Limited Closet Space

I love heritage homes. The character and custom look of an older home is almost impossible to capture in the newer homes that being built today. The amount of oak and natural woodwork simply can not be afforded by the average home owner. There are so many wonderful aspects of owning an older home, but with the character and beauty come many obstacles as well. Our home was built in 1921 and is approximately 2300 square feet. Our basement is not yet finished and although we still have ample living space, it seems as though adequate storage is a constant battle. Both of the upstairs bedrooms were remodelled at sometime prior to us purchasing our home and they both have the luxury of walk-in closets. However, the rest of the house is limited in closet space and I am always thinking of creative ways to use our space more efficiently. Such was the case with my 2012 closet make over. Tim works shift work and I have always found it more convenient to use the closet in the spare room, so that I can try to avoid going in and out of our bedroom while he is sleeping.

Spare Bedroom Closet:

Below is the spare room closet which I use in addition to one of the small closets in the master bedroom (for dresses).  The closet  is 33″ wide, 9’6″ tall and quite deep at 33″.  The space was being used really poorly, so I decided to embark on my first “build” project without the help of my husband! The original closet had one bar going across the closet at about 70″ or so with one shelf sitting on top.  All the rest was empty, unused space (other than the pile of junk I had piled up on the floor under the hanging clothes.)  Too bad I forgot to take the true “before” picture.  It was like one of those closets from a sitcom or cartoon in which the contents of the closet falls out every time you open the door!  Anyways,  I researched closet make overs and had an idea of what I wanted to do, but had to work up the courage to get started.  I am a project queen, but my husband is always asking how and why “my projects” always become “his projects”. I was so fed up with relying on him to make the cuts and use the wall plugs, etc, that I decided that I would learn to do these things myself.  What better place to start than a closet, where all of my mistakes and  slip-ups can be hidden behind closed doors.  I must admit that there was some frustration along the way and my husband notes that he has never heard of it taking so long to mount a few boards, but I literally had to learn everything.  I had used many tools before, but my husband would always get the drill bit I needed, find the proper screws, use the wall plugs if needed, etc.  I was determined to complete this project without him and at a minimal expense.

First Step:

Clean out the closet.

Getting Started:

  • I had to remove the single bar as the height would not work with my new plan.
  • I had to patch, prime and paint the closet. It was in pretty rough shape and had probably not been painting in decades. I kept it white, but the fresh paint made it look a hundred times better!
  • I then installed “cleats” (I actually know what those are now!!) to support the three shelves and the double hanging bars.
  • My husband was going to help set me up to use the table saw for the shelves,  but he was busy and I was on a mission, so I just measured them out and used the electric jigsaw to cut them.  They may not be perfect, but they seem fine to me – and I did the cuts all by myself!!  Besides, at that height, who will ever see them?
  • I also wanted to incorporate vertical storage up the front sides of the closet to make use of the empty space there.  Old closets are often very deep and there ends up being “dead” space at either the front or back that is often rendered useless. I figured out a way to make this space work for me. I purchased pegboard at the Re-store for $5 and cut, primed and painted it white to blend in with the rest of the closet. I had never used pegboard before and fortunately I was smart enough to figure out that it couldn’t sit flush against the wall or you wouldn’t be able to insert the pegs into the board. I used scrap wood to build a simple wooden frame on the back. (I even mitred the corners.) I then screwed the peg board securely to the wall with long screws, through the wood frame. This provided about a 1/2 to 3/4″ gap between the wall and the back of the peg board, so that the pegs would insert properly.
  • I went to the dollar store and purchased several little nylon fabric covered bins (or some kind of fabric similar to nylon). They had cute little handles at the ends and you could tell they were constructed from heavy cardboard (beneath the fabric). I used my We R Memories Hole Punch/Eyelet Setter to punch two holes in the backside of each basket and then set eyelets around the rims to avoid damaging the baskets with the pegs.  The eyelets also gave the basket a nice “finished” look.We R Memories Punch and Eyelet Setter
  • I then “stacked” these vertically along the front of the closet.
  • I also wanted to use the inside of the door to maximize the space.  One of the things I wanted to include was jewellery storage of some kind.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to use, but knew I hit the jackpot when I came across an old wooden spoon rack at the thrift store  for $2.50.   I simply painted it and drape my necklaces over the little rungs originally intended for spoons. It ended up being the most exciting part of the make-over!
  • I added some additional pegs for bracelets and an antique cheese grater serves as storage for my earrings.
verticle peg-board storage

I purchased this antique cheese grater for $3 at The Old House Revival Company (one of my favourite stores) and repurposed it for earring storage.

  • I followed Anna White’s tutorial for making a simple book shelf from a pallet. I love pallet projects as you can generally pick these up for free. I made a few of these and use them for vertical shoe storage. They only hold a few pairs, but take up much less floor space. I made the cuts following her simple instructions and just stained the pallet shelf for a nice finished look.
  • The three shelves above the two hanging bars are quite high and very accessible without a stool. I can reach the bottom shelf, but the other two are too high for me. I use these shelves for off-season shoes and purses. (And no this is not an optical illusion, this closet really is this high.)high shelves
  • I just added my final addition to the closet last weekend. I was keeping my scarves in one of my black baskets, but really wanted to hang them instead. I installed an old towel bar that was being stored in the basement and slid on some old curtain rings that have little clips on the bottom. My scarves now hang beautifully and don’t get creased.


I have to tell you, this closet is jam-packed! The “new” closet offers double the hanging space, triple the shelf storage, the little baskets hold my socks, underwear, workout gear, and tank tops. In addition, I managed to accommodate more efficient shoe storage, jewellery organization and most recently a great place to hang my scarves. I loved this project not only because the result was great, but because it truly was my very own build. If you look closely there are a few “boo-boo’s”, but you really have to seek them out to find them.  Happy organizing!

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