Do-it-Yourself Free-Standing Wardrobe Closet

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Transforming an old entertainment center with doors, which were popular in the 1980s and 1990s, into a wardrobe is a quick and inexpensive way to make a free-standing closet for storing extra or off-season clothes or to use as a child's closet. With the advent of flat-screen TVs, many of these sturdy wood media centers can now be obtained at low cost from thrift shops or through online classified ads.

Things You'll Need

  • Adjustable closet rod (1-inch in diameter)
  • Closet rod hooks or brackets (2, or 3 for heavy clothes)
  • Tape measure
  • Standard bolts and nuts (suggested 2-inch length; diameter of bolts must fit holes in mounting hardware)
  • Power drill
  • Drill bit (approximately 1/16-inch smaller than diameter of bolts)
  • 3- to 4-hook lightweight key rack (1 or 2)
  • Screws (2 per key rack; between 1- and 1 1/4-inch length)
  • Decorative boxes and/or rectangular baskets
  • 120- to 220-grit sandpaper (optional)
  • Polyurethane stain OR water-based enamel paint  (optional)
  • Paintbrush (1- to 2-inch synthetic) and/or paint roller (optional)
  • Clear water-based polyurethane or polycrylic finish (optional)

Step 1: Remove Inner Hardware

Use your power drill to undo screws and remove tracks, VHS holders, turntables or other hardware from the inside of the entertainment center. You may need to remove the top shelf as well, if one is present, to make room for longer clothing such as dresses and coats.

Step 2: Sand and Stain or Paint (Optional)

If your entertainment center needs touching up because of wear and tear, use 120- or 220-grit sandpaper, depending on the roughness of the surface. Sand until the surface is smooth. If using the 120-grit, follow up with the 220-grit sandpaper for extra smoothness.

If staining, apply one coat of polyurethane stain and let it dry for 2 to 4 hours. For a darker shade, apply a second coat.

If you want to paint your wardrobe, apply two coats of paint, allowing 48 hours of drying time in between. If the surface is slick, you may need to apply a coat of primer first. Finish using polyurethane or polycrylic finish, if desired.


  • Give your wardrobe a vintage look by applying a floral or calico-style wallpaper to the interior.

Step 3: Mark and Pre-Drill Holes for Hooks

Measure the depth of the wardrobe from front to back. At the halfway point, mark and pre-drill holes for mounting the hooks or brackets underneath either the top shelf or the top of the wardrobe on the left and right sides. If you are using brackets, you will need to pre-drill holes in the back of the wardrobe as well.


  • The diameter of your drill bit should be approximately 1/16-inch smaller than the diameter of the bolts you plan to use for mounting the hooks or brackets. Otherwise, the bolts may slip out of the holes.

Step 4: Install Closet Rod Hooks

Install the closet hooks or brackets using bolts that fit the diameter of the mounting holes on your hooks or brackets. Secure the hooks or brackets using a nut on the top side of shelf or wardrobe. Be sure and use bolts that are long enough to fit through the shelf or through the wardrobe top -- a 2-inch length bolt is recommended.


  • When installing the closet rod hooks, do not use the screws that come with the hooks or brackets as they will pull out of the holes under the weight of the clothes. Use bolts instead. If your clothes are extra-heavy (winter clothes, jackets), you may want to install a third support hook in the middle for extra support.

Step 5: Place Rod Into Hooks

Place the adjustable closet rod into the curves of the hooks or brackets. Make sure that your rod is thin enough to fit inside the curve of your closet hooks. A 1-inch diameter rod is generally a good size to use.


  • You can use a custom-length rod as well, but you may have to remove the wardrobe doors to insert the rod. An adjustable rod precludes having to do this.

Step 6: Install Key Rack for Necklaces and Headbands

Install a lightweight 3- to 4-hook key rack holder on the inside frame of one or both of the doors. If your key rack holder does not already come with screws, measure the thickness of both the key rack and door frame; add together; and subtract a quarter-inch to obtain the right length of the screws that will secure the key rack without poking through the door. Tap the screw gently into the door frame first to start the hole; then attach the key rack.

Step 7: Place Storage Containers on Shelves

Place decorative boxes and baskets for folded clothes, toiletries, towels or jewelry on the pull-out shelves. Or use the shelves to store shoes.

Note: Sizes of nuts, bolts and screws are suggested only and are dependent on your mounting hardware and the thickness of the shelf and doors of the entertainment center. Consult your local hardware store for exact sizes that will fit your piece.


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