7 Simple Steps to Create Built-In Closet Storage

It’s really that simple!  Built-in storage is essential in closets these days.  In a perfect world, closets would always come with a full, functioning, effective closet kit, but they just don’t.  In fact, bedroom closets are nearly useless when in their builder-grade state.  Most closets are equipped with just one rod and a shelf just above it.  This is extremely useless if you are looking to get organized!  In fact, it is almost counter-productive because the one rod and one shelf are usually placed awkwardly two-thirds of the way up the wall, leaving the top, one-third completely useless.  In addition to the wasted “headroom,” most builder-grade closets have a couple feet at each end of the closet that is made almost unusable and inaccessible when clothes are hung because it sits behind the wall.  This wasted side space is exactly the area I chose to tackle this time around.

Ok… my rant about builder-grade closets has ended.  Here we go…


You’re in luck!  These are my simple and straight forward instructions to add basic storage to any builder-grade closet- no demo required!


  • MDF (1/2” or plywood if you prefer)
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Circular Saw (and table saw if you have one)
  • Semi-Gloss or Gloss Paint
  • Brushes and Rollers
  • Caulk (and caulking gun)
  • Hammer
  • Finishing Nails
  • Drill
  • Screws (1.5” course thread drywall screws)


Step 1: Cut MDF to size for shelves and shelf supports

NOTE: My shelves all measured 17” deep by 24” wide.  Rear shelf supports were all 24” wide and 2.5” tall.  Side shelf supports were all 16.5” wide by 2” tall.



Step 2: Once all pieces are cut to size, install rear shelf supports first, leveling.  We used five screws per rear support to attach to the wall.  You may use more or less depending upon your measurements and dimensions

TIP: If you have a finishing nailer, I would recommend using it rather than screws; it will give you a smoother look.

Step 3: Install side shelf supports by aligning each one with the installed rear support and use a level to align.  Once aligned, secure to the wall with three screws

Step 4: Once all shelf supports are installed, starting with the bottom shelf, attach each shelf top to the shelf supports using four finishing nails.  Simply use a hammer to tap in each finishing nail

Step 5: Using paintable caulk in a caulking gun, apply a sufficient bead of caulk around the edges of the shelf that touch the walls and then smooth with your finger


Step 6: Once the caulk dries, you’re ready to paint!  Using a semi-gloss or gloss paint (for resiliency and durability), paint the shelves on all sides

TIP: MDF really likes to soak up paint, particularly on the cut edges.  To seal the edges of the MDF and use less paint, mix 50% water and 50% glue.  Paint mixture on with a paint brush, allow to dry, and then you’re ready to paint.  You will NOT regret this step!


Step 7: ENJOY! 

Arrange your belongings on the shelves and bask in the newly organized beauty!!!

So, that’s it!  It’s really that simple and now that you know how to do it, my guess is that you’ll get addicted like me… I’m in the midst of planning several more closet makeovers… whether Eric likes it or not!