How To Turn A Narrow Niche Into A Closet

Do you struggle with adequate closet space in your home? With only one small closet in the master bedroom of our 1960s humble abode, we were desperate for more clothing storage. We figured out a way to triple our clothing storage potential by turning a narrow 12-inch deep niche into a closet.

How to turn a narrow 12-inch niche into a DIY closet with floor-to-ceiling shelving to maximize folded clothing and linen storage in a small bedroom.

DIY Narrow Closet With Floor To Ceiling Shelving

Our one and only master bedroom closet had your typical rod running end to end and a single shelf above it. In dire need of more clothing storage, we installed a double rod system a few years ago.

While that helped maximize storage potential, our clothing was still squished in there like sardines. Clearly, we needed another option.

For years our secondary clothing storage was a small wardrobe used for folded sweaters and jeans. But that too was bursting at the seams.

One day I stood there looking at the narrow niche beside our closet (pictured below) realizing it had the potential for narrow floor-to-ceiling shelving.

Looking at it closer Mr. Frugalista and I realized not only was there potential for shelving but adequate space to frame in a narrow closet that looked just like our existing closet when closed.

How to turn a narrow 12-inch niche into a DIY closet with floor-to-ceiling shelving to maximize folded clothing and linen storage in a small bedroom.

Once the seed was planted, we couldn't get started fast enough. In fact, this idea was also the motivation for building a narrow pantry in our small kitchen too!

Our only regret about building this second closet is not having come up with the idea years ago! The extra closet space, despite not being a standard closet size, has added resale value to our home as well.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the narrow closet build, I should mention that we are self-taught DIYers and not trained professionals. The instructions below are based on our building knowledge only. However, if you are a do-it-yourselfer like us, you'll find these steps helpful for building a version of our narrow closet.

How To Build A Narrow Floor-To-Ceiling Shelving Closet

You can see the small bedroom armoire cabinet that we were formerly using for folded clothing in the photo below.

How to frame a narrow niche into a small bedroom closet.

Day One - Frame And Drywall Narrow Closet

  1. Cut the hardwood floor to accommodate the bottom plate of the closet frame.
  2. Rough-in the closet door opening and header to match the existing closet because the same size bi-fold doors will be installed later.
  3. The frame is recessed 1/2-inch to accommodate the depth of the drywall.
  4. Install drywall, tape the corners, and patch the screw holes with a drywall compound.

Installing drywall on a new DIY framed narrow bedroom closet.

Day Two - Prep Drywall For Paint

  1. Sand drywall compound smooth with a sanding block.
  2. Prime the new drywall with two coats of latex primer.

Prepping new drywall on narrow bedroom closet for paint.

Day Three - Paint, Install Trim and Bi-fold Doors

  1. Paint two coats of Benjamin Moore Wedgewood Gray HC-146.
  2. Install trim around the door frame and the baseboards on both the inside and outside of the closet.
  3. The matching bi-fold doors require modifications because having the doors fold open like a traditional bi-fold would mean sacrificing too much of the narrow 12-inch depth to accommodate the hardware.
  4. Instead, install four metal brackets along the back of the door to join the doors and hold them stationary (pictured below).
  5. The doors are hung like regular doors with hinges on the inside of the frame.

Installing adjustable shelving and bi-fold doors on DIY folded clothing storage closet.

Day Four - Installing Adjustable Shelves

  1. Install metal uprights on the wall studs for adjustable shelving.
  2. The shelving is made from white 12" x 8" melamine sheets cut to fit the width of the closet and ripped on the table saw10-inches deep.

What We Would Do Differently

You'll notice in the photo above that we didn't move the existing electrical outlet because that would have added to the cost of the project. In hindsight, we regret this decision and should have had it moved on the wall to the right of the closet.

But despite that hiccup, look at all that clothing storage potential! Now the question is how to organize the narrow bedroom closet?

Narrow Shelving Closet Organization

Despite the shelves being only 10-inches deep, a lot of clothing can fit in this small floor-to-ceiling bedroom closet. After careful consideration, the ideas below optimized the clothing storage to its full potential.

  1. Fold sweaters, jeans, and t-shirts in thirds so they fit perfectly in the narrow depth.
  2. Place shoes not worn daily in plastic totes and stack them three high on the floor space.
  3. Use plastic totes for rolled scarves, coiled belts not worn daily, and other small accessories.
  4. Line handbags along the top shelf so they are clearly visible.

From narrow bedroom wall niche to framed floor-to-ceiling shelving closet in a 1960s master bedroom.

I could not believe how much room was freed up in our existing closet after moving things over to the new one. And look, there's room for more clothing!

I love how when the doors are closed, one would never know there weren't always two closets in the master bedroom.

How to turn a narrow 12-inch niche into a DIY closet with floor-to-ceiling shelving to maximize folded clothing and linen storage in a small bedroom. #diycloset #diyshelving #bedroomstorage #bedroomideasforsmallrooms #bedroomstorageideas #bedroomstoragehacks #foldedclothingstorage

After we successfully ticked this item off our bedroom makeover to-do list, we also added a custom built-in window seat with storage and built a gorgeous mantle-style headboard from a repurposed 5-panel vintage door.

Thanks for stopping by the Interior Frugalista today! I hope you were inspired by this DIY closet addition.

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If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below or the Contact Me tab at the top to drop me an email. I love hearing from you!

If you enjoyed this DIY closet idea, I'd be so thankful if you shared it with a friend and pinned it to your favorite board on Pinterest.

How To Build A Handy Closet In A Narrow Niche

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  1. Love it! And I like the idea of making the folding doors just "opening" hinged doors. I have taken the folding doors off my closet openings entirely because the doors banged into the wall and the on the one on the other side into the door to the bedroom. I don't like how the closets with no doors but haven't know what to remedy the situation. Now I wonder if I could have the doors each split and hinged onto the wall so they meet in the middle of the closet opening and each open separately so I could close off the view of the clothing, etc. I need a Mr. Frugalista to come over and make that a reality for me!

    Thanks for sharing your space-creating project!

    1. Naomi, that sounds like the perfect solution for your closet door opening. Do you have a Hire A Husband Handyman service near you - seriously, it's a thing!

  2. This is genius! I pinned it and hope to make it happen soon!

    1. That's awesome, Cindy! You will love the extra storage. Happy building - I'd love to see pictures!

  3. Your closet expansion project worked out perfectly for your bedroom! Pinned to my Home DIY board. Down the road, we plan to add a wall of closets in a section of our bedroom where I'm currently using an armoire, so we're in a similar predicament you were in. I'm visiting from Home and Garden Thursday ~ A Delightsome Life.

    1. You will be so glad you did it, Allyson. Our only regret is waiting so long to build it! It is one of our favorite home improvement projects in our home. Happy building and thanks for the pin...and the visit 😊

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you Virginia, this narrow closet is the best decision we ever made in our humble abode. I'd don't know how we lived for 20+ years without it.

  5. Marie, you and Mr. Frugalista make a great team. I, also, have a Mr. Frugalista. We have done so many projects over the years that our house doesn’t look like the house we bought some years ago. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes not so much, but in the end it’s a blessing. I’ve learned, over the years…..projects are never ending. There’s always another hiding behind a wall. 🤗

    1. I love that you and your husband are avid DIYers too! Isn't it rewarding that thanks to your creativity and hard work, that every room in your home now tells a story? Your are so right about projects being never ending. My head is currently flooding with ideas for a basement reno this winter.

  6. We have small built in shelving facing front door foyer. We want to convert this into a small closet. Any ideas? Thanks.

    1. It's hard to provide a suggestion without seeing the built in shelving. In order to turn it into a small closet, you'll likely need to frame it in like we did above. You're welcome to send me an email by clicking the contact me button at the top of the blog and I'd be happy to answer any further questions you might have.

  7. We did something very similar to the niche we had, but turned it into a shoe closet! It's about 70" wide and at times 15" deep and 30" deep. We had it framed out with sliding doors by a contractor before we moved in, but my hubs DIYed the slanted shoe rack system. It holds A LOT of shoes! The only thing I would change is to paint the shoe closet doors the same as the wall color as opposed to the trim paint so it doesn't break up the visual lines of the room as much.


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