Tips for Reconfiguring a Closet

We have now reconfigured all three closets in our family bedrooms—our own and our two daughters. It’s one of the BEST DIY projects almost anyone with basic woodworking skills can do. I know there are so many fancy closet systems out there, and I would totally do one of those if I had a walk-in closet. But for our standard-size closets, I found it easier to do it the DIY way by moving things around and adding shelves. Each one needed to be a bit different due to our storage needs.

I’ll start off with Marigold’s since it’s the newest!

For Marigold’s closet, I decided to keep the one long closet bar. It was repainted gold using Rust-Oleum Clean Metal Primer, the Metallic Stops Rust in Rose Gold, and the Crystal Clear Enamel finish. We had some wallpaper left over from her wall, that we used in here as well. You can see here that the shelves up top are the same, but we added more shelving to the bottom. This is a super easy way to update a kid’s closet. They always have so much wasted space.

We used the cheapest white dresser from Target and added shelves to the sides of it to give it a built-in look. We also added vintage hardware, which I purchased from eBay.

I am a BIG fan of having more drawers in a kiddo’s closet. Even though both our girls have dressers, there are just SO many little things to organize—especially when they are still in diapers. These drawers are very helpful!

Look at how much more custom and useful this closet is now! And if, for some reason, the next owner of this home didn’t want these bottom shelves, they are easy enough to remove.

Next up, Nova’s closet. This one has a bit more of an elaborate design. It’s also a wider closet, so that makes a difference. I wanted a lot of little shelves for her sunglasses, which had been useful. They could also be used for shoes. The one thing I like better about Nova’s design is the bottom clothing rack, because I put all her coats and sweaters down there. It keeps it organized.

Again, these are custom built. I know some people think we should post a DIY, but unless you had the exact same closet and the same storage needs, that wouldn’t necessarily be helpful. Anyone who can build a shelf can build a set up like this. I do recommend buying the drawers though, it saves a lot of time!

For my closet, I have a double closet, which is awesome (Jeremy has his own too, we just happen to have three small closets in this home). Before we did anything, the smaller one had two bars (for tops and skirts/jeans, I assume) and the larger one had one high bar (for dresses), which was too low. So many of my dresses and jumpsuits dragged on the ground.

I thought long and hard about my priorities and how I wanted to best store what I owned. I decided to make the small closet a floor-to-ceiling shoe closet. It holds all my shoes and is the perfect amount of space for me! I did have to cut down my collection to fit them all in initially, but I really needed to do that anyway.

In the larger closet, we made half for long dresses and jumpsuits (and it’s higher now so nothing touches the ground) and half for tops, skirts and pants. It’s not a huge closet, but again it’s absolutely perfect for the amount of clothing I want to own. I don’t consider myself a minimalist per se, but I do find SO much value in keeping a tightly edited closet with only items I am excited to wear and that fit and flatter my body.

Thanks so much for reading! If you have any questions at all Collin or I would be happy to help you! xx – Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • I’d love to hear thoughts on configuring a narrow, deep closet – we have multiple in our house and have never come up with a good way to use the space well. Right now the bavk of the one in our kid’s room is being used as a “secret base”, which he thinks is perfect but we’re slightly less excited about.

    • Haha! That is so cute!

      I think it all depends on what stuff you have to store. So look at your closet, look at your stuff and decide how you can best use that space. Maybe it’s as simple as buying some containers or shoving a dresser in there- maybe it’s something you want to build out like ours. 🙂

    • On organize it.com you can find pant hanger valet hooks. I have a long, narrow closet. I put these hooks along the long wall. Space them according to what you will hang on them. They have 6 holes for hangers but you can put more. And they fold down if your closet is really tight. I love them!

    • My daughter used to have one like that- in hers, the bars went on the side, running front to back!

  • Amazing tips! I suck at keeping my wardrobe organized because it’s so old and fragile that there isn’t much I can do. I still found this post very interesting and will take some ideas for when I get a new wardrobe.

  • Stacy – we had closets like this in our 1950’s bungalow. We bought the Algot frame with mesh baskets from Ikea and they fit perfectly and helped us utilize those closets which were narrow and deep!

  • These closets look great! But… I do think it is weird that there’s no info on how someone can DIY this for themselves. I get that all measurements will differ, but no info? Links to trusted sources of yours or similar projects? Not even links to your previous reveals of Nova’s closet/ painting the closet rod that have more info for someone who needs it?

    This post did provide your line of thinking in making decisions about HOW to organize, which I’m personally always interested in. However, that info also doesn’t translate to others people’s closet situations.

    I appreciate this post for its inspiration, but ABM’s experience and knowledge base could certainly provide more; at the very least, links to info determined by the ABM team would be appreciated.

    • I get that! Honestly- these closets are made of JUST a. parts we had from the original closets b. one dresser in the new closet (linked above) and c. wood that Collin cut custom for these spaces, built and painted. There are endless posts online on how to build a basic shelf and sometimes I don’t feel I’m the best person to write them. 🙂

      Anyway! These customizations have helped us stay more organized and I’m so happy we did them! If you have any other specific questions, I’m here to help!

  • We have a dresser with very shallow drawers. This meant that clean laundry was always piling up b/c I didn’t want to wrestle to cram my stuff into the dresser. But, the clutter of laundry baskets full of clean clothes (that slowly got disheveled while I looked for things) was equally annoying.

    We also have a walk in closet, so I slid all of my hanging stuff down, and my husband put in 3 ~5′ shelves for me. GAME CHANGER. All of my items are grouped by type (separate piles for jeans, vs leggings, vs capris, vs shorts, etc) and it’s a breeze to put clothes away now! And finding things is much easier too. It was such a simple and affordable solution! Plus, I took the opportunity to donate items that I hadn’t worn (or fit into, lol) in years. Wins all around!

  • Can you please tell me where you bought the white shelves to hold your shoes? I have an older home with long, narrow closets so I need custom shelving. I love the thickness of yours.

    • I can’t tell how these were built, but you can get that thicker shelf look by adding a piece of trim to the front of the regular thickness shelf. We live in a small city and struggled to find nice wood for some shelves we built in my kid’s room. The wood for the shelves was about 7/8” thickness and we did (i think) 1 1/2” trim for the fronts, attaching flush with the top of the shelf. It’s different than these because we used brackets to attach them to a open wall but that was how we ended up creating a more finished/thicker wood look. You can see it looking from underneath but it looks great head-on.

  • I will be bookmarking this blog post. I love how much use you were able to get out of each closet, with the help of properly placed drawers and shelving. I also have 3 closets in the house that will benefit from this type of planning and I am EXCITED!! to make it work.

  • Pinned all of these pictures. We have huge built in wardrobes, but they are such a waste of space with only one long rail and a single shelf running across the top. I’ve taken to just piling boxes at the bottom. Never thought to actually build shelves into the wardrobes. Nova’s is especially inspirational. What you can do with such a small space is incredible!

    Emma | https://geekytourist.com

  • Very random but where are those lilac/pinkish shoes from in the first photo of your shoes next to the roller skates??

  • That’s an amazing transformation! I love the wallpaper in the child’s closet. So pretty. Too bad I rent or I would so copy! x

    -Jackie | Jackieomy.com

  • Great article. I love the green baby change / chest of drawers on the right of the first photo. Where is it from x

  • Ok, the all-shelves closet would kill it for me, personally. But for the kids, we could definitely use something closer to the first one. Thanks for the inspiration!

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