Convert a Closet to an Elegant Built-In Bookcase
Do you have spare bedroom that you want to craft into a new space. Whether
the kids moved out or you want to upgrade your office space, that closet
can be transformed into something more elegant. It is easy to convert
a bedroom closet into a recessed bookcase or desk with an elegant built-in
The concept is simple, take a closet space, remove the doors, shelves,
hanger bar and empty the space. Depending upon the size of the closet,
you may have something from 30 inches up to 10 feet or even more. For
our example, we will assume a 8 foot wide closet with two sliding doors.
Now let's consider the possibilities.
First of all, let's plan what will go into the space. In our closet,
and most closets, the interior space is wider and taller than the opening
to the closet. This space might still be usable, or some of it might
be wasted. If you want to install a bookcase, it may be impractical for
the bookcase to fill the entire width of the closet. Filling the closet
would mean that some of the shelf space is hidden behind the wall and
difficult to access. If you install a desk, this hidden space could be
used as shelf space to the left and right of the desktop space. There
may be room to hide-away a TV on a swing out arm, install a small safe
or small sound system.
How to fill the space also has some options. Whether a bookcase, desk
or other purpose, you could build the unit in-place yourself. If you
aren't looking for a project that big, you could order cabinetry, from
the same people who make kitchen cabinets. Home centers can probably
provide just the cabinets, shelves, desk features you desire, made to
order for your space and do it for a price that rivals stand-alone furniture.
Finally, you can fill the space with stand-alone furniture, possibly
something you already own. Admittedly, placing a piece of furniture into
a space may not fill the space as nicely as a piece made-to-order.
For our closet we will install a double bookcase, with a small desk
space on the right side. Above the desk, recessed behind the wall will
be shelves to house our vast collection of CDs. In this same nook, below
the desk will be a space for a PC.
After removing the closet doors, we removed the track. Inside the closet,
we removed the hanging bar, the shelf and pried the wood off the
wall that supported the shelf. We also painted the wall we exposed when
we removed the closet door track.
Our closet is 8 feet wide, 8 feet tall and 2 feet deep. The opening
though is 6.5 feet wide and 7 feet tall. We have ordered two base cabinets
with doors that stand 36 inches tall. We omitted the toe-kick, to achieve
a more furniture-like look. On top of those cabinets will sit one shelf
unit, 40 inches wide and 50 inches tall. The top two inches will be hidden
behind the top opening of the closet, but that is okay.
For the desk, we ordered a desktop 7 feet long and 24" deep. One end
will sit on top of the cabinets, with the bookcases on top of the desktop
and the other end will disappear into the nook on the far right. We'll
add supports to the wall to secure the desk top. For the CD shelves in
the nook, the manufacturer already makes a 20" wide CD holder in various
heights. We picked a 4 foot model that will hold hundreds of CDs. Finally,
to give this all a elegant finished look, we ordered casing from the
manufacturer to replace the moulding that surrounds the closet now. We'll
remove the old moulding and install the casing after the cabinets
Installing cabinets is not too difficult, and this project is a little
more forgiving than installing kitchen cabinets. However, professional
installation should only take 3-4 hours and shouldn't break the bank
either. We installed ours ourselves in a weekend. First the base cabinets
were leveled and secured, then the desktop installed, including the supports
mounted to the wall of the closet and then the bookcases were tilted
in and secured to the wall. The CD storage was put in place and secured.
There was a 4 inch gap because the CD rack was only 20 inches and the
closet 24" deep, so will used a filler piece provided by the manufacturer
to close that gap. We used a hole saw to cut a 2 inch hole in the desktop
for the wires for the PC and insert a plastic grommet made for the purpose.
Finally we installed the decorative moulding around the closet and we
We transformed an unused closet (well it had a bunch of junk in it,
but we discovered it was junk we could live without) into a beautiful
bookcase and desk space. We spent $1,900 on the cabinets and another
$200 on miscellaneous materials. We looked at cabinets that would have
looked equally nice for a few hundred dollars less, but we picked these.
In any event, furniture to fill the space would have cost $2,600. We
got something that looked a lot nicer than furniture would have and saved
money doing it.
This project isn't just for a bedroom closet either. You can convert
a hall closet or other unused space into a curio cabinet, wet bar or
a snack center. The possibilities are enormous.