Whether you have children or not, you can get a lot more out of your closet by customizing the space to your needs. Adding a dividing wall, shelves, and a half-height closet rod are all pretty easy to do. You don’t have to do exactly what I did; use what works best for you. However, it is worth reading on to pick up a few helpful hints on reworking your closet.

This is an easy weekend project, including optionally repainting your closet for a nice clean look.

Project Steps

Remove the old Closet rod

Empty out your closet.

Remove the old closet rod. This is usually held in place with just a few screws.

If you have a wide closet, the rod may be supported in the middle with additional hardware. Remove that too.

Note: If you want to paint your closet, This would be a good time to do it. Also check the optional final step.

Remove Floor Molding

We are going to add a center divider, which will support two hanging rods at different heights. To do this, we need a vertical support for the lower rod to be affixed to. The easiest thing to do is just remove the floor molding on the right side of the closet.

Floor molding often includes a separate piece of quarter round molding in front of a larger edge molding. Use a pry bar to carefully remove the quarter round. Try not to damage it; you’ll reuse most of this later.

When prying off the rest of the molding, use a piece of scrap wood to protect your wall. Otherwise you will place dents or breaks in the surface of the wall.

Pull out any nails that get left behind in your wall when you removed the molding.

Make an Upright Support

Measure from the floor where you removed the molding to the bottom of the horizontal support where the original closet rod was fixed.

Carefully measure the 1×4 board to fix the upright space.

Cut it with your hand saw, table saw, chop saw, whatever saw.

Remember: Measure twice; cut once.

Add the Upright Support

Decide how far from the wall your closet rod should be. I placed mine at the same distance as the original rod. Center the 1×4 board under the spot you want and measure near the top and bottom to be sure the board is straight up and down.

In our closet, that meant I had to measure 10 3/4 inches from the wall the the left side of the 1×4.

Holding the 1×4 board in place, pre-drill in several spots down the length of the board. You want to use a drill bit that is a little smaller then the diameter of the screws you are using. I used drywall screws and a 1/8th inch drill bit.

You may or may not hit a stud behind the drywall. Down a few inches from the ground you may hit some solid wood. I used about five screws down the length of the board to be sure it stayed put.

Replace the Floor Molding

Take the floor molding and quarter round you removed earlier, and carefully mark where you need to cut in order to put it back in place around the 1×4.

Cut the molding to size.

Nail the molding and quarter round back in place with finishing nails.

Add a Center Divider

You should have removed the center support under the shelf, if your closet has one. If not, remove it now.

Carefully measure the height from the floor to the underside of the shelf. Cut a piece of 1×12 board to fit this height.

Optional: If you are going to add a central shelving unit (see Step 8), decide where to place your central divider.

Add the 1×12 as a center divider. Be sure it is square to the floor and placed where you want it. Note that I had to leave a gap between the back of the closet and the rear of the center divider so that the divider would come forward far enough to support the closet rods. (2nd picture was taken after final assembly and painting.)

Once you are sure of the center divider’s placement, secure it with angle brackets at the top and bottom. (3rd picture was taken after final assembly and painting.)

Install the Closet Rods

Now you can install three adjustable closet rods, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I hung two at the top at the height of the original closet rod. Because the center divider is not very thick, I had to offset the new rod on the right back about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch, so that the mounting screws wouldn’t hit each other.

I also replaced the mounting screws that came with the closet rods with 1/2 inch screws when I installed them at the center divider. Otherwise the long screws would have poked through the 1×12 center divider.

I installed the third closet rod on the right, at a height that would keep my kids’ jackets off the ground, and just brush the bottoms of the longest of the short jackets I intended to hang on the rod above.

Longer coats will hang on the left side of the closet.

Add a Center Shelf Unit

I used a pre-fab shelf kit about 1 foot wide. It is a stackable unit that is 31 inches high. Two units stacked together fit nicely below the closet rod. I got mine at Target, I think.

You may need to adjust where the closet rod on the left side attaches, depending on how high your shelf unit is.

If the standing shelf unit goes all the way up to the underside of the upper shelf, then the left closet rod could be fixed to the center shelf instead of to the center divider.

After you build your shelf units according to the manufacturer’s instructions, put it in place and attach it to the center divider, using included hardware or additional angle brackets.

(Optional) Paint Your Closet

If you are going to paint, take the opportunity to patch old scratches or holes, and any holes or damage you did while installing the new closet components.

Fill any unused nail holes or other blemishes.

I ended up damaging some of the floor molding, and used some wood putty to hide the damage.

I also sanded and patched where the old center support was mounted at the rear of the closet.

If you already installed the closet rod, you should remove them for painting. Use drop cloths and painter’s tape to project your work area.

Result: Nice cleanly painted closet.