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Cedar Built-In Closet System: A How-To | Killer b. Designs



Cedar Built-In Closet System: A How-To

I’m going to pre-apologize for the epic awful-ness of the photos in this post. My closet is on one hand massive (height and length wise) and tiny (width-wise) so it’s pretty much impossible to get any decent angles. I also have the dimmest lights on the planet in there (IKEA’s LOCK – don’t get these!) so I had to use my flash. Yuck. Anyway, this was the current state of our master closet. I’d gotten two rods hung on each side, and everything else just piled up while I figured out how I wanted to do my built-ins. And yes, that’s a ballet-performing zombie eating a bleeding heart. I heart zombies. She makes me feel purdy when I get dressed.

Okay, now that you’ve beheld my disorganized glory, let’s get to the good stuff. The organizer! I spent about $250 and 2.5 hours on my plan, and it’s huge. Like 10 feet long by 8 feet tall huge. I couldn’t snap a pic of it in its entirety, so I stitched together a botched up view of it in Photoshop.

Please pretend you’re looking at it straight on and it’s a lovely rectangle. Here’s what one unit looks like alone:

LOTS of storage space! I planned, built and installed it all myself, so don’t feel too intimidated. If a toddler-whipped, sleep-deprived munchkin-person can do it, YOU can too! Want to know how? Here’s how easy it is!

• 10 – 1 x 12 x 8′ cedar (or pine or melamine, whatever floats your boat. There are much cheaper options, you could do this for under $100 with other materials. But I like the look of cedar, less work since I leave it unfinished, and the smell as well as natural bug-repelling properties)
• 1 – 1 x 12 x 10′ cedar
1 – 1 x 2 x 10′ cedar (optional trim)
• 10 – 1 x 2 x 8′ cedar (optional trim)

• 8 – L-brackets and mounting hardware

Cut List:
• 4 – 1 x 12 @ 8 feet (no cutting, yay!)
• 1 – 1 x 12 @ 10 feet (no cutting, yay!)
• 12 – 1 x 12 @ 4 feet (cut six 8′ boards in half, easy!)

Step 1

I started by pre-drilling all my 8′ boards with three pocket holes in the top so I could easily attach my 10′ board later. I also pre-drilled all my shelves with 3 pocket holes in each side so I could get a good tight hold. I laid my 8′ board on the ground and measured for my shelves. My shelves are at these measurements: 18″, 24″, 30″, 48″, 60″, 72″. I wanted a lot of space at the bottom for boots, two narrow shelves for flats, a large space for baskets and visual space, then 1′ shelves for more baskets and storage with the long shelf on the top.


Step 2 –

I placed each shelf on the lines for their measurements and attached with 1 1/4″ drywall screws. I ran out of Kreg screws and I use these on soft woods that don’t split easily.


Step 3 – 

I flipped the shelf over onto the other board, making sure the pocket holes are on the top end and all my measurements line up. Then again with the pocket screws and voila! A large shelf unit. So easy.


Step 4 – 

Then I built an exact replica so I could have two units. You can mix it up by placing the shelves at measurements that work for your different uses. My 6″ ones were a bit too short. I’d recommend not going shorter than 8″.


Step 5 – 

It’s hard to see here, but once I had my units upright and in the position I wanted them I placed the 10′ board on top and started with the left unit. I lined up the top to be flush and square with the end, then drilled in the 3 pocket holes. I measured 48″ over and marked it, then drilled in the right side of the unit. I moved over to the left unit then repeated the process, working from the outside in. Once this was done I located my studs and added four L brackets to each unit. Two on the third shelf up, and two at the very top. If you peer closely at the photo below you can see one of the top brackets. I used 2″ screws into the studs and 1/2″ screws into the units. It’s quite sturdy and will handle any toddler attempts to scale it.


Step 6 – 

Finally it was time for trim! I started at the top with the 10 foot trim. This is really hard to do alone by the way. If you have a helper get them to lend you a hand and hold the other side. Anyway I used 1 1/4″ staples and stapled on my 10′ trim. Then I measured the side trim and stapled that on, then the six shelf board trim. It really took things from looking kind of plain to kind of awesome.

My husband really puts me to shame with the boots. Apparently I need a few more pair! In the center (where my bath tub tv is currently stored) I’m going to add a full length mirror. And hang up my zombie girl. Gotta represent.


  1. Jake

    Killer I think you did a great job. Do you have future plans to line the walls with cedar? Also I could not tell if the shelves were adjustable. If not consider buying a Kreg shelf pin jig and making a few adjustable. I have the jig and it is really fast and accurate. I look forward to your finished product – if it is ever finished. We are never done are we?

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      Nope, never done! I was joking the other day that by the time I get all the projects on my to-do list I’ll be ready to start remodeling 😉 My shelves aren’t adjustable, but I think I’ll take your advice and invest in a shelf pin jig. It’s one of those things that’s so handy when you have it. I’m not planning on lining the walls, but I am doing all my wall trim in cedar 1×4’s so the closet blends in. I’m adding a large mirror to the center, and possibly some hooks on the sides for belts and such.

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