Welcome to the first of our new ongoing series: DIY DAD! A category of articles submitted by dads like you with your DIY projects that (usually) have some parenting spin to them. Our very own Daddy’s Digest dad Stuart is here with today’s project.
As the days here in Toronto got colder every morning, it was taking longer and longer to get our daughter out the door to kindergarten. Wrangling a four year old and all of her stuff into one space to get dressed every morning was like playing whack-a-mole. She would make every excuse in the book about how she couldn’t find her gloves or shoes, and wander all over the house looking for them. This stacked on top of a bad habit we couldn’t break where she’d take her shoes off randomly somewhere in the house instead of at the front door and it was a game of memory trying to find them.
I can’t say I really blame her, our front closet was a DISASTER as you can see in the picture. It was just two pieces of those awful 90’s wire shelving and a rail way up high for jackets. Everything else was just sitting on the floor in a massive pile. One weekend I had had enough, and whipped together that small organizer on the door similar to one I saw on Ana White. Instant success. We filled the shelves with her mittens and hats, and set aside a spot for her shoes. Suddenly, mornings were only about helping her get her jacket down from the hanger, the gloves and hat were an exciting adventure for her to find and put on. Similarly, coming home was a game to her, making sure everything went back in the right spot.
With wind in my sails, it was time to tackle the whole closet. I’ve hated this space since the day we moved in, we made several attempts at organizing things into bins like we saw on The Home Edit, but it was so inconvenient to reach up to the bins to find something that things just ended up on the floor.
I dumped everything in the closet on our dining room table to make it really inconvenient for everyone and motivate me to get the job done fast! Starting with my new favorite tool, a Dewalt Track Saw, I sliced up some prefinished birch plywood into three 15.5′ wide panels, chopped one of them up into shelves and using a kreg pocket hole saw assembled the whole thing into a self standing frame. After notching it out for the baseboards it slid right into the closet. I popped a 12″ wide shelf on top and secured that to the frame, along with a 3″ strip of scrap wood screwed to the wall to help hold up the shelf.
A quick trip to home depot got a nice 6′ long black clothing rod that I cut in half with a hacksaw, and then screwed in matching supports for the rods. I put a scrap piece of wood on the side of the frame at the height of the baseboards, so that I could rest another piece of wood on top of the baseboard to make a little home for shoes. Now, most of the stuff on the dining room table had a place to go back into, and we were able to sift through all of the leftover stuff and find all the missing gloves and hats we hadn’t seen in two years.
Next up was the weird corner, I cut some 3″ strips of plywood and used a nail gun to secure supports for the shelves, spaced out at ideal spacing for the tall winter and rain boots. Using a chop saw and a jigsaw, I made a bunch of shelves that fit the weird space and had clearance for the door frame. resting the 3″ uprights on the baseboard, the shelves pushed them tight against the drywall, no need to find studs to secure them in place!
That large space in the middle of the frame was intended for some drawers, which I built once the drawer slides I had ordered arrived. This was way more simple to do than it looked, I promise. First I cut four pieces of wood to size (half an inch more narrow than the frame to allow for the drawer slides) and using the Kreg Pocket Hole Jig and a right-angle clamp I made a box. Then, using a knife, sliced up a thin piece of MDF I had lying around nailed that to the bottom.
Now for the part I was most skeptical about: using the Kreg Drawer Slide jig. This was a purchase I was questioning, I didn’t think it was worth spending money on a jig to screw something in perfectly straight. In hindsight, I could have cut some scrap wood to get the slides installed, but the jig saved a lot of time in messing around with that and gave me confidence that I did it right. My spacing wasn’t perfect, but the drawers slide smooth and straight and it was super quick to do.
After building another door organizer for the other door, I put the cherry on top of the whole project by making some drawer fronts and hiding all of my minor mistakes with the spacing of the drawers.
My daughter now says I’m the best builder ever, and she hangs up her jacket and snow pants, and puts away everything every single time. Our 19 month old son is also getting into great new habits thanks to our game-changing closet. He knows where his shoes and gloves are and excitedly runs to the closet when he knows its time to go outside. I think we’ll be all set with great habits and routines by the time he gets to kindrgarten!
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