Right when the US started going into quarantine around mid-March, I was in the process of planning a closet makeover. It had been on my to-do list to tackle this organization project for ages, and the stay-at-home order felt like the perfect time to jump right in.
You might remember when we added an off-the-rack closet organizer to our guest room closet (click back here in case you missed it or have forgotten). I genuinely loved the product and process of installation so much, that I decided to do the same thing in our main bedroom closet! I took some careful measurements, mocked everything up on the hardware store website (as explained here), and placed my order.
Sadly, a couple of weeks later, I got an update that my item was suddenly on backorder with no end in site (thanks to COVID), and shortly after that I got an email from the store saying they had cancelled my order. I wasn’t technically in any rush, so I tried calling the store to keep my closet organizer kit on backorder for however long it took, but after spending 10 minutes on hold, I realized it just wasn’t worth it. Not to mention, at this point I was starting to worry about money (again, thanks to COVID) and I wanted my $165 back!
In the end, as I’m sure you gathered from today’s blog post title, I made do with what we already had and managed to DIY my own custom closet organizer. Our closet is large by 1960s standards, but it’s not really built for good photography, so I’m going to ask you to forgive the cramped iPhone photos! I almost didn’t share this project at all since I knew I wouldn’t be able to get perfectly styled wide angle shots, but then I talked myself out of it because I’m sure even iPhone photos are helpful for those of you looking to do something like this in your own home. So let’s hop to it! First, the before photos…
Our main bedroom closet is a long narrow space carved out beside our room. We inherited the shelving and hanging bar you see pictured above, and they have served us well, but there were things that could definitely be improved upon. First and foremost, the metal hanging bar goes all the way to the far wall and blocks a series of built-in shelves that I need better access to.
My goal was to swap out the single hanging bar, and put in two bars right over each other, that way I could make better use of the space and have access to the shelves on the far side of the room without having to duck under the metal bar. This below is the original design I settled on when I ordered the closet organizer kit from the hardware store.
…and this below is what I managed to mock up on my own when I found out the kit wasn’t going to come. The plan was to turn an IKEA cubby shelf that we already had into a space for clothes, and we’d also use it as a surface to attach my lower hanging bar to. As for the rest of the space, I would make use of the existing shelves we got with the house for an upper hanging bar and more basket storage.
The first step of any organization project is taking everything out and purging, so that’s exactly what I did. I removed all of our clothing, and John and I went through each piece to decide what to keep, what to consign, and what to donate. I also moved out a couple of random items that didn’t need to live in the closet, like the diffuser and reflector I use for photography, the cat scratch post that was well past its prime, and an empty dresser that I needed to sell anyway.
This photo below shows our progress about midway through the project. All of the excess stuff had found other homes, our clothing was parred way down, and I had moved our old IKEA cubby up from the basement into the closet so we could use it for storage. Next, I needed to sort out the hanging bars situation.
As I explained before, I was able to use one of the existing upper shelves to hold John’s clothes, but I needed to DIY the lower bar for my own collection of clothing. To do that, I ordered a set of 1 1/4″ steel closet rod brackets that I would later install on the side wall and side of the IKEA cabinet, and I grabbed a 1″ dowel rod from my stash in the basement. You can see how it looked when it was all done below.
After that, I carefully removed the old long metal rod, moved John’s clothes up to the existing metal shelf, and then got everything else sorted back in place (like our clothes hamper). It’s far from perfect and I don’t expect this project to break the Internet or anything like that (not that any of mine ever would anyway, HAHA), but the closet functions so much better for us now, and it didn’t cost us a thing—those are always my very favorite types of home projects.
Is this type of homemade DIY system something you could customize for your own closet? I think the first thing to look critically at is your hanging rod system. Could your closet space be better utilized if you traded it in for a stacked double rod system like we ended up with? We had so much wasted space underneath the single line of clothes in our closet the way it was before, so this setup has been a game-changer. I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it before. As always, leave your questions below if you’ve got them!
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