How to Install DIY Closet Shelves

DIY Closet System with Shelves

Kwanchai Khammuean / EyeEm / Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 6 hrs
  • Total Time: 5 - 6 hrs
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $550

If you are like many homeowners, your closet is in serious need of organization. An untamed mess of clothes, shoes, and accessories may greet you each time you open your closet door. To organize your closet, you need the proper tools of organization: solid wood shelves faced in melamine or laminate, plus two generously long closet rods.

Adapting a Wood Closet System

For ease of installation and a truly professional look, a wood closet system forms the structural core of this newly organized closet.

To sidestep the issue of the closet's two pocket doors meeting in the middle and blocking access, one L-shaped closet tower occupies either the right or left side and a straight tower next to it. Both towers have open shelves, though you may wish to spend a bit more and purchase towers with drawers.

Leading from the central tower to the other end of the closet are two closet rods, one above the other. The result is a sturdy, professional-looking DIY closet shelving system that is flexible enough to adapt to your needs in the future.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Ladder
  • Bubble level
  • Cordless screwdriver, with bits
  • Pencil
  • Hacksaw
  • Manual screwdrivers
  • Tape measure
  • Rubber mallet
  • Stud finder
  • Flat pry bar
  • Painter's tape


  • 1 wood closet system corner (72 inches by 30 1/2 inches wide by 30 1/2 inches deep)
  • 1 wood closet system tower (72 inches by 25 1/4 inches wide by 14 inches deep)
  • 2 48-inch to 72-inch adjustable closet rods
  • 20 to 50 2-inch screws
  • 6 1 1/4-inch screws
  • 2 12-inch by 72-inch melamine or laminate shelf


This DIY closet shelving system is placed in a standard, sliding double-door closet found in many bedrooms ranging from 150 to 250 square feet. At a minimum, the door opening should be 59 inches wide by 79 inches high. The interior available space, at minimum, would be 88 inches wide by 91 inches high, with a depth of 24 inches.

  1. Remove Baseboards in the Closet

    If the closet has baseboards, remove them. Use the flat pry bar to gently pull the baseboards away from the wall. Lay the baseboards aside.

  2. Mark Studs in the Closet

    With the stud finder, locate all vertical studs within the closet, on all three walls. Mark with small pieces of painter's tape. Place the marks above 75 inches, so as not to interfere with the tall tower units.

  3. Build the Towers

    Build the two closet towers according to manufacturer specifications. Most wood closet system pieces employ a cam-lock system with dowels for joining sections so that the fasteners are not visible. Cam posts are screwed in clockwise by hand and are left protruding. Adjoining cam locks are then screwed into place; usually just a quarter-turn is sufficient to secure the cam locks. Always be sure to attach the gussets (thin fiberboard panels) to the back to maintain square.

  4. Install the Corner Tower

    Depending on how you wish to configure the closet system, the corner tower can either be on the right or left side of the closet. Most corner towers will work in either direction. Push the corner tower securely into the corner. Attach the unit with the 2-inch screws, driving the screws into the studs marked earlier.

  5. Install the Central Tower

    The next tower will be attached next to the corner tower. Attach it to the back wall of the closet with the 2-inch screws. Attach the two tower units to each other with the 1 1/4-inch screws.

  6. Cut the Mounting Boards for the Closet Rods

    Cut one of the 72-inch melamine shelf boards twice at 24 inches, to produce two receiving boards for the far end of the closet rods. Each board should be 24 inches by 12 inches.

  7. Install the Mounting Boards

    Mount the two boards on the far end of the closet wall to act as a support board for the closet rods. Make sure that you use 2-inch screws and that the screws fully sink into the studs.

  8. Mark the Closet Rods

    Place two marks on the receiving board, one at 68 inches high and another at 34 inches high. Repeat these marks on the side of the center tower. With the bubble level, check that horizontally-adjacent marks are level. Do this by holding the level on top of a closet rod and checking it against the two marks. Each rod should be 12 inches away from the back closet wall.

  9. Install the Closet Rods

    With the included hardware, mount the two closet rods, one above the other, at the marks.

  10. Optional: Mount a Shelf Above the Closet Towers

    To maximize space, you may wish to mount an additional shelf above the tower units. Mount four dual-track shelf supports, each 18 inches long, in that upper space. Each dual-track support should be screwed into a wall stud. Purchase four shelf brackets and one additional 12-inch by 72-inch melamine or laminate shelf. Snap the brackets in place and screw the shelf securely onto the brackets from the bottom.