How To Build Custom Closet Shelving

I’ll warn you before we start that this post has lots of steps.  Don’t be overwhelmed!  I tried to document every little step so hopefully it will be easy to recreate yourselves:)

Today I’m going to share how we built the “His and Hers Wall.”

For all of the wood in the closet, we bought inexpensive {but heavy-duty} particleboard.  This is not sleek wood like pine or walnut or some fancy wood, but it is very sturdy, and once painted, looks great.  I’ll detail how we covered any wood imperfections as we go along, but we chose this wood because we wanted to build a custom closet without spending a fortune.  This was our personal preference so you can obviously buy whatever wood you want:)  We bought 4 sheets of the 4’x8′ particleboard from Menards {sorry, it’s kind of blurry-iphone pic}.  You can read how we ripped it into 12″ wide shelf pieces here.

So for the wood for all the shelving units in the closet, we spent a grand total of $48.  Pretty good, huh?  We took lots of measurements in the closet before starting and removed the old wire shelving units.  Let’s take a walk down memory lane to see our old wire shelves.


It’s hard to believe we would let those babies go, isn’t it?  :)  We popped the shelves off of their brackets…

and were left with gaping holes that needed to be filled.  We used this dry wall patch:

I tend to be impatient waiting for things to dry so this was good for me because it starts pink and turns white when it’s ready to be sanded.  That way I wouldn’t jump the gun and sand too early.  I couldn’t find our little spackle thingy so I just grabbed a plastic knife to patch the holes.  Oh and since it’s quite noticeable in the picture below, you’ll see that the previous owners had painted above the wire shelves white and never painted the rest of the closet.  Gorgeous.

Once the patch stuff turned white, I took a block sander and sanded it smooth to be painted.

I then painted the whole closet the “perfect gray” with leftover from paint from our master bedroom makeover.  An easy way to trim around doors, windows, and ceilings is using a cheap craft brush.  It leaves a nice, even line and you don’t have to worry about taping and prep.

Once the room was painted, we started by securing our side boards to the walls.  We used one 12″ wide board {the same width as the shelves} on each end of the shelving.  This would make it look built-in and give some added security to the shelves.  We started by finding the studs.

There was a stud in the corner and then one 16″ away.  Since our boards were only 12″ this meant that we were only going to be able to drill into the stud on one end of the board,  so we put in some dry wall anchors to keep the board secure.

Then Mike drilled the boards into both walls.

The next board we put into place was the top shelf.  I will admit this was a beast.  Because the board was cut perfectly to the dimensions of the walls, it was difficult to get into place.  We were both on ladders trying to raise this huge board above our heads and into place and it was slightly frustrating, right Mike? :)  Anyway, we got it up and it’s not going anywhere.

Once the three boards that create the overall system were in place, we started on the middle shelving unit.  First, we decided how wide we wanted the unit to be.  We wanted to make sure it was wide enough to use for storage, but still enough room to leave for our hanging clothes. Once we decided on our measurements {16″ wide for those interested}, we cut our shelf pieces to size and drilled some holes into the boards using the kreg jig.

We did two holes on each side, so we could drill them into the walls and into each vertical board that would make the sides of the shelving unit.

Then it was time to put the unit up.  We brought the two vertical boards in first, then started adding the smaller horizontal shelves, spacing them evenly up the unit.  We decided to add the shelves and then secure the whole unit to the wall after.

Once it was all finished, we started working on the hanging rods.  We didn’t secure the shelving unit in place yet because we needed some wiggle room for the rods.  To make the rods, we used 1″ electrical conduit {EMT}.  You can buy this at any home improvement store for about $6 for a 10′ bar.

To cut the pipe to size, measure out how long you want it to be and make a mark.

Then wrap tape around the area you are going to cut {you can use painters tape, masking tape, whatever you have on hand} and make your exact mark.

Then using a hacksaw, cut through the pipes.

To make the holes in the boards for the pipes to sit in, we used a 1″ drill bit.

And drilled the holes.

Small problem…our conduit was 1″ and the drill bit was 1″, which we thought was the perfect fit.  Not true.  The conduit is actually 1″ inside, which means that the pipe is larger than 1″.  Mike had to use his Dremel and sand the hole a little bigger to make the pipes fit.  We made the holes deep enough for the pipe to sit in, but not go through the board into the shelf.

Once we had the two pipes in on my side, we secured the shelving unit to the wall.  Mike drilled into the kreg jig holes he had created to keep it in place.  We put the kreg jig holes in the top of the shelves that were up high and the bottom of the shelves that were below so you wouldn’t be able to see the holes.

Then came the tricky side.  Because we couldn’t move the middle shelving unit around anymore, it was a little more difficult to get the pipes into the holes.  We started the same way, drilling the 1″ hole and sanding it a little larger.  The only difference here was that we had to drill through the hole middle shelving unit to slide the pipe into so we could push it back into the wall hole.  The only problem then was the gaping hole in the middle of the shelves.  We ended up buying these sink hole covers to do the job.

Simply take off the rubber bottom part {ignore my half painted hands},

And then stick into the holes and silicone into place.  Much better.

The middle shelving unit was about 3″ shorter than the side boards because the baseboards raised the side boards up.  To create an even surface for the top board to sit on, Mike built a little box with scrap wood and siliconed it to the top of the shelving unit.

The finishing touch on the shelves is some glamorous satin ribbon.  You can see where we secured the side boards into the wall, there are some large ugly nails.

We used 7/8″ silver satin ribbon to create a pretty cover-up for those screws.  The edges of the particleboard aren’t pretty either.  You can see the woody edges of the shelves and boards.

Not pretty.  But you know what is?  Pewter satin ribbon.  So pretty.

I simply hot glued all the ribbon onto the wood and the ugly woody edges were gone.  I love how they add a touch of glamour and sophistication to the shelves.  And that’s it!  One wall done.  This is the wall we see when we walk by the closet everyday  and it just brings a smile to my face. I love how it turned out.  Total cost for this wall: about $36!  We used 1 1/2 sheets of particleboard for a total of $24 and $12 on the pipes.  Isn’t that crazy?

I’ll be back later in the week sharing how we created the shelving nooks, but tomorrow I’m switching it up with some living room updates:)

Anyone else out there ever built their own closet system?  I’d love to hear!





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DIY Showoff: DIY Project Parade

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Skip to My Lou: Made By You Mondays

Today’s Creative Blog: Get Your Craft On

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Home Stories A to Z: Tutorials and Tips Tuesdays

Not Just a Housewife: Shoe Me What Ya Got

Blue Cricket Design: Show and Tell

Hooking Up with Hepworths

Shabby Chic Cottage: Transformation Thursday

Miss Mustard Seed: Furniture Feature Friday

CSI Project: Challenge

Remodelaholic: Blog Link Up

Serenity Now

Tatertots and Jello: Weekend Wrap-Up



  1. Love this post! I’m having a linky party, and would love for you to join! Here is the link Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Jessie, this seems like a hard work but totally worth it! It turned out great! Visiting from Not Just a Housewife! Just followed your lovely blog and hope you get the chance to drop by place as well!
    Love, Olga

  3. Just amazing! It looks better than some ‘professional’ custom closets! You and the hubs did excellent work!

  4. Love your home. I was hoping you could tell me the brand and color of paint that you used in the entryway. I’m looking for “the perfect blue” (ha) for my home and I really like the one you used in your entryway.

    Your entire home is just lovely and very welcoming.


    • Hi Joy! The color is actually called Gray Frost and it’s from Menards {their Pittsburgh Paints Grand Distinction line}. Even though the name has “gray” in it, it definitely comes out as a blue color. Hope that helps!

  5. Hi, i love reading at your site and recommend it to my friends. I was reading newspaper and found this free discounts . I don’t know how to use it, but i hope it can help you :-)

  6. Wow. After seeing how inexpensively you were able to do this project, I am given new hope for getting rid of the ugly wire shelves in our house. Thanks!

  7. Jenny Grant says:

    This is very helpful and a project I was afraid to tackle. I also found this article to be helpful

  8. WOW – the power of photo’s. Great job and super instructions. Thanks!

  9. Thanks for the idea to use kreg to attach shelves. It was like a duh moment. I was not using rods, but if I were there is cheaper, more diserable options. Ribbon for trim???? I can’t see that holding up over time and it just does not work for me. I was not really looking for the cheapest way to do this but I was not lookin to spend a fortune either. I used totally finished boards( no painting required ) 3 at $15 each. I built a riser( storage bench) on the bottom 24 in high. I built 2 towers , one on each side 14 in wide. 6 shelves each ( found fabric totes at shopko for $3 each) I used the kreg as instructed here to attach shelves. The towers stand on bench and I used brackets to attach bottom to tower to bench and top of tower. I put no holes in walls. Between the towers I made a top that opens. Now I have a place for grandkids toys. You could put rods in center for hanging, but I put a painted peg board . This room is my craft room/office. I hung all my fun stuff from ikea on peg board. There were shelves in closet that I repurposed for front of storage box and top of storage box ( toy chest) I used wood ( studs 2×4) that I had to build box. I guess I am just saying you can build this without putting all the massive holes in walls. And please don’t use ribbon to finish…. Yuck. There is all sorts of finishing trim out there as well as iron on finishing trim ( works like a charm)

    • Jennifer says:


      Would you please post some pics of your design, I’m renting and don’t want to put a massive amount of holes in the walls.

    • Hi I know this is sad but where did you get the old wire shelves? I love the new closet but I am looking for an apartment and need something that I can remove.


  1. […] I shared how we built the hanging side of the closet, and today I’m here to share how we did the shelving […]

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