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If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the mess or frustrated with the lack of space in your small closet, then you’re in the right place. Today we’ll show you how to create your own DIY closet organizer that’s not only affordable but also tailored to fit your specific needs.

Picture this: a closet where chaos is banished, and everything has its perfect place.

Does that seem to good to be true?!

For starters, the closets in all three of my kids bedrooms are very small, which makes it extremely difficult to keep them organized.

Often shoes are misplaced due to the clutter on the closet floor.

With a little determination and elbow grease we transformed each of the three closets with a custom DIY closet organizer.

And best of all there’s no need to break the bank or hire a professional—just simple, affordable solutions tailored to fit your space.


Get ready to roll up your sleeves and transform your cluttered chaos into an organized oasis that reflects your style and soothes your soul.

Let’s dive in and get started, reclaim the dead space in your closet and make it work for you!

This post is sponsored by Bonikluba bifold sliding barn hardware, all opinions and ideas are my own.

How Do You Fit a Lot of Stuff in a Small Closet?

Before we dive right into this closet makeover, let’s take a look at the challenge of each closet.

All three closets are about 60″ wide and while the builder did add double hanging rods on one side, clearly it just isn’t working.

The high shelves are difficult to access for the younger kids and there was a lot of dead space that could be better utilized.

Can you relate to this chaos?

Maximizing space in a small closet requires strategic organization and efficient storage solutions.

Clearly with a custom DIY closet organizer each of these closets will function so much better.

Start by decluttering and only keep items you truly need or love.

Take a look at what will be going back in the closet and utilize the vertical space.

Make a plan for shoe storage, accessories, hanging clothing, along with a plan for additional items that will be returning to the closet.

In my case, I need to plan storage for a few toys, art & craft supplies, extra bedding and books.

Also consider utilizing slim hangers to save space and ensure clothes hang neatly.

With these tactics, even the smallest closet can accommodate a surprising amount of stuff while remaining tidy and functional.

Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy a Closet System?

Deciding between a DIY closet organizer and buying a closet system comes down to cost, time, and skill.

No question building a custom closet will be cheaper, but it requires more effort and time.

Certainly, buying a closet system saves time and comes with everything you need, but it will cost more upfront.

The one draw back is that you may not be able to customize it for exactly what you need.

I’m sure you’ve wondered why custom closets are so expensive?

They tend to be pricey because they’re tailored to your specific needs and space.

Quality materials and skilled labor all drive up the cost.

Consider your budget, available time, and willingness to tackle a project before deciding which route to take.

No doubt, my mom and I love the challenge and reward of doing it ourselves.

We truly find joy in the journey!

In fact, once a project is completed, we have to keep walking by and admiring our work.

Choosing the Right Materials for Your Needs

When building a DIY custom closet organizer, choosing the right materials is crucial for durability and functionality.

Opting for sturdy materials like plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) for shelves and partitions ensures strength to support the weight of your clothes and accessories.

Another great option is melamine shelving.

That’s the material we used to build my mom’s storage shelves in the office.

We like this material because of its durability and strength, plus the fact that it never needs painting.

Also, consider using metal rods for hanging clothes, as they offer stability and can withstand the weight of multiple garments.

Finally, investing in quality hardware such as drawer slides and shelf brackets enhances the overall stability and longevity of your custom closet organizer.

By selecting these materials, you can create a DIY organizer for your closet that not only meets your storage needs, but also stands the test of time.



  • pry bar, helpful during the demo process.
  • hammer
  • putty knife
  • Kreg pocket hole jig
  • miter saw or circular saw
  • brad nailer
  • drill

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How To Make a Custom DIY Closet Organizer

For an easy and affordable DIY closet organizer, keep it simple with basic materials and reusing what you can.

Start by assessing your storage needs and your closet’s dimensions.

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Before you begin a project like this you’ll want to create a plan.

Begin by measuring your closet space and taking inventory of your storage needs. Sketch out a rough layout, considering where shelves, hanging rods, and compartments will best utilize the available space.

Determine the dimensions of any bins or storage containers you’ll want to use, ensuring they fit both your closet and your budget.

While I did makeover all three closets for my kids, in this post we will focus on the closet organizer for Gavin’s closet.

But for each closet, I analyzed each child’s storage needs, purchased bins and containers for each closet and then made a sketch of the plan on graph paper.

Then I took the rough sketch and put it into SketchUp, for a complete cut list for each closet.

By having a clear plan in place, you’ll minimize errors, save time, and ultimately create a customized DIY closet organizer that perfectly suits your needs.


For Gavin’s closet, our main focus is creating storage for his shoe collection.

Gavin works at a clothing store and has acquired quite a collection of clothing and shoes.

It’s bound to happen when you get a great discount, right?!

For Gavin’s closet organizer we need:

  • 5 – 40″ x 11 3/4″ melamine shelves
  • 2 – 39″ x 11 3/4″ side boards (melamine)
  • 1 63″ x 11 3/4″ shelf

We reused the existing shelf boards that were in his closet to save on the budget.

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Before diving into a closet makeover, start by clearing out the entire closet.

Take everything out and sort them into piles: keep, donate, or toss.

Be honest about what you really wear and need.

Consider donating items in good condition and tossing anything damaged.

Once the closet is empty, give it a good clean.

This clears the way for a fresh start and makes it easier to see what storage solutions will work best.


Now we’re ready to demo the closet to get ready for the new closet organizer.

All cleats, shelves and rods are removed from the closet.

First we removed the hanging rods, we’ll keep these and put them back in the closet.

Next, we removed any shelves we were no longer keeping in the closet, this includes the partition that separated the closet rods.

Also we did keep the top shelf in the closet.


First we needed to address the gap in the shelf cleat after the partition was removed.

We simply cut a piece of scrap wood to fit, nailed it into place, filled the area with wood filler and sanded smooth.

The top shelf will need a support bracket for the rod, so we also attached a cleat to the wall for that.

Next fill in any imperfections on the walls with drywall mud and sand smooth.

And finally you’re ready to prime and give this closet a fresh coat of paint.


Now let’s get to the fun part and build our custom closet organizer.

Depending on the material you choose, you may need to rip down your wood to the depth of your shelves.

If that’s the case, I recommend having that done at the hardware store or using the Kreg rip cut tool.

In our case, we’re using 11 3/4″ x 97″ melamine shelf boards.

We used our miter saw to make the cuts, but a circular saw will also work great.

If you choose to work with melamine shelves, we found the best way to cut them without any chipping is to place painters tape on the board prior to making the cut.

And then let the saw do the work.

Meaning, don’t rush and push the saw too quickly, gradually place the blade into the material and then slide the blade slowly through the board.

With this method you’ll get professional results without any chipping.

For our shoe organizer we cut:

  • 5 – 40″ x 11 3/4″ melamine shelves
  • 2 – 39″ x 11 3/4″ side boards (melamine)


The closet organizer will be assembled with pocket screws.

Using a Kreg pocket hole jig, 3 pocket holes are made in each side of the selves for the shoe organizer.

First you’ll need to make 3 pocket holes in each end of each melamine shelf.

The Kreg pocket hole jig has become one of our favorite DIY tools and is a must have for any DIYer.

We’ve used it to make:

As you can see it’s a valuable tool to have in your toolbox.


Once all of the cuts are made, you’re ready to assemble your organizer.

First you’ll want to make a mark on the side boards for the placement of each shelf.

Mark placement line for shelves with a framing square for closet organizer.

Begin at the top of the organizer and align the first shelf, and then place the pocket screw into each hole.

Assemble DIY closet organizer with pocket screws.

We found it helpful, to place a board at the bottom and use clamps to hold the organizer together while we insert each screw.

Work from the top of the organizer, and repeat these steps as you work your way down.

You may find it helpful to see this step in action with our YouTube video.

Once it’s all secured you’re ready to place it in the closet.

Shoe organizer is attached to the side wall of closet and cleat.

Once it was in place, we trimmed the carpet back where the side boards rest.

Then the organizer will be flush with the subfloor and won’t cause problems down the road when the carpet needs to be replaced.

Secure DIY closet organizer to studs in wall with brad nailer.

Next secure the side board to the wall with a couple of brad nails and to the wall cleat on the right.


To complete this organizer add a shelf that will span the width of the closet.

Top shelf is installed over the shoe organizer.

Secure the shelf to the organizer and cleats with a few brad nails.

Secure top shelf to DIY closet organizer with brand nailer.

We also secured the shelf to the side support board of the closet organizer with a couple of brads too.

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To complete this project, caulk all of the joints, this will make the organizer look finished.

You can see my caulking tips in this video.

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If you build your closet organizer with plywood or MDF you’ll want to add a wood trim.

This will give your piece a clean and finished look.

This is what we’ve done on all of our built in projects where we used MDF boards.

Once you’ve installed all the trim, fill in the nail holes with spackling paste and seal all the seams with caulk. 

After everything dries, sand the nail hole areas and touch up with paint.


We are down to the home stretch!

Custom DIY closet organizer, with cubbies for shoe storage and closet rods for hanging clothing.

The last step to this closet makeover with an organizer is to hang the closet rods.

And now we’re ready to fill this closet!

Final reveal of DIY closet organizer filled with shoes.

Just take a look at all of that beautiful organization!

And I love that the kids now feel that they can keep their closet neat and organized.

That’s definitely a win, win!

Install Bifold Barn Doors

To make our three closets more functional, we also installed bifold barn door hardware, using our existing sliding closet doors.

Custom DIY closet organizer in a small boys bedroom closet with bifold barn doors to make access easier. Modern black and rattan dresser against white wall.

The closet doors in Gavin’s bedroom didn’t function well.

With the doors constantly falling off the track and in such a small closet it was difficult for Gavin see what he was looking for.

Not only will you find that this makes small closets more functional, but it also creates a stylish modern update.

This bifold barn door hardware is not only incredibly practical, but it also elevates the look in each bedroom.

And did I mention that it’s easy to install? Check out the video tutorial here.

DIY closet organizer with a white bifold sliding barn door for easy access.

I love that we were able to customize each closet organizer to fit each of the kids needs.

And better yet, they love this organization in their closets too!

It’s a win, win!

Coming in mid March we’ll have detailed plans and instructions available for Aiden and Ellie’s closet organizer as well.

DIY closet organizer with a navy blue bifold sliding barn door for easy access.

You’ll find that investing time and effort to create a custom closet organizer, you can tailor your closet to perfectly suit your storage needs while staying within your budget.

Whether you’re maximizing space in a small closet or revamping a larger one, the satisfaction of creating your own personalized space makes the effort well worth it.

Let me tell you, I find myself just walking into each of their bedrooms to admire a job well done.

It’s empowering and just makes me feel good!

With the right tools, materials, and a bit of creativity, you too can transform your closet and have the satisfaction of a job well done!

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links or referral links for your convenience. It is a way for this site to earn advertising commissions by advertising or linking to specific products and/or services. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

What is the Cost to Build a Closet Organizer?

Are you wondering what it cost to DIY three custom closet organizers?

You may be surprised, the only materials I had to buy were the melamine shelves.

And the grand total for all three closets was $210.96!

I think that’s quite a bargain.

It took us 3 days to build the three organizers, so not bad for a closet makeover.

However, that doesn’t include the time to go through the kids stuff, purge and organize.

That took more time than I’d like to admit.

But I’m so happy with the results!

And the kids love it too!

We hope you’ve found a little inspiration today!

And that this tutorial will be a valuable resource, as you add closet organizers in your home.

Is this a project you’d like try in your home?

Drop us a comment, we love to hear from you.

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Thanks for spending some time with us today, we hope you’ve been inspired!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Renae

    Great ideas. I love your closets. I’m sharing your post on my Friday newsletter.

    1. Michelle Dickson

      Thanks Renae for sharing! Have a wonderful day.

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