DIY Custom Closet – IKEA TARVA & IVAR HACK

DIY Closet with Ikea Dressers

My husband and I bought an almost perfect house back in 2015.  It met most of our criteria except that it lacked was a proper master suite.  The bedroom was small but it wasn’t the worst.  The bathroom and closet on the other hand… pretty horrible.  So we came up with a renovation plan to make the master suite of our dreams.  It involved gutting the closet, master bathroom and the den that was behind both of those rooms.  In this post I’ll share the full process for our DIY custom closet.  When I first started this custom closet I hadn’t yet built drawers so I designed it using IKEA TARVA and IVAR.  Turns out drawers aren’t nearly as hard as I had imagined but using IKEA dressers is definitely an even easier alternative.

Getting Ready for the Build

Here is what the project looked like on demo day.  I remember the feeling of Oh, no, there is no turning back now!  The room to the left with the light on is the old closet and the red room in the back is the old den.  We removed all of the plumbing, framed for a door to the den/new bathroom and then moved the closet wall to the right to make the closet as big as we could with still allowing a hallway where the old bathroom was.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Here is a picture after we had framed for the walls and installed drywall.  The closet is the room to the left, the bathroom is now in the back and we have a hallway to get to each of the rooms from the master bedroom.  This photo was taken from the master bedroom.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

And here is the new closet space.  It was about 18″ deeper than the old closet and the door was now in the hallway rather than the bedroom.  For reference, my expanded closet final floor dimensions were 80″ deep by 100″ wide and my ceilings are 8′ tall.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

We painted the walls, laid some new hardwood flooring and then we were ready to start building the master closet!   Looking back, I have no clue why I wasted my time paining a closet that I was going to almost completely cover the walls with wood.  I don’t know if I hadn’t fully planned out my design or if I just forgot but don’t do this if you build a similar closet.  It’s a waste of time and paint!

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

How to Build a Custom DIY Closet

This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  Thanks for the support!

This picture is of one of the lumber hauls.  I don’t have a truck so we had Lowe’s rip the plywood boards down to a size that I could fit in my small SUV.  They don’t charge for this so don’t assume that you need to find a friend with a truck or rent one to complete a project like this.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

This closet using the IKEA TARVA and IVAR wasn’t cheap but compared to what you would pay for someone else to build you a custom closet it’s a steal.  We spent around $1,400 for materials. 

At first we had looked at closet systems at Home Depot and Lowe’s.   It would have saved us a ton of time but the quality wasn’t what we were hoping for.  We also went to the Container store to check out their selection. I found a system that I liked but it was $2,600 for a 6′ section.  I would have needed 3 of them so um….. NO THANKS! 

Here is a list of the materials that we used.  I didn’t list quantities or provide a cut list because everyone’s closet will be different dimensions.  If you read through the steps that I show below you can easily modify the dimensions for your space!

Materials

2×4 boards (for base)

3/4″ hardwood plywood for base, sides and shelves

IKEA TARVA 5-Drawer Chest

IKEA IVAR 3-Drawer Chest (We used two of these). The IVAR is discontinued so I would recommend using the 3 drawer TARVA option in place of this.

24″x48″ craft boards (One for on top of each IVAR Chest of Drawers)

1×2 boards (for the face trim)

Closet Rods

Pull Handles

Base Boards

Quarter Round

Wood Screws

Pocket Hole Screws

Brad Nails

Sand Paper

Shelf Pins

Wood Filler

Caulk

Paint

Primer

Paint Roller

Paint Brush

Tools

Drill

Pocket hole jig 

Shelf Pin Jig

Miter Saw 

Table Saw 

Oscillating Tool

Hammer

Level

Stud Finder

Tape Measure

Brad Nailer 

Staple Gun

Speed Square

Sander

Clamps

Caulk gun

Pointers for Designing a Custom Closet

There are a few things to consider when designing a functional closet.  If you’re looking for dimensions and have questions on depths and heights for hanging rods in closets check out this post from HGTV that provides all of the details that you need.  You’ll want to think about things like depth and height of the hanging clothes, height of shoes and maximum reachable heights for hanging clothes.

Directions – DIY Custom Closet IKEA Hack

Are you ready to see how we turned an empty space into the perfect master closet?

Step 1.  Build a Base Frame

Use 2×4 boards to build a base.  The depth of the base should equal the width of the IKEA chest of drawers so if you are using the TARVA make it 15 3/4″” and if you are using the IVAR make it 19 5/8″.  Since our design used both of the dressers you can see that the bases on the left and right wall are a little bit wider than the base on the back wall (because the IVAR is deeper than the TARVA).

We had a weird bump out in the back left corner that we had to work around which is why I designed that corner to be shelves from floor to ceiling.  For the base we added supports every 18″ or so and screwed the frame together using wood screws.  After it was set in place and we confirmed that it was level and then screwed the back into studs in the wall.  This thing isn’t going anywhere!

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Step 2. Add Plywood to the Base

Cut 3/4″ hardwood plywood to match the dimensions of your base frame and then attach it using glue and a nail gun.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Install your IKEA Dressers.  My design included three of the IKEA Dressers.  The 5 drawer TARVA was centered on the back wall and an IVAR was centered on each of the left and right walls.  It worked out really well for my space that centering the dressers allowed for the proper space for hanging shirts to the right of the TARVA on the back wall and left usable space for hanging clothes and building shelves everywhere else.

This is the IKEA TARVA 5 drawer chest that we used.  We DID NOT use the legs or frame at the bottom.  We didn’t need the added height for our design.

IKEA TARVA 5 Drawer Chest

And this is the IKEA IVAR 3 Drawer Chest that we used. It has since been discontinued by IKEA so unfortunately this is no longer an option. The great news however is that IKEA came out with a 3 drawer TARVA! So you could just follow the steps for the 5 drawer and get a similar look to what I have.

IKEA IVAR 3-Drawer Chest

After you build the dressers and get them aligned properly on your base attach them to the wall using the IKEA hardware.  We also screwed the base of the dresser into the base that we built for added security.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Step 3.  Add Wall Backing

I wanted the closet to look high end so we added wood backing instead of having drywall behind the shelves.  For this we used 1/4″ hardwood plywood sheets.  We cut them so that the seams would be behind where the shelf walls were so that you wouldn’t see them.  The 1/4″ plywood sheets were attached to the wall using a staple gun.  I didn’t want the staples to be visible so we made marks where we knew that there would be future shelf boards and used staples there.  You can see where I drew a line 12″ below the ceiling where I knew we would be adding a shelf and you would never see the staples.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

For each of the sections we built boxes that we then set in place (more detail in step 4).  Each box had a left and right wall and a top.  Since we built boxes for the sections to the left and right of the TARVA dresser, I didn’t install the 1/4″ plywood to the left and right walls in those areas.  It would have just been covered by the 3/4″ plywood walls of the boxes so it wouldn’t have made any sense to do that.

Step 4. Build and Install Boxes for Each of the Sections

By sections I mean hanging sections and/or shelves.  When we cut the left and right walls and top for the box we made them 3/4″ shallower than the IVAR dresser to allow 1×2 trim to sit flush (note that 1×2 trim is actually 3/4″x1.5″.  Don’t ask me why, I have no clue).  you’ll also want to account for the 1/4″ plywood wall backing so the boxes should be 1″ shallower than the IKEA dresser (1/4″ for the wall backing + 3/4″ for the face trim).

To install the boxes we screwed them into studs in the back wall and the ceiling (avoiding visible screws when possible) and also attached them to the dresser using screws.  One tip that I have is to take out the drawers and screw the dresser to the box from inside the dresser so that you won’t see the screws.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

We added shelves that were 12″ below the ceiling throughout the entire closet.  These were screwed into the boxes after they were set in place when possible (you can see a screw near the top right corner).  For the last few boxes that we set we had to install the top shelf before we set the boxes.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Step 5.  Install a Nicer Top for the IVAR Dresser

Note that this step is only required if you are using the IVAR dresser (which has been discontinued).  If you look at the picture above you can see that the TARVA comes with a nice finished top.  You won’t need to do anything special with that. The IVAR on the other hand comes with a top that doesn’t quite look finished.  To solve this problem we bought 24″ x 36″ x 3/4″ craft boards and cut them to size. You’ll want the depth of the craft board to match the front of the IVAR dresser so it should be 3/4″ deeper than the walls of the boxes that you built.  When we added the trim later everything was flush and looked perfect.

IKEA has a 3 drawer TARVA option now that they didn’t have available when I built my closet so you could use that in place of the IVAR. 

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Step 6. Install Shelves

For the shelves we used a Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes which allowed us to easily install a bunch of shelves for our shoes.  The pocket holes were on the underside of the shelves.  I later filled the visible ones with wood filler so that you couldn’t see them after the closet was painted.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
Kreg Tool Pocket Hole Jig
  • Easy Woodworking Tools: Kreg pocket-hole joinery is the fast, strong, easy way to join wood-drill, drive, and done

Here is a picture of the start of shelves on my husbands side of the closet.  These shelves were for his shoes and are spaced 8 3/4″” apart except for the bottom shelf that was designed for boots and is a little bit taller at 12″.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

And here is his side with all of the shoe shelves installed.  We also added a shelf in between the two shirt hanging sections in the corner and one at the same level in the center since he didn’t need taller hanging space for dresses like I did.  This gave him some more space for folded clothes above the IVAR Dresser.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

On my side of the closet We installed corner shelves for my shoes.  Remember that awkward bump out in the corner that I showed you when I was talking about building a base frame?  Yeah, that made this step REALLY REALLY difficult.  It took a lot of sweat, frustration and curse words but we did it! My shelves are 9 1/4″ apart except for the bottom shelf which is 19″ tall since I needed a space for my tall boots.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Step 7.  Install the Trim

Use 1×2 boards as trim to trim out all of the unfinished plywood edges.  I totally forgot to take a picture of the closet with the trim installed before I painted but here is a lovely picture of me after sanding the closet and prepping it for paint.  You can see the unpainted trim a little bit in the background.  The 1×2 trim will fit perfectly vertically as it’s width equals the width of the two plywood walls.  Where there is only one plywood wall or shelf just align the trim so that it sits flush with the side or top.  The trim was attached with wood glue and a nail gun.

Note that we also installed baseboards and quarter round at the bottom.  The 2×4 base frame with the 3/4″ plywood top is the exact same height as base boards so no modifications are necessary!

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

There were also a few spots where the joints or staples were visible so we installed quarter round to cover these.  These areas included the bottom shelves where the 1/4″ wall backing met the bottom shelf and top of the TARVA dresser where it met the 1/4″ wall backing.

Step 8. Prep for Paint

Use wood filler to fill any of the holes and imperfections.  At a minimum you’ll want to fill the nail gun holes.

To prep for paint you’ll want to sand all of the wood surfaces.  I used my power Sander that I absolutely love.  It got to most spots but I did have to hand sand with just paper in a few areas.  I first sanded with 120 grit and then followed up with 220 grit for a nice smooth finish.

I’d also recommend caulking the joints before painting.  It looks so much better with nice smooth joints.

Be sure to clean the entire surface before painting as you’ll probably have sawdust covering EVERYTHING.  Note that if your rag is too wet you might raise the grain on the wood which means that the wood fibers rise and become rough feeling.  If this happens you’ll have to sand again to smooth everything out.

Step 9.  Paint, paint and paint again

First prime the entire surface with primer.  Then, use the paint color of your choice and apply at least 2 coats.  I actually had to do 3 in some areas.  This part wasn’t fun but don’t skimp on the paint.  You’re going to be taking shoes and clothes in and out of this closet everyday so you want to be sure that the surface is durable.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

I used Behr Rustic Taupe for the closet shelves and drawers and a standard white trim paint for the baseboards.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Step 10.  Install the hardware

I purchased some Pull Handles from Amazon.  Pull handles can be really expensive so I was excited when I found some for relatively inexpensive on Amazon.  I was a bit skeptical given the price but when they came I couldn’t believe how high quality they were.  I didn’t have an issue with any of them.  Follow the instructions for spacing for the handles that you choose and drill holes.  Then attach the handles with the hardware that came with them.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Install hanging rods in sections where you want to hang clothes.  We purchased the standard rods from Lowe’s and bought the brackets separately.  The installation was very easy.  We cut the rods to length using an Oscillating Tool.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Step 11. Install Adjustable Shelves

This step is optional.  I wanted the shelves above the IKEA TARVA dresser to be adjustable in height since I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to store in that space.  To do this we first built shelves that fit the space and had 1×2 trim on the front face.  I painted these as well.  You can see them laying on the floor in the image below.

To install adjustable shelves we bought a Kreg Tool Company Shelf Pin Jig.  It’s a super simple jig that made drilling holes for adjustable shelves easier than I could have ever imagined.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
Kreg Shelf Pin Jig
  • Premium Home Improvement Tools: Drill guide can create 6 perfectly straight holes at 1 1/4 inch increments to build wobble-free shelves

There are a number of ways that you can use it but what we did was clamp a template to the right and left side of the opening with the vertical board flush with the front of the face trim and the horizontal board perfectly centered in the opening.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

We then used the Kreg Shelf Pin Jig to drill a set of holes above and below the horizontal board.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

This is what it looked like after we set the adjustable shelves in place.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Finished Closet Pictures

The last step is to move your clothes and shoes in!  I recently had a three day weekend since my office is closed on President’s Day and it gave me that extra motivation to finally cross this project off my list.  We moved our stuff in that Sunday and it’s been so amazing to have a closet near our bedroom again.  I still can’t believe that this is our closet or even more that we actually built it!

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

The left side is all mine.  I have a ton of space for my shoes in the corner, taller hanging space for my dresses, an IVAR of my own and two hanging sections for shirts.  I use the top for my short sleeve and sleeveless blouses and the bottom for my sweaters and long sleeve blouses. The three drawers in the IVAR are perfect for organizing bras, panties and socks.  I’m sure you can understand why I didn’t post a picture of that 😉

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

The right side of the closet is my husbands space.  I envy the women that get entire closets to them-self.  My husband has quite the shoe and clothes collection so he needs just as much if not more space than I do.  I designed his side to have space to hang his long sleeve shirts and polos in the corner and then space to hang his sweaters above the IVAR dresser.  Since he didn’t need taller hanging space for dresses like me, we added a shelf above the IVAR dresser for his pants.  He also has floor to ceiling shelves for his shoes.

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser
DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

And here is a picture of how perfect the IVAR chest of drawers is for storing socks.  He has a lot of socks!

DIY Custom Closet with ikea dresser

Our master suite remodel is the biggest DIY/renovation project that we’ve taken on but I’m so glad that we did it.  I learned a ton in the process and ended up with an absolutely beautiful master closet in the end.

DIY Closet with Ikea Dressers

More Closet Related Articles

More IKEA Hacks 

Check out my IKEA Hacks page!

I also have a full tutorial for a DIY Custom Pantry that you may be interested in.

Thanks for reading.  I hope that this post helps some of you with designing and building your dream closet.

177 Comments

        1. Sorry for just getting back to you Holly. It’s been crazy with the holidays. I’ve printed them using google chrome as a browser. The one thing you’ll need to do is wait for the entire page to load before you print. If you try to print too soon it only prints the photos that have loaded. I hope that helps.

      1. hi there I was wondering if you showed the original size of the closet I love this set up just wonder if ill have to move some things to fit our space also do you have a printable list of instructions for this ??? Thank you so so much

    1. Thank You for sharing this DIY in such detail! My hubby wouldn’t have given a go ahead without all the “how-to” advice and pics. We have started in on the project – which I’ve had saved for months. So very excited 😆

      1. That’s awesome Moriah! If you have any questions along the way the fastest way to get in touch with me is a DM through instagram. I can’t wait to see your finished beautiful closet!

          1. Well, the honest answer is way too long. It was a side project for us while we were renovating other parts of our home so it took about a year from start to finish. That said, we would go months without even touching it. If I had to estimate labor hours I’d say probably between 40 and 50 hours total.

    2. Absolutely love it!! Can I ask what the dimensions of your closet were before you installed the system? I’m thinking our current one may be too small.

      1. I absolutely LOVE your closet build. 🙂 I’d naturally adapt it to our own home (and taste), and since both my husband and I are older –our days of ‘easy’ construction projects far behind us (arthritic hands and bad backs now in play), although we do have a reliable carpenter/contractor who just might be willing to take something like this on for us. Like you, I’ve looked at all of the closet ‘systems’ and found them wanting so was thrilled about your idea of using the Ikea dressers. PERFECT solution. For me I need all white since my closet is too dark and I’d also have to ‘shrink’ it down to fit a 5×7 space. Can you mention the dimensions you had to work with? I’d likely have to forego at least one of the deeper dressers. 🙁 but now I see we could make a floor to ceiling narrow ‘box’ with hooks to accommodate my vast collection of bags. Seriously, you’re so generous to share this and to have given the majority of the space to your clothes-horse hubby! (wish mine was). Most women do the opposite–and his section of the closet is stunning: what a fantastic sock and shoe collection. Definitely pinning this, Hannah.

        1. Thank you for the wonderful comment Elizabeth. I’m so happy that this tutorial is helpful to you. My closet is approximately 80″ deep x 100″ wide.

    1. I’d estimate it somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500. That would include everything but labor and tools since I already had those.

    1. Thank you Paloma. I was going for elegant when I chose the color so I’m so happy that you thought that when you saw it!

      1. They are holding up great. The only part of the dressers that are sub par in quality are the bottoms of the drawers. The rest of the dresser is solid pine so it’s actually much sturdier than most of the closet systems that you can buy (the ones made of particle board). I haven’t personally had any issues with the drawers but when I first installed them I figured I could replace the bottoms with a thicker piece of plywood if I had issues down the road.

  1. Hannah, so well done, I plan to follow the same process for my own closet next month! I do have a question about the closet rods themselves though. Did you measure 2” down from the bottom of the shelf to the top of the rod? How much clearance did you provide between the center of the rod and the wall?

  2. Hannah, you did such a wonderful job, I plan to follow the same plan for my closet next month! Can you tell me if you left 2” between the bottom of the shelf and the top of the closet rod? Also, how much clearance did you leave between the back wall and the center of the closet rods?

    1. Awesome! I can’t wait to see your build. I just measured and I left 2-1/4” between the bottom of the shelf and the top of the rod. The rods were spaced from the back wall anywhere from 9-1/4” on center to 10-1/4” on center. I would recommend hanging your clothes on a hanger and testing it first before you install them. Men’s and women’s clothes differ so check both if you’ll be sharing the closet.

  3. What are the dimensions of this closet for reference? I would love to duplicate this design for ours! I think it’s the same size!

  4. This is so gorgeous! I’ve been scouring Pinterest and Google for closet ideas as I’m about to redo our master and this one wins the internet! This will definitely be our inspiration when we finally get to ours. Thanks!!

  5. What an amazing job! I am SO thankful you shared- I am now beginning construction on my own closet and your build is absolutely the BEST I have seen for inspiration. I went to IKEA yesterday and got the Ivar dressers. Congrats on the beautiful work!

    1. Thank you Melissa! I’m glad that you found the tutorial useful. I’d love to see your closet when it’s finished. Please tag me on social or send pics. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Thanks Katie. The Ikea dressers are screwed to the back wall and the boxes are screwed to the dressers. Each box is also screwed into studs in the ceiling so they aren’t going anywhere!

  6. Hi Hannah, your closet is beautiful. I’m about to do something similar and just purchased the Tarva dresser. In the store, the drawers seemed very wobbly. How is your dresser holding up? Do the drawers still work well?

    1. How exciting! I remember having the same thought after I put the Tarva dresser together. I had originally planned on building new bottoms for the drawers to beef it up. The good news is that once I had it all built in everything seems really sturdy. The drawers have held up very well too. I have them stuffed with shirts and pants and even with all that weight I haven’t had any issues.

  7. We have a new Master walk in closet to design and found your beautiful DIY! I’m also a fan of the color – what type of paint did you use – semigloss? Also, what is the purpose of building the floor base? My husband thought it was a waste of time (except for the “look”).

    1. Thanks Julie. The Base isn’t exactly necessary but if you are putting baseboards in the 2×4 base is the perfect height. I think it looks a lot more custom and high end with the base.

  8. Hello! I’m mid-planning for my closet and love this article. One question. You indicated at the beginning that you attached the box frames to the walls and the dressers (To install the boxes we screwed them into studs in the back wall and the ceiling (avoiding visible screws when possible) and also attached them to the dresser using screws).. How did you attach them to the wall studs since they are perpendicular to the wall? Was it using a Kreg screw and screwing into the broad side of the vertical board? I didn’t see any cross beams added between the verticals that would have been used.

    1. Hi Kimberly. I only attached the boxes into the wall studs on the sides that matched up with my walls. For example, For the three boxes that I had on one wall, only the left side of the left box and right side of the right box were screwed into wall studs (not the studs in the back wall but the studs in the side walls). Each IKEA dresser was screwed into studs and the center box was screwed into the IKEA dresser. Each box on the left and right were attached to the center box using screws and all of the boxes were attached to studs in the ceiling using screws. I just went straight through the top of the box into the ceiling stud. Hopefully that makes sense.

  9. Hey Hannah! My closet build is happening this weekend. Wonder if you painted with a sprayer or rollers and brushes?

    1. Your question makes me laugh because I had complete intentions of spraying my closet for a nice smooth finish and then I failed miserably at it. I’m challenged with my paint sprayer so maybe you’ll have better luck but I think I was covered in more paint than my closet. I ended using a small roller and a brush to cut in the corners. I did a couple coats of paint and it ended up with a very smooth finish with the roller so I was happy.

  10. Hi Hannah

    Just a question on the 1×2 trim. I just wanted to know how you finished the intersection of the 2 pieces of trim. So where the horizontal trim on the front of the shelf intersects with vertical trim on the front of the boxes. From the pictures it looks like there is no gap or seem. It looks like one piece. I was just wondering how you achieved that? thanks again for sharing. looks great by the way.

    1. I wish that I could attribute that to my mad woodworking skills but that’s definitely not the case. I just used wood filler and sanded it down. There was definitely a small gap when I first put it up. LOL

  11. We are 1/2 done with this project! It’s A LOT of work!! We researched for months and your plan was perfect for what we needed/wanted.

    One Question: What type of finish did you use for paint?

    1. That’s so exciting Martina! I can’t wait to see your finished closet. I used a semi gloss paint from Behr. I went with the paint and primer mix (the ultra). It ended up taking 3 coats to get a nice smooth finish but it’s held up very well. The semi gloss finish is nice because it allows the clothes and shoes on the shelves to slide more easily. Plus it’s easier to dust off. A flat paint would be very hard to keep clean.

  12. Thank you!!!!!!! This is exactly what I have been looking for. I know exactly what you mean about the custom closet prices from not only IKEA and the container store! This is gonna be a huge life saver!!!!

  13. I have had this post pinned for a long time. This week we started in. Thank you for sharing all the measurements, insights and how-tos. Very much appreciated. I know my husband would not have taken on this project without them.

  14. Beautiful closet! Just curious how you handeled the return vent in the closet (I noticed it in one of the pictures)? We have one in our master closet that I’m planning to DIY with IKEA Pax, but I read that you shouldn’t cover a return vent, so I’m trying to figure out how to address it in a discrete way.

    1. Thank you. My return vent is actually between the top shelf and the ceiling so I just cut out the back wall piece to accommodate the vent. During construction I covered it with some plastic so that I didn’t get saw dust in my ducts.

  15. I love your closet it is beautiful. Thank you for for sharing it. It has inspired us to do our own custom closet. We have just started and have the base down. Can’t wait for it to be finished.

  16. This is one of the best articles of a walk in closet project. TY! The photos are a big help too. How are the IKEA dressers holding up? And interested in what type of door leads into the closet, ie: wood slat, swing direction, mirror attachment?

    1. Thanks Carol. I’m so glad that it’s helpful. The dressers are holding up way better than I had anticipated. My biggest concern was the bottom of the drawers on the Tarva dresser. They aren’t the highest quality so I figured down the road I’d have to replace them with a thicker plywood. I haven’t had any issues though. That said, I don’t use my drawers for heavy clothing like jeans so that may be a factor. I have a 15 panel glass door leading into my closet. It swings open to the left and opens into the closet which isn’t exactly perfect but outside of the closet is a narrow hallway so opening into the hallway wasn’t an option. A pocket door or a sliding barn door would definitely make life easier but I already had the glass door so I went with that. It looks great at least!

      1. I agree with Carol. One of the best articles on this topic ever! I would LOVE if you shared the width/dimensions of all your little cubbies, but if you don’t already have it sketched out, no worries. I just keep drawing options for my own closet, particularly in the corners, and I end up with a few inches and I just think it might not be large enough of an opening…but then looking at your pics, it looks similar to my sketches. So…anyway, if you happen to have your measurements and could add them to your blog, cool. or email, or not. either way, thank you for the inspiration. looks really nice!

        1. Thanks Meghan. I’ve actually been thinking about updating the post with my final dimensions. At first I didn’t think it would be relevant to anyone since everyone’s closet is different but I do get this question a lot. I’ll try to tackle that this weekend. Stay tuned!

          1. An update: We are currently building our master closet modeled after Hannah’s and I have a suggestion regarding dimensions. We went to IKEA and couldn’t find the three drawer IVAR bureau. Not sure why but we didnt see it anywhere. We did find and like the PAX system with the pull out drawer component that is installed on glides mounted to sides of cabinet. While we were there at the store we took up close photos of the installed drawer for future reference. The dimension of the drawers in their cabinets set the width and depth of the center module. We then figured out how might space was left and divided it roughly in two for the flanking side modules. The jumping board for our project was Hannahs step by step post with photos, supplies and narrative and her link to standard measurements for closets! It also was a wonderful visual for our husband and I to use in the planning stage. We used the same building materials as Hannah. Thanks again Hannah and good luck with your project Megan!

  17. Love this! Curious what you’d recommend doing if you have carpet in your closet. Should we pull up the carpet and build the base on the subfloor then replace the carpet after?

  18. This is a very impressive job, both the instructions and design. I have scoured the interwebs and this is the most detailed start to finish tutorial. Thank you! I just measured my space and this project will be underway soon!

  19. Hi, Great job, looks amazing. My wife has saved and been planning this for quite some time. So now is the time, off we go into a new adventure.

    Our closet is about the same size as yours, I have built the base, assembled and installed the three dressers, and next, to plan the walls/boxes. Except, we have 9 foot ceilings in the closet so I am looking for some alternatives to attaching to the ceiling studs.

    At first, I was thinking of cutting my ‘walls’ to 80” and the top would give us a 12” shelf between the top and the ceiling, but not sure that would be study enough. Or maybe building a 12” box to put on top of the wall box?? But that seems maybe shaky also. I do have (and used) the Kreg pocket jig a good amount.

    Any thoughts?? Any and all direction would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Geary. Sorry for the delayed response. I can think of a few ways that I would do this. If it were me I would probably build a second box for on top of the bottom one. You could screw the two boxes together and then screw the top box to the studs in the ceiling. This would give you the floor to ceiling custom closet look. If you don’t want to spend the extra money to go all the way to the ceiling here are a few ideas that I have. 1. Locate studs in the walls behind the boxes and use a kreg jig to screw the boxes into the wall studs. Your vertical box walls aren’t likely to line up with the studs so you would have to do this on the top horizontal piece or the shelf that is just below the top of the box. This is probably the easiest way to do it. You could also build a french cleat to hang the box and screw that into the studs. One other method off the top of my head would be to use some sort of mechanical fastener bracket that you could screw into the back of the box and the wall studs. Simpson strongtie makes a bunch of corner brackets that would work well. If it were 8′ up and on the back of the box no-one would ever see it. Well unless you have NBA players at your house. Here is a link that may help https://www.homedepot.com/b/Building-Materials-Building-Hardware-Corner-Braces/N-5yc1vZc8hr/Ntk-Extended/Ntt-simpson+strong-tie?Ntx=mode+matchpartialmax&NCNI-5&storeSelection=3868,3823,3813,3844,3861 Good luck and stay safe!

  20. We are at the sane place Geary is at. We have the base built and the IKEA dressers painted and installed. We do not have 9’ ceilings but have a weird triangle thing that juts in due to the roof line. Always an obstacle to overcome, eh? We are working our way around those crazy back corners. After this, it should be smooth sailing.. :). Thanks, again, for the detailed post!! Very helpful and appreciated

  21. We are wanting to build our closet using the Tavra. Unfortunately due to COVID, Ikea is closed and they will not be delivered until June and we can’t wait that long. Could you tell me how tall the chest is without the legs on it so we can leave the space in the closet for the chest to be installed? Thank you

  22. Hannah, your closet is amazing!!! I too, want to do a master closet redesign but am struggling with where to start. In addition my husband isn’t as adventurous as I am.

  23. Beautiful and well done! Is the 80″ deep x 100″ wide wall to wall including the shelves/built-ins or from outer edge of built in to outer edge of built in? Also, how deep are the shelves and built ins from wall to outer edge of builtin? 12″? 14″? 20″? Thank you so much!

    1. The dimensions are of wall to wall. The shelves are different depths depending on which ikea dresser is on that wall. The tarva is shallower than the Ivar so those shelves aren’t as deep. To answer your question, the shelves are the same depth as the dressers.

  24. Just Gorgeous! I saved this pin a while ago and decided to just DO IT! Thank you so much for sharing. My closet dimensions are different so there has been a few adjustments. BUT it’s coming together great! I do have a question regarding the type of plywood you used. I found these online and wanted to know if you could direct me as to which option would work best (in your opinion)!

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Sanded-Plywood-Common-23-32-in-x-2-ft-x-4-ft-Actual-0-703-in-x-23-75-in-x-47-75-in-300969/202093836

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Birch-Plywood-Common-3-4-in-x-2-ft-x-4-ft-Actual-0-728-in-x-23-75-in-x-47-75-in-154148/203504324

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Columbia-Forest-Products-1-4-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-PureBond-Birch-Plywood-165891/100092485

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Columbia-Forest-Products-3-4-in-x-2-ft-x-4-ft-PureBond-Red-Oak-Plywood-Project-Panel-Free-Custom-Cut-Available-2014/204311230

    1. I would go with either the second or third one. The 3/4” thickness is going to give you nice sturdy walls and shelves. The first link is for the cheaper sanded plywood but in my experience they are pretty poor quality so when you go to paint it there will be a lot of knots and ridges. You won’t get that smooth finished look. Hope that helps.

  25. I am in love with your design. I want to build a similar closet along just one long wall in my dressing room and wonder how I will make it work since I have cedar ceilings and wood beams. One beam is about 12” from the wall. I have no idea how to make this work other than have the height not as high. Ugh, I was so excited and now I’m all flustered again.
    I know you stated that the taller dresser is deeper so I was thinking o placing that one in the center and have the two smaller ones flanking on each side with the center sticking out more. Too many ideas in my head at 2:30 in the morning. I’m scared to tackle this project alone but your directions are so clear.
    One more dumb question, is the plywood that high? I only see 4ft sections height wise, I guess you stack them? I’m so new to this but I’ve been dying to make my closet mine.

    1. Thanks Denise. I’m not really following what you mean about a beam being 12″ from the wall. Do you mean that it sticks out 12″ towards the top of the wall?

      The taller dresser is actually the shallower one. The 3 drawer IVAR dressers are the deeper ones.

      Plywood typically comes in 4’x8′ pieces and I have 8′ ceilings so it worked perfectly for my space. No need to stack them if you cut them the long way. I hope this helps. If you are on Instagram I’d be happy to provide feedback on the layout if you send me a DM with some pictures of your space.

  26. This is amazing. I am going to pin it and think about doing this one. I keep thinking it won’t be such a hard build, but I’m not so sure after your post.

    1. Thank you! Honestly the only difficult part was the tricky corner that I had. Other than that it was easy but tedious work. Totally worth it though.

  27. Hi Hannah,
    What an awesome design! Can you tell me the paint color and brand that you used to paint the beautiful shelving?

    1. Thanks Lisa. It was Behr semi gloss paint. I can’t remember the color off the top of my head but it’s listed in the post.

  28. I was so excited to find your closet DIY. I have been trying to get my closet life together for at least three years. I refuse to pay a vulgar amount for cheap, particle board closet materials. I’ve literally lost sleep over it. After deciding to do this I started searching Craigslist and found an ensemble of Asian-inspired dressers. They are solid cherry with dovetailed drawer joinery and because they are antique they also have really neat removable dividers and a valet slider in the top. I negotiated to $200 for two pieces of Henredon case goods. Not bad when considering the quality.

    I’m excited to get started and plan to watch some videos on using the Kreig jigs. I’ve heard of them and have friends that have used them.

    Thank you so much for the simplest, most logical and beautiful organizational solution on the planet.

    1. What a steal! I wish I had higher quality dressers for my drawers. The IKEA ones have held up very well but solid cherry with dovetail joinery…I mean come on! The Kreg jig is awesome. You’ll love it. Please share your finished closet with me when it’s ready!

      1. Will do. Today was my first day. I’m doing it as a surprise for my husband. I must say 3/4 plywood—even at 24” wide is HEAVY as lead.

        I really lucked out with the case goods. The style is perfect, too. Very clean lines.

        I’m exhausted, but excited.

  29. Hi Hannah,
    We are about to start working on our closet and this is very helpful! Can you elaborate on how you nailed/screwed/glued the boards on the base and walls so that they have a nice finish?

    1. I was very strategic about where I placed the screws. The thin plywood on the wall was stapled on and I only placed staples where I knew there would be vertical panels or shelves to cover the staples. I did the same on the base so that the screws were not placed in any of the exposed areas. I hope that makes sense.

  30. Hi Hannah,

    Just wanted to say thank you for the design. Me and my wife just finished out closet and it turned out great. We used MDF board and materials in total were about $450. We didn’t think we can do bt after seeing your post we went for it and now all my friends are asking me to do there closets.

    1. That’s so awesome Anthony! MDF is definitely a great way to keep the cost down. So glad that you love your new closet.

  31. Hannah – this is amazing! Absolutely love what you were able to accomplish. I am planning out my closet right now, but can only do built ins on 2 sides, so I am trying to get the most bang for my buck. Have you thought any more about adding the final dimensions to the post? I am trying to decide how wide my hanging boxes and shoe shelves should be. I know that everyone’s closet sizes are different, but it would be a helpful guideline. Thank you so much for sharing your project – it was such an inspiration!

    1. Hi Amy. That’s so exciting! Yes, it’s been on my list of things to do but I’ve been super busy keeping up with other home repairs and creating new content lately. I promise I’ll get to it eventually. If it helps, the center section with the drawers are essentially the same width as the IVAR or TARVA. The sections on either side of those will vary in dimension based on how long the wall is of course.

  32. Hi Hannah, So glad I came across your post we are in the beginning stages of redoing our closet and have been scouring pinterest looking for ideas. You creativity is inspiring!
    I have 2 questions what type of plywood did you use? I now it’s 3/4″ but could you tell me more details.
    How did you guys attach the boxes to the wall? they don’t have a backing correct? Just the backing you had attached to the wall. Thank you!

  33. Hi Hannah,
    Your post is inspiring! I’m about to redo our closet and this is perfect.
    I have 2 questions for you what type of plywood did you use?
    How did you attach each box to the wall studs since they don’t have a backing?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Giani. Thanks! I used a mix of birch and maple plywood depending on what was in stock and in my scrap pile. Since I was painting it I didn’t care that they were a little different. The boxes were screwed into the ceiling studs, side walls where applicable and into the dressers where applicable. I also screwed them into the box next to them to tie them all together.

  34. Hi, I have been looking at some IKEA closet hacks and have seen a lot of people use the PAX system. Was there a reason you chose this way over PAX? Yours looks great!

    1. Hi Marcee. I didn’t go with the PAX system because I wanted something that was higher quality and less expensive. The PAX system is made from particle board whereas the TARVA and IVAR are solid pine. While it was more work to do a custom closet it actually cost less than if I were to use the PAX system in my space.

    1. Thanks Pat! The sheathing plywood that you linked to would work but I would highly recommend going with a hardwood plywood instead. It will give you a much smoother finish as there are no knots. https://www.homedepot.com/b/Lumber-Composites-Plywood-Hardwood-Plywood/N-5yc1vZc7r1

      I used a mix of maple and birch. I’ve also heard from a few others that they built the closet using MDF instead of plywood. It will cut down the cost and still give you a nice smooth finish. https://www.homedepot.com/p/3-4-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-MDF-Panel-D11612490970000/304325742

  35. Thanks for sharing your design. We used your closet as inspiration for our design. We did not want to spend a ton of money and we kept coming back to your design and jumped into the project last weekend. We finished today! The only issue we ran into was the availability of the Tarva/Ivar dressers. I can’t thank you enough for sharing. Take care!

    1. Wow you finished your closet fast Robin! I’ve been to Ikea a few times since the pandemic started and they seem to be out of just about everything. So glad that you were able to make it work. If you happen to share photos on social media please tag me. I’d love to see your finished closet. 🙂

  36. Thank you so much for creating such a detailed post. We just finished our closet that we based off of yours and I couldn’t be more happy with it.

    1. That’s so awesome Kylee. If you happen to share it on social media be sure to tag me so that I can see your finished closet! So glad that you love your new space.

  37. I enjoyed your closet project and have bookmarked it for future reference/inspiration. My bedroom closet is a reach in with just one long pole for clothes and a shelf above, and I would love to put a dresser in the center besides utilizing the space better. I agree that the pre-made closet systems seem cheaply made for the price.

    My first step has to be converting the sliding closet doors to hinged doors though. I did want to comment on how helpful I found your article and the answers to some of the questions. You are very generous and your closet turned out beautifully.

  38. Thank you for your detailed tutorial. I m in searching of inexpensive way to redo my master closet which was built from builder.

  39. Hello! First off – AMAZING post so helpful and detailed. I have a question about the shelves for the shoes. Is it just 3/4″ plywood with finished wood trim glued on the fronts? Just curious how they are constructed. I imagine the 3/4″ is plenty to support the shoes but I wondered how you made it look so nice on the fronts and what you did in the one place on your husbands side that is only 3/4″ away from the wall with the plywood and not two pieces together giving it the 1.5″? Thanks
    Mary Katherine

    1. Hi Mary! Yes, I just attached 1×2 boards to trim out the 3/4″ plywood shelves. On the wall side of the boxes where there is just one piece of plywood I used the same approach as the shelves so that the trim had a consistent look. So essentially it’s a 1×2 attached to a single 3/4″ piece of plywood. I hope that makes sense.

  40. Dang girl! You have just motivated me to get a plan for my closet! This is beautiful and your instructions are so clear! The time you took to document this space is truly amazing and appreciated!

  41. HI Hannah,

    Terrific job! I have a quick question about depth. Generally clothes closet should have a minimum depth of at least 24 inches deep, so the clothes can clear the back wall, but you mention your depth aligns with the drawers which is closer to 19 inches. Have you had any issues with clothes not fitting correcting on the hangers? Thanks for your time.

    1. Thank you! No I did not have any issues. When I installed the rods I made sure to place them so that the hangers would have enough clearance in the back. If you centered them you would probably hit the back wall with the hangers.

  42. Hi Hannah, I am about to start building my closet like yours, but one step I am confused about. You wrote “For each of the sections we built boxes that we then set in place (more detail in step 4). Each box had a left and right wall and a top. Since we built boxes for the sections to the left and right of the TARVA dresser, I didn’t install the 1/4″ plywood to the left and right walls in those areas. It would have just been covered by the 3/4″ plywood walls of the boxes so it wouldn’t have made any sense to do that.” I am not sure what you mean by this?

    1. What I mean is that I didn’t put the 1/4″ plywood sheet on the walls to the left and right of the tarva because there would have been 3/4″ material covering it in the end where the shelves need to be screwed in. The last picture in step 3 and 1st photo in step 4 show this. I hope that makes more sense.

      1. yes thank you.:) curious though my ceilings are 10 foot and what if my plywood boxes dont match up to a stud? i am in the process of starting to build it:)

        1. You should have studs at 16″ on center so as long as your boxes are larger than that you should hit a stud at some point.

  43. Hi – getting started on something similar very soon. Quick question – what length handles did you get? The 8.69″ length? Apologies if this was already answered. Didn’t see anything in the search.

  44. Hannah,
    Your closet is amazing and inspiring. I looked at tons and I do mean tons of diy designs before I ran across yours. Your instructions and photos gave me courage. I ran out and purchased the material for the first closet the following week after reading your post. It took about 3 months to finish with work and a graduating senior (yeah!!!) and from being just plain old tired. I am on my second closet using your detailed instructions. The second is taking a little more time than I like because it’s smaller and the dimensions are so quirky 15×106. I used the Rast 3 drawer dresser for this design – built the base 12 inches wide. It’s turning out beautifully Thank you

    1. Thanks so much for the wonderful comment Sharon. I’m so happy that my post gave you the courage to tackle this project. Happy Holidays!

  45. I’m about to start a quick closet redo and this was spot on what I needed to get going. Question…how did you do the corner shelves? That is the only thing I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around? Is it one piece just cut at an angle? I’m going to be doing a large corner piece and want to make sure I get this right! Thank you!

    1. Each shelf is cut to an L shape to meet the necessary dimensions. I attached thicker plywood to the back walls (3/4″) to give the shelves something to attach to. I then used pocket holes on the bottom of each shelf and screwed them into the 3/4″ material (on the back walls and the sides of the adjacent boxes).

  46. Beautiful and inspiring! Hope to begin this closet project this year with my husband. Did I miss reading somewhere, on your very informative directions, the dimensions of your closet? Mine looks similar in size, hoping to replicate it exactly.
    Thank you for giving such details on how to DIY.

  47. Hi Hannah,
    Thanks for sharing your design and taking the time for our questions. I wanted to know more about the corner shelves. Are the shelves cut to an L-shape or are they separate and connected in the corner. I couldn’t tell from the pictures. Thanks again!

    1. They are cut to an L shape. I added 3/4″ plywood to the back walls and then I drilled pocket holes into each shelf and screwed them into the 3/4″ plywood.

  48. I just have to tell you Hannah that this was one of the best how to’s I have ever read on any blog. Very thorough and easy to understand. I’m looking to do a wall of IKEA built in shelves with drawers for a basement family room. This has been inspiring. Kudos to you and your husband on your walk in closet!

    1. Thank you for the kind comment John. It was a ton of work to put that much detail into the post so I’m so glad that others are finding it valuable.

    2. Hi Hannah, I am building your closet right now- thank you so much for the inspiration! You’re amazing! I was wondering about the 24″x48″ craft boards for the top of the IVAR drawers. I’m not sure what these are exactly, would you be able to clarify? Thank you so much!

  49. Thanks Hannah. You have definitely inspired me to take on my master closet! Thank you for the detailed explanation and photos. I am wondering if I could build the base right on top of carpet. I have new wall to wall carpet in bedroom into the closet and I would prefer to not have to rip out carpet in the closet. Do you think I could build the base on top of carpet and screw the base into wall studs? Wondering if building on top of carpet will make the closet less sturdy or stable. Thoughts ?

    1. You can definitely build it over the carpet. Just make sure to level the base with shims if needed.

    1. There is 3/4″ plywood screwed into the studs on the back wall. The shelves have pocket holes that which allowed me to screw them into the 3/4″ plywood on the back and sides.

  50. Hi Hannah,

    You Have a beautiful closet!! Thank you for sharing.
    I know some things are now discontinued at IKEA, but what did you use for your corners? One is shelves and the other hanging rods.
    Thank you for your help!

    1. The IVAR doesn’t have legs so you can reference the dimensions on IKEA’s website. Without the base/legs, the TARVA is measuring at 42 -5/8″.

  51. We love the closet just wondered what did you use the brad nailer for? did you screw in the shelves. we are going to attempt to do something similar.

  52. Thank you that helps. So you used the 1×2 on the face of everything – boxes and shelves? and was the 1×2 wider than your two 3/4″ boards on your boxes and the same on shelves?

    1. Yes, it was used on the face of everything. 1×2 has actual dimensions of 3/4” x 1.5”. So it is wider than the single sheet plywood shelves and the same thickness as two 3/4” plywood sheets. Everything should be detailed in the post.

  53. What was the purpose of the craft board (looks?) just wondered why not just use the 3/4″ plywood or leave them as is. and did you just set the craft board on top of the dresser or is there a slight space?

    1. There is a whole section in the post about this if you want to learn more. There are 2 reasons why I didn’t use plywood. First is cost, second is that the edges are not finished so I would have needed to edge band.

  54. Wow they look great. You make me think that I to can achieve a great closet like this. Do you have it on video?

    1. Oh no! I’ll have to update the post. Thanks for letting me know. There is a smaller Tarva chest of drawers available that wasn’t when I made my closet. That would probably be my first suggestion to replace the Ivar. The second option would be to purchase the IVAR drawers that are still available through IKEA and build the box/housing to install them in.

  55. I see for the staple gun the link shows a bostich manual gun however did you use a manual gun or a staple gun hooked to an air compressor? i just didnt think a manual staple gun would be strong enough.

    1. My staple gun hooks up to an air compressor. I didn’t want to link that since it’s so expensive. I’ve used manual ones in the past and they have quite a bit of power. Getting through 1/4″ plywood probably wouldn’t be an issue but I haven’t personally tried it.

  56. Beautiful! I’m going to refer to your plan for my husband’s closet. Anyway, I’m just here to give you kudos for a job well done with closet the design, instructions, and your engagement in the comment section. Fabulous job on all three counts!

  57. Thank you for sharing your amazing project! Now that you have been using your closet awhile, how are your IKEA drawers holding up? Not sure about the IKEA hack with the mixed reviews on quality of construction. Thanks for your feedback!

    1. You’re welcome Lisa. They are holding up well. I haven’t had any issues with them over the last few years. I will say that the Ivar drawers are more sturdy than the Tarva which is kind of a bummer since they don’t make them anymore. If you wanted a sturdier chest of drawers and don’t want to make your own you could modify the build for any dresser.

  58. How did you make your corner show shelf? From plywood? Was it one piece for each shelf or two pieces?

  59. WOW this is fantastic, the final result is just amazing and inspiring, thank you for sharing all the details and materials list, This came out better than any closest system you would have purchase. Great Job, it looks AMAZING.

  60. Do you have plans for this? I’m thinking that one would have to have the specs for all this before starting to cut any wood. I say this because of your comment on being 3/4″ shorter so that when you applied the 1×2 trim, everything would be flush. I think I’d go crazy trying to figure out where to be 3/4″ shorter.

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