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How to Remodel a Coat Closet; DIY Industrial Pipe Shelves

Updated: Oct 25, 2023



A coat closet is an interesting thing. It is supposed to organize and contain our outdoor gear, but often becomes so overstuffed with items that it is hard to find anything. This is especially true in my (Marie’s) house where we have many children equating to many coats, hat, and shoes. I was determined to take control of the situation and find a solution.

Remodeled Coat Closet

I had the classic set up in the closet with a high shelf and a hanging bar. In a bid to have some form of organization a few years ago I placed a shelf with cubbies on the back wall and gave everyone their own cubby for shoes. This kind of worked, but required frequent reorganization. As the kids have gotten older, their coats have too. It came to the point that the coats were covering many of the cubbies and would get knocked down regularly as kids were looking for their shoes. The hat basket that was on the top shelf would be taken down and frequently left in the walkway. This really wasn’t working well.


I finally came to a solution. I didn’t have to stick with the standard setup. With my limitations removed I started to think about what I really wanted in my closet. I wanted to be able to easily put away shoes and find mates. I wanted bars for our many scarves and low baskets for hats and gloves. I also determined I didn’t want any coats. The coats took up so much room and many of the kids have trouble with hangers. If you are thinking about redoing your closet just sit back and decide what you really want in there first.

Coat hooks in stairwell.

I decided to place coat hooks on a board and install them in our stairwell. Everyone had one hook and if they had any more coats they could hang them in their room. This worked so well. The kids were way more willing to hang up their coats and it made it so much easier to find them again when it was time to go.

Pipe fitting shelf brackets

I like to sit down with a pencil and paper and sketch out some ideas before I get started. I try to keep an open mind though because often as I am working on a project I get ideas that I think are better. I knew I wanted to use the hardware that looked like pipe fittings. My daughter and I had done our bathroom in that and it fit our house well. I started by measuring the closet and estimating how many shelves/bars/baskets I thought would work in there. After that point, I was able to get the supplies.

Hanging basket

Supplies list

5/8 inch screws

2 inch screws

7 – 8ft 1 x 4inch pine boards

2 – 12ft 1 x 10inch pine boards

Varathane Kona wood stain

polyurethane

foam brushes

4 – towel racks

1 – 19.5 inch wide wall basket

2 – 22 inch wide wall baskets

24 – black pipe metal wall hooks

24 – black pipe metal base

I try not to cut all the boards until after I can set a few in there because often what seemed to work well on paper will be too close or not look right in reality.

Tools

The first thing we had to do was clear out the closet. After we had removed all our stuff, we took everything else out. I had decided as long as we were doing it I would replace the carpet at the same time. Often hardware stores will have remnants available for an inexpensive amount. This made it easier to paint as we didn’t have to worry about the carpet.


We had a few additional issues with the closet. First off, there was a water control panel on the back wall that we needed to maintain access to. Also, the boards in the wall were irregularly spaced. Because of this we had to alter our plans and use the header and footer boards in the wall to attach our runner boards to.


Now that we knew how we were going to do the runner boards we were able to prep the wood. We measured from the ceiling to the floor and went to cut our 1 x 4 pine wood to 8ft in length. I like to double check the cuts so I bring it in and try it out before I do any staining. Especially with trying to hit the header and footer boards it needed to be a kind of tight fit. We needed 2 on each wall. Next, we stained it with Varathane Kona stain. After that dried, we applied a coat of polyurethane to seal it. It needs a few hours to dry.

Basket centered on runner board.

Now we were ready to install them. We used the towel bars to determine where we wanted the runner in the back. We centered it and then made the wood fall right under the attachment plate. We marked the wall with a pencil so we didn’t loose our spot. After attaching the back runners, we used the baskets to determine where to place the side runners. Again we centered them on the wall and adjusted the runners to be under the attachment point of the baskets. We did this on both sides. We attached the boards with 2 inch screws at the top and bottom.


Now that our runners were up we could begin attaching hardware. We began with the 4 towel bars we placed them 1.5 feet from the top and spaced 1 foot apart after that. We were able to test how accessible the water panel was and found that it worked better than our old system.


Next, we put up the shelves. First, we had to cut, stain and polyurethane the wood. We cut our 1 x 10 inch pine wood down to 23 inch lengths to cover the depth of our closet but allow a little wiggle room. We did 12 shelves, 6 for each side. We took the caps off our wall hooks and replaced them with the metal base so there was a base on each side. You can buy them this way, but because there was a good sale on these at Hobby Lobby, we were able to do it this way for less. We also needed one additional board on the back to go between the runners for the basket to attach to. Ours was 22 3/8 inch but you want this one to be a tight fit so there is no gap, so measure yours to be sure. We had a couple of boards in the wall for this section so it gave us something to attach to. We used a stud finder to know where to screw in. We placed the top of this board at 1ft10in from the ground. Next, we installed the hardware to the shelf using 5/8 inch screws. We determined placement by centering the board to the wall on the ground upside down and placing the 90 degree hardware centered against the runners. We then screwed them to the shelf. Repeat this for all 12 shelves. Now that the hardware was connected to the shelves we were able to install them to the runners. We started by marking our placement for the top of the shelf (from the floor) at 2ft, 3ft, 4ft, 5ft, 6ft and 7ft3in. The top shelf is pretty high so it will just be used for storage of off season shoes. Having it higher gives a little more room for boots on the next shelf down. We used a level and our marks to place our shelving using the 2 inch screws. We started at the top and worked our way down. This is when it was so helpful to have a second set of hands.

Glove/hat baskets

Now we put in the back basket. I placed this slightly down from the edge of the crossing board. I used baskets from hobby lobby. The back basket was 19.5 inches wide and the other two were 22 inches wide. All of them had wall mount holes on the back corners. I use one for hats, one for winter gloves and one for work gloves. The side baskets I put on the runners with the top at 11 inches from the ground. This leaves a little room under all the baskets that makes it feel cleaner and allows room to place friend’s shoes when they come to visit.

Filled closet

Now the closet is finished and ready to provide the organization I need. It has worked out fabulously. I am so glad I tackled this project in a nonconventional way because it has worked so well for me.

If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

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