Build Closet Shelving - Planning and Designing

A man remodeling a space by adding shelving.
  • 4-60 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 200-1,500

One of the most predictable sight gags on television involves a teenage boy who has been instructed to clean his room. Upon coming into the room to inspect it, his mother is very impressed.

The scene closes as she opens the closet door and a mountain of clutter pours out around her.

Has this happened to you? Has your closet become a catch-all? Are you afraid to open the door? Even worse, would you want your mother to open the door?

We have probably all resorted to closet stuffing as a means of organizing our homes at some point or another. In fact, this guide is not meant to discourage you from filling your closets with as much stuff as possible.

Hopefully, this will help you come up with a way to fit even more into your closets while still being able to find things when you need them.

A clean, organized, and tidy closet does not have to be empty; it just has to be planned well.

The following step-by-step guide will get you on your way to building effective closet shelving. Who knows, you may even choose to show Mom your closet when you're done.

Designing Your Closet Shelving

A closet with a lot of shelving

This step serves several purposes and should be done before you head out to buy supplies. By taking the time to make a good design, you will be able to create an accurate materials list and get a fairly good idea of what you will need to spend.

Step 1 - Take an Inventory

Begin by making a list of the kind of things you want to keep in the closet. Do you have a lot of shoes? Do you hang your clothes or do you need shelf space for folded clothes like sweaters?

Maybe your closet space isn't for clothes at all, but instead a space where you want to keep old records or files. Whatever it is, you will need to plan accordingly.

Step 2 - Measure Accurately and Sketch it Out

The best way to continue with a plan is to measure the space you have. Measure each wall and get a blank piece of paper for each one.

Make some rough sketches to help you decide how the space should be laid out, and use those sketches in conjunction with your measurements to figure out how close the shelves should be and how many you can potentially fit on each wall.

Maybe you have already decided what kind of material you want to use for your shelving system, but if you haven't, you need to do so while you are designing your space.

Step 3 - Consider Your Building Technique

There are two basic ways to build an organizational structure in a closet.

The first is to use a system of pre-fabricated hangers and brackets that hold lightweight wire shelving coated with rubber. There are several manufacturers of wire rack shelving, but they are all similar in design and functionality.

This wire shelving is available in a variety of sizes and depths and can be arranged to incorporate rods for hanging clothes if needed.

There are also a number of accessories available that are designed for hard items like shoes, which can be difficult to keep organized.

The second method is to build shelving units. The actual material you choose for this is entirely up to you. The basic construction premise is the same regardless of your selection.

The most significant differences in the materials are found in aesthetic appearance and price. Other than that, you can count on using the same hardware for whatever you choose.

Once you have taken the time to design a closet shelving system that will meet your needs and you have determined which materials you want to use, you can move to the next step and put together your shopping list.