Simple Closet Organizer

Submitted by Ana White on Tue, 10/12/2010 - 17:15
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Closet organizers can be so expensive, or are often made of particle board. Yet they are so easy to build and customize to your needs. This is a large closet organizer, suitable for dividing up closet space.

As I was looking through our Community for inspiration (thanks Leah!) for today's plan (as paint dries on some of the "surprises" for the next few weeks  :)  ) and came across a request for a closet organizing system, it took me back to the days before I was comfortable with a drill.  And I assembled a closet system from out of the box like this one and considered it a major accomplishment.  And it WAS.  It took me hours to build it.  Yes, build.  With an allen wrench and instructions, but it was still building

And I spent hundreds on what is essentially just a bookcase made of particle board.  The inside wasn't even finished.

Today's plan is really straight forward and boring, not like Grace's closet (click for plans)

Built by Kristin - wow!  And BTW, Kristin, if you are reading this, I just gotta know what beautiful shade of pink that is?  It seems to have a calm gray undertone.  Love it!

Anyway, really boring - but so necessary.

I'd like to add more components to the closet system, but starting with this is perfect.  We have this system in our master bedroom closet (ha ha master right, it's four feet wide and behind the main door) and it holds so many things!  And I'm quite fond of the open design - makes for staking the Rams pants quite easy!  I use baskets for socks and underwear.

Dimensions are shown above. Customizable to suite your needs.


Shopping List

2 – Sheets of 3/4″ Particle Board (closet grade) or MDF or A1 plywood cut into 15 1/2″ wide strips, 8 feet long
You could also use closet shelving in any width as a substitute (for example 20″ wide shelves for a 20″ deep shelving system)
1 sheet 1/4″ plywood or MDF
1 – 1×2 26″ long
2″ screws
2″ finish nails

Common Materials
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

2 – 1×16 @ 82 1/2″ (Sides)
6-1×16 @ 25 1/2″ (Shelves)
1 – 1/4″ Plywood @ 82 1/2″ x 27″ (Back)
1 – 1×3 @ 25 1/2″ (Footer)

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Power Sander
Drill Bit Set


Step 1

Build the Box

Mark the sides as shown in the diagram. Then either drill pocket holes in all the shelves and screw the shelves to the sides or predrill holes in the sides and screw the sides to the shelves. Use glue and adjust for square.

Step 2


Attach the back to the box with finish nails and glue. Make sure you nail into all the shelves too for added strength and support.

Step 3


Glue and nail the 1×3 footer to the base of the shelf. Inset the footer slightly as shown in the photo.


Position the unit in the closet. Attach to a stud in the wall behind the closet using L brackets. If a stud is not in the right position, use drywall anchors to secure the shelf to the back of the closet.

Step 4

Closet Rods and Shelves

Now here is the sweet spot. With your scrap pieces of 1×16 leftover, you can build additional shelves in your closet! Simple use 1 1/4″ screws to screw a scrap piece of 1×3 to the side of the closet and in the same position on the side of the interior closet wall (or as shown above for a freestanding application, another closet shelf) and then lay a shelf on top! Screw down, and add a closet rod below.

Step 5

Step 6

And putting up closet rods is both easy ans attractive (and inexpensive) with closet rod flanges like these ones from Blue.

Help Improve This Plan

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Jessica (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 17:31

I already have a ton of your plans on my to-do list but I'm excited that you're doing a closet organizer. They are so expensive it's not even funny, and I desperately need one. This is another thing I'll be adding to my list.

Lara Fort (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 18:28

in my husband & my first home, we had itty bitty closets - so we did something like this closet organizer to our 3rd bedroom. We turned it into a big walk in closet! I had the vision but had no idea how to execute it, so my father in law did the cutting, nailing, etc...I just drew out my vision & he brought it to life! I had 3 shelves like this on each end & one in the center...then one rack going in betweent them on one side, but 2 racks (one over the other) on the other side.

Katie (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 18:41

I’ve been thinking about making something like this for awhile now, I wanted to use plastic dish tubs to hold socks and things and make something like this, same amount of shelves tall, but also 4 wide, maybe I can go off this to get started! I’m wanting to use the “family closet” idea and store everyone’s clothing in our laundry/storage room. Thank you!!

Kevin (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 19:09

I am one of those that was asking for some closet organizer ideas. This is just great. Probably the hardest part for me is figuring out the right location in the closet to put things, and to work around the baseboards that are in our closets.

One question I have is.. Particle board, even MDF, will sag eventually, at least the shelves, correct? I was thinking of using 1x12 pine boards, $14.50 a pop, for my closet projects. Only problem is, they are only 12" depth. I just purchased a Porter Cable biscuit joiner, so I am toying with the idea of perhaps doing some edge-gluing of 8" boards to make 16" depths, or maybe even a bit less. Ever done anything like that?

Other issues.. all of my kids closets have the sliding 2 door setup. It's kind of a pain for closet organizers because the depth is about 20" max, and if you put a 16" depth box of shelves like in your design too close to the end of the door jams, you can't access the "hidden" areas on the left/right of the closet. Put them too close to the center, and your shelves overlap the center of the closet doors thus making it hard to access as well. I really just want to take those sliding doors off and leave it open, but my wife is not a fan of that, due to dust and such getting in there, and if the kids are a little less "organized", it exposes the mess to everyone who comes in.

Still, thank you for the idea, and keep them coming. Would love to see others post their pics of how they arranged their closet organizers.

Guest (not verified)

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:28

I had a closet with double door like that and I hated it, so I found some coordinating fabric and a large closet rod and mad a curtain instead. Covered the messy and got rid of those dang doors!


Wed, 08/29/2018 - 08:46

You could always take the doors off and use the barn wood sliding door plan to make you a door that is on the outside and would give access the entire closet and still hide the kids mess. I also read on the comment that the 16" is too wide you can change the plan by cutting the width of the side boards to the width you need to fit in closet and reduce the width you cut the shelves to fit the box. Hope this helps.


Wed, 08/29/2018 - 08:52

You could always take the doors off and use the barn wood sliding door plan to make you a door that is on the outside and would give access the entire closet and still hide the kids mess. I also read on the comment that the 16" is too wide you can change the plan by cutting the width of the side boards to the width you need to fit in closet and reduce the width you cut the shelves to fit the box. Hope this helps.

Melissa Brown (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 19:54

We have the cheap home depot wire closet organizer in our semi large closet. And it's not all that functional. We've been toying with the idea of Elfa from Container Store, but this looks pretty easy and a heck of a lot cheaper. I've got 4 things in my to do list from your site, and I can't wait to begin! I'll be sure to snap pics as we build!! Thank you!!

Laurie (not verified)

Wed, 10/13/2010 - 01:18

OMG, I was just staning in our closet over the weekend trying to design a solution. The particle board system I put together a year ago is falling apart. My biggest challlenge Re the two corners in our U-shaped closet. I would LOVE to know what you would do. THANKS ANA!!!