How To Turn A Narrow Niche Into A Closet

Do you struggle with adequate closet space in a small home? Today I'm sharing how you can turn a narrow niche into a handy closet and how we did it in a narrow 12-inch deep space in our small 1960s bedroom. It tripled the storage potential from the tallboy dresser that used to reside in this space and is perfect for housing folded clothing and bed linens. This idea would work in any room, including the kitchen for a small pantry or broom closet.

How To Turn A Narrow Niche Into A Handy Closet



The niche we carved (pictured above) is too narrow for a traditional hanging clothes closet but has great potential for folded jeans, sweaters, t-shirts, purses, shoes, extra pillows, blankets, and bed linens. In a kitchen, a narrow niche like this is perfect for a pantry or broom closet. Just think of how much clutter a closet like this would relieve from an existing closet or the kitchen cupboards!

How To Turn A Narrow Niche Into A Handy Closet or Pantry


Our master bedroom had only one small closet with a traditional rod running end to end and a single shelf above it. In dire need to maximize the small closet space, we installed a double rod system a few years ago. While that helped maximize storage potential, our clothing was still squished like sardines. Clearly, we needed to come up with another option.

I wish we would have come up with this idea years ago when we first bought this house because building the second closet, albeit narrow, has doubled our clothing storage potential and added resale value to our home.

What I love as much as having the added storage is that it is built to look identical to the original closet!

How To Build A Second Closet In A Narrow Space

The project took a total of five days working on it in the evenings and over one weekend and I'm going to show you how it was done below.

How to build the narrow closet


Frame and drywall the narrow closet

Tips For Framing A Narrow Second Closet

You can see the Small Bedroom Hutch that we were using for folded clothing that was bursting at the seams in the photo above.

By the end of Day One we:
  1. Cut the hardwood floor to accommodate the bottom plate of the closet frame.
  2. We roughed in the closet door opening and header to match the existing closet because the same size bi-fold doors will be installed (more about that later).
  3. The frame is recessed 1/2-inch to accommodate the depth of the drywall.
  4. Installed the drywall, taped the corners, and patched the screw holes with drywall compound.

Drywall Installation On Narrow Bedroom Closet

Prep the drywall for paint on the narrow closet


Prep Drywall For Paint On Narrow Bedroom Closet

By the end of Day two we:
  1. Sanded the drywall compound smooth.
  2. Primed the new drywall with two coats of latex primer. 

Paint, trim, and bi-fold door installation

By the end of Day three we:
  1. By noon the closet had two coats of Wedgewood Gray by Benjamin Moore HC-146.
  2. By mid-afternoon, the decorative trim was installed around the door frame and the baseboards on both the inside and outside of the closet. 
  3. The matching bi-fold doors required some modifications because having the doors fold open like a traditional bi-fold would mean sacrificing some of the narrow12-inch depth to accommodate the installation hardware.
  4. To remedy this we prevented the doors from folding open by installing metal brackets in four places to join the doors and hold them stationary (as pictured below). 
  5. The doors were hung like regular doors with hinges on the inside of the frame.

Bi-fold Door and Shelving Installation On Narrow Folded Clothing Closet

What I wish we would have done differently

You'll notice in the photo above that we didn't move the existing plug because that would have added to the cost of this project. In hindsight, I have regrets about that decision and wish we would have moved the plug on the narrow wall on the right side of the closet.

Adjustable shelving installation

By the end of Day four we:
  1. Installed metal uprights on the wood wall studs for adjustable shelving on the back wall of the new closet. 
  2. White melamine 12" x 8" sheets were used to make the shelves. They were cut to fit the width of the closet and then ripped on the table saw to 10-inches deep.

How to organize the narrow closet

Despite the shelves being only 10-inches deep, a lot of clothing can fit in this small closet.

Organizing New Narrow Closet For Folded Clothing

  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, 2-3 pairs per tote, and stack them three high on the shelves or floor
  3. Use the shoe totes for things like wallets, folded or rolled scarves, and coiled belts not worn daily.
  4. Line purses along the top shelf so they are visible.

I could not believe how much room was freed in our existing closet after moving things over to the new one. And look, there's so much shopping potential for new clothes and shoes! One would never know there weren't always two closets in our master bedroom, having made the new closet look identical to the existing one.

DIY Narrow Second Bedroom Closet For Folded Clothing


How To Build A Handy Closet In A Narrow Niche

After we successfully fulfilled this item on my wish list for this room, I gave Mr. Frugalista two more honey-do projects that I've been longing for.  A Custom Built-In Window Seat and Repurposed Vintage Door Headboard.

I share my projects at these inspiring link parties.

6 comments

  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!

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    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!

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

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

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  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.

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    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 😊

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