We used IKEA BRIMNES bookshelves to create our own custom master closet system for a lot less than it would have cost if we’d used their PAX system.
With the closet freshly painted (please see the Master Closet Makeover Plan, if you haven’t done so already), we were ready to install the components of our DIY closet system – five IKEA BRIMNES bookshelves and one BRIMNES 3-drawer chest. But first, we had to build the five bookcases and one chest.
And by “we,” I of course mean, “Baris.”
I’m so thankful that we’ve managed to get most of the major makeovers involving IKEA out of the way before he leaves for college this summer. Baris has been a godsend since he started building our IKEA purchases a couple of years ago. He actually enjoys building IKEA, a concept that is so foreign and incomprehensible to me, that I suspect my son may have been replaced by an alien. Alien or human, I’m going to miss him terribly when he’s away. I don’t think his mother is ready for it. I may not be either.
Oh, of course I’ll miss talking to him, hanging out with him and watching movies with him, but here’s the real stab in the heart: once he’s gone, the burden of building IKEA furniture falls back on me, and that will likely spell the end of the uneasy 5-year truce I’ve had with the Swedish juggernaut.
But as much as I loathe building their furniture, I know an IKEA shopping day brings my babes a boatload of joy, so I will continue to shop there, if only to see the smile on her face when we leave. And I begrudgingly admit that their furniture has improved in quality and is far more sturdy than stuff from Wayfair or Joss & Main or Overstock that costs two or three times as much and is infinitely harder to build. (I’m looking at you, office desk!)
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As Baris finished each bookcase, Handan and I were there to slide it from the bathroom into the closet and place it along the walls.
Our plan was to install two hanger rods between each bookcase – one high, one low. We would also be installing rods between the bookcases and the walls. In order for the heights to work out where we could hang two levels of clothing without the upper shirts intruding upon the lower, the top hanger rod had to be just a little bit higher than the bookcase. The easiest way to determine the height and ensure level placement of the hanger rod was to rest it on the top of the bookcase, attach it to the bracket and then use the stud finder to determine where to screw it into the wall.
Once I had the stud located, I drove a single screw through the bottom hole of the shelf/hanger rod bracket.
I used a torpedo level to level the bracket, and then I secured it with a second screw. Where I couldn’t find a convenient stud, I used drywall anchors to secure the brackets. [What – no jokes about you being the “convenient stud”? LOLOL – Handan]
With the brackets mounted on the wall, I measured the space between each BRIMNES or between a BRIMNES and the wall. I then cut the hanger rods to size and put on end caps for the upper rods.
For the lower hanger rods, I installed the brackets on the side of the bookcases, 1/2 inch in from the front edge.
Installing one of the lower hanger rods between two BRIMNES units…
Here’s a look at an upper and lower hanger rod and the shelf that runs all the way along the top. We used Rubbermaid brackets, hanger rods and shelves – nothing fancy, but they do the job.
Of course, as soon as I finished a section, my babes couldn’t help but start hanging things and stacking things on the shelves. As you can see, what used to be her side is now my side.
Just across from the picture above, we put a BRIMNES 3-drawer chest instead of a bookcase, and next to the chest, I installed another shelf/hanger rod. This hanger rod is a little higher than the ones between the bookcases, and it’s where I’ll be hanging my suits and anything that’s a little longer than normal.
You’ll see in the final pictures that I installed a second shelf above the first with smaller brackets. I will be keeping my dress shoes on those shelves.
The Rubbermaid shelves are nothing more than plastic-coated particle board – certainly good enough for the job with enough support, but floppy as heck without support. Since there were no brackets over the bookcases and no room to put any, the shelf sagged under its own weight.
It’s a little tough to see, but that board is sagging towards the end. Anything put on there would make it sag down to touch the BRIMNES below.
To support the shelves over the bookcases, I cut pieces of scrap shelving to the correct height and placed them under the ends of the shelves.
I drove two screws from the top to secure each support.
And I drove one screw in from the bottom. This not only anchored the shelf to the BRIMNES, but it also served as a wall anchor for the BRIMNES.
My final step was to measure the spaces along the floor between the bookcases and the walls and then cut and re-install the baseboard. I had a few more small shelves to install, but the main chunk of our master closet makeover was complete. In the pics below, Handan only placed a few articles of clothing, just so you could get a sense of what we’re placing where. The closet will be full in the reveal post.
Let’s start on my side, since it’s now closest to the door.
Everything hangs perfectly – no dragging on the floor or bunching up between levels, and there’s plenty of space behind each article of clothing, so the hangers don’t rub up against the wall.
Another big plus of our BRIMNES closet system is that the 13 3/4 inch depth leaves plenty of aisle space to walk around, get dressed, dance a quick polka or whatever else strikes our fancy.
My dress shoes and space for suits and jackets. My everyday shoes will go on a shoe rack that my babes just ordered.
We replaced the plain BRIMNES handles with these more elegant ones Handan ordered from Amazon. For the bookcases, she ordered a smaller version.
Now let’s head over to Handan’s side.
That’s a bookcase from Target on the left. It’ll hold most of her shoes. We had to buy two of them to get enough extra shelves, but at $35 each, buying two wasn’t a problem!
We didn’t put a second hanger rod between the BRIMNES and the far wall, so Handan has a place to hang her long dresses.
This is the opposite wall of the one pictured above.
I installed a little boot shelf for her with room underneath for a few more if she needs. That shelf required a lot of grunting and flopping around to install. Lucky for Handan, she walked in on me while I was
having fits on the floor working.
She laughed and said, “poor my babes, flopping around like a walrus!” Then she held out her hand and helped me up – no easy task after I’d been floorbound for so long! But with that shelf, the hardest part of this master closet makeover was finished. Now we’ll be filling in the empty spaces with our clothes. Handan has a bunch of smaller storage solutions to show you in the reveal post.