If you think you don't have a spot for a desk, file drawers and some shelves, one place that might provide a solution is a closet in an unused bedroom. You can turn a closet into a mini-office by installing shelves and a desktop supported on a two-drawer file cabinet. These installations are most practical when the closet has a 48-inch wide opening and folding doors. We replaced the folding doors' hinges with a specialized hinge system that allows the doors to swing to the side of the closet opening.
Keep in mind that you will need electrical power in your office to run a computer or related office electronics. This will be a relatively easy matter if the closet is lighted. If the closet is not lighted, or if the house's wiring is outdated, then installing an outlet and lighting will be more difficult. Also, it's important to note that if you plan to install a file cabinet in your closet office, such as the one shown here, you should be aware that these come in different widths, depths, and heights. Be sure to choose a cabinet that will allow a comfortable height for the desktop, and a suitable width. Finally, it must not be too deep for the closet.
This project was originally published in the January 2001 issue of Popular Mechanics. You can find more great projects at Popular Mechanics DIY Central.
Step 1: Remove Existing Pieces
To use a cabinet of this depth, you will have to remove the baseboard molding at the rear of the closet. Use a flat pry bar to remove the molding (Fig. 1). Set the molding aside for reinstallation. Next, use the pry bar to remove the inside door trim from the side jambs of the door opening (the trim is left in place along the head jamb) Save the trim for replacing later as well.
Assuming that you have standard bifold doors, remove the doors and their hardware. Unscrew the track from the head jamb and remove any floor pivots or guides. Set the doors aside to be put back in later.
Step 2: Mark Height
Step 3: Locate and Mark Studs
Step 4: Support Cleats
Step 5: Prep Desktop
Step 6: Attach Drawer Slides
Step 7: Install Desktop
Cut a piece of 1 x 2" stock to fit snugly between the doorjambs, then fasten it to the front edge of the desktop using glue and 6d finishing nails
Step 8: Install Shelf Standards
Step 9: Install Shelves
Step 10: Assemble and Install Drawer
Cut the drawer face to size. The face should overhang the box on each side so that it hides the drawer slides. Use spring clamps to hold the face in position on the drawer box while you attach it to the box with screws. Install the drawer slides on the sides of the drawer box according to the manufacturer's instructions, and then install the drawer under the desktop. Test the drawer for proper operation and make adjustments as necessary.
Step 11: Install Door Hardware
Next, fasten each pair of doors together with the full-access door hinges mentioned earlier. Hold each set of doors on the jamb hinges, and check that they can swing freely. If the doors bind on the door trim, remove the trim, and install new trim that is set farther back than the existing trim. The new trim should have a reveal between itself and the jamb of at least 1/4 in. Install the rubber doorstops on the head jamb.
Now use the template provided in the door hardware kit to mark the location of the control arm on the doors. Drill a pilot hole for the screw, and then drive the screw through the slotted mounting hole in the control-arm bracket. After folding the doors to the fully open position, screw the free end of the control arm to the head jamb. Test the doors for proper operation and adjust the hardware if necessary. Install the knobs and alignment clips as shown in the hardware installation instructions.
Step 13: Finish Your Office
the closet corner, and cut and reinstall the inside door casing to fit above and below the desktop. Set the finishing nails used to fasten the trim and fill the nail holes. Sand off excess nail filler, and remove the dust. Finish the project by applying a coat of primer followed by a top coat of trim paint.