How to Make a Closet for Under $30

I've lived in the same apartment in NYC for over two years. And there are a lot of great things about this place. I've had two roommates and now Mr. T lives with me. But the one thing that I hate about this is the fact that is doesn't have any closets. Yes, you read that right. This places has no closets. Not even in the bedrooms. So I guess technically that makes our two bedroom apartment a studio with a few separate rooms. Anyway, over the last couple of years I've learned to deal with it and it's especially nice now that Mr. T and I are living together because we can use the second bedroom as a closet. But, when I first moved here, I had a minor meltdown. Where the heck was I going to put all of my clothes? Armoires and other related pieces of furniture are pretty expensive and I was short on cash (because, you know, I just moved to NYC). So are all those fancy closet systems. Plus, those things are huge and my room definitely wasn't very giving in that category.

So, with the help of my mom we "built" my own "closet" using a few simple supplies that were really inexpensive. It worked perfectly in my room for a while and, now, it works even more perfectly in our extra bedroom.

Here's the gal's guide to making your own closet for about $30-$40.

Please note: I am so far from a handyman so I didn't include step by step instructions on how to hang everything. This is a project that's meant for people who are fairly handy and already know how to hang things. So, if you're not comfortable hanging things get a friend who is to help.

What you'll need:

  •  Shelves and brackets
  • A rod and rod bracket
  • Screws
  • Anchors (aka mollys)
  • Screwdriver (preferably electric)
  • Hammer

I didn't list amounts or sizes because it really depends on your personal needs and where you're planning on putting it. You'll want to measure your wall space and then plan accordingly.  I chose shelves that are 35 inches long and I bought 3. The wall I put them on was rather large so it really didn't matter and this was the biggest that my local hardware store had. I also didn't want them to be too long because I felt that would be difficult to hang well.

I bought a bar that was about as long as the shelves. I just had my local hardware store cut it so it was the right length.

You'll also want to know how much space you have from floor to ceiling so you can figure out where to hang everything and how much space you'll need. I did this by using the bar as a guide. And I figured out where to hang the bar by being a girl and using a dress as a guide. Basically I just held a dress up to the wall and made sure it wasn't hanging on the floor and then hung the bar in that spot. (Don't worry, you can easily still hang other dresses by folding them in half and hanging the end on the hanger. I do it all the time.)


I hung my shelves about 13 inches apart. I didn't want them to be too close together because I wanted to be able to stack things and not run out of room. I also didn't want them to be too far apart because I don't want the stacks to be huge and fall over. I ended up with quite a bit of room left at the top before I hit the ceiling, but it's nice because I don't have to stand on a chair to get things. It also allows me some space if I want to add more shelves.


Things can get a little tricky when you're hanging which is why I chose the cheaper brackets (aside from the fact that they are cheaper and who needs to be fancy for a closet?). They're so much easier to hang though. Honestly, I eyeballed everything and ended up just fine. I tested to be sure each shelf was level by using a pencil. If it rolls then you're in trouble (because it’s not level). You can also use an actual level if you're nervous.

I live in an old building so I didn’t need anchors for that many of the screws. But it's super easy to figure out if it you do. Just hang the bracket with the screws and give it a little tug. If it stays you're good. If it comes out of the wall, you need an anchor. You'll also know once you put the shelves on the brackets.

It took me under an hour to hang everything and now I have a closet that looks nice. It also holds all of my stuff without being huge and bulky (read that as it doesn't take up a lot of space) in our extra bedroom. I honestly barely notice it and I work in there all day since our office is the other half.


I openly recognize that it kind of looks like The Gap (my mom and I actually joked about it), but it doesn't bother me. And, since I'm notorious for having my clothes all neat and organized, the open storage doesn't bother me either. I find the neatness makes them easy to find. However, you can easily put baskets or other containers on the shelves to hide things. The shelves would also work well for shoe storage.


There's also many other options in terms of how you hang things. You can alternate the shelves or buy different sizes or even buy a longer bar to give yourself more hang space. I don't need that much since I work from home and don't hang a ton. I also like the neat uniform look. The possibilities are endless and that's one of the best bonus points for this option as a closet.

Obviously I put it in a room, but you could easily do this in a closet space as well. Or maybe even use it for a mudroom or an entry way.

So there you have it. A closet for $30. Not too shabby.