DIY diva

When Your Closet Is Nicer Than Your Living Space

DIY diva

It’s time for me to grab my pillow and sleeping bag and go camp out in the master closet in the not-finished house. Why? It’s roughly the same size as my current living area, and it looks infinitely more gorgeous.

That’s right, I used the word gorgeous to describe a space primarily used to store clothes. That’s how spending a year living in a garage can warp your perception of things.

Here’s how the room has been coming together over the last couple of months, and you can make the determination when you see the final product about whether camping out in there is extreme, or completely and understandably justified.

Here’s the closet early on. Its roughly 7×10.


After coming up with the shelving plan (inspired by these shelves at The Brick House), it was a matter of doing all the math and making extensive parts-lists. Here’s what a basic segment consisted of:


This is natural gas pipe. It took more than one trip to Lowe’s to get everything we needed because when does it not?


Once everything was laid out, it was time for dis assembly and washing. (I used soap and water, MysteryMan used brake cleaner… both worked equally well.)


Next came flat black spray paint.


Then the basic frame was mocked up before the floor went in.


I also painted the ceiling and walls before the floor went down. And a few days later we had this:


After the floor was finished the actual real assembly of the shelving unit started. The shelves were made from 12″ wide pine shelving from Lowe’s. (Bought in 12′ planks and cut down with the trusty miter saw.)


Two holes were drilled just wider than the pipe for each shelf, and the shelves were stained and polyurethaned before everything was assembled.


Figuring out how to get the hanger rods screwed in (since one was not reverse-threaded) was a bit tricky. Essentially one side had to be assembled from the rod down so that everything could still be screwed together.


The corner shelves were cut from stain-grade plywood and ended up staining darker than the regular pine shelves. In retrospect we would have put another coat of stain on the pine to even things out, but they were already sealed. Live and learn.

Its hard to care about a little uneven stain when you see the final product.


I mean, I think there’s almost enough room to string a hammock up in there, and could you blame me?

The total cost of the shelves was around $500. If we’d gone with solid wood shelves it would have been something like $2000. (Granted, the white wire shelves would have been cheaper, but not nearly so hammock-worthy.)

The Storage Breakdown

While the shelving unit is done, there is still some additional storage to be added in this room. As it stands now, the back wall belongs to MysteryMan. He preferred more shelves and one short hanging rod for his collection of flannel shirts.


The side wall with the double shelf and the high hanger rod is mine.


Half way below the rod I’m going to build an improved version of my pants rack, seen here:


(That, by the way, is the sum total of our current closet space. So you can see while the miles of shelving in the new closet is such a big deal.) The pants rack is basically dowels set into a 2×4 and it’s by far the best way to store pants–and I’m not just saying that because I invented it. The whole looping through a hanger thing never worked for me so my pants always ended up draped over a chair or heaped in a mountain on the floor. This is basically just a more organized version of throwing pants over the back of a chair.

On the new version I am going to space the dowels out a bit further, since it take some maneuvering to get pants nicely side by side on this one.

I’m also considering a few hooks for camis and/or hoodies on this short wall:


And there will be two laundry bins on this wall. (One for whites and one for everything else, because that is the extent of laundry separation that goes on in this house. I’m a little more Bob Vila than Martha Stewart you know.)


Finishing Touches

Other than actually putting my sleeping bag clothes in the closet there are a few things I’m keeping an eye out for to finish everything off in here.

Dark wire laundry hampers, which I haven’t been able to find. But I’ll resort to spay painting a couple of these from Crate and Barrel if I have to:

The top shelf of the closet will also be storage, since I’ll need a step ladder to get up there. These wire baskets from Restoration Hardware will be the perfect fit, but I’m still shopping around for something less pricey.

And, of course, I can’t have a bunch of white plastic hangars all over my new dark industrial style shelves so I’ll also shopping around for some cheap wood (or black) hangers.


So that’s the story of the closet that is nicer than the garage I live in.

If we’re not actually moved in to the house in a couple of weeks, you’ll know where to find me. Do you think I could fit a futon in there?



2016 Update: Hey guys, I get a lot of questions about the specifics of building something like this (parts lists, prices, dimensions, etc.) Unfortunately I built the house this closet is in with a wonderful dude, who is now one of my wonderful ex-boyfriends. And this was like 4 years ago… I bought a farm and have built a lot of shit since then so I can’t give you a whole lot more on this particular closet. However, I did recently build some gas-pipe wall shelves for the laundry room in my current farmhouse that are similar in build and give you a idea of different dimensions. You can find a little more detail on parts and sizes for that project here.


DIY diva


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