hang clothes.  And it's easy to fold and put away jeans at the perfect height.

We did lose about 2-1/2 feet of closet rod storage, trading it for 8 feet of shelving space at an easy to reach height.  I think that is worth it.

I'm so glad we went with the horizontal closet.  We love how functional and easy to reach everything is, and love the extra shelving storage for folded clothes and baskets for socks and underwear.  

Why Build a Horizontal Closet?

  • More shelving at an easy to reach height for folded items like pants, t-shirts, and baskets for smaller items
  • A top shelf above the organizer for out of season items in a full length width, so fits many size totes, bins or baskets
  • No bending over and reaching with the hangers at mid height
  • Economical and easy to build
  • Easy to customize to just about any width and height
  • NO removing baseboard or trim

Why Can't You Buy Horizontal Closets?

The problem with horizontal closets is it really needs to be custom, since closets come in all different sizes and shapes - so it's hard to buy an off the shelf horizontal closet.

You have to build it custom!

Good news is in this plan I'll show you how.

Some Things to Consider Before Building Your Own Horizontal Closet

  • Make the organizer a little smaller so you can move it through the closet opening and rotate it (or build it in pieces in place), or build two or more smaller pieces that can be hung side by side.
  • If there is space on the sides of the closet once it is installed, you can use this space for hanging dresses or taller items
  • Widths of bays can be up to 36" - longer widths may sag
  • For extra long closets, you can add as many bays as you'd like, but consider when the organizer is super long it gets hard to maneuver and install - so it may be better to break up into multiple organizers that are easy to handle.
  • Shelves can be any height, 10-12" is pretty standard
  • Leave 3-1/2" under the bottom shelf for the closet rod
  • About 40" under the organizer is needed for hanging space.  


Pin For Later! 

Horizontal Closet Organizer

custom size closet organizer width


Shopping List
  • 3/4" plywood, ripped into strips 15-1/4" wide 
  • 3/4" wide edge banding in matching wood veneer
  • 1x4 boards
  • 1-1/4" pocket hole screws
  • closet rod socket holders
  • 1-1/4" wood dowels to use as closet rods
  • 3" self tapping star bit screws to hang closet to studs in wall
Cut List

Cut list is produced in the custom carcass configuration app in step 1.

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Iron for Edge Banding


Step 1

Design Your Closet

  • Width = Closet Opening width
  • Height = About 30" - depends on how tall you want your shelves and the hanging space underneath.  Also consider the top is a shelf too.
  • Depth = 15-1/4"
  • Bays = Adjust so shelf widths does not exceed 36"

Custom Design Tool Embeded Below


Click here to use this tool in a pop-up full page view



Once your design is perfect, download the drawings and cut your pieces according to the cut list.  The easiest way is to rip plywood into strips first, then cross cut to get the lengths you'll need.  Then edge band the front edges where applicable.

Step 2

Assembling Your Design

Just drill three 3/4" pocket holes on each end of all the shelf boards and attach to the vertical sides/dividers.  The top shelf pocket holes should face upward, the bottom shelf and middle shelf pocket holes face downward.

3-1/2" should be left under the bottom shelf to allow for bay supports and hanging the closet rod.


Step 3

Bay Supports

Bay supports add structure and a cleat for hanging.  This plan uses 1x4s for the bay supports.

Attach the bay supports from the back with pocket holes to both the vertical dividers and the shelves.

We recommend painting or staining at this step.


Adding Closet Rods

Use rod sockets and wood dowels to add the closet rods to the closet under the bottom shelf.

Step 4


To hang the closet, locate studs in the wall inside the closet and mark.  Place the closet organizer inside the closet opening and hang with 3" self tapping screws, through the 1x4 bay supports.



Thu, 04/19/2018 - 06:27

Love this plan.  I'm curious though, at what height did you hang the entire unit or what hanging length do you have from that bar?  Looks like at that height there is enough room to store some short tubs on the ground underneath which is what I need to do. 


Sun, 05/24/2020 - 12:42

Fair warning, I am horrible at math and measurements. I was looking over your build list and it says we need 7 15-3/4" melamine shelf boards @ 31.5". What is the 31.5" inches? I am finding 15 3/4 boards but nothing about 31.5" I was thinking everything on your materials list with the "@" meant the cut?!? Sorry if this is dumb question.


Mon, 12/07/2020 - 10:02

Do you have your own plans for the horizontal closet organizer? I have read the Ryobi Nation version, they are not as clear as yours. I am ready to start this project, but looking for clarity before I start drilling.