DIY Closet Organizer Plans: How to build a closet system

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A tutorial on how to create plans to build a closet system or closet organizer. 

As the last warmth of summer fades, I start to feel the anxiety of the most dreaded chore of the autumn season: finding space in the closet for our winter clothing. The closet rack does not budge with all the clothing we try to squeeze into one space. Our modest collection of shoes litter the floor like the fall leaves and clothes fly around in a sudden whirlwind as we try to locate a favorite T-shirt or jeans. It’s a constant struggle and I had to do something about it.

Does your closet need some organization like mine did? Maybe it’s adding bins or sorting clothes a new way. 

Or perhaps your best solution might be to design your own closet system.

You can create plans for a closet organizer yourself, even for a small closet. 

Let’s show you how to do it!

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DIY Closet Organizer Plans

With some planning and a little guidance from me, you can design a custom closet that suits your storage needs perfectly.

The steps in this article will guide you on how to create your DIY closet organizer that will utilize every available space in your closet, help you find your clothing easily, and prevent a pile-up of clutter inside this tight space. 

If you need additional help or if you want plans where you only have to enter your measurements, you can purchase one of my “closet organizer workbooks” to assist you in creating your closet organizer plans with more detailed instructions.


STEP 1: Measure the size of the closet

The first thing you need to do to create the plans for your closet system is to measure the dimensions of the closet. 

These dimensions will be how wide the closet is, the depth, how tall from floor to ceiling, and the opening of the closet. 

Make a sketch of your closet space on paper and add the measurements to the plan. 

SIDE NOTE: Our closet is 65″ wide, which is about the standard size for a closet, but since ours is a master closet (for two busy adults), it feels tiny. Thankfully, it’s as tall as our ceiling, 8’ tall, and 2’ deep so there is room to work with.

Ideas to update a small closet

STEP 2: Create your closet organizer design

Now you’re ready to create the perfect design for your closet. 

To help you get started, you can download a copy of my closet plans. You will need to subscribe to my newsletter to receive the FREE PDF – fill out the form below if you’re interested. Or, if you have questions, please visit the Q&A page on free printables/plans.

Please use my plans as inspiration for your design or maybe you will find that the actual organizer or system fits in your closet. If so, remember that you might still need to adjust the shelves or placement of the rods. 

SIDE NOTE: There are different types of closet organizers or systems available. You can combine features such as multiple shelves, floating designs, and drawers of various sizes and purposes. I have designed and built two types of these closets and lucky for you, I included both of my plans in the free PDF. 

I would recommend centering the organizer somewhere in the middle of the closet. Then, set up two hanging rods (for shirts) and one hanging rod (for dresses or hanging pants) on either side of the organizer.

The size of the organizer will depend on your available closet space and the length of your closet rods. 

Once you have decided on how many rods you want to have, how long you want them to be, and the specific dimensions of your closet organizer, add these to your sketch. 

TIP: It helps to decide on the amount of clothing you need to hang on rod(s) to determine the closet rod length. 

Here’s a look at my closet system with drawers:

paper on wood with drawer closet organizer plan

And the closet organizer with just shelves:

paper with sketch of floating organizer

Your sketch will become your closet design plan but if you want to take it one step further, create a cutting list. 

STEP 4: Determine your cuts

Now that you have your plan, you need to identify the cuts for each piece of wood. 

It is crucial to get the correct measurements for projects like this, where your organizer has to fit within a specific space. And remember, not all wood is the size that is indicated in the store, e.g. a 1”x2” board’s actual size is 0.75”x1.5”. 

SIDE NOTE: Plywood, thankfully, is normally the size indicated. 

Determine the cuts of each board on your plan and note it carefully in your closet design.

TIP: My plan includes all these measurements if you need examples. 

STEP 5: Create your cut list with diagrams

Now that you’ve determined the cuts, you need to create a cutting diagram for the sheets of plywood and trim boards. This step will let you know exactly how many boards and plywood are needed and where to cut each piece. 

In my free PDF, you will find blank diagrams for the plywood and trim. 

To create your own diagram, compile a list of all the cuts needed from the last step. Then, transfer your list to the diagram, starting with the largest pieces and working your way down until you have all your pieces identified on the diagram(s). 

TIP: You should cut each sheet of plywood into strips so it’s best to group the pieces that are the same width.

SIDE NOTE: This is where my “closet organizer workbook” will come in very handy because I go into more detail on each step- plus it has pre-determined measurements, making the process easier!

Here is an example of one of my cutting diagrams for my floating closet organizer.

paper of cutting diagram for closet organizer

STEP 6: Create your shopping list

Now that you know exactly how many pieces of plywood and trim boards are needed, it’s time to create your shopping list. 

TIP: Be sure to check the blog post of the closet organizer you will be creating to get a list of all your supplies before you head to the store or shop online, the links are provided below 

STEP 7: Build your DIY closet organizer

Once you have all your supplies and materials, start building your closet organizer. Here is a list of the closet organizers I have shared:

Take your time to design and create a DIY closet organizer plan that will work for your space. If you need additional help, be sure to purchase my closet organizer workbook for the type of closet system you plan on making. 

Now, go and build your own closet system to organize your closet the way you want. And when you find your favorite outfit for the day in less than 2 minutes, you’ll have yourself to thank for that!

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