Home & Garden

5 ways to save money on DIY custom closets

The first time we looked at our 1930s Tudor, we immediately fell in love with the character. But when it came to the closets, character wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

Our master closet has sloped ceilings and a small doorway. So when we moved in, my top priority was transforming the large hall closet upstairs into my dream closet. The space, about 71/2 feet deep by 51/2 feet wide, was originally used as a linen closet.

As with all home improvements we’ve tackled as of late, this closet makeover was more complicated than I thought. But by doing it ourselves, we saved nearly $2,000 over the estimate from one professional. Here are the tricks I learned along the way.

▪ Seek professional help. When I started on this closet, I had intentions of getting it done professionally. I was blown away, however, at how expensive it was. I got two quotes, one for $1,950 and the other for $2,500. Although I didn’t end up going with a pro, their plans and designs for the space were invaluable. It helped me see the possibilities of what the space could be without paying the exorbitant price.

▪ Shop around. As new homeowners, we’re in hardware stores on a near-daily basis. I was surprised by all the closet options I found when I looked down the right aisle one day.

“We have wire shelving, wood units, plastic systems, do-it-yourself kits. We even have systems where you can make your own design, too,” said Jimmy Bagurdes, hardware manager at Menards in Franklin, Wisconsin. “We have project lists that we can print out that give you everything you need, from materials to screws and anchors.”

We decided to design our own closet using the wooden organizers from Easy Track. We bought a deluxe starter kit, three sets of shoe shelves, two sets of corner shelves and a deluxe drawer.

▪ Wait for sales. Although the Easy Track system was much cheaper than a professional installation, I still wanted the best deal I could get. Every few months or so, Menards offers an 11 percent rebate sale. All of our materials cost a little less than $600, so we were able to get a $66 rebate.

▪ Build with caution. The installation process takes time and patience. Now is not the time to cut corners.

“I always tell people to measure twice, cut once,” Bagurdes said. “Make sure you know your measurements so you aren’t wasting time and product.”

Another rule of thumb is to read all instructions before you start. There’s nothing more frustrating than being halfway done with a project, only to be forced to redo some of your work.

▪ Take inventory. This comes after the closet build, but now is the perfect time to take inventory of what you have in your closet, sell what you don’t need and make donations to charity. I sold about 12 items to a local consignment shop, which helped me recover some of the closet material costs. It also helped me make room in my wardrobe for better things to come.