Creating a built-in dresser out of an ugly tiny coat closet
May 16, 2020 3:24 PM   Subscribe

I have a tiny little closet - 25" wide, 24" deep and about 7' tall in my bedroom. Rather than having an ugly and not very functional closet, I was thinking about converting this into built-in drawers. What is the easiest way to attractively accomplish this? I was hoping for it not to look like a cheap Ikea organizer stuffed into a closet.
posted by arnicae to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
If you're built anything like me, I recommend incorporating something like this.
posted by kate4914 at 3:43 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]

You probably don’t want drawers so high that it’s difficult to look or reach down into them. Typically this kind of built-in has drawers up to about waist height and a cabinet with 2 doors and shelves above.

Do you hope to DIY this? It’s not a simple project.
posted by jon1270 at 4:04 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

This post talks about how they built-in their IKEA pieces.
posted by metasarah at 4:59 PM on May 16

What about if you go for baskets or containers in lieu of drawers and tried to source appropriate good looking baskets or bins that would fit into the space? You'd want something like 24 x 22 inch rectangular baskets or 12 x 22 inch baskets. Then you would only have to source shelves and it would be relatively easy for you to custom install those yourself.

If you make sure your hard materials are paintable you can paint them to match the woodwork in the room so that they look much closer to part of the structure than if you just shove a plastic dresser into your closet.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:11 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]

Agree with Jane on baskets or containers. Set shelves in the closet for the baskets, hang a curtain over the opening- that's pretty easy. (there's no door, right?)
an actual conversion into something close to a bedroom dresser would be a lot of work to end up attractive imho
posted by TDIpod at 6:24 PM on May 16

My dad helped me do something similar years ago. We cut 2" x 4"s the length of each side of the closet. Then cut 3/4" plywood to fit on the boards and make shelves. I believe he just used an electric screw driver and put the boards directly on the wall, but I don't remember for sure. I used baskets as drawers on the first two shelves. On the bottom two shelves, he modified existing drawers from an old dresser to fit right in the space with only a small gap at the top. I thought it turned out great - we sanded and painted everything bright white so it all blended together. One of the places I lived, the landlord used drawers from the kitchen remodel and did this in a linen closet. Again, I think all he did was install the drawer slides right on the wall. This sounds like a fun project! Good luck!
posted by racersix6 at 7:00 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

Low dresser under with shirt rack over is not such a bad thing. I did one of those once there was even height for a shelf over the shirt hanger bar.
posted by Oyéah at 7:09 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

Built-ins in funny spaces are so handy. Here’s an Old House Journal article with examples and links to similar articles. Because the first thing to do is make storage that fits the room, you can make it look really nice later. Moldings help. There are lots of people who have the jigs and tools to make the sides and slides and drawers out of sturdy plywood, they work on kitchens and can fit precise dimensions. Adding fancier drawer-fronts and moldings you can do later, even.
posted by clew at 7:52 PM on May 16

You can get Ikea kitchen drawers. Put a piece of plywood on top, tile it or glue down some pretty fabric, maybe peel&stick cork. Above that, I'd screw in strips of wood on the side and make plywood shelves, not quite full depth, and use big wire baskets or clear storage containers. Leaving the top open to hang things makes sense - shirts, pants, skirts don't need length.
posted by theora55 at 8:30 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

Is the opening narrower than 25"? My first thought was to go with an Elfa solution. They look nice and the components are sturdy and mix and match-able. Here's an example closet. I like the ventilated shelves with a clear plastic liner (that way you can see up through the bottom to what is stored above). It's been awhile since I did an ELFA order but they have a decent online design tool and I've had great luck with starting there and then calling customer support to add in all the little extras that I might have forgotten.
posted by amanda at 9:28 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

What a great idea! Are you a skilled carpenter or have at least completed other carpentry projects of increasing complexity? If not, I would hire someone who excels at built-ins. They will probably take the door frame off and install appropriate molding around the edges.
posted by amaire at 5:10 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]

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