Last week I showed you the shelves I installed in our guest room slash my new office closet.
I finally wrote the tutorial to show you how to do it. It’s pretty simple but there are lots of steps.
First off, you need to figure out how many shelves you want and what size they need to be.
I settled on 4 new shelves, plus the original one already in the closet. I chose to leave the original shelf and the clothes rod hardware in the closet, just in case we ever want to convert it back to a clothing closet.
I wanted two additional shelves that were the same depth as the original shelf, and then two lower shelves that were deeper.
So I needed 4 shelves, all the same width; two of them 11″ deep, two of them 18″ deep.
I also needed a bunch of 1x2s to support the shelves, and 4 metal “L” brackets to support the center of each shelf because the shelves were so long I was afraid of bowing.
Sheets of MDF are significantly cheaper than pre-cut sheets of MDF or wood, so I chose to purchase two sheets of MDF and have Home Depot cut it for me.
*Note: I had Home Depot cut the MDF into the right WIDTH but I left them 8′ long until I got home and cut them to length myself.
Once I got home with my pre-cut MDF and all my 1x2s, I laid them out in the garage so I could prime them. I learned the hard way while doing K’s board and batten that it’s easier to prime MDF before you install it.
I primed each board with two coats. Make sure you prime the front edge of your shelves as well.
When the primer was dry, it was time to begin the install process.
This may sound strange, but you MUST insert all your boards into your closet BEFORE you start adding all your 1×2 supports, like this:
If you add all your 1x2s first, it will be impossible to get the shelves into the closet because the opening of the closet is smaller than the actual closet.
Once your shelves are inside the closet, start adding your 1×2 supports. I added them all equal distance apart, so a little math was involved.
I used my nail gun to attach all the supports, but you might want to consider adding a few screws into the studs for additional support.
Now I know you are itching to put those shelves up now, but you still have to get your center bracket into place.
First, add a board a little wider and longer than your “L” bracket. The “L” bracket will screw into this board.
I added mine slightly off-center so they would line up perfectly with the bracket from the original shelf.
Now it’s time to add the “L” brackets. Use some heavy duty screws when you attach the bracket to the support board.
And now, finally, you can pull the shelves up one at a time and plop them into place.
I added several nails into the top of each shelf, down into the 1×2 supports below. You don’t want your shelf to budge, so adding nails to secure it is a good idea.
If you noticed, there are lots of nail holes and uglyness with my shelves. I filled all the nail holes with spackle and then I used caulk around all the exposed edges of wood, just to give it a more polished look.
Once everything was puttied up and dry, I used a small foam roller to add two coats of semi-gloss white paint (Alabaster from Sherwin Williams) to the tops and fronts of each board. I also used a small angled brush to paint all the 1×2 supports.
I really wasn’t concerned about getting paint and caulk all over the walls because once the white shelf paint dried, I planned to paint the walls.
And here it is now that the walls are all painted:
I used some leftover paint in my garage that my friend gave to me. She had it color matched from somewhere so honestly, I have NO CLUE what color it is. It’s a dark taupe color with a gray undertone.
Here you can see how the bottom shelves are deeper than the upper ones.
There was so much additional room in the front of the closet that I didn’t want to waste, so I’m glad I made the shelves 18″ deep. They hold a ton!
And THAT, my friends, is how you install shelves in a closet. Not too hard, just a lot of steps.
If you have any additional tips or pointers that I missed, I’d love to hear them.
A few thoughts about my shelves now that I’m finished:
* I used 1/2″ thick MDF. In hindsight I should have used the next size up (7/8″ I think?) so the shelves would be even more sturdy.
* I nailed all the 1x2s into the wall & studs. I may go back and add a few screws into the studs for additional support.
Hopefully this helped you realize that you can do stuff like this. Don’t get overwhelmed with the entire project, just take it one step at a time.