How to Turn a Closet Into an Office

Learn how to turn a spare closet into a super-organized home office. This project keep schoolwork and office supplies contained.

Next Project
Time

Multiple Days

Complexity

Intermediate

Cost

$101–250

Introduction

Create a compact, efficient office inside a closet. The office has spacious drawers and shelves, bright lighting and a large desktop. Plus you hide all office clutter when you close the closet doors.

Tools Required

  • Circular saw
  • Drill/driver - cordless
  • Framing square
  • VSA HAMMER
  • Hearing protection
  • Hole saw kit
  • Hot melt glue gun
  • Impact driver
  • Level
  • Miter saw
  • Narrow-crown staple gun
  • New brand Safety glasses
  • Table saw
  • Tape measure

Materials Required

  • 1-1/4" Screws
  • 1-5/8" screws
  • 1x2 x 8' boards
  • 1x3 x 6' board (rip to 2-1/4”)
  • 1x3 x 8' board
  • 1x6 x 8' board (rip to 4-3/8" for parts Y and Z)
  • 2-1/2" screws
  • 20" full-extension drawer slide sets
  • 3" screws
  • 4' x 8' x 1/4" plywood
  • 4' x 8' x 3/4" plywood
  • Cord grommets
  • Finish nails or nail gun pins
  • Iron-on veneer edging
  • Shelf clips
  • Shelf standards
  • Wood glue

Is your home office a mess? Do you need a spot to organize your kids’ schoolwork and projects? Or do you just want to get your office stuff out of sight at the end of the school or work day? We’ll show you how to solve all these problems by turning a spare closet into a super-organized office.

If you suddenly have multiple family members working or studying from home, office space may be limited. Converting a closet will give you more usable workspace. One person can work at the kitchen table, another can work in a permanent office and another can work at the closet office. Paint your home office and add desk plants to keep spirits high while working remotely.

Closet Office Organizer Construction Details

These components are sized for a 7′ x 2′-deep closet. Adjust dimensions to fit your closet.

Wiring Your Closet Office – Get Help Online

We’re not showing how to wire your closet office here, but chances are you’ll want to add at least one electrical outlet and possibly cable, phone or network wiring. Keep in mind that the new National Electrical Code requires that closet outlets be arc fault protected. This means you’ll have to either connect to or add a circuit that’s protected by an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI).

Project step-by-step (5)

Step 1

Measure Your Closet Office and Customize the Plan to Fit

  • Start by measuring the distance between the side walls.
  • Keeping in mind that 32 in. is about the maximum width for a plywood shelf, decide how many shelf units you need.
  • To figure out exactly how wide each cabinet should be, subtract 1-1/2 in. from the total measurement and divide the remainder by the number of cabinets.
    • This will leave a 3/4-in. space between the cabinet and the wall at each end that you’ll cover with the face frame. This 3/4-in. space makes it easy to install the shelf cabinets in the closet office without worrying about an exact fit. We needed three 27-1/2-in.-wide cabinets to fit our 84-in.-wide closet. We built the cabinets 47-3/4 in. tall. If you have standard 8-ft.-tall walls, the cabinets will reach the ceiling.
  • After you do the calculations, double-check your math by drawing lines on the closet wall. Draw a level line 28-1/2 in. from the floor to mark the bottom of the 1-1/2-in.-thick countertop. Then draw another line 47-1/2 in. from the floor for the bottom of the wall cabinets. Finally, draw vertical lines for the sides of the cabinets.
  • You’ll also have to decide how wide to make the drawers.
    • You can use the technique we show here to build drawers in a size and configuration that will work best in your closet office. The key is to build the frame and mount the drawer slides before you build the drawers. Then you can measure between the slides (photo 8) and build the drawers to fit.

Step 2

Mount the Countertop

Mark the walls and attach the countertop supports

  • The countertop is two layers of plywood that are glued and screwed together.
  • Start by measuring the closet interior at the level of the countertop. Use a framing square to check the corners.
  • Deduct 1/4 in. from the length and depth to allow for the top to fit easily. You can cover any gaps with the backsplash.
  • Transfer these measurements to your plywood and cut out the two pieces. Use less-expensive plywood for the bottom if you like.
  • Screw 1x2 cleats to the back, side and front walls to support the top (Photo 1).
  • Draw level lines for the bottom of the countertop and cabinets.
  • Draw vertical lines to indicate the sides of the cabinets.
  • Then screw countertop supports to studs at the back and sides of the closet.

Mark the walls and attach the countertop supportsFamily Handyman

Fasten the countertop

  • Drop the top into place and attach it from underneath with 2-1/2-in. screws (Photo 2).
  • Lay something heavy on top, or ask a helper to press down while you drive the screws.

Fasten the countertopFamily Handyman

Cap the front edge

  • Glue and nail a 2-1/4-in.-wide board (Photo 3) to the front edge to cover the plywood and add strength.
  • Wipe off glue squeeze-out with a damp rag.

Cap the front edge

Step 3

Build the Wall Shelf Cabinets

Assemble the wall cabinets

  • Start by cutting the parts from the 4 x 8-ft. sheets of plywood.
    • If you’re using a table saw, keep the good side of the plywood facing up as you cut the parts. If you’re using a circular saw, face the good side down so that any splintering or chipping won’t show. We think it’s easier to finish the parts before you assemble them.
  • Mount shelf standards on the cabinet sides before assembly.
  • Then screw the sides to the bottom and top with 1-5/8-in. screws. Nail on the back.
  • Drill pilot holes to prevent the plywood from splitting.
    • Nail the cabinet sides to the top and bottom before you drill pilot holes for the screws. The nails hold the parts in perfect alignment while you drill the holes and drive the 1-5/8-in. screws.

Assemble the wall cabinetsFamily Handyman

Square the cabinet with the plywood back

  • Use the plywood back as a guide for squaring the cabinet.
  • Apply a bead of glue.
  • Then nail one edge of the plywood back to the cabinet side.
  • Then adjust the cabinet box as needed to align the remaining edges and nail these.
    • If you were careful to cut the 1/4-in. plywood back accurately, you can square the cabinet by aligning it with the back before nailing it on (Photo 5). You'll cover the front edge of the cabinets with a wood face frame after they're mounted (Photo 7).
  • Finish the front edge of the plywood shelves with iron-on edge banding.

Square the cabinet with the plywood backFamily Handyman

Install the cabinets

  • Start the cabinet installation by screwing a 1x2 ledger to the wall to support the wall cabinets.
  • Hang the cabinets by resting the bottom edge on the ledger, tipping them up against the wall, and driving 3-in. screws through the hanging strip into the studs (Photo 6).
  • Secure the bottom of the cabinets by driving a nail or screw down into the ledger.
  • Connect the fronts of the cabinets by hiding 1-1/4-in. screws under the shelf standards.
  • Complete the installation by nailing on the face frames (Photo 7).
    • We used a 1x3 for the bottom face frame to hide the under-cabinet lighting.

Install the cabinetsFamily Handyman

Finish the fronts

  • Nail a 1x3 to the lower cabinet edge to create a valance for under-cabinet lighting.
  • Nail 1x2s to the cabinet top and sides to cover the raw plywood edges.

Finish the frontsFamily Handyman

Step 4

Build the Drawers

Build the drawer frame and measure for drawers

  • Make sure your drawers fit perfectly by building the drawer frame first.
  • Then measure between the slides and build your drawers to exactly this width.
  • Start by laying two of the stringers (J) side by side and marking the location of the drawer dividers (K) on them.
    • Ball-bearing slides are not very forgiving, so measure and attach the drawer dividers carefully so the dividers are perfectly parallel when the frame is assembled.
    • For our 24-in.-deep countertop, we used 20-in. drawer slides. We cut the drawer dividers (K) 20 in. long and built the drawer boxes 20 in. deep. If your closet is shallower, use shorter slides and adjust these dimensions to match.

Build the drawer frame and measure for drawersFamily Handyman

Mount the drawer slides

  • Draw a line parallel to the top of the drawer to indicate the center of the drawer slide.
  • Line up the slide by centering the line in screw holes.
  • The drawer slides have two parts. One mounts to the dividers and the other to the drawer.
  • Remove the part that attaches to the drawer according to the included instructions.
  • Then screw the part of the slide with the ball bearings to the dividers, aligning the bottom edges.
  • The center dividers will have drawer slides on both sides.
  • Screw through the stringers (J) into the drawer dividers (K) to build the frame. Be careful to keep the front of the drawer slides facing forward. Then add the second layer of stringers (J).
  • Check the frame against a framing square as you screw it together to make sure it's square.
  • When the frame is complete, measure between the slides to determine the drawer sizes (Photo 8).
  • Build the drawers by screwing through the sides into the fronts and backs, and then gluing and nailing on the plywood bottom.
  • Nail one edge of the bottom to the drawer box. Then use a framing square to square the drawer box before nailing the other three edges.
    • To attach the drawer slide to the drawers, we first drew lines 1-7/8 in. down from the top edges of the drawers (Photo 9). (You may have to adjust this distance to match your drawer slides. The dimension isn’t critical as long as there’s about a 1/4-in. clearance between the drawer and the stringer when the drawer is mounted.) Then sight through the screw holes in the slides to center them on the line before attaching them with the included screws.

Mount the drawer slidesFamily Handyman

Hang the frame under the countertop

  • Make center marks on the frame and the underside of the counter and align them.
  • Finish the drawer installation by attaching the frame to the underside of the countertop (Photo 10) and installing the fronts.
  • Then use a spacer to set the frame 3/4 in. back from the countertop edging and drive the screws.
  • Install the drawers by lining up the slides and pushing them in.
    • Photo 11 shows a tip for aligning the drawer fronts.

Hang the frame under the countertopFamily Handyman

Glue on the drawer front

  • Starting with the center drawer front, dab on hot-melt glue and press it against the drawer.
  • Quickly center the drawer front 1/4 in. below the countertop edge.
  • Hold it still for about 10 seconds until the glue cools.
  • Now position the other two drawer fronts.
  • The hot-melt glue holds the fronts temporarily. Attach them permanently by opening the drawers and driving four 1-1/4-in. screws through the drawer box into the drawer front from the inside.

Glue on the drawer frontFamily Handyman

Step 5

Finish It off With a Cord-Concealing Backsplash

Hide cords behind a tall backsplash

  • Attach the backsplash with cleats, holding it about 4 in. from the wall.
  • Then drill holes where you'll have cords and install cord grommets.

Hide cords behind a tall backsplashFamily Handyman