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Master Closet System

April 19, 2011 |
posted by Ana White
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An entire closet system, for under $250 dollars.  

Master Closet System

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Master Closet System
Master Closet System
Master Closet System
Master Closet System
Master Closet System

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About Project

Author Notes: 

You have all been down the closet aisle to know what $200 can buy you for organization.  And I've been especially painfully aware of this over the last five years, sharing a four foot wide closet with the Ram, tucked behind the bedroom door, with a $200 closet organizer.  This closet to be specific.

And we STILL had to build it . . . if you know what I mean.
So we should know better than to budget a new closet for just $200.  Been there, done that, right?
Well, this one did run a tad over $200 - right at $230 using up some scrap 1/4" plywood for the drawer bottoms and we already had the screws, but we feel the extra $30 bucks - and the week of work - was definitely worth it.
Now SHE wants one too.
A few months back, our family sat down and decided to tackle projects that would make our personal home nicer and easier to keep clean.  So we made a list of all the problem areas in our home, and prioritized the list with the most painful at the top.  I thank you for being patient with me as we focus on our own home - already, I am feeling less overwhelmed and spending less time trying to figure out where I put something, or where to put something.
We've tackled the laundry room problem, the play table problem, the media center problem, the big girl room problem, and now the where to put our laundry problem (which has also solved our no entry closet and no linen closet problems because we've freed up space in our old closet) so next up is the kitchen/dining room problem.
So if you've also got a where to put laundry problem, this could be the post for you. This closet is highly customizable, and I would like to add several plans to the collection to help you get exactly what you need for your space.
Today we will tackle the towers, and I'll be adding plans for the drawers and cubbies and more shortly.
And real quick - here is a breakdown of the supplies
4 sheets of 3/4" cabinet grade plywood cut into strips 15 3/4" wide ($156)
(took the scraps, ripped in half, and made the drawers for free  :)  )
4 - Wood Rod Pockets ($6)
2 - 6' Wood Dowels ($8)
6 - 16" Drawer Slides ($24)
1 - Can of Paint with Primer ($25)
2 - 2x4 @ 12 feet long ($8)
2 - 2x2 @ 8 feet long ($4)
Total Spent: $131


Master Closet System
16" deep x 75 1/2" tall - customizable width

Materials and Tools

Shopping List: 

3/4" plywood or MDF cut into 15 3/4" wide strips, 8 feet long (referred to as 1x16 boards)

1 1/4" Wood Dowels
1 3/8" Rod Pockets
2x4s for the footer
2x2s for shelf supports if desired
2 inch screws
2 inch finish nails
wood glue
wood filler
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
measuring tape
safety glasses
hearing protection
circular saw
countersink drill bit

Cut List

Cut List: 

Because this plan should be customized to fit your space, only cut lists for the tower is given.  Drawer and cubby plans will fit in this tower plan.

2 - 1x16 @ 72"
5 - 1x16 @ 14 1/2"

General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!

Step 1

Master Closet System

Build your tower boxes as shown above. We used 2" finish nails and glue - but the Kreg Jig™ or 2" screws countersunk would work fine too. The main thing is (if you are using drawers or are building a large closet) that the towers need to be very square. You can make the top shelves adjustable with shelf pins, but it is important that the middle shelf be fixed, as something needs to keep the tower square in the center.

Step 2

Master Closet System

Once you have your tower(s) built, use rod pocket holders (1 3/8" diameter openings) with wood dowels (1 1/4" diameter) cut to length. We choose not to paint the dowels, as the wear of hangers sliding along the dowels would surely remove the finish. Make sure to leave enough room for your clothing to hang smoothly - especially if you add shelves in the next step.

Step 3

Master Closet System

The middle shelf is really not necessary, but the top and bottom shelves are - as we will be adding a footer in the next step and there is a TON of valueable storage space on the top :) Cut these to length. We used the Kreg Jig™ to fasten these shelves in place, and also added 2x2s as supports (good ole warped plywood really needed the extra bracing). Again, make sure that you are leaving enough room for your clothes to hang.

Step 4

Master Closet System

The main reason we choose to add a footer was to elevate the closet above the baseboard. Also, you can inset the footer slightly for a toekick. We also liked the elevated height because that little bit of height separates the closet from the floor (and the majority of dust and dirt).

Finishing Instructions

Preparation Instructions: 
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth. It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Finish Used: 
Behr Swiss Coffee in Satin

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LOVE it!!!

posted by Debbie Christianson (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-04-19 03:13

Love this!! Thanks so much

Love this!! Thanks so much for always sharing with us!

posted by Kerri (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-04-19 03:36
Trip-Mom's picture


This looks great! I'm hoping future plans include a solution for wrapping around a corner. My walk-in master closet needs a refresh -- this would be perfect, but I would need to modify for the corners. :) Just an idea.... LOL

posted by Trip-Mom | on Tue, 2011-04-19 06:42


I've said it before and I'll say it again...you're my hero. I'll definitely be blogging this finished project soon.

posted by Amy @ this DIY life (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-04-19 07:07


Very Nice!

Apartment closets are T-I-N-Y! This is fabulous!
Hmm... this may need to bump a few things on the "to-do" list. :-)
Great plans, The finished work looks terrific!
Yet another project very nicely done, Ana!
Thank you! 

posted by hwagon | on Tue, 2011-04-19 07:15


Great job!  It couldn't have come at a better time.  Closet space is so limited in our apartment and we'd been going in circles about buying a vintage wardrobe (armoire) or a closet system.  Thanks for sharing

posted by IAMSNWFLK (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-04-19 08:40

16" deep ???  Is that deep

16" deep ???  Is that deep enough to hang men's clothing? Or are you letting the sleeves and stuff hang out side the tower boundaries?

posted by Anonymous Coward (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-04-19 08:43
Ana White's picture

Hangers are 16"

Hi our hangers are 16" deep, and we have such a tight space there, so couldn't go 24".  If you wanted to go 24", simply rip your plywood into 24" widths instead of 16". The clothes sits flush in the closet with 16".

One thing to consider, if you did go 24" deep, you could put doors on the closet too, inset like the drawers.  Would be easy to do and give the closet a finished look.

posted by Ana White | on Tue, 2011-04-19 11:38

Love it!

This is beautiful!  And I bet you're so glad that it's done and you can use it! :)

posted by 34me | on Tue, 2011-04-19 09:05

Great Job!

This is the perfect closet system.  Love the plans and hope to do this soon in our new house (once it's done).

What color is the paint?  I love that too.

posted by mjalto | on Tue, 2011-04-19 09:23

I was also wondering about

I was also wondering about the 16". Is that enough or do I need to make it a little wider to fit in my husbands stuff? : ) Awesome plans!!

posted by ajcajj | on Tue, 2011-04-19 11:41

Cost of Wood

I was so surprised to see the cost of the plywood.  You can't touch a sheet of 3/4" plywood for under $60 where I live.  I need to find a better place to buy wood!

posted by Beth in CT (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-04-19 13:19

Plans for a regular closet?

Dear Anna,

I was wondering if you had a plan to make this closet system smaller so that It will fit into a regular size closet. I would love to create one for my daughter... She has one of these small closet that opens with 2 doors.

Thanks a bunch,


posted by Florence (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-04-19 15:58
Ana White's picture

How about this?


posted by Ana White | on Tue, 2011-04-19 16:24
dan-k's picture

possible solutiong for width issues

Instead of making the closet system wider, think about offsetting the bar more towards the front of the unit.

posted by dan-k | on Tue, 2011-04-19 17:52

I am so glad that you posted this!

I'm moving in a few months, and I'm pretty sure that my bedroom doesn't have a closet.  I saw your other closet model, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.  THIS IS IT.  I can't wait to move so that I can get going on this :)

posted by KristinaT (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-04-19 19:56
CindyLynn's picture

This is also on my list of

This is also on my list of "To Do's"!!! Its never ending...thanks to you! =)) Ummm, i know you've been busy but....any idea of when your going to add the hutch plans for the master bathroom??? Is that asking too much? If so sorry..Im a mother of 4 so I know all about so much to do so little time! Thanks you for all these great plans! Awesome!

posted by CindyLynn | on Tue, 2011-04-19 20:14


Oh thank-you!!! We're redoing our bedroom (My husband is putting up drywall as I type!) and we're a bit stumped about the best way to put a closet in . . . this is a HUGE huge help! Perfect timing :)

posted by Acorns and Oaks | on Mon, 2011-04-25 17:38


You have $131 as the total after your itemized project costs list, but it should be $231 of course.

These plans have been a great starting point for my custom closet project, which I've got all drawn up - just waiting for a not-nice day when I'll be glad to stay inside.

posted by isalu | on Wed, 2011-05-11 21:30

master closet

You have some great items here thsnks so mutch for sharing.

Ok I found the plans for the cubbies now where are the plans on how you put the drawers in. I have one wall in a spare room for a closet like this on one wall and the cubbie hole plans on the other my wife will love this I'm sure

let me know where to find info please thanks John....

posted by john mills (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-07-05 04:36

Master closet system

I like your plans for the master closet system. I have a large closet and need plans for a closet system that covers three walls. How can I address the two inside corners so that I don't have a lot of hidden space that would be hard to access?

Also, where can I find the plans for the shoe rack and drawers that you built for your closet?

Hope to hear from you soon.



posted by Mary Rich (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-07-08 15:43
mandmatthews's picture

One more Depth question...

Ana I LOVE your site it's wonderful! I was wondering though why you recommend going from 16" deep (in a previous comment) to 24"? I didn't know if there was a reason for that big of a jump or not.

Thanks! Again you inspire me so much! Love the site!

posted by mandmatthews | on Tue, 2011-07-19 09:45

Brilliant!! My fiance and I

My fiance and I were debating on renting this small apartment (with great location and great price) when we get married, where the bedroom is only 10x10 and has one closet. He and I are both used to living in tight spaces, but I have a lot of stuff, and he hates clutter. So, I wanted to find a budget-friendly storage system to line against the wall as my personal closet (he'll take the smaller one =P) and I went to this site because I just KNEW you would have one.
This is so perfect! I can't wait to present the plan to him! Thanks =D

posted by ashley04samantha | on Sat, 2011-07-30 12:44

How soon can we expect the

How soon can we expect the plans for the drawers? We have the rest of it done...just waiting to finish the drawers! Can't wait!! Thank you!!

posted by Lisa Merrill (not verified) | on Sun, 2011-08-21 19:32

More than what I was hoping for!

Thanks so much for putting this plan up! I've been shopping for a closet system and the prices & quality are not what I want to deal with. Definetly on my "to do" list.
I'm going to be installing this in my walk in closet and was wondering if the unit needed to be secured to the wall or if is freestanding, I can't tell.

posted by houquilter | on Mon, 2011-09-19 12:51

weight of clothes?

What a great plan! We're so excited to get started on it. My only concern is do you think the bars will be strong enough to hold 'heavy' clothes packed in the closet? (suits, coats, etc) Any ideas or thoughts on the need to reinforce the rod pockets or do you think the 3/4 plywood will be plenty strong? Thanks!

posted by Brandy (not verified) | on Thu, 2011-11-17 15:29

Rod Pockets

Where can I purchase rod pockets for this build?

posted by jaywitty | on Mon, 2011-12-12 11:22
claydowling's picture

Rod Pockets

Every home improvement and hardware store in the country. They're usually with the closet organizers. I have, within the last month, seen them at Lowes, Home Depot and Menards. The fact that they aren't with the other hardware can be confusing, but I was recently purchasing some storage for my shop.

posted by claydowling | on Mon, 2011-12-12 14:29

Thickness of MDF

Do you think this could be made with 1/2" MDF or do we need to use the 3/4"? We have some 1/2" around the house we wanted to use but aren't sure if that will be sturdy enough.

posted by JackieDoyle (not verified) | on Thu, 2012-02-23 08:31
claydowling's picture

Use of MDF

The 3/4" will definitely be stronger. But I would question the use of MDF at all. It's heavy and not particularly strong. It will cost more, but your life will be made easier by hunting down A1 plywood at a lumber yard. Easier to work with, more durable and a lot easier to move from the garage to the closet.

posted by claydowling | on Thu, 2012-02-23 08:57

Kreg Jig

Do you necessarily need the Kreg Jig? If so, can I buy the less expensive system and still be able to do this project? I'm not getting a lot of support from my family to try this project so I don't want to make a huge investment right now.

posted by Andrea Czarnecki (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-03-07 13:23
claydowling's picture

Kreg alternatives

Even the cheapest Kreg kit will make this easier. You can also use a doweling jig. It will be slightly more complicated (but not a lot), and very strong. That's how a professionally built one is typically put together.

You could probably also use special particle board screws and screw through the faces into the board, especially if you're using a better grade of plywood. Just pre-drill your holes with a countersink bit or ugly things result. That's how professionally built kitchen cabinets are constructed.

posted by claydowling | on Wed, 2012-03-07 13:43

shorter closet

This is exactly the kind of closet setup I would love to build, but I am not as lucky to have a 112" closet.

What I'm wondering is what length dowels did you put in for hanging clothes? I don't know if this is a dumb question, but I do need all the shoe/drawer storage you show and wonder if shortening the dowel length would be worth my time or too little space to fit it all within a 96" W closet.

I've never done a project like this, but I'm hoping to wrangle my Dad in to help me. He has a lot more experience on DIY than I do. lol

posted by Gin (not verified) | on Sat, 2012-05-26 22:51


I love this site! I can't seem to stop looking at everything! My master bedroom closet is going to look awesome now and I didn't have to spend 2500 bucks to do it!
Ana you are awesome!!

posted by sswallow | on Sat, 2012-06-16 11:18


Thank you for sharing your plans! Our daughter's entire room looks like the "before" picture of your little girl's closet! I'm hoping you can help me talk my husband into getting the project started. He is worried about the cost and time-

Considering we both work full time... how long realistically do you think it would take for us (er--him!) to put this together?

Is Home Depot the best place to purchase the supplies or is there an even more cost effective alternative?

Lastly, we hope to upgrade the flooring in our entire house sometime next year. How difficult would it be to move the unit out of the room (temporarily) once it is installed?

Thank you for your advice!

posted by Mrs. J (not verified) | on Sun, 2012-07-15 18:17

Shoe Cubbies

Hi Anna,

I love all of your projects! I'm looking to do a shoe cubbie tower (top and bottom the same as the middle section bottom of your plan). I don't see the dimensions for the shoe cubbie. Do you have these posted somewhere?

Thanks in advance.

posted by Mandi W. (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-25 11:40


This site is wonderful. THank you for sharing :)

posted by Mili (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-10-16 16:16

Question: our closet is only

Question: our closet is only 5.5 feet wide, with a weird 24 " wide bathroom medicine cabinet jutting out into it. I was planning on the tower going around this cabinet. Would it still be structurally sound to do 2 towers together, I being 24 " wide and the other bring 16 inches wide, and then attaching the rods to the wall?

posted by tracie (not verified) | on Fri, 2013-01-18 14:09

I'm working as an interior

I'm working as an interior design expert and I must admit that your closet looks really good. You still have to improve it a bit but overall is almost perfect.

posted by milkyway | on Mon, 2013-01-21 14:23

Drawer Slides

So, I wasn't thinking and I made my tower with 1x12's cause it's a smaller closet. Then, I went to buy drawer slides (I haven't cut or built the drawers yet). The smallest drawer slides HD sells are 12". Any ideas how to still make drawers that slide in my 1x12 shelf? Thanks!!

posted by Dottie84 | on Fri, 2013-03-29 21:06

Stupid question

I noticed your cuts are 15 3/4 inch. However i notice the depth is 16". I don't see anything else anywhere on that other 1/4". Can you help me? I am looking at doing this with a 24" inch depth. Assuming I need to cut 23 3/4". Any help on where that extra 1/4" is that makes it 16">

posted by bilbong30 | on Mon, 2013-12-09 14:02
Lady Goats's picture

Definitely not a stupid question!

There are a few things that this could mean. I believe this plan was drawn up when Ana's site hadn't been transferred to it's current layout, and she had to add dimensions to all of the plans she had previously drawn up (sometimes they're not accurate - but she's human and it was a lot of work, so we'll get past that). Or, even though it's not in the plans, maybe she was taking 1/4" plywood backing into account? You're right to question it, but I believe that was just an error.

Gina - Lady Goats
DIY Blogger (when I'm not procrastinating)

posted by Lady Goats | on Mon, 2013-12-09 17:09

Long Hanging

Your plan says the center shelf in the hanging sections aren't crucial to the stability of the system, however I'm wondering if it would still be stable to do a single dowel at the top of the system (or perhaps under a shelf the same height as the top shelf of the units, as I'm short), and no center dowel or shelf to allow for smooth hanging of dresses and other long items. Would this still be stable? Does it need some kind of center to keep the whole organizer square? Or are the center shelves on the storage towers plenty?

posted by balloongal247 | on Thu, 2014-03-06 09:19

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