How to Build a DIY Walk-in Closet

How to Build a DIY Walk-in Closet
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Dreaming of a walk-in closet but don’t know where to start? I share how we built our DIY walk-in closet, in just 2 days and with $500.

Walk-in closets aren’t a thing of the rich and famous anymore. I’m here to share that it’s not that expensive, and it’s not that difficult to build a walk-in closet yourself. No, you don’t need to be a handyman or to fork out thousands of dollars to have a walk-in closet. It is absolutely possible to build your own walk-in closet with just $500 and not much DIY skills.

When we moved into our new home in the Netherlands, the first thing on my wishlist was a walk-in closet. I did plenty of research and compared various walk-in closet options — between building it from scratch and getting a custom designed configuration. I compared the prices and how much time/effort it would take to build each option.

In the end, I decided on a simple DIY walk-in closet that we could get on IKEA, assemble and mount ourselves. In this blog post, I’m going to share the steps we took to build our DIY walk-in wardrobe and how you can too. Feel free to click on any of these links to jump from one section to the next.

diy walk in closet - winter closet

Table of Contents

How You Can Build a DIY Walk-in Closet

Materials and Tools
STEP 1: Take Measurements
STEP 2: Design Your Closet System
STEP 3: Make Your Order
STEP 4: Mark Out the Location of the Frame
STEP 5: Mount the Frame on the Wall
STEP 6: Install the Shelves and Accessories
Total Cost

Why We Built Our DIY Walk-in Closet This Way

The answer’s simple: we wanted to spend minimal money, time and effort, and still have a walk-in closet that looks great! We’re not expert DIYers nor do we want to spend months building a closet from scratch. We simply wanted a closet system that was functional, that maximized space, that didn’t cost us more than $500.

We chose the IKEA BOAXEL system as it’s affordable, and ULTRA EASY to assemble and mount on the wall! It’s available in different combinations (I chose this one that fits perfectly in our room) and IKEA even has an online planner that allows you to customize it. Before building the closet, we were worried that the wall might not take all the weight of the modular closet system.

Now that it’s been a year on, I’m glad to report that our DIY walk-in wardrobe has been serving us extremely well. It still looks good, and the upkeep is minimal. It gets messy sometimes, but I’m not a perfectionist and I’m happy with how it is. The simple setup allows us to easily access our clothes, at any time of the year. We’re very happy with the results and definitely recommend building your walk-in closet this way.

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diy walk in closet ikea

Materials and Tools for DIY Walk-in Closet

Since this DIY walk-in closet is a “lazy” option with minimum work, we really don’t need a lot of tools and materials. I’ve listed all of them below. Before getting started, it’s a good idea to buy all the materials and tools that you’ll need.

STEP 1: Take Measurements

The first thing to do is get the dimensions of the room and draw up a floor plan. We are lucky enough to have an extra room that we converted into a DIY walk-in closet. If you don’t have an extra room, choose an alcove or simply a wall in your bedroom for your walk-in closet.

When taking measurements, be sure to take measurements from exactly the location where the closet organizer will be installed. Take note of where doors and windows are located as well as the location of outlets, light switches, air vents and anything else on the floor, walls or ceiling. You don’t want any surprises after you’ve already ordered your wardrobe!

diy walk-in closet - ikea boaxel frame

STEP 2: Design Your Closet System

Using the BOAXEL online planner, you can easily create a floor plan in minutes. Seriously, the planning tool is so easy to navigate you don’t need to be tech savvy to use it.

First, choose the wardrobe combination you’re interested in, then add or remove any individual accessory you like by dragging them into/out of the main window. You can add more shelves and baskets, pants hangers, and even tabletops for those who want to create a workspace in your walk-in closet. The software shows the cost as you can add/remove items.

It’s also important to consider your needs and what you’d like to improve from your current wardrobe. For example, if you have a lot of pants, get more pants hangers; leave some space for your long dresses too and don’t pack in too many shelves. Go through your items and get an idea of what items will need space. Here are the questions to ask yourself before designing your walk-in closet.

  • What are the problems you have with your closet?
  • Where do you need more space in your closet?
  • Do you want most of your clothes hung or folded?
  • Do you want to include storage for your shoes?
  • Do you need more drawers for gym clothes, pyjamas and undies?
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diy walk in closet organizer - using the online planner to customize

STEP 3: Make Your Order

Give yourself a week or two before making any purchase, just to make sure you’re making the right decision. Also measure a few times to make sure you’ve done it right and that the items you order will fit perfectly.

Our original plan was to build two wall-mounted systems in our walk-in closet, one facing the other along the length of the room. But after building one system, we found that it was actually enough for all my clothes, and so we returned the other system we bought. It wasn’t a problem at all, and we were glad we could save even more money.

diy walk in closet system - ikea boaxel

STEP 4: Mark out the Location of the Frame

Before you mount the wardrobe system, you’ll need to measure how where each wall-mounted piece goes. For American houses, you’ll also need to mark the studs on your wall (the beams that make up the frame of your house). If your walls are drywall, use an electronic stud finder.

Start with the top horizontal suspension rail that will act as the main frame of the walk-in closet. With a pencil, mark out where the holes need to be drilled. Make sure you give enough allowance, height wise, for the whole wardrobe system to fit. Then mark the location of the first upright piece (we started from the left). Once you have that, measure the distance between this and the next upright piece based on the length of the shelf that goes between them.

This way, you can mark out almost the entire system on your wall like a rough sketch on your blank canvas, before mounting the system. I recommend using a laser distance measure and laser level to ensure your measurements are accurate.

how to build walk in closet

STEP 5: Mount the Frame on Your Wall

After marking out the location of your frame, it’s time to mount it! IKEA actually provides instructions in the form of diagrams that are easy to read. Start by drilling holes for the top suspension rail and screw the nails into the relevant holes, and make sure the rail is mounted tightly.

Once that is mounted, you can connect the vertical uprights onto the suspension rail and screw them onto the wall. Each upright piece has eight holes and nails to screw in. It will take some time to level the pieces, drill holes, and mount the frame onto the wall. And all that is best done as team work, as you’ll need a person to hold the frame, while you level and drill it in.

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diy walk in closet - ikea boaxel

STEP 6: Install the Shelves and Accessories

Once you get the frame up, the rest of the pieces are super easy to assemble. The shelves, clothes rail, pants hanger and dryer racks are all clicked on — no drilling is needed. It took my husband and I just two days to mount the frame, and just an hour to install the accessories.

To complete our DIY walk-in wardrobe, we bought around 30 hangers, and several storage boxes from IKEA for bulky items like thick winter jackets, bedsheets, extra pillows, and other miscellaneous items. I also got a rotating mirror/jewelry organizer from Amazon, that I absolutely love! It’s super functional and provides even more storage for my accessories. And I added one of the easiest houseplants I have in the walk-in closet to add some fresh air and color to the tiny room.

Finally, check this link for tips on how to organize your closet.

How to Build a DIY Walk-in Closet

Total Cost of this DIY Walk-in Closet Project

Our entire walk-in wardrobe cost us way less than we expected. Note that we already had the power tools like drill, laser level and measure, and safety protection, so we didn’t have to spend on any of that.

Considering how little we spent on it, we are so thrilled with how it turned out. It’s done wonders in making my life more organized and it remains my favorite room in our house.


IKEA BOAXEL wardrobe combination 98 1/4×15 3/4×79 “1$280$280
Assortment of screws1$24.99$24.99
Wall anchors1$11.99$11.99
Storage boxes5$4.99$24.95
Wicker baskets4$9.99$39.96
Rotating mirror and jewelry organizer1$140.21$140.21
diy walk in closet ikea

You Can Build Your Own DIY Walk-in Closet too!

Are you still hesitant about building your own DIY walk-in closet? I hope that by sharing my own experience, I’ve shown you it is possible to build one without spending thousands or months of your free time! You just need some basic tools and knowledge on how to drill holes in your wall, and you should be able to create a DIY walk-in closet in a matter of days!

Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions on how we built our walk-in closet. I’ll be more than happy to answer them!

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