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The DIY Dish Closet

Do you have too many dishes and tablecloths and teacups and candlesticks? Are they packed away in boxes in the basement like mine were? Well, as you can tell from my pictures, I did something a little crazy and created a DIY dish closet.

a closet with shelves full of dishes and a space for vacuum cleaners

Dinners by Design

I love to set a pretty table. And I like to do it in non-traditional ways with quirky little things I’ve put together myself. You can check out some of the pretty and the quirky. 

I began collecting quite a few dish sets. Just beautiful pieces I could find in sets of six. Or single items that I knew worked well for food photography. Or anything useful at a bargain price. But my downstairs armoire began to overflow, and then my storage room began to fill with boxes of dishes. Everything became hard to get to. The armoire was so packed that I had to pull everything out to find what I needed. And the beautiful dishware in boxes often got overlooked.

Suddenly Space

So when my youngest moved out, I knew that I needed to transform this groundfloor closet into a more convenient location for all my dishware. The closet is 91 inches wide and quite high. I was ready to transform the awkward design into something my dishes and I would love.

closet with one shelf across the top and another mid-height, attached on the left and measuring 3/4 the width of the closet

It was a little weird, even to me, to put dishes in a closet. And there were other things in my house that needed new hiding places. 

Like storage space for my long dresses (my main closet has only shirt-size spaces).

And wouldn’t it be nice if my iron and ironing board, which I hardly ever use, could be a little closer. That way if I did need to iron something I may actually do it!

And I really didn’t like storing my vacuum cleaners in the hall closet where visitors hung their coats. Awkward!

So I set out to create some space for everything.

Dish Racks

My main idea for the dish storage was to use these racks to stack my dishes on their sides. After pulling out stacks of dishes to get to other dishes, I was ready for something better in my DIY dish closet. But since I wanted to fit as many dishes as I could, I did a little shopping around until I found these on Amazon.

wire dish rack

I was excited about 19 slots! I bought five.

Then I needed to think about shelf placement. 

Book Space

I neglected to mention that I also wanted to park my overflowing book supply in a new, out-of-the-way location. You may have the same problem. Too many books, but you don’t really want to part with them. You may read them again, right? In order to have bookshelf space for all those books that I may refer back to, I needed to stash some of the older ones. 

top shelf of closet used to hold books

This closet already had a shelf that was very high. I decided to take out the wire shelf and replace it with a solid wood shelf. I kept the other wire shelves to save a buck and because they have an edge for hanging clothes. They needed to be moved around a little to make better use of the space.

Shelving for Dishes

I knew that the cheapest and easiest way to get a bookcase to hold my dishes was to purchase one and simply set it into my DIY dish closet design. When I subtracted the space I would need for a bookcase, my vacuum cleaners side by side, an ironing board and hanging clothes, I didn’t have much space left to work with. 

But I love to use stackable cube shelving! Several of my previous room designs have used these. I may have to bring some of those out again and repost them. Cube shelving provided the space I needed to hold my iron, and I knew that it would work well for more decorative pieces and additional dishes.

So I set out to find cube shelving and bookcases that would have the same, or nearly the same, dimensions. Now my best match was this bookcase and these stackable cubes. Both measure approximately 71 inches tall and 11 3/4 inches deep. If I were starting from scratch, I would have used both of these and the finished DIY dish closet would have looked even more professional. But I already had a few stackable cube shelves leftover from other decorating projects. So I opted for cheaper and used what I had. Because it’s a closet. No one else (besides you wonderful people viewing these pictures) will ever see that the tops are not quite even.

new closet design with bookcase and stackable cube shelving, one long wood shelf spanning the width and two shorter wire shelves

The Makeover Process

So step one, we took out all the shelving that was hanging in the closet.

Then we installed the top bookshelf using several brackets mounted to studs and wall anchors. I wanted the thing extra secure for holding the weight of books. If you’ve ever moved and overfilled a book box, you know that book weight seems to increase exponentially! The last thing I want is for the top shelf to rip out of the wall and create a domino effect as it crashes down and breaks all my dishes! Once you calculate the weight your shelf needs to support (think book weight x linear foot) then you check out the suggested weight support that your brackets provide. I chose to use the library book weight (overkill) 35 lbs per linear foot x 7.5 feet = 262.5 total pounds. Each bracket has a safe load capacity of 100 lbs so I would need at least 3 brackets. Of course, I used 5.

upper shelves of closet

Next we put our bookshelf together and set it into the closet, being sure to attach the child safety strap to a stud.

bookcase tucked into closet, holding five shelves of dishes

Then we removed the protective tips from the edge of our wire shelf, snipped the shelf down to the proper length, and rehung it to the same height as the bookshelf.

removing plastic tip from cut side of metal shelving

We trimmed a piece of the longer top shelf that we had removed, and used it as a lower shelf beside the bookshelf.

For the cube shelving, we used two stackable pieces. We set in the bottom piece and then attached it to the wall using a lovely “L” bracket or steel corner brace. (You can see our second attempt was the winner!) Then we set in the side pegs used to stack the two and set the top cube shelf in place.

The Finished Product

Hooray! Now I could load in all my lovely dishes into the racks on the bookcase shelves!

dishes sitting in racks on the bookshelf

I’m also loving that the design is versatile for my occasional long-term guests. Of course, the vacuums would be relegated back to the hall closet temporarily.

lower hanging area shown with shelf above and shelves beside

What do think of my DIY dish closet? Do you think it works? I know dishes in the closet seem a little weird, but I’m loving how much more accesible they are!

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