A Closet in a Bookcase

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Our "Garden Room" has a built-in 11-inch-deep bookcase comprised of predominantly open shelves and some closed storage. Even though minimum reach-in closet depth is two feet, I planned to use a portion of the unit as a closet.

In the last week's post, I shared my over-all plan for the converted 3-car garage. This time, I'd like to focus on a 20-foot-long multi-purpose cabinet designed to house an extensive library. In addition, it is supposed to accommodate our family's collection of movies and various knick-knacks. For the lack of a better place to stash it, the unit will even warehouse our ski gear.

A bookcase is not just for books; it can double as a closet

20' long birch plywood built-in bookcase

Our books will take up the open shelves, but some of the other stuff does not necessarily need to be on view. Hence, the enclosed full-height storage bays at the entry. This area was conceived as a mudroom of sorts, separated from the main space with a low partition. A coat closet was a must.

But how can I turn a bookcase into a clothes repository? A minimum depth of 24 inches is necessary for a closet. This requirement is based on a standard way a hanger is suspended from a pole placed about 12 inches away from the wall and the garments hanging perpendicular to it.

Obviously, with the bookcase only eleven inches deep, I didn't have the required depth for the traditional configuration. But what if I turned things around? What if the pole was replaced with a long hook? That way, the clothes, not the closet rod, can hang parallel to the wall.

The Container Store to the rescue!

Next step was to find the right hardware. After considering a few options, I decided to go with a sturdy 10" cold rolled steel Clothes Hook from Knape & Vogt I found at The Container Store. It can hold up to 20 shirts (on wire hangers)! However, the rule of thumb is to allow about a thickness of your hand for each garment.

FYI, rod (or hook) height standards:

• 45 inches - skirts, blouses, suits, shirts, and pants
• 63 inches - dresses, coats
• 72 inches - floor length dresses
• 30 inches - children (ages 3-5)

Turning a bookcase into a closet

Next was the installation. Sorry to admit, but this part I did not DIY. My trusted handyman Ivan was perfect for the job. He is very old-fashioned when it comes to male and female roles -- I enjoy proving him wrong. Turning a bookcase into a closet was a cinch for him. Enough about me -- what about you? What wheel have you reinvented lately? Please tell here.

Alla is an architect on demand advising DIY home improvement enthusiasts online.

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