Low Cost DIY Closet System

A designer closet without the designer price!

Ready-made storage components make organizing your closet simple and inexpensive. This article compares features of three different systems and explains basic installation techniques.

Closet System Overview

If you have a messy closet and a free Saturday, this built-in closet systems story is for you. Thanks to great-looking ready-made storage components, organizing your bedroom closet has never been easier or more affordable. You’ll find these systems at home centers and online retailers, and in many cases, you can mix and match components from different manufacturers to get exactly what you want.

In this article, we’ll show you three different storage systems designed to organize a standard 8-ft. x 24-in.-deep closet. The built-in closet systems range in price from $200 to $500 and use laminate or fixed wire or a combination of the two. Each has the same basic components: a “tower” composed of drawers and shelves that provides the sturdy center of the system; a single closet rod on one side for long clothes; and stacked closet rods on the other side to hang shirts and folded pants. Ready-made systems usually come with easy-to-follow instructions. To make organizing a beautiful closet on a budget a breeze, we’ll focus on design and installation tips that you won’t find in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Beyond Plain White Wire

Affordable ready-made storage components have come a long way in the past few years. They feature better hardware and new finishes and accessories that were once available only on high-end systems. Now your bedroom closet can look great and work like a professionally installed custom closet-at less than half the price.

Three Built In Closet Systems- 3 budget options

Laminate storage system

Laminate storage system
Laminate storage system


  • Available in 3/4-in. particleboard with a tough baked-on (or “thermally fused”) Melamine resin coating.
  • Offers a wide variety of built in closet drawers,  doors and finishes.
  • Sleek, built-in look.
  • Telescoping poles and predrilled holes allow you to easily add shelves and accessories.


  • Twice the price of wire closet systems.
  • A coating on less expensive built in closet systems scratches and chips more easily.
  • Heavy objects may cause the laminate to sag over time, and the particleboard core won’t stand up to moisture.

Combination laminate and wire system

Combination laminate and wire system
Combination laminate and wire system


  • Combines the economy of wire shelving with the built-in look of a laminate tower.
  • Tower provides flexibility for accessories and future expansion.
  • Wire shelves provide sturdy support for heavy items.


  • Some built-in closet systems will only work with components from the same system. When you’re buying pieces from different systems, make sure the shelf and drawer depths, as well as the colors, will work together.

Wire storage system

Wire storage system
Wire storage system


  • Low cost.
  • Fixed wire systems (as shown) install easily using clips and brackets that support shelves and other components.
  • Wire systems let you see everything easily and keep clothes fresh by allowing air to circulate around them.


  • Clips in a fixed wire system don’t allow for much flexibility.
  • Adjustable wire systems are 15 to 20 percent more expensive than fixed wire.
  • Adjustable wire systems require more hardware and are slightly more difficult to install.

Decide what you really need in your closet
Before you buy storage components, remove everything from your closet and decide what you actually need to store in it, what you can store elsewhere (seasonal clothes), and what you can donate to charity. This will help you decide how many shelves, rods, and drawer space you’ll need.

Get free design help online
Use manufacturer Web sites to get free help designing and buying ready-made components. Plug in your closet measurements and storage requirements and get storage design plans broken down into individual parts lists, which you can take along to the store or use to buy items online.

Choose the best tower size
Tower components and panel sections are available in standard lengths and widths. Tower components are either 16 or 25 in. wide and 12 to 18 in. deep. If you want more closet rod hanging space, choose the narrower tower. But it makes sense to get the deepest tower possible. Empty space in front is just wasted.

Keep rods at the right height and length
Divide your clothes into short, medium, and long and use these measurements for hanging sections:

  • Double-hang (when possible) at 42 and 84 in.
  • Long-hang at 70 in.
  • Medium-hang at 60 in.
  • Long-hang pants at 54 in.

Hanging rods longer than 36 in. might bow from too much weight. Add another support bracket or tower unit for longer rods.

Keep folded clothes looking good
Wire custom closet shelving can leave lines in sweaters and delicate fabrics. Use plastic shelf liners to prevent this.

Reposition the tower for sliding doors
If your closet doors overlap in the center, set the tower to one side or put a tower on each side of the closet with hanging space in between.

Save money with doors (instead of drawers)
Slide-out drawers are expensive. If you can’t afford them now, install adjustable or slide-out shelves and add the built-in closet drawers later. If you want to conceal items, adding doors (as we did) is less expensive than buying a block of drawers, and lets you instantly see the contents of a shelf.

Use accessories strategically
Choose accessories to complement your lifestyle. Don’t buy a jewelry insert for your drawer if you like to store your earrings on a shelf. If you often hunt for a certain belt or tie, then a hanging belt and tie organizer is a smart buy.

Assembly tips

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Required Tools for this DIY Closet System Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Circular saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Hacksaw
  • Jigsaw
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Tube cutter

You may also need a bolt cutter for making clean cuts in wire shelving.

Required Materials for this DIY Closet System Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Closet system
  • Screw-in wall anchors
  • Spackle
  • Wood putty

Source:  familyhandyman.com