Quick $50 Linen Closet Makeover

I’ve heard a few people refer to this past week as “the week that felt like a month,” and I couldn’t agree more. So much has changed in such a short amount of time, and my life “schedule” has been turned upside down. I hope everyone is staying well and trying to find a little joy in some of the new changes.

If, like me, you’ve suddenly found yourself with a lot of free time, then let me encourage you to tackle a quick and easy DIY project!

My husband and I completely transformed our linen closet for $50 in just four days. (It would have taken much less time, but we got a little lazy with painting the coats on the shelves, haha.) It was very simple, and I thought I’d share a short tutorial with you.

Before I get started, I wanted to share a photo of the “before” and talk about the space. When we moved in, this closet had only one wire shelf.

Since there is already a full-sized coat closet elsewhere in the house, I am kind of stumped as to what this closet was intended to be used for. Storing the vacuum, maybe? *shrugs* Since there was no linen closet anywhere in the house, we decided that this space would be the perfect place for one if we added more shelves. Meanwhile, our pantry was working overtime trying to function as a pantry and linen closet. It was not pretty.

We had to devote two of our pantry’s four shelves to storing things like paper towels, extra soaps and toothpaste, and extra cleaning supplies. It was definitely not ideal since (1) it left us with very little room in our pantry and (2) I hated storing chemicals and soaps in the same location as food (even though I was always careful to only put them on the bottom shelves and stored them in bins as an extra precaution). As you can see, we were very motivated to gain some more usable storage space!

Okay, let’s get into the tutorial.

DIY Linen Closet Shelves

This project requires very few materials and tools, and you might even be able to do it without going to the hardware store if you have any spare paint and wood. Here’s what we used to complete this project:

Tools & Materials

  • Three pieces of 1×2 in. pine
  • As many shelves as you need in whatever size you want (we bought one large piece of MDF and had a Home Depot employee cut it into four 26×19 in. shelves) (YES! You can have your wood cut for you for free at Home Depot and Lowes!)
  • Finishing nails
  • Spackle or wood filler
  • Trim paint (we used Behr Nano White in a semigloss finish)
  • Wall paint (we used Behr Nano White in an eggshell finish)
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Stud finder
  • Spackle knife
  • Saw (for cutting the 1×2 in. pine)
  • Sander (to sand the 1×2 in. pine)
  • Nail gun or hammer (we purchased this nail gun and compressor for this project, but we have several other projects planned that will use this tool)
  • Paint brushes or rollers
  • Paint cup or tray (depending on how you are painting)
  • Drop cloth
  • Pencil or pen

1. Gather tools and materials.

First, gather your tools and materials. We had everything we needed except the wood (and nail gun/compressor), so our trip to the home improvement store didn’t take very long.

Before you go, decide how much wood you will need. We determined our ideal shelf size and number, and then we determined how many inches of the ledge pieces we would need.

At Home Depot, we got three pieces of 1×2 in. pine (to serve as the shelf ledges) and one large piece of MDF, which we had a very nice Home Depot employee to cut into shelves for us. I recommend asking an employee to cut your wood for you, especially if you don’t have a truck or a circular saw at home. Home Depot and Lowes will usually do up to 12 cuts for free, and after that, I’ve heard it’s only a dollar or two per cut. Worth it!

2. Prep the 1×2 in. ledges.

Since we had a saw at home, we opted to cut the 1×2 in. pieces ourselves. First, Kendall measured out the pieces. You’ll need three pieces per shelf (two sides and one back).

Then, Kendall cut them using our circular saw. I was a good helper and held the ends still for him while he cut 😉 After cutting them, he sanded them down to make them nice and smooth. Since our shelves were MDF, they didn’t need to be sanded. But if you use plywood or pine for your shelves, you’ll probably want to sand those too.

3. Paint.

We wanted to give our linen closet a fresh coat of paint, so while I painted the closet walls, trim, and door, Kendall painted the ledges and shelves. It was chilly outside, so we laid down a drop cloth and used cardboard boxes to prop up the wood as we painted.

For some reason, we painted the first coat on the shelves with a paint brush, which took forever. I highly recommend using a paint roller instead. It’s so much faster!

We used a semigloss finish on the ledges and the shelves so they could be easily wiped down and cleaned.

4. Install the ledges.

Once you get two coats on the 1×2 in. ledges, it’s time to install them! These ledges will hold up the shelves, so it’s important to make sure you nail them into studs. We used a stud finder to locate the studs on the three walls where we would be nailing the ledges.

Next, start nailing! We nailed each piece in three spots: the ends and where the studs were. Kendall put several nails in each spot to make sure the shelves were very secure. He loved using a nail gun for this project since our closet is a smaller space and using a hammer would have been a little difficult, but you could definitely get this done with a hammer. Just make sure you are using finishing nails so you can patch the holes.

Use a level to make sure the back and side ledges line up properly. Otherwise, you might end up with wobbly shelves.

After you’ve installed all the ledges, it’s time to spackle the holes. After the spackle dries, sand it lightly or go over it with a wet cloth to smooth it down, then give it one more quick coat of paint.

5. Install the shelves.

Once you install all your ledges, your closet should look something like this:

Even though there are no shelves, this looks so much better already! The new coat of paint really freshened it up.

It took us a few days to get three coats of paint on the shelves, so once your shelves are dry, gently fit them into your closet. If you’re having trouble fitting the shelves into place, sand the ends a little more. With any luck, your finished product will look something like this:

6. Fill the shelves and spend an hour staring at the beautiful result.

Did I stare at my finished closet for an hour? Maybe not 😉 But I do keep opening the door and admiring the transformation when I walk down the hallway.

Although the shelves made this closet 100 times more functional, the real MVPs are the storage solutions. Thankfully, I already had some storage baskets and bins, but if you don’t have any, you can get them for very cheap at places like the Dollar Tree, IKEA, or Walmart. Target also has a newer line called Made by Design that has some affordable and stylish storage pieces.

I sorted my items into several categories: dental items (floss, toothpaste, extra toothbrushes), medicines and bandaids, extra hygiene products (shampoos, soaps, deodorant, contact solution, etc.), extra cleaning supplies, and paper products. Then, I used the baskets and bins I already had to corral the items. This will keep things neat and tidy so we don’t have to dig around when we more shampoo or toothpaste.

I also already had a linen storage bag, and I highly recommend them! I can’t find the exact one I have, but this one looks nice. I use it to store extra blankets, seasonal throws, and other linens we don’t use often. The closed bag helps keep them fresh and organized, and I don’t have to have a haphazard stack of blankets precariously balanced on the top shelf.

And that’s how we transformed a wasted space in our home for just $50 and a few hours of spare time! I wanted to leave you with one last photo of a of the before and after side-by-side comparison…

Thanks for following along on Instagram! You were all so supportive, and I think some of you were just as excited as I was with the finished product 🙂 Feel free to ask any questions!

Have you worked on any projects during the COVID-19 quarantine? How are you keeping busy during these strange times? Let me know in the comments!