How To Build An Industrial Chic Closet Organizer (Part 2) – AKA. My Closet Is Still Cooler Than Me.
It’s finally time, m’dears, to reacquaint you with a little project of mine.
It’s a project that’s going to make all the guys hate me because all of the girls are going to want the guys to build it for them but I have news for you, you conniving girls: While Justin was deployed to Afghanistan, I built this baby with my own bare hands (and also a power drill and several bottles of beer) and you can, too.
I did have a little help, though. The awesome Kelly at the Home Depot in Fayetteville, NC was kind enough to cut approximately eight-bajillion pipes down to size for me, and one of his cohorts cut all of my shelving to spec. And my friend Alaina’s husband, Dirk, had to help me hang it because their baby wasn’t strong enough to hold it up yet.
So the last time I talked about this thing was August of 2012, when I gave you all kinds of great details about how to prep your closet for your new super chic organizer, information about what kinds of galvanized steel pipes and fittings you might need, and a list of the various supplies I needed in order to build different parts (like shelf supports and hangar rods) to my specifications.
You know, the boring stuff.
But now that I’ve had several (try eight) months to test it out, we can finally move on to the good stuff and you can see how it all came together. I believe the only photos you’ve seen were ones that showed the (mostly) finished closet with only a few clothing items for scale, like this:
But now, ladies and gents, I can finally show you the finished project.
After, of course, I show you the rest of the steps. Because once you have your plan and all of your pieces, you still have to assemble.
Step 5: Assemble
What I didn’t realize when I started this project was that my galvanized pipes wouldn’t exactly be ready-to-go when I arrived home. They were super oily from the cutting machine, and they had these sharp little “teeth” embedded into them where the machine gripped the pipes:
So I used an inexpensive metal file (that thing sticking out of my hand above the pipe) to file them smooth. It was really quick and simple. Then, I soaked the pipes in a bathtub filled with water and dish soap to de-grease them:
And I laid them on some towels to dry:
I let them dry overnight to make sure I didn’t trap any water inside, and then it was time to assemble. Simply twist the parts tightly together…
You can’t make a closed circuit. You just can’t. If you try to make a closed circuit with your pipes, you’ll be screwing one end of the last pipe in while unscrewing the other end. That said, I did it anyway. In the photo above, I was able to fanagle the long pipe on the right — the one between the two “T” fittings — into the structure. (That pipe ends up being the lower of the two hanging bars of the unit on the back wall.) It can twist and spin because there’s some give on either side of the threads, but the entire piece is designed in such a way that it’s impossible for that bar to come out once the unit is hung.
They don’t all have to be super tight. The threads grip so well that you can use them to adjust — screwing and unscrewing as necessary — to make sure everything is level.
Step 6: Prep Shelves
Like I said before, Home Depot was kind enough to cut my shelves for free, so all I needed to do was stain them. (If you want a more “finished” look, buy some pre-made shelves with a finished edge.) I used two coats of Minwax stain in mahogany, applying it with a foam brush, letting it sit for about ten minutes to penetrate, and then wiping it with a rag.
They weren’t perfect, but I figured that worked with the rustic look I was going for, anyway.
Since my shelf supports were made of flanges attached to the wall and 12″ pipes, the 11.25″ wide pine boards (they’re labeled as 12″ wide in Man World for some reason) fit perfectly once the fittings are screwed in.
Step 7: Mount
Seriously? With all of the mounting and screwing and nipples in this project, I’m probably going to get a lot of disappointed search engine visitors to my site.
Sorry about that, folks. But in all honesty, this closet organizer is a total turn-on for me, so I’m pretty sure it could be for you, too.
Mounting these puppies to the wall is pretty straight forward. I used two screws per flange. (I bought these # 6 x 1-5/8 in. drywall screws from Home Depot, but I’ve since found these drywall screws even cheaper.)
The individual shelf brackets were easy peasy, but the larger units required some help. I designed most of the system so that the flanges would screw into studs. If you build this yourself, I highly recommend that you plan to screw studs. I mean INTO studs.
Mind, meet gutter.
I used anchors in a couple of places so the supports would be more aesthetically pleasing, but if you want to err on the side of safety, use studs. Or at least better metal anchors over these large plastic ones.
Also, I was constantly checking to make sure things were level.
Once all of the supports are secure, add the shelves! As long as your supports are far enough apart, the shelves just rest on top of them.
Step 8: Accessorize
I knew I wanted some wall hooks to hang hats and whatnot, so I ordered some red faucet handles from Etsy, (I also found these pretty, shiny new ones) glued them onto some screws, and attached them to the wall with anchors.
I also ordered this IKEA Kristaller chandelier for only $25 on Ebay.
Hey. With all of that manly industrialness going on, I had to have something feminine. When he got home from Afghanistan, Justin was able to Jerry-rig this baby so it hung closer to the ceiling.
For the dress hanging rod that spans the corner between the back wall unit and the shelving on the left, I ordered two of these 3/4″ x 1/2″ black plastic saddle tees from Home Depot to hold the pipes in place. **UPDATE** These plastic saddle tees gave out on me after several months. Apparently my dresses — and maybe those galvanized steel pipes with the elbow bend — were just a little too hefty to be held up by plastic. I ended up ordering these brass 3/4″ x 1/2″ saddle tees from GP Lawn and they worked much better!
It would’ve been more sturdy to integrate steel “T” fittings into each unit, but the idea of ensuring the whole thing would be level in the end proved too daunting of a task, so I opted for this route. I do have to tighten them with a screwdriver occasionally because the steel pipes are so heavy, but it works perfectly for dresses.
Finally, I hung a mirror.
Every girl needs a mirror.
I could’ve spruced it up to transform this cheapo Target wall mirror we’ve had forever into something more interesting, but c’mon. I was burned out.
Plus it matches the plastic hangars.
And that’s IT!
I added all of our clothes back in (actually, way more clothes than had previously fit), and while I rue how these plastic hangars look in the photos, I’m thrilled with the final product.
If I were better at staging for photos, it would look much more pristine, but hey. This is how we live. If you decide to tackle this project yourself, I want to give you a realistic expectation of how it will turn out.
And to me, it turned out pretty fantastic.
Excuse the poor lighting — natural light always works better, but the one thing this closet is missing is a window. That said, this is probably the closest representation of the actual wall color and the chandelier is actually very bright in person. Also, it would look ten times better with wood hangars, but hey. Plastic is what I have.
Left back corner:
Back right corner:
Shoe shelf close-up:
I seriously have more storage in this closet now than I could ever need:
Sometimes I walk into my closet, turn on the lovely girly chandelier, and just stare.
I may not have any babies, but this baby is my greatest DIY accomplishment.
UPDATE: If you want to see a reader’s AMAZING take on an industrial closet, check out her copycat project. It’s gorgeous!!
What do you think? Would you tackle this project yourself?