This weekend I decided to redo her closet to provide more hanging rod and shelf space. The total cost of the project was about $400, and ended up with 47% more hanging rod and 33% more shelf space. The first step is to measure the closet and design the system. Because the closet had bifold doors on each side, we decided to put in side towers of 12 inch wide by 16 inch deep shelves (13.5 inches overall width with the thickness of the predrilled vertical panels) so the pull down rods would clear the doors. Also, we wanted to rebuild the central shelf tower, use the existing rods on a lower level, and install a shelf and pull down upper rod on each side.
Next: Materials and Tools.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
I ordered all the materials from Home Depot and the two pull down rod systems from Amazon in advance. Below is the list of all components, as well as URLs. The links may not show up, but cut and paste into your browser to see the details. The Melamine planks were 16 inches wide, but 12 inch versions are available depending on your closet needs. The total cost for all materials was about $410, but since I had leftover paint, spackling and nails, it came in just under $400.
1. Rev-A-Shelf CPDR-2635 26 to 35-Inch Adjustable Pull-Down Closet Rod - $77.65 (need 2)
2. 3/4 in. x 15-3/4 in. x 8 ft. White Melamine Drilled Panel - $19.98 each (needed 6)
3/4 in. x 15-3/4 in. x 8 ft. White Melamine Panel - $17.48 each (needed 4)
3. 1/2 in. White Shelf Peg (12-Pack) $0.98 each (needed 3 packages)
4. 1-3/4 in. Melamine Screw and Cap (10-Pack) - $1.24 each (1 package)
5. White Corner Bracket Set (8 Piece) - $2.98 (needed 2 packages)
6. #8 Grey Anchors with Screws (15-Pack) - $6.98 (1 pack)
7. Interior Semi-Gloss enamel paint - White (1 gallon) - $27.98 only need 1/2 gallon
(This color matches the melamine perfectly)
9. Spackling Compound (8 ounces) - $5.97
10. 1/2 in. x 3-1/4 in. x 96 in. MDF Primed Fiberboard Base Moulding - $6.98 each (needed 2)
11. Quarter Round - WM 126 1/2 in. x 3/4 in. x 96 in. Pine Primed Shoe Base Moulding - $2.97 each (needed 2)
12. #16-1/2 x 1 in. White Steel Panel Board Nails (6 oz. Pack) - $2.64 per package
Table saw (Circular saw can be used provided you use guides clamped to workbench)
10 in. x 200-Teeth OSB/Plywood Saw Blade - I used this one:
Paint roller and tray
Small pry bar to remove molding
Next Step: Demolition.
Step 2: Demolition
The first and second photos shows the existing closet. The third photo shows what it looked like after the existing rods, shelves and baseboard and quarter round molding were removed. The existing closet system was installed when the house was built in the 60's, so it took about 2 hours to remove everything. The center column came out in one piece and found a new home in the basement. The shelving was saved for a future project, but all the molding was recycled.
The next step was to sand down and use the putty knife to remove all the built up paint around where the previous shelves met the wall. I also used my version 1 stud finder (i.e., hammer...) to locate the studs on the side and back walls. Then I used the spackling compound and putty knife to cover all the holes, scratches and other imperfections in the wall, and sanded smooth after drying. I painted the wall with two coats of the white semi-gloss and let dry overnight. Total amount of time was about 5 hours for the first day.
Step 3: Building the Upright Shelf Towers
The first step of the construction phase was to install the vertical predrilled panels. Since I had already located the studs in the side walls, I simply used the screws on the material list and attached the side panels to the left and right walls. Since the whole system, once completed, is self reinforcing and stabiliizing, I only need to put three screws in each of the left and right wall panels. Remember to have the predrilled holes facing away from the wall, as those will hold the shelf supports. Also remember to have the melamine finished edge of the panel facing out. Only one edge has melamine covering it.
As we wanted 12 inch wide by 16 inch deep shelves, I then installed the opposite vertical panel for each end tower. To do this, I measure 12 inches from the hole face of the panel mounted to the wall and marked (drew a small line) on the back closet wall. I then drilled holes for the drywall anchors, inserted them in three locations on the vertical line (offset away from the line to account for the size of the bracket - that is, the face of the bracket sticking out from the wall was on the line).. If you are lucky, you may have a stud behind one of your vertical brackets - I did not. I then installed the brackets into the wall anchors. I stood the predrilled panel up and screwed the bracket to it. Use the level to check for vertical trueness. I repeated this for the other side tower.
For the center shelf tower, I measured 33 inches in from both of the outside panels I had just installed. I marked those lines. This would leave a 13.5 inch space in the middle to accommodate the 12 inch shelf and two 3/4 inch think panels. I then used the same process as above to install the center tower vertical panels. Note that the predrilled holes are all facing to the inside.
Next we installed the center horizontal shelf and the lower clothing rods.
Step 4: Center Shelf and Lower Rods
I saved the closet rods from the existing closet and installed those on the lower area 12 inches from the back wall. I then cut three 12 inch shelves and two 33 inch shelves for the central horizontal row. Note that you will need to cut lengths appropriate to the width and design of your closet and system. Once the outer and center shelves were in, I located where the pin holes needed to be on for the long shelves. The wider portion of the closet unit had the blank side with no predrilled holes. Once I located the appropriate shelf support hole, I simply drilled through to the other side. Use a drill bit slightly smaller than the hold for a tight fit. I then installed the shelf supports for the long shelves and added them.
Since only sweaters and shoes were going to be on the long shelves, the support brackets were more than adequate. If you are going to put heavier items on the shelf, then use a furring strip on the back wall for additional support. Next we will add the pull down rods.
Step 5: Install Pull Down Rods
The next step was to install the pull down rods. Typically these rods come in three length ranges, and either a standard 25 lb capacity or a 33 pound heavy duty version. I went with the middle sized 26 to 35 inch width and heavy duty version. The first photo shows the location of one of the side arms. Although they are very simple to install, simply screwing in eight small screws, placement is a bit tricky. I used the 16 inch wide melamine panels for two reasons, First, for more shelving, and second so that the pull down arms could be mounted in the center of the 24 inch deep closet. If you use a 12 inch wide board, the pull down arm would end up being closer to the back of the closet instead of centered. The other tricky part is to make sure you don't mount the device too high. We only wanted one self on top for storage, so we needed to know where to mount the arm so that when you pulled it down it cleared the top of the doorway. Once we knew that dimension, the arms were installed, and i repeated the center shelf location/drilling process for the top shelves.
Step 6: Finishing Up
The next step was to cut all of the 12 inch wide shelves we wanted and install. The last step was to cut and install all the baseboard molding and quarter round. Because I have short lengths of moulding needed (as little as 8 inches on the side walls, three 12 inch sections and two 33 inch lengths on the back wall), I nailed the quarter round to the sections of baseboard first and then nailed that to the wall. If you have a brad nailer, use that. The second day's effort took about 7 hours.
All complete the closet was refilled with leftover space! You may have to move some clothing on the left or right side of the pull down center handle to balance the weight. You can also increase the load capacity by inserting a wood dowel inside the horizontal rod of the pull down bar.
All in all it works great! We went from 90 inches of clothing rod to 132 inches - a 47% gain! We also went from 23.8 feet of shelving to over 31.6 feet - a gain of 33%! Not counting the saw blade, and with the remaining paint, spackle and nails, the whole project took about 12 hours and cost about $400.