11.20.2013

DIY: How to Build a Wall of Closets From Scratch

On Monday I shared with you the husband's biggest project yet, custom built-in wardrobe closets for our master bedroom.



Now it's time to talk about how he did it!

When we came up with the initial idea, the first thing we did was go to Ikea to look at their closet systems. I'd seen a ton of great Ikea closet hacks online, so I was hopeful we could use their pieces to create something semi-custom. A quick look at the price tag and the Pax dimensions squashed that idea quickly! They weren't going to fit our space, and they weren't going to fit our budget either.

Once we knew we couldn't afford to buy an entire Ikea closet system, we decided to build around some of the interior components they offer. The husband is obsessed with these Komplement pants hangers (we had them in our other house, too), so we started our entire design based on those dimensions so they would fit perfectly.

There was a lot of sketching involved. I looked in his notebook and found all of these drawings – some by him, some by me – as we tried to figure out exactly what configuration would fit perfectly. It took us some time to finally figure out the best use of the space using the weird dimensions of the Ikea drawers and pants hangers.

Then I must have been bored because I even busted out my colored pencils! As you can see, things have changed a little bit from our original plan. 


The next step was to figure out how to build the darn thing. Where to begin? YouTube, of course. We watched this video by Sawdust Girl to get an idea of how she built hers (impressive project, to say the least).

Before I get any further, here are the supplies:

• 3/4 inch MDF (for the base cabinets)
• 1/2 inch MDF (for the doors, trim, detail work)
• 2x4 boards (to frame out the base)
1/2 inch overlay hinges 
Liberty Steel Bar cabinet hardware in a variety of lengths (so affordable!)
Ikea Komplement pants hangers
Ikea Komplement wire drawers
Ikea Komplement glass shelf
Wooden closet dowel rods
• Paint color: Pure White by Sherwin Williams

He quickly realized our wall wasn't straight, which (of course) complicated things. Then we had to factor in the angles of the ceiling, which meant my math teacher husband actually had to use the Pythagorean Theorem in real life. I can just see him talking to his class of 9th graders: "Yes, you will have to use this someday. In fact, I just used this exact theorem to build cabinets in my own house. Take that!"

I think I'm going to let the photos do the talking from here on out. Warning: Here come A LOT of pictures. And you can tell that I really took the time to clean up the room nicely during each one. Ha, yeah right! (Some of these are phone pics and some are on my nicer camera– whatever was handiest at the moment. Please forgive the inconsistencies between each one!)

Here we go, in chronological order (starting with a photo from when we initially toured the house).


Phew. I'm exhausted just looking at it.

Since I didn't do much explaining other than showing photos, please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section. He would be happy to help if you're trying to do a similar project.


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52 comments:

  1. I love this! The closets came out amazing. I've already showed my husband your reveal post and we've bookmarked it to do something similar in our master bedroom. We don't even have a closet at the moment, but have empty wall space where something like this would work perfectly. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks AJ! Good luck on your project and let us know if you have questions.

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  2. Did you brush the paint on or spray it on?

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  3. I just stumbled upon your blog thanks to google, I'm in the same situation as you, wanting something semi custom & the ikea system won't fit. You're inspiring me that it's possible! How much did it end up costing?

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    Replies
    1. Jenny, I would estimate that it cost us about $900 in materials. Seems like a lot but it's actually less than it would have cost to buy that amount of closet system at Ikea!

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    2. That's super cheap, awesome! Now I just need to convince my father in law who's a contractor to build it for me...
      I'm so happy I found your blog! Seeing your cute Christmasy house has inspired me to get it together, clean and decorate!

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    3. I'm glad you found it too! I appreciate the sweet and encouraging comments.

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  4. how do you tell how much space to put between the doors?

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    Replies
    1. Minh, it's really a personal preference. Once you decide for one door, you need to keep the exact distance for all other doors to make sure it looks symmetrical.

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  5. I have been going back and forth trying to figure out the best way to get a closet. Ikea was my go to but for the amount of closets I need it is just too much money. I have been scouring the net trying to find a do it yourself guide and got nothing until I added the words from scratch. Thank goodness I found this. I think that if my husband can see the pictures he will be able to help me get er done. What would you say are your top 5 ( or more) tips of must haves (besides tools and materials) and must do's for this project. I am going to need to revise because I need it to be an L but I think I can figure it out. Thanks so much for taking the time to document this! Thanks again, Pamela

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  6. Hi! We love what you guys did here. We want to build something similar in style to this but we would be building along the entire length of the wall as we don't have windows on the wall where this would work for us. Also we don't have a slanted ceiling. My questions are: 1. For the base, did you secure the back 2x4's to the studs in the wall for support, what about in the flooring? 2. What size shims did you use to create the gaps? 3. I can't really tell by the pictures but I assume you used vertical shims for the gaps on the upper cabinets right? That all the questions we have now, thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Scott!
      I asked my Scott your questions, and this is what he said:
      He secured the back 2x4s to the wall studs and the side wall. He used 1x4s between the top and bottom cabinets to add spacing. He only used shims for leveling. Hope that helps!

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  7. Do the doors stay closed well? Was curious if you had any sort of magnetic closing devices or not. Also, do you happen to know what brand or part # the hinges were?

    Thanks....awesome job!

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    Replies
    1. We don't have any magnetic devices on the doors. They stay closed just fine, but that would be a nice added touch. As for the hinges, they are #850304 from Home Depot. The link to the hinges is in this blog post if you want to go straight to it.

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    2. Hi i wnt to do cabinet myself advace me what I need

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  8. Thank you so much for posting this. I intend to build a wardrobe in the next few months, and this is exactly the type of structure I want to build. What screws were used to put the MDF boxes together?

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  9. Hi there, congratulations on an outstanding job. You've inspired me to take on something similar myself. I've never taken on such a big job before and I have a couple of questions I'd really appreciate your help with: 1) What tools are needed/really worth having to pull this off? I've got a jigsaw and drill, and not much more. 2) Dividing the wardrobe units into independent blocks and then connecting them is genius - this is the kind of thing I'd never think of without the internet. I can see how this approach will eliminate a lot of the slanting issues that might be encountered with the build. Having said that, did you guys find you hit much slanting/levelling problems? 3) The hinges look like they're sitting within the door panel - presumably you needed to bore holes into the doors - what's the best way to do this? 4) I think I'd like to try a slightly shallower base frame than 2x4 - do you think the structure would become too unstable with anything less?

    Thanks so much again for your inspiring post, and congratulations.

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    Replies
    1. When you buy the hinges, it comes with a template to bore the holes. You also need the right drill bit which you can find in the same aisle as the hinges, usually. Hope that helps!

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  10. Great post Jordan. My wife just asked for one. Could you tell me how deep you made the large cabinets?
    Thanks,

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  11. Hi Jordan and Scott,

    Great job on the wardrobe. I'm getting ready to build a couple on either side of our master bathroom door. I've always stayed away from using MDF because the material is unforgiving if you make a mistake with screws. Also it is difficult to get a clean sawn edge free of burrs. I normally use finish grade plywood. How did you solve these problems? Do the drywall screws you used hold well? Thanks.

    -Sri

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  12. How wide and how deep is each wardrobe in the main section? I am in the process of drawing very similar plans for my bedroom's built-in wardrobe and love the look of yours!! Thanks!

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  13. How wide are the Ikea accessories?

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  14. i would like to know the answer to NerdAlert's question, also how did you figure the spacing to install the hinges.

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    Replies
    1. When you buy the hinges, it comes with a template to bore the holes. You also need the right drill bit which you can find in the same aisle as the hinges, usually. Hope that helps!

      Delete
    2. Hello - I was just curious how the large doors are holding up? I just did something similar in my laundry room out of MDF but I was worried making the doors out of MDF that they would warp / bow and was debating on making them out of plywood.

      :)

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  15. Its a very nice simple closet. Thank you for sharing. I would like to know if there is any coats applying on before spraying the paint.

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  16. Looking for closet organization systems, custom walk in closets or storage solutions? We got them. Closets by design will help you design a closet toronto.

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  17. I made all my woodworking works with woodprix handbooks ! WoodPriX

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  18. this is very helpful..would like to know the dimensions of that closet...

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  19. I have an area where I want to use Ikea Pax cabinets floor to ceiling, but the tallest Pax cabinets are about 4 inches too short. I want then to look built in rather than just cabinets sitting on the floor. Would you recommend using the stock cabinets and building a platform for them to sit on, or building custom boxes based on Ikea Pax dimensions? Can't tell from the photos, but how do you like the spray painted MDF finish compared to Ikea?

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  20. I bought bedroom suite. Every thing fit expect the sliding wardrobe is large and i need to ulter it to make it fit. What is the best way? It is solid wood not mdf.
    Thanks
    Mags

    ReplyDelete
  21. I bought bedroom suite. Every thing fit expect the sliding wardrobe is large and i need to ulter it to make it fit. What is the best way? It is solid wood not mdf.
    Thanks
    Mags

    ReplyDelete
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  24. can i hire you to make one for me?

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  25. can i hire you to make one for me?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi.... Great outcome. Really good. Going from picture 11 to 12. How did he attach the wooden fronts, covering the gaps between each section (where also the doors are attached to)? If you use screws you would see the heads even after painting everything, right?
    thanks for your answer and greetings from Germany...
    Dirk

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  27. do you step by step instructions and how much materials to buy?

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  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  29. Great job, this is beautiful! The tall cabinets appear to be attached to the wall. If so, how? Hoping to make something similar. Thanks for sharing!

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  30. How much space is needed in-between the wire drawers? Im drawing up some plans and this is what has me stuck the most!

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  31. Very good article, and I could follow it described in detail how to make it.
    Lagu Baru

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  32. Nice. I'll ask my husband to make this wall closet for me.

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    ReplyDelete
  33. Hello - did you use a drill press for boring the holes for the hinges ?

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  34. Perfect idea for the Home Improvement. I am also a home improvement contractor and love to learn new ideas like this. I'll definitely share your idea and I'll try to implement this in my next project. Thanks for sharing such an informative information.
    dmv construction :)

    ReplyDelete

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