Clothes closet turned linen closet before and after

4 years ago

After struggling for years with messy avalanches of sheets and blankets from piling (and tossing) them on the top shelves in clothes closets, a real linen closet was high on our "improve our daily quality of life" list. A few years ago we had turned a a small storage space into a walk in closet, which left another closet underutilized. All that empty space begged to be turned into a linen closet.

The first step was to look for advice and examples from Houzz and other sources. We needed to know how deep to make the shelves, how far apart they should be, what materials, what supports, how to organize, and finally how to make it attractive and easy to keep organized.

The next step was to take inventory, take photos, make measurements and make drawings. We planned on having our carpenter build it for us with fixed shelves, but that fell through at the last minute, so we had to adjust the plan using some ready made pieces that could be adjusted easily.

Closet before: photos with measuring tape spliced together to help us visualize the problem and the possibilities. This was just a regular builder fit-up clothes closet with one wire shelf.

The plan: 12 in. deep and 16 in. deep wood shelves to fit the full 61 in. span available.

We knew for certain that we didn't want wire shelves.

Doing it ourselves meant that we had to measure-measure-measure. It also meant checking with the Sagulator at to see what we could get away with for the 61" span. Since we were using an off-the-shelf hang rail trimmed to length with a hacksaw, with standards and three braces per shelf, we knew that half-inch ply with a 3/4" edge stiffener would be more than strong enough.

Our shelves are birch plywood (cut to size at the lumber store, then edged and stiffened with molding at home, sanded, primed and painted). I'm still picking splinters out of my hands. The hang rail is securely screwed into studs. We bought three extra brackets and made one extra shelf in case we want to add it later.

The paint is leftover. The dots are removable peel-and-stick wall decals. Some label holders are yet to be installed. We will wait until we are satisfied with the arrangement before screwing them in.

The goal was to be done with the building by Christmas. We just made it. We were able to fill the shelves Christmas morning.

The shelves fit pretty tight. The hardest part (besides digging the splinters out of my fingers) was getting the 16 in. bottom shelves in. It was hard trying to turn them in the space.

The finished closet:

What would I have done differently? Used work gloves for the sanding. More lighting would be good, but was beyond the scope of this job.

The project cost about $275 including closet hardware, plywood, fasteners, a new bottle of wood glue and some wood filler. The paint and primer were leftovers. The silver dot decals were $20. The label holders (not shown) were $10.

It was a good present to ourselves. We are very happy with it. Thanks for looking.

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