Revamping a Kid's Closet: Building a Functional and Stylish Interior Space
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After my huge accomplishment of turning bypass doors into swinging doors in my kids closet, it was time to turn my attention to the actual interior of the closet.
My son is definitely a drawer kinda kid - the most functional way for him to store his clothing is in drawers. He really only hangs his shirts and jackets/sweaters. Keeping this in mind, I knew I wanted to add plenty of drawer space in this closet for him.
Building drawers is pretty difficult, and I wanted to keep this somewhat simple so I decided the best thing to do would be use an existing dresser and build it into a larger custom unit. I headed over to my local Ikea and picked up two of these inexpensive “RAST” dressers. They were also short enough to be stacked at a height my son could actually use which was important to me.
I assembled the dressers according to the instructions but in order to stack them in a secure way, I needed to modify one of the units. I trimmed off the “base” of the unit I was going to stack on top…this way it would look more like a single, 6-drawer tower instead of two dressers stacked up.
After the bottom was cut off the top unit, I placed it on top of the bottom one and made 4 marks to drill dowel holes.
I used my drill to drill out the dowel holes and added wood glue and dowels to make a strong joint between the two dresser units. At this point, I had a solid tower of drawers to work with so I was able to move on to building out the rest of the closet.
For material, I used a big 4’x8’ sheet of MDF. I like to work with MDF because it is inexpensive, flat, and straight but its really important to wear a respirator when cutting MDF as the dust is really bad for your lungs.
I sketched out a rough plan for the closet structure and took measurements to make sure it would all fit. Once I had the exact measurements of all the pieces I would need to assemble this unit, I inputted them into the free “Cutlist Optimizer” site. I love this site because I was able to input all the pieces I needed, plus the material I had on hand which included my big sheet of MDF as well as a scrap piece leftover from a previous project. With all the cuts and material loaded up, the site produced the perfect cutlist plan, complete with steps and labels. It’s amazing and totally FREE!!
I used my Kreg Jig Rip Cut to make most of the big cuts, then I used my table saw to rip down the scrap into 1.5 inch wide strips to use as cleats and “faces” for the dresser unit.
I dry fit everything together in the garage to make sure it all worked. After I was confident in the final layout, it was time for paint.
The dresser was raw pine and the rest of the material was raw MDF so it all needed to be primed before painting. I used Kilz primer to cover everything up and once it was dry, I lightly sanded the surface to make it nice and smooth.
Originally, I planned on painting the interior of the closet the same color as the doors, but I decided I wanted to add a fun pop of color. I ended up choosing the color “Turmeric” from Behr because I really like the way it looked with the “Midnight Blue” I used on the doors.
I painted all the pieces with two coats before bringing them upstairs for assembly. My favorite way to paint things like this is with a High Density foam roller…I just feel like I always get a really great, smooth finish. Here's a great kit I found on amazon that includes the actual roller, foam roller covers, and a paint tray!
I painted the walls of the closet the same color and then it was time to assemble this whole unit. I started by placing the dresser where it needed to be and then I fit all the other pieces around it.
The main divider of the closet is the tall center wall which I attached to the wall using cleats. After that center piece was secure, I was able to install the individual shoe shelves.
I added a long shelf across the top for additional storage. On the right side of the closet, I installed two rods for hanging clothes plus a divider shelf between the two hanging areas.
I saved the old baseboards and cut them into new sizes that fit. After giving them a coat of paint, I installed them, giving this closet a finished look.
I filled all the nail holes and caulked all the gaps from assembly and added a third coat of paint. I like to use DAP Alex Plus Paintable Caulk for all my projects. It dries fast and it paints so easily.
Since I already had paint on the roller, and no wall is safe when I'm painting, I decided to add a hip 2-foot accent strip of paint along the top of his room and i'm so glad I did. It was a great way to make this room look updated with almost no added cost.
Here is the finished closet! I love the way it turned out and now it is so much more functional for my son. The drawers add so much storage and surprisingly, he has an extra 8 inches of hanging rod space with this new layout. I'm confident this closet is gonna work well for him for a long time!
The most important thing is that my son LOVES his new closet, especially the cool colors and modern design. In fact, he’s already asking me to work on the rest of his room and I can’t wait for the next phase of this project!