DIY Closet Organizer for a 4′ x 4′ Closet

Closet organization!!! Something I always strive for, but with a teen and two tweens, it doesn’t seem to happen very well.

My 14 year-old daughter has the smallest closet of my three kids. I really wanted to help make the best use of her space, so she could have more room. There are a lot of pre-made closet organizers out there, but I couldn’t find much for her specific closet size and shape. She has a 4′ x 4′ closet- a semi-walk-in closet that had wire racks and cube shelves that we had added below. The biggest problem I had with her closet was that there was so much wasted space where the wire shelves met in the corner!

Let me just paint the picture with a before image:

I looked up a LOT of ideas and pictures online to formulate a plan. My original plan was changed about 5 times, but in the end, I LOVE how it turned out!

We measured and purchased enough MDF boards to cover what we wanted. We spent about $60 on the boards, which was way cheaper than we expected them to be. I painted them white ahead of time.

We took down the wire shelves from her closet and filled the holes with spackle. I let the spackle dry and then I sanded the spots.

I went to get the paint to do touch-ups and I realized… we didn’t have any more of this color! Doh! So, I had to paint the entire closet a different color. I went with Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray, which matched my daughter’s bedroom wall color. As much as I didn’t want to have to paint the closet, I’m glad I did in the end!

I used painter’s tape to outline where the shelves would go. This was very helpful, as my daughter could see exactly how the closet would be laid out and could make changes ahead of time! (which she did- ha!) This was the original plan:

The biggest thing I wanted to make sure this closet had was a set of corner shelves. This would allow for the corner not to be a bunch of wasted space! Stephen made the corner boards ahead of time to the size we originally decided on. They were 15″ long on each side.

Once we put these up in the closet, we realized they needed to be bigger! Instead of making new corner shelves, he added onto the shelves by cutting 8″ of MDF boards and using pocket hole screws and wood glue to add them onto the original shelves.

Now, we had to adjust the taped-out plan to accommodate our bigger shelves. We decided to nix the shelves on the left-hand side. My daughter thought that she wouldn’t use them since they would be fairly small.

Our plan was finally in place, and we got to cutting! We installed the corner shelves first… her closet didn’t have a perfect 90 degree wall in the corner, so we weren’t able to fit them in the corner and just screw them in. We had to install the shelves into the two 7 foot vertical panels before putting them in place in the closet. There were gaps in the back where the shelves met the walls, but luckily it wasn’t too significant!

Backtracking a bit… instead of cutting out the baseboards and sliding the panels into the baseboards, Stephen cut the panels around the baseboards with his jigsaw.

Once the corner shelves were installed, the rest of the closet was fairly simple! It was a matter of cutting boards the right lengths, cutting cleats out to hold up the shelves, and installing the rods!

Here’s an example of what the cleats looked like. I painted these the gray of the wall so they aren’t very obvious.


He added two 2x4s under each rod. These were drilled and liquid nailed into the wall, and were pocket hole screwed into the tall panels. This was how the panels were officially connected to the wall.

Now, here it is with her clothes put back!

What a difference!

This entire closet reno only cost ~$100. $60 for the wood, $30 for the three rods, plus paint, wood glue, liquid nails, screws. This was a fraction of the cost of the pre-made closet organizers!


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