How to Build a Closet in Infinity Days

Day 1:  One of the wire shelves in your closet comes loose from the wall on one side rendering it useless.  Take the clothing that was hanging in the closet and lay it in piles around the bedroom.

Day 5:  Go to Home Depot for new fasteners. Buy the EXACT SAME brand.  Take them home to reattach the wire shelves and realize that the sizing has been slightly changed over the years and they do not fit. Feel frustrated, and pull out the rest of the wire shelving because it was ugly and you hated it anyway.

Day 6:  Pout.

Day 7 – 12:  Put on some music and hang out in the closet, removing plastic wall anchors, patching millions of holes. Sand, patch, rinse, repeat.  Take off the doors while you are at it, and decide you don’t want to put them back on

Day 13:  Paint the inside of the closet.

Day 14 – 17:  Research those fancy gorgeous closet systems. Dream of having a built-in shoe rack and slide-out, cedar-lined sweater bins. Figure out that you could instead buy a used car. Buy neither.

Day 18:  Realize you will have to build this yourself.

Day 19 – 25:  Find and price closet systems that you can install yourself. Learn that they are over priced and overwhelmingly made of wire shelves.

Day 26:  Mope.

Day 29:  Notice the Ikea shelves that you  have in your kitchen.

Run upstairs and grab a shirt on a hanger from one of the piles of clothes on hangers around your bedroom. Test that it fits on the Ikea shelf. Get excited.

Day 33:  Wake up early to go on Ikea adventure. Eat a giant breakfast for like, twenty-three cents in their great cafe while you wait for the store to open. Feel proud of yourself for being there so early, finally learning to ‘do Ikea right.’ Find the Grundtal kitchen shelves and the cool Ekby Jarpen shelves with neat brackets.  Take some home. Also buy cool drapes to hang in lieu of doors.

Day 35: Measure. Take the shelves to Home Depot for some free cuts.

Day 41 – 48:  Spend an entire week hanging shelves, one or two at a time because the stupid battery operated drill isn’t powerful enough and you have to use a screwdriver and your hands get tired and once you walk away you generally don’t come back until the next day.
Use plastic wall anchors in the drywall where there is no stud.  Have trouble with the plastic wall anchors hitting wood in one spot.  Figure out that if you clipped the wall anchor, you could still use it to screw into the drywall with a bonus of the end of the screw going into wood. Hang two of the Grundtal shelves upside down because you are not paying attention. Get finished — and this step is important — decide not to correct the upside down shelves.
Put your clothes away and feel great about yourself. Hang the curtains in the doorway with a tension shower rod. Notice that they are a bit long.

Day 50: Hem the curtains.

Day 55: Build shelves in the closet above where you have placed a dresser. Start by having no idea how to properly build shelves. Notice a previous owner has attached some 1x4s to the wall.

Decide to use them as a ledge, installing more so the shelves are fully supported. Like this.

*****I don’t know if this is a CORRECT way to create shelves, but it worked for me so I will show you how to do it. It will only work if building them where there are already three walls, like in a linen closet or a cabinet, or in an awkward area on the inside of a closet, just like in the picture above.*********

I asked the Saw Guys at Home Depot to cut the wood for me, making the wood that will become a side ledge about an inch shorter than the depth of the shelf.

(I decided to use the coated melamine for these shelves to more closely match the Ikea shelves that I had already installed, but of course natural wood is great and maybe preferred so use whatever you like for the actual shelves.)

Then I drilled two or three small holes in the 1x4s. These should be smaller than your screws, so your screws will still hold. I didn’t measure this at all – I HATE measuring. Then add the screws, screwing them JUST past the other side of the wood.

Hold the wood up to the wall with a level balanced on top, moving it around until you have it where you want  it.  Tap the screws with a hammer so they leave indentions on the wall behind the wood.  That’s where the plastic wall anchors will go (if you are hanging on drywall).

I really like a particular type of wall anchor that doesn’t need to have a pre-drilled hole in the wall. It has a screwy bit and a pointy tip. You just tap the pointy tip into the wall with a hammer, then twist in the screwy bit with a screw driver. Maybe these aren’t that revolutionary, but I got VERY excited when I discovered them a few years ago. The old school kind that my dad taught me to use were complicated and tended to break while I was trying to get them into the wall. No more.

Attach the 1×4 by twisting the screws the rest of the way through the wood and into the wall anchors. It helps to have a powerful drill with a cord at this point. You can’t always count on your wimpy little cordless drill in times of need. My hands were hurting by the time I finished. But I DID finish.  In ONE day.

The shelves should just rest on the 1x4s, you won’t need to attach them. Unless you want to. I did not want to. I even added hooks for belts, because I just couldn’t. get. enough. screwing.

Day 56: Get your camera to take pictures of the closet to show the Internet how to build an entire closet system for around $200. Feel very proud of yourself. Walk into the bedroom and notice there is clean laundry to put away. Don’t take a picture of the pretty closet. Decide to put the laundry away first.

Hang a shirt made of lead on the rack and watch as this happens. (I took the clothes off the rack before I snapped this pic because I was afraid the other side would rip out of the wall from the weight.)

Do you see what I mean about EVERYTHING BREAKS?

I should have seen it coming. I hung the shelf upside down so the longer ends were on the top, which apparently is not how science and force and gravity work. Also, the top left screw was loose when I put it in, because I hit wood or something with the wall anchor when I first put it in, had to remove it, clip the end, then screw it back in. Whoops.

So. Here we are today. (It is kind of tricky to take a picture of the inside of a closet, especially when there is a very heavy dresser in the way.)

Notice the patched wall where there used to be another Grundtal shelf/clothes rack.

I cannot reinstall the same rack because it bent. And I cannot buy another one because of the gaping holes left when the plastic anchors ripped from the wall. I can patch it and sand it and repaint it but I can no longer expect that area to hold any weight.

Any ideas?


2 thoughts on “How to Build a Closet in Infinity Days

  1. “Hang two of the Grundtal shelves upside down because you are not paying attention. Get finished — and this step is important — decide not to correct the upside down shelves.”

    I was wondering whether you’ve noticed any structural difference between the upside down Grundtal shelves and the rightside up ones?

    I’m asking this because I’m thinking of doing so on purpose, to avoid interference from a wall outlet.

    Any observations from experience would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    • Yes, actually. The sides that were screwed into drywall only eventually pulled out of the wall. I reinforced by screwing wood into the studs then screwing the shelves into the wood, so neither side of the shelf is in drywall. And they have been fine for years. You might try the wood piece if you want to use them upside down. I turned them right side up when I fixed them but I think it was the wood that made all the difference. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s