Small entry closet makeover for every budget

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As you watch your children carelessly toss their belongings into the messy alcove near the front door, an entry closet makeover seems more of a necessity than a distant wish. 

Because let’s face it, a butler is not a realistic staffing option. 

An entry closet needs to be efficient and accessible to everyone in your family. 

You want it to hold your essentials for each changing season, from coats to shoes and everything else in between. 

And it has to withstand the whirlwind of commotion as the kids race to the car for the enviable seat.

Can your small entry closet do that? 

Most likely, it is like mine – wasted space, no sturdy shelves and one feeble rack to cram all the clothing for my entire family.

update small entry closet

It’s common that most entry closets are designed only for coats, but why is that? We need to take off shoes, too.

Find out how you can customize exactly the kind of entry closet makeover your whole family needs. And it will not cost more than a new coat. Or a butler.

Let’s get started…

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  • 3/4″ plywood
  • 1″x2″ board (this is the trim)
  • 2″ brad nails (can use 1-1/2″)
  • 1-1/4″ brad or finishing nails
  • liquid nails (optional)
  • 1-1/4″ dowel (the coat rod)
  • rod socket
  • paint & primer
  • caulk
  • spackling paste
  • #220 sandpaper



When designing your plan, think about the functions you want your closet to have when it is finished.

For example, the space above our rack was under-utilized so we decided to put shelving above the coat rod. Also, our metal shoe rack was unappealing and rickety so we designed built-in shoe storage underneath.

Create your plan by measuring the entry closet space and draw a sketch of the closet. 

SIDE NOTE: Each shelf will need a brace that is secured to the wall. I normally use 1″x2″ boards for a standard shelf, but for the brace that holds the coat rod, I used a 1″x6″ board cut from plywood. 

This is the sketch I created for my entry closet:

closet makeover plan

TIP: If you need help starting your project and creating a plan, be sure to download my “Start a DIY Project Workbook.”


From your sketch, you can determine what size of boards you will need. 

For example, I used plywood for the shelves and bracing. So, with my sketch, I knew which cuts I needed and the amount of plywood to buy.

After I cut the wood to the sizes on my plan, I sanded, primed and painted them.

SIDE NOTE: To ensure a proper fit, don’t cut the trim board until you’re ready to install it into the closet. Once you sand, prime, and paint the full 8ft board, you can cut it to an exact fit.


In my house, we have plaster walls on top of brick. I found that the best way to secure the bracing to the wall is to use Liquid Nails. You don’t have to use this particular product but it makes installation a breeze! 

But if you have studs (wood behind the drywall), I recommend securing the bracing to the studs in the wall for extra support. 

Starting with the first shelf, mark the wall where the top two braces will be placed (top shelf).

Placing one brace on the marked spot (mine would already have Liquid Nails on it).

installing shelf in closet

Then, using a level, make sure the brace is level before securing it to the wall with 2″ nails (see images below for example).

TIP: Be careful to not nail into any electrical wiring that could be hidden behind the wall.

When you install the upper shelf, it must be placed first before adding the next brace, or else it will not fit properly. Set the shelf onto the one brace and then add the second brace the same way as before.

Secure the shelf to the braces using the 1-1/4″ nails.

updating closet

Next, install the bracing and shelf for the coat rod (6″ bracing) the same way as the top shelf.

Now you are ready to install the shoe shelves. 

SIDE NOTE: This is the same process as the other shelves, but have a look at the photos for more detail. 


No entry closet makeover is complete without customized shoe shelves!

First, mark where each shelf will be placed.

measuring distance between shelf for closet

Remember that the plans I shared above have the spacing that I used, but they are each about 6-1/2″ apart. 

TIP: Focus on one shelf at a time, starting at the bottom.

Next, place the braces for the bottom shelf, level the braces, and nail them into place with 2″ nails.

add brace for shelf

After, set the shelf onto the bracing and nail into place with 1-1/4″ nails.

nailing shelf into place

Then, move onto the next shelf and repeat the same steps.

closet makeover


Almost done! Now we will add the 1″x2″ trim to the front of each shelf. 

Measure the front of each shelf, noting the exact size needed for each shelf trim piece on a piece of paper. 

TIP: It is better to cut the trim piece slightly larger to give you room to adjust when you’re installing it. 

After cutting the trim pieces, check their fit on each shelf, and adjust if needed. Then, use 1-1/4″ nails to secure the trim to each shelf.

nailing trim to closet shelf


Once all the trim is installed, use a pin punch tool to make sure all the nails are slightly indented into the wood.

hammer and pin

Then, fill in the nail holes with spackling paste or wood filler. When these dry, lightly sand the spots with #220 grit sandpaper.

After, fill in all the gaps where the shelf meets the wall or trim with caulk. Caulk is a fantastic way to make your build look more professional, be sure to visit my article with all my tips and tricks when it comes to applying caulk like a professional

Then, prime and repaint the areas that you patched holes and added caulk.

organize closet

Next, install the pole sockets onto the 6″ bracing for the coat rod.

closet rod socket

Measure the size of your rod and cut it to size. Then, stain and seal the rod if you are using a 1-1/4″ wood dowel. 

SIDE NOTE: Don’t be in a hurry to toss your old materials – you might be able to reuse the previous rod.

After the wooden dowel has dried, secure the rod into place. 

Your entry closet is now complete!

entry closet makeover on budget

By giving your entry closet a makeover, you have added a lot more shoe and shelf storage to your home. 

Who needs a butler anyway?! Not you!

But don’t stop organizing with one closet. Visit my projects like the floating closet organizer and the closet system with drawers to transform your standard bedroom closets.

entry closet makeover on budget

Entry closet makeover for every budget

Yield: one updated closet
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 6 hours
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 6 hours 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $

Are you finding that your entry closet is not working for you? It's a place where your family carelessly toss their belongings because there is only a coat rod. Find out how you can customize exactly the kind of entry closet makeover your whole family needs.


  • 3/4″ plywood
  • 1″x2″ board (this is the trim)
  • 2″ brad nails (can use 1-1/2″)
  • 1-1/4″ brad or finishing nails
  • liquid nails (optional)
  • 1-1/4″ dowel (the coat rod)
  • rod socket
  • paint & primer
  • caulk
  • spackling paste
  • #220 sandpaper


  • table saw or circular saw (or have it cut at the store)
  • miter saw
  • air compressor with a nail gun
  • orbital sander
  • level
  • safety glasses
  • face mask (for dust)
  • ear protection


  1. Create a sketch (plan) of your entry closet and design it to have more functionality.
  2. Cut the wood and sand it smooth with an orbital sander.
  3. Prim and paint the wood.
  4. Secure the bracing for the shelves to the wall.
  5. Place the shelves into place and secure them with nails.
  6. Build the shoe shelves the same way by securing the bracing then placing the shelf.
  7. Install the trim to the fronts of the shelves.
  8. Fill in nail holes, apply caulk to seams, and touch up areas with paint.
  9. Install the pole sockets for the coat rod.
  10. Cut the dowel to fit then stain/finish the dowel.
  11. Install the dowel into place and enjoy your new closet.
small entry closet makeover
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