For the first project of the One Room Challenge, I created a custom front closet for the entryway of our new home. We’re a family of 5, and we’ve got a lot of stuff. This is the first time as a family of 5 that we’ve had an actual “front” closet, so I wanted to make it all it could be!
It’s a good size, at 53″ wide. And, in the couple of weeks we’ve lived here, it became a dumping ground for shoes and baskets that had been in laundry/mud room of our other home.
Designing a Custom Front Closet
We’re lucky enough to be in a part of the country that has Menards right around the corner. Dakota Closets are my go-to when it comes to creating budget-friendly closet systems. Most big box hardware stores have some type of DIY closet systems they offer. I have used Lowe’s a couple of times for out-of-state homes, but I don’t find their options to be quite as DIY friendly. The Dakota closet systems in their basic form include uprights and shelving, connected with Cam Lock Connectors. They also have a design tool, which will help you get started with your design. Just be careful–no matter which online tool you use–no design tool can replace your actual measurements. Take that with a grain of salt.
This is the basic design I created for this closet: 53″ wide, 95″ high, 24″ deep.
If you’re creating a custom closet, in most cases, you’ll be working with multiples of 12″ sections. If you haven’t noticed yet, 53″ wide isn’t divisible by 12. Don’t let that stop you!
How to Plan
I knew I wanted a 24″ hanging section for coats. (This doesn’t have to be centered.)
I also needed a 12″ section for baskets. (This has to be centered–or easily accessed. See explanation below.)
The baskets we use are utilized daily for the kids. Not only do we keep accessories like hats and gloves in them, but the lower baskets are used for socks. That’s right. SOCKS. My boys constantly run around in bare feet. So, when it’s time to go somewhere, and they have to put socks on, for years it was a struggle. I never knew the request, “Go get socks from your room,” would be met with such drama and disgust before I had children. Guess what? My boys no longer have socks in their rooms. They each have a basket, and when laundry is done, their socks go in the basket un-matched, and putting socks on is no longer an issue. I’ve been doing this for years now, and I refuse to look back!
After deciding to place the 24″ section against the righthand side wall, so the 12″ section could be almost centered, I realized the section on the lefthand side would have to be cut to size. No worries–it’s a simple task with the right tools.
4 86″ Uprights (3 sections)
4 12″ Shelf Kits (8 shelves)
3 24″ Shelf Kits (6 shelves)
Plain Board for Custom Shelves
Extra Cam Lock Connectors
Phillips Head Screwdriver
For Custom Cuts:
Install the Side Uprights
For this project, I wanted to have the closet system resting on the floor. You can choose to “hang” the entire thing off of hang tracks, but I prefer the look of it resting. So, what you see me using at the bottom that offers space for the trim is actually the top. (I’ve done a bunch of these, and it really depends on the space and the usage.)
Because I was installing 4 uprights for a total of 3 sections, I installed the side uprights first, securing them in place.
- Put in place
- Mark side trim pieces to cut
- Cut trim with oscillating tool
- Find studs
- Check level
- Screw into the stud to secure the upright to the wall (2 screws for each upright)
One of the side uprights was giving me issues finding level, so I used a shim to install it. After securing it to the wall, I was able to remove the shims.
Assemble the Middle Section
With the side uprights installed, I assembled the “middle” 12 inch section with the other two uprights and one shelf kit, securing the shape of the unit at the top and middle piece.
*It’s so much easier to put these in place if you have an extra set of hands because the 86″ height is taller than the doorway. But, I did it myself–and I should have gotten it on video. I’m sure that would have gone in the bloopers file 🙂
Connect the Sections
With the 12″ middle section in the closet, I measured 24″ from the righthand upright to shift it over. I used a 24″ shelf part way down, connecting the righthand upright and the right side upright of the 12″ unit.
After installing that middle shelf, I installed one at the very top. The 12″ section is easy to shift over to make sure everything fits in properly. Once the 24″ section was created, and the 12″ section was properly set, it was time to measure and create the customized section.
Creating the Customized Section
This has to be the last section to install because you want to make sure there will be no change to the standard sections. After taking measurements in several sections–as well as the front and back of the uprights, it was time to create the custom shelves.
- Make a template with a standard shelf for the cam lock connectors
- Cut the shelf to fit width
- Use the spade drill bit to cut the circles
- Install cam lock connectors
- Install into closet
Remember “crayon rubbings” from childhood? The simplest way to create a template is a throwback to those kindergarten days.
How good is that? Keep in mind that I will have to make decisions for each shelf whether I use this side or flip over the paper, depending on the side.
The good news is that with the crayon rubbing done, it’s easy to trace the circle on the other side of the paper. I eyeballed the center point of the circles so I could aim the drill bit.
Making the Holes
I poked the drill bit through the paper and into the shelf to mark where the drilling needed to start. (I made both marks before drilling either.) For this shelf, I’m using a pre-drilled shelf kit shelf so two of the holes were already in place. The rest of the shelves for this custom section will be created with a plain closet shelf board.
How about them apples?!?! My holes are on the left…the standard ones are on the right. I did good, right???
I decided to create the first shelf for the middle section so it would be easy to reach and work with. Because I used the same cam lock connectors, the hardware going into the uprights is the same.
There she is!!! Looks like it was meant to be!
The closet is ready for all the things! Socks, shoes, uniforms, coats, hats, gloves. I’m over the moon with how much function this adds to our lives!
I definitely will be adding more of the custom-sized shelves on the left, but I ran out of time before the kids got home. I accomplished my goal of having two of the shelves in place to secure everything.
What Do You Think?
Are you ready to create a custom front closet of your own? Or, do the other closets of your home need this upgrade? It’s life-changing, you guys. Don’t hesitate to reach out about your own closets! Head on over to Instagram to see additional progress on my entryway challenges.