Sep 19, 2013

custom closets on a budget

custom closets are expensive. if you have ever played around with one of those online closet planners, then you have probably been astonished at how much it can cost to outfit even a modest sized closet.
however, you can get a high-end, custom look on a TIGHT budget! 
let me show you what we did!

since the time we drafted up the plans for our house, we had always planned on building the closets ourselves.  (and when i say "we", i really mean my husband allen, and a talented friend of his from work.)
HOWEVER, we had the worst winter here in utah since 1945, which delayed a few important projects during the construction, which in turn delayed us building our closet shelving.
we went ahead with the projects that HAD to be completed, and put a few "non-mandatory" things--like the closets (and door knobs) on hold. you can live in a house without closets, but you might have a hard time passing the inspection without a retaining wall or plumbing!

so, we have been making do since we moved in with drawers and wardrobe boxes. (and there might have been a tension shower curtain rod involved on a small wall in one of our closets as well....)
anyway, we were finally able to complete the closets in the master bedroom last week, and i am beyond thrilled! (you really never appreciate simple things like a place to hang your clothes until you don't HAVE a place to hang your clothes!)

here is another look at the floor plan, so you can see the spaces we were working with:

as you can see, there are HIS and HER closets in the master bedroom, which is something that we have never had before. we may never be able to share a closet again. ha! ha!

one of the things that i knew i wanted in my master closet was a "dressing area".  i wanted some drawers, with a mirror and a place to store my jewelry and perfume. these items have always lived near the sink/vanity in my bathroom, and i wanted them to have their own little space inside my closet.

i used the martha stewart closet planning tool here for my preliminary layout:

in order to control the cost, i decided to use a chest of drawers from ikea. after visiting ikea, i decided to use the 4 drawer malm dresser instead of the cullen 5 drawer. i liked the proportions better, and the malm was available in white, which would match the MDF that we planned to use for the closets.

after purchasing the malm dressers, and talking over the budget and layout with my husband, we decided to tweak the plan a bit....
since the malm dresser is wider than the cullen dresser, we nixed the shelf on wall C, and then swapped the location of the long hanging area on wall B.

we purchased an obscene amount of mdf from lowes, and drove home veeeeeery carefully.
the mdf was made into a few boxes, that were then installed on the wall. the most complicated box was the one with the adjustable shelves for our shoes.
in order to make the slots for the adjustable pins, we made a spacer that went on the drill bit. this allowed the holes to be drilled the perfect depth to allow the shelf pins to go in.

 a sheet of pegboard was clamped to the sheet of mdf, and the holes were used as a guide.

isnt that handy?

 a grove was routed out for the fixed shelves, as well as the top and bottom of the box.

here is the shoe tower, ready to be hung!

the total cost for each closet, INCLUDING the $100 ikea dresser was $300. just for reference---when i priced it out my closet with pre fabricated units, the cost was between $900-1200, depending on the site! so, we built TWO closets for about half of what it would have cost us to buy a single one. not too bad!

**note: FREE labor definitely helped to keep the cost of this project low!
thanks sweetie!

a few progress shots---the pictures may look a little odd. i was playing around with the panoramic shot on the camera on my phone.

sorry i didn't get any more progress shots---as soon as i could, i started to hang up my clothes! after months of not having a closet, it felt like christmas.
i have some great "after" shots coming in the next few days, so stay tuned!


  1. Using the pegboard as a hole guide was brilliant! One of those "why didn't I think of that"

  2. What a brilliant way to get your custom closets on a budget!

  3. Love it! I've seen your previous posts on your home plan design process, but would you mind telling me the square footage or dimensions of your home upstair and main level since your doing a basic square? Thanks so much!!

    1. becky, the appx square footage downstairs is 1650, and the upstairs is just about the same.

  4. Love this "closet remodel" mode right now, and love your shoe tower design and IKEA drawer idea!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this! I have been dreaming about custom closet installation in Los Angeles, CA... One day it will happen!

  6. That's a pretty decent sized closet, and it looks great. It's definitely my style; actually a closet, and not Narnia. Some people have whole rooms that they call closets. This is the kind of custom closet I would make, though. Thanks for sharing your experience with it! Thiago |