If you have a small home or a big family (or just a spouse who enjoys shopping a little too much), you know the struggle that comes with not having enough closet space. A built-in wardrobe is a great way of solving that problem while also gaining some construction experience.
What follows is not a step-by-step how-to guide but rather a broad overview of the entire process, intended to help you determine if a built-in wardrobe is the right DIY project for you.
1. Pick the perfect location
Finding the ideal spot in your home for a new wardrobe depends on a few factors: your personal preference, how much room you have, and the design of the wardrobe you intend to build. There are many different kinds of built-in wardrobes, from smaller cabinets that fit snugly into corner nooks and other recesses to large units with multiple compartment sizes that take up the length and width of an entire wall.
Whatever you choose, make sure you’ll have enough room both inside the space (reminder: some of the interior will be taken up by the frame construction) and outside.
2. Design the wardrobe
A good wardrobe design does three things: it uses every inch (don’t be afraid to build to the ceiling), it caters to the user’s needs and tastes, and it utilizes some combination of closets for hanging items, medium-sized cabinets with interior shelves, and sliding drawers.
It’s important to measure the dimensions of your construction space exactly, and to factor in additional space for the wardrobe’s frame. While building, double and triple check your measurements regularly to ensure you don’t get too far along only to wind up with a bunch of wood pieces you can’t use.
3. Gather your resources
You can’t build anything without the right tools and construction materials. Aside from the obvious (wood, tape measure, level, saw, glue, screws, screwdriver, drill), you’ll also need fixtures for cabinets, drawers, and doors (knobs, handles, hinges).
If you’re a beginner, that should be all you need for a basic design. If you have some experience as a builder, you might need more resources (sandpaper, putty, molding) for a more elaborate design. Bonus tip: save time and money by shopping online with a Home Depot promo code, then pick up your purchases in-person to save on shipping.
4. Build a frame & drawers
When constructing the skeleton of your wardrobe, cut boards to match the dimensions of your chosen recess, then join them together with screws and glue to form a large standing box that can be pushed into place right up against the wall. Once that’s done, slot in boards to form compartments and shelves in whatever configuration your design necessitates.
Assembling individual drawers requires four long, rectangular planks of wood to form the perimeter and one thinner, square board for the bottom. Under-mounted drawer-slides can be bought from Home Depot, and put in place with screws and glue.
5. Install the cabinet doors
At their simplest, cabinet doors need not be anything more complicated than a single panel of wood cut to match the dimensions of a compartment, mounted in place by a pair of metal hinges. They can be that crude, or they can be much more elaborate. Your design and experience level dictate what kind of door you can make.
Regardless of your skill, however, it bears repeating that the most important thing you absolutely need to get right is the measuring. A door that doesn’t fit the cabinet it’s mounted to isn’t much use to anybody, now is it?
6. The finishing touches
Last but not least you’ll want to apply a few coats of paint, either with a brush or a paint-sprayer. This will help protect the wood and can easily be maintained in the event of future scratches or flaking. You’ll also want to install handles on the drawers and knobs on the doors.
That’s all you need to have a functional built-in wardrobe. You might want to consider adding baseboards, molding, and trim, as well, but such embellishments are purely optional.
And a video from Peter Millard on how they build built-in wardrobes: