DIY Custom Closet Shelving

I don’t like wire shelving in closets! Who’s with me on this one? I am slowly replacing all the wire shelving at my daughter’s new home. As you may know, custom closets are super expensive. While researching “small closet solutions”, I found a way to transform a plain builder grade wire shelf closet into a custom stenciled closet!

Hi! I’m Maria from Simple Nature Decor here today to show you how to take a builder grade closet and turn it into your own custom dream closet!

Usually I like to create with things I find in nature around my coastal Carolina home. My hanging drift wood chime was created from the driftwood I find on the local beaches. Because the weather is great most of the year, I work on many of my projects outdoors in the fresh air. I love painting furniture outdoors.

But, today I’m turning my talents inside to show you how to give your closet shelves a custom makeover for very little money. Ready? Great, here’s how to DIY Custom Closet Shelving.

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Instructions:

Remove those wire shelves.

Step 1: Using a small flat head screwdriver, pull out the bracket nails. Then use the pliers to pull them completely out of the wall. All the holes will need to be plastered.


Step 2: Use joint compound (spackle) to fill the nail holes. You may have to use two coats. Spread one coat. Let it dry completely. Sand and repeat to get a smooth finish. Paint your closet walls.

Step 3: Determine your shelf heights. (Tip: Use the same spacing as your wire shelving or measure the heights of items like baskets or products that will be stored on each shelf.)  Use a ruler and pencil to mark shelf heights on the walls. Use a level to draw the lines on all three walls.

Before adding the shelf supports, stencil the entire interior of the closet. Measure and line up your stencil in the center of the back wall. Use painter’s tape to hang the stencil. (We used this Moroccan style stencil.)

Use a small foam roller to paint over the stencil. Make sure to blot off excess paint by running your roller over a paper towel after loading it with paint. Otherwise, it will have too much paint and can bleed through the stencil. Remove the stencil and line it up with an adjacent section. Stenciling an entire closet will take patience, but the results will be a true work of art!

Step 5: Use (4) 1″ x 2″ x 8′ wood strips and 3 sheets of MDF wood. You can request to have the MDF wood cut to your closet measurement. (Tip: Take your width measurement and subtract 1/2″. Measure the depth of your closet and subtract an inch. This will compensate for any irregularities in your wall or door frame.)

Cut the 1″ x 2″s to fit on each side of your closet. Hold the strips at the shelf location marks you made before stenciling. Secure the strips using nails or screws into the stud locations. (Having trouble finding the studs? Use one of these 5 Methods to Find a Stud without a Studfinder!) Repeat for each shelf. This will create the ledge to support each shelf.

Step 6: Paint your wood strips white to match the closet walls.

Step 7: Run a bead of construction adhesive along the top of the shelf support strips. Lay the shelves on top of the supports.

Load up your new custom shelving with items.

What a transformation! Do you like the new look?

Thanks for letting me share with you how to give your closet and storage shelving an upgrade!

Disclosure: Maria was provided with the stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils at no cost to her. All words and ideas are her own. She was not told what to write. 

Hi I’m Maria and I’ve been a lover of nature for my entire life! Five years ago I created a blog called Simple Nature Decor. It’s about bringing what’s beautiful in nature into your home. I create nature-inspired decor ideas for the home. My home in coastal Carolina is filled with amazing elements that have inspired me to create some of my favorite DIYs. Come visit me at Simple Nature Decor!

If you liked this tutorial. You’ll love reading how to turn a closet into a reading nook:

Boy's Red, White & Blue Themed Room | Pretty Handy Girl

Or you might like to learn how to use a stencil on more than just walls, like on this dumpster-destined table:

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

Turning the bonus room closet into a Children’s Closet Library is one of those projects that took longer than expected. Not because the work was harder, but because I took a break from the project for many months while other things took precedence. I’m thrilled to have this project complete and am ready to move on to something new.

Converting a closet in our bonus room into a children’s library started when my oldest son commented that he wanted me to add onto our house and build a library like the one in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Obviously I had no desire to add onto our home. But, I began to form a plan about where I could add a library in our home. It became clear when I opened the toy closet in the bonus room and found myself getting angry that it was (once again) a mess. As I began clearing a path on the floor of the closet, it occurred to me that 90% of the toys in the closet were for young children and my boys had outgrown them. Time to clear out the closet and repurpose it for my book worms.

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

After removing the faux wood panels, I uncovered a mess of wiring and rewired a new light fixture into the closet. Some idiot had never put the wiring inside the wall, instead the guilty party wrapped the wires around the studs (NOT TO CODE!) Instead of re-routing all the wiring, I furred out a new wall to encase the wiring.

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

While the walls were open, I decided to install a new light fixture and a switch (instead of the annoying bare bulb fixture with a pull chain.)

How to Add a Switch to a Light Fixture | Pretty Handy Girl

After adding some much needed insulation, the fun began! I cut a hole into the wall between my son’s bedroom closet and the bonus room closet. I think we felt a little bit like the astronauts the first time they docked to the International Space Station and saw the Russian astronauts though the hatch.

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

Before adding drywall, everyone had to test the pass through (humans and canines alike.)

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

After I installed the drywall and painted, the boys and I drew some messages on the subfloor. We love leaving little notes and time capsules in our construction projects.

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

The flooring was definitely a popular addition to this closet. I wish you could feel it.

Faking Wall-to-Wall Carpet with an Area Rug | Pretty Handy Girl

I purchased a fluffy shag chenille rug at Lowe’s that was used to create wall-to-wall carpeting in the closet.

Faking Wall-to-Wall Carpet with an Area Rug | Pretty Handy Girl

The final steps on the closet library was to add furniture and artwork.

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

To create bookshelves, I used several IKEA Room Essentials cube storage units. Each unit is anchored to studs on the wall to prevent tipping.

Children's Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

Two – 3 Cube Towers on the bottom, One – 6 Cube Shelves, and One – 3-2-1 Cube Organizer Shelf.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

After the shelves were filled. I trimmed the secret pass through and added hinges and a door on my son’s bedroom side.

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

This allows him to lock the door for privacy. A simple window lock worked perfectly for this purpose. Then the boys quality tested my work on the pass through.

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

Bandit found the pass through very intriguing.

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

Eventually he gave his stamp of approval.

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

Even though the closet has overhead lighting, I added a small side table and lamp for a cozy feel.

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

This is the best view of the children’s library closet. (It’s incredibly hard to photograph a closet!)

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

The cube storage shelves are the perfect height to accommodate most of their books.

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

My 12 year old son filled and styled the shelves (honest!) He even added some teddy bears like the elementary school library has. So cute!

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

My boys have spent so much time burrowing in this library closet. I frequently find them in there reading, especially when I’m calling them to do chores.

Children's Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

Here’s a final peek into the children’s library closet:

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

Childrens' Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

Do you have a small closet or nook in your home that can be used as a children’s library? It’s amazing how an ordinary closet can turn into something extraordinary.

If you liked this renovation, you’ll definitely love my son’s closet turned reading nook.

Closet Reading Nook | Pretty Handy Girl

Faking Wall-to-Wall Carpet with an Area Rug | Pretty Handy Girl

The closet renovation is coming along nicely, even though I’ve only been able to work on it in fits and starts. After I added a new light switch for the closet, I added any missing insulation. Then I filled any and all gaps with Great Stuff. This closet had always been very cold in the winter or super hot in the summer. I decided to climate control the closet as best as I could while the walls were open. Then I closed up the walls with sheet rock and painted the small closet. You would not believe how well sheet rock (aka drywall or wall board) insulates! When I added the last piece, it made a huge difference in the climate control in the room. Who knew?!

Every room we renovate, we like to leave little messages in the wall or on the floor. The boys and I had fun drawing before adding the carpeting.

Faking Wall-to-Wall Carpet with an Area Rug | Pretty Handy Girl

The closet dimensions are just under 5′ x 8′ which is perfect for an area rug. I wanted the closet to be as comfy and inviting as possible for the boys, so I settled on a super soft chenille shag rug.

I also purchased enough carpet padding from Lowe’s to line the closet floor. In the interest of climate control, I bought the thickest padding and opted for the Stainmaster brand to resist spills from seeping through to the subfloor.

Ready to get started Faking Wall-to-Wall Carpet with an Area Rug?

Materials:

Faking Wall-to-Wall Carpet with an Area Rug | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Utility knife
  • Scissors
  • Metal ruler or straight edge
  • Sharpie
  • Staple gun and staples (1/2″ – 5/8″)
  • Area rug large enough for your space
  • Carpet padding

Instructions:

Lay the carpet padding on the floor. Line up two edges and fold the other edges up against the wall.

Faking Wall-to-Wall Carpet with an Area Rug | Pretty Handy Girl

Use a pen to draw along the corner where the wall meets the floor.

Faking Wall-to-Wall Carpet with an Area Rug | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut the carpet pad to size. Read more

Boy's Red, White & Blue Themed Room | Pretty Handy Girl

Happy Friday!!! I finally finished my son’s room makeover. Poor kid has been asking for over two years when I was going to work on his room.

Boy's Room Before | Pretty Handy Girl

It feels so good to be done and be able to share the final reveal with you. The theme started four years ago when I converted his extra closet into a reading nook. The blue, white and red work beautifully together.  Read more

home_tour

Welcome, welcome! I’m so glad to see you made it. I hope you didn’t get lost.

front_door_druids_ln_clematis

Did you just get here from Angie’s house at the Country Chic Cottage? Her home is so cozy and beautiful (so make sure you didn’t miss her stop on the tour!)

front_patio

I’m so glad to have you over for the 2013 Summer Tour of Homes.

chair_with_flowers_pillows

It’s hot outside for sure. These North Carolina summers are hot and humid.

mudroom_tour_door_open

Here’s a glass of sweet tea for you to cool off. Come on in and take a load off in our mudroom.
PostBreakblue

mudroom_tour

In fact, feel free to kick off your shoes and relax with me for the next few cyber minutes. I’m not going to talk much, instead I’ll let you soak up the sights. Feel free to ask your questions or leave a comment after you’re done. Read more

Come see this Closet Reading Nook Transformation! Learn how I turned this closet into a Reading Nook in a weekend. This area could also become a built-in desk area at a later date.


Boy's Red, White & Blue Themed Room | Pretty Handy Girl

When is a Closet not a Closet? Reading Nook Transformation!

Have you seen all those cute closets on Pinterest? The ones that were closets but are now a new space like a reading nook or a home office? Well, today I’ll show you how you can give your closet a makeover by turning it into a reading nook!

Boy's Red, White & Blue Themed Room | Pretty Handy Girl

The Back Story:

My husband took the boys camping! Translation: A free weekend – by myself – peace and quiet!

{insert sound of hammers, jigsaw, table saw, and more hammering}

Well, forget the quiet part, I decided to tackle another DIY project I have been thinking about for almost two years. My son’s closet!

My three year old has two full-size closets in his room. And, yet, his toys were always strewn around the room. Here is the “keeping it real” BEFORE picture:

Boy's Room Before | Pretty Handy Girl

Last year I took the doors off one of the closets and put up some curtains so he could have a little hideaway. That was an easy task, but I wanted to give him more storage and a fun spot to sit and read books during quiet time. When I saw this picture in a magazine, I knew I had the perfect solution.

Kym, the homeowner, turned her son’s closet into a private nook. I thought, no problem, I’d complete this project in an easy 2 days. After all, how long can it take to renovate one 6′ x 2′ closet? During stopping points I could squeeze in a pedicure, swim some laps and possibly have a friend over for wine and some chat one evening.  Truth be told, it ended up taking a full 3 days (and nights). If I had a helper, I probably could have knocked it out in a day and a half.

Before and After:

Ready to see how I transformed a standard 2′ x 6′ closet into a multi-functioning reading nook, toy storage, sleepover bed, and creative play space?

How to Turn a Closet Into a Reading Nook:

First (after cleaning up all those toys, of course), is removing hardware, base molding, and patching holes. (This is where I found I didn’t know my own strength and ended up having to patch a larger drywall hole after trying to remove the closet cleats.)

Once the closet is empty it’s time to build!

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Optional: trim molding & shelving

Home Office Desk Option:

If you want a home office in your closest, skip the base and only build the framing for the bench, but install it at 29 inches (standard desk height).

Measure and Cut Lumber:

Measure the floor of your closet to determine the size for your base and bench.

Cut all your lumber to size, then build two frames. One for the base and one for the bench.


Your base frame only has to have one center support because it doesn’t have to hold much weight. The bench seat frame needs two center supports at 2′ intervals.

Find and mark the studs in the wall. (Here are 5 different ways to locate studs without a stud finder.) Then secure the base frame to the studs using a few screws.

Cut your finish grade plywood to top the base and bench frames.

Scribing Around Molding:

Here is a little trick for scribing the profile of trim or other obstacles onto your board. Use a compass and set the width to the same distance from the wall to the outside of my door casing. Then draw a line around the casing being careful to keep the compass perpendicular to the casing. Then you can cut out the profile with a jigsaw.


Set the plywood on top of the base. Secure the plywood to the base with a few screws (or wood glue and trim nails.)

Next build the second frame the same way (but add two center supports for the bench.)

To simplify things, you may want to prime as much of the framing as you can before nailing it into place. It is easier to prime wood on sawhorses.

Installing the Bench:

If you have a helper, this process will go easier. If not, you need to temporarily hold the framing before securing it. Cut some scrap blocks to hold the bench or temporarily drive in a few screws.

Measure up 18″ from the floor. This is standard bench height.

Use a level (both a carpenter’s level and laser level if you have them) and level the bench platform before screwing it into the studs. Use at least two screws on each side and several into the back and one on either side of the door frame to secure the bench in place. Set the plywood on top of the bench framing. Secure it with a few screws or wood glue and  trim nails.


Remeber that note about having a helper? I wish I had one because at some point the right hand side of my bench shifted while I was securing it, which resulted in a slight slope. Seriously, I really did level it! I even have the pictures to prove it! Shhhh, don’t tell anyone! My lesson learned is that next time I will either screw the frame in place to hold it or put a brace underneath to keep it from slipping.


Bench Cushion:

Cut the foam cushion for the bench seat. If you haven’t heard, the best way to cut foam is with an electric carving knife! (Huge thank you to my friend and neighbor Karen for the use of her 1970’s electric carving knife.)


You can sew a bench cushion later to cover it. Here’s how to sew a simple bench cushion with piping.

Decorative Molding:

Sewing will have to wait, for now we’re going to finish off this closet reading nook with some decorative molding. This is a personal preference, but I chose to install board and batten molding for the back like I did in this bathroom.

But, if you don’t want to use board and batten, you may like the DIY shiplap look instead.

Then I added decorative molding under the shelves. Did you know that some of the molding in your home, especially crown molding, is made up of several different molding profiles? You can make molding more decorative by using several different pieces and then caulk seams to hide the edges?

Painting Prep:

Before priming all your wood, caulk all the seams and let it dry.


This is the Pretty Handy Girl’s tried-and-true caulking method:

  1. Squeeze out your bead of caulk with a caulk gun.
  2. Keep your finger at the front of the tip of the caulk and use a baby wipe smooth the caulk as it’s dispensed.
  3. Follow up with a clean baby wipe if necessary to smooth any spots.

It’s easy to caulk like a pro if you follow my tutorial.

Once the caulk dries, prime all the wood and trim. Let it dry.

How to Tint Primer:

After trying some Benjamin Moore paint swatches, I settled on a deep navy blue called “Symphony Blue”. I knew I’d need to use some tinted primer before trying to paint such a dark color on the light walls. You can save money by tinting your primer. Simply add 1 part paint to 3 parts primer.


Isn’t the marble effect pretty! Mix well.

Painting:

Always use at least two coats of paint. This makes it easier to clean the walls and eliminates any missed spots.

Paint the trim first. Then cut in around trim with a good quality angled brush.

Use a paint roller to paint in between your cut in lines.

So, are you ready to see this Closet Turned Reading Nook?? The drumroll please…

Boy's Red, White & Blue Themed Room | Pretty Handy Girl
Can’t you hear the Symphonic Chords playing?


The copper wall sconce was also from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I scored that gem for only $5! It has a cord that I snaked around the molding and then plugged into the outlet just outside the closet. Click Here to Learn How to Add a switch to a Hard-Wire Light.


Plenty of storage bins for all the toys a three-year-old can hoard.


Star pillows were super easy to make with cloth napkins and fabric I had on hand.


Finally, a nook built for reading, sleepovers…


…or just hanging with big brother.

Wall-mounted IKEA LILLÅNGEN Mirrored Cabinet turned Stuffed Animal Storage | Pretty Handy Girl
Boy's Red, White & Blue Themed Room | Pretty Handy Girl

Boy's Red, White & Blue Themed Room | Pretty Handy Girl
That’s all folks! Bye-bye!

Did you like this transformation? If so, you’ll love more custom spaces in my home!