DIY vs Custom Walk-In Closets: Which is the Best Choice for Your Home?

DIY vs Custom Walk-In Closets Which is the Best Choice for Your Home

Are you looking to upgrade your closet space? Are you weighing the pros and cons of DIY vs custom walk-in closets? Trying to decide between a DIY closet project or hiring a professional for a full custom closet design and installation? Updating your closet can make getting ready each day more enjoyable, while also boosting your home’s resale value. However, not all closet remodeling projects are created equal.

Table of Contents

When embarking on a closet remodel or building a new walk-in closet, you have two main options – do it yourself or hire a professional closet designer and installer. But how do you choose? What are the key differences, pros, and cons of each approach? This guide examines the DIY versus custom closet system debate in-depth so you can make the best decision for your needs and budget. Well, before you go to the nearest cabinet store, here are some of the things you need to know. 

DIY Closet Remodel Pros and Cons

Taking a DIY approach to closet remodeling or building a walk-in closet from scratch appeals to many homeowners. The lure of cost savings and the satisfaction of completing your home improvement project can be hard to resist. However, while DIY closets have benefits, they also come with limitations to consider.

DIY Closet Pros

  • Lower Upfront Cost – Skipping professional services to install a closet yourself cuts costs significantly. All you need to pay for are the materials and organizational products for your custom DIY closet system.
  • Creative Control – You can design exactly the closet layout and storage features you want when doing it yourself. No need to communicate ideas to another person.
  • Sense of Accomplishment – Completing your closet build or remodel provides a major feeling of accomplishment and pride.

DIY Closet Cons

  • Learning Curve – Unless you have construction experience, expect a substantial learning curve figuring out how to properly install closet components like shelving and cabinetry from scratch. Mistakes can get costly.
  • Time Commitment – Be prepared to spend many hours on your DIY closet project – planning, shopping, building, and installing organizational elements. Things always take longer for DIYers versus professionals.
  • Quality Issues – Achieving a high-quality finish with proper reinforcement and functionality is extremely difficult for amateurs. Weak points in a DIY closet can cause problems over time.
  • Resale Value – Upgrades done by professionals typically increase a home’s value more versus DIY projects. DIY often looks amateur.

As you can see, DIY walk-in closets make sense for some people but have definite downsides to weigh as well. Calling in the experts for a custom closet brings other pros and cons.

Custom Closet Pros and Cons

Hiring professional closet designers, contractors, and installers to create your dream walk-in closet does come with higher up-front costs. However, custom closets add value and enjoyment to your daily life and home in many ways that DIY projects may not deliver.

Custom Closet Pros

  • Expert Planning – Seasoned professionals help optimize your layout and storage for maximum functionality and convenience. They know effective ways DIYers overlook to make the most of the space.
  • Higher Quality – Contractors have top tools, skills, and access to premium materials needed to construct sturdy custom components with seamless installed finishes.
  • Faster Completion – Unlike the many hours required to tackle this project solo, experienced crews complete professional closet installs quickly and efficiently.
  • Peace of Mind – Reputable companies stand behind their work if any issues pop up, offering warranties and continued support. I’m not wondering if your DIY skills were up to par.

Custom Closet Cons

  • Higher Upfront Cost – Paying market rates for multiple trade professionals’ time, custom materials, and specialty storage elements adds up fast – often ranging from $5,000 to $15,000+ for larger walk-in closet projects.
  • Timeline Dependence – You must accommodate contractor/designer schedules. Rushed timelines can limit customization opportunities compared to DIY projects.
  • Vision Communication – Conveying your dream design and functional needs accurately to designers can take effort and patience. Miscommunications that require changes add delays and costs.


Clearly there are compelling advantages to hiring the very best to create your luxury walk-in closet. But you pay for premium quality and expertise. Determine what matters most – budget, convenience or customization flexibility? Now let’s compare DIY and custom closet design differences.

Key Differences: DIY vs Professional Walk-In Closets

Beyond the basic pros, cons, and costs described already, DIY and custom closets differ in several other important ways that impact your end results. Keep these key distinctions in mind while deciding which approach best suits your scenario:

Layout Design Differences

Amateur DIYers often struggle to envision their available space’s possibilities compared to the 3D design renderings and floor plans professional closet designers provide. Seasoned designers make the most of every inch, incorporating specialized storage solutions for:

  • Hanging clothes – The right mix of closet rods and integrated wardrobe towers makes storing hanging garments easy. Experienced designers incorporate sufficient closet rod lengths, sometimes segmented for flexibility, to avoid cramming. They also wisely use height, specifying tall wardrobes for hanging longer dresses/coats. Custom reach-in cabinets built around chimneys or room oddities also maximize handling capacity.
  • Folded garments – For folded sweaters, jeans, and other non-hanging apparel, pros design drawer towers and open shelving areas optimizing height and depth for easy access. Specific dividers, custom-sized cubbies, and specialty pull-out trays keep folded items neatly organized.
  • Shoes – Shoe collections warrant strategic storage planning. Designers include angled shelves to display heels attractively while avoiding wasting vertical space. Custom built-ins sized for boots add capacity. Drawers, lazy Susans, and slide-out racks manage overflow footwear out of sight.
  • Accessories – Belts, scarves, purses, and jewelry get tailored attention. Examples include shallow drawers with for jewelry and belt inserts, deeper drawers for folded scarves and bags, mounted displays paired with hooks/hangers for necklaces or caps, and enclosed cabinets with glass fronts or inserts for dust-free showcasing.
  • Personal items – Custom closets incorporate nooks, cubbies, drawers, and even furniture islands for stashing daily essentials like phones, glasses, and watches, and folding laundry. Built-in hampers with custom cabinet fronts maintain your suite’s elegant aesthetic.
  • Seasonal clothing storage – Professional design systems make wardrobe transitions easy, such as twin wardrobe towers allowing off-season clothes to be stashed overhead and pulled down twice yearly rather than occupying prime real estate. Additional overhead cabinets or pull-down racks can house little-used pieces conveniently.
  • Multi-use furniture islands – Islands serve multiple needs as seating for dressing, temporary folding space, and concealed storage thanks to cabinets. Custom island designs Regex your preferences for open shelving, hampers, drawers or wrapped towers. Islands commonly feature glass tops for a lightweight, spacious aesthetic too.
  • Smart bulk storage areas concealed behind cabinet doors rather than cluttering the closet – Cabinetry facades hide those rarely-used suitcases, holiday decorations, and extra bedding bundles in style without clutter yet keep them easily accessible through labeled doors.

HomeAdvisor provides useful data on average costs for custom closet installations, breaking down pricing into good/better/best tiers ranging from $2,500 up to $15,000 depending on materials used and complexity.

Material and Build Quality Differences

DIY projects frequently lack proper structural reinforcement in framing and use cheaper wire shelving systems prone to sagging over time. Custom closet installers construct high-quality wood shelving and cabinetry paired with durable metal fittings designed to handle heavy use and weight loads without fail. Custom closet designers also specify premium finishes including:

  • Wood species avoiding expansion/contraction issues
  • Formaldehyde-free plywood
  • Furniture-grade finishes
  • Soft-close doors and extensions
  • Glass/plexiglass for illuminating displays

The BHG article also provides examples of factors that influence overall budgets like closet size, layouts, materials, and organizational add-ons.

Functionality and Convenience Differences

Thoughtful custom designers incorporate specialized elements home DIYers would likely never think to add or know how to properly install, such as:

  • Motion sensor LED lighting ensures every corner stays brightly and evenly illuminated, without dead corners
  • Full-extension wooden drawer pulls provide complete access to contents
  • Base shoe cabinet “garbage collectors” simplify cleaning
  • Pneumatic lift storage raising stacked trays up within your reach at the touch of a button
  • Custom built-ins sized for everything from luggage to odd-shaped hats and accessories
  • Sliding, pivoting, and tilting mechanisms maximizing access and visibility into space-constrained areas

As you can see, expert custom closet designers packing decades of specialized knowledge can equip your walk-in closet with elite features delivering daily delight. Keep reading for guidance in choosing between DIY and custom.

Evaluating Your Needs: Key Questions to Ask Yourself

Before deciding between DIY or custom approaches to your walk-in closet project, ask yourself these key questions to clarify your priorities:

  • How much-existing storage space can I devote to a walk-in closet or closet remodel? 

The footage available dictates how ambitious your design can get regarding specialized features. Professional designers shine when given a spacious canvas to work with.

  • How extensive is my wardrobe and accessory collection? 

People with vast shoe and clothes volumes require savvy storage planning. Custom designers have tricks up their sleeves fulfilling even large-scale storage needs in style.

  • How long do I plan on staying in this home? 

ROI should be considered. Custom closets add more resale value should you sell shortly after completing this project.

  • Is expert craftsmanship or a luxury feel important? 

Custom shops have premium materials and construction capabilities beyond typical DIY skillsets and tools.

  • How confident do I feel in my building skills and vision? 

Custom pros design and handle everything start-to-finish if you lack vision, confidence, or ability to tackle this solo.

  • What’s my deadline for completing this project? 

Custom shops often have lead times of 4+ weeks. DIY projects’ open-ended timelines allow working at your own pace.

  • What is my overall budget for this closet project? 

Custom quotes giving the exact costs of your vision help determine if DIY fits your budget better. Expect to invest $5k-$15k+ for 200+ sq ft custom closets.

Once you clarify responses to questions like these, the ideal decision between DIY and custom approaches often becomes quite clear. Both routes offer great potential benefits – you simply have to decide what matters most for your walk-in closet project.

Final Thoughts – Making the Best Choice for YOU

When evaluating undertaking any home improvement project yourself compared to hiring experts, answering questions like those above helps set realistic expectations. As this DIY versus custom closet design comparison revealed, each approach carries pros, cons, and inherent trade-offs.

  • DIY allows more creative freedom and control while giving you a major sense of personal accomplishment. But be prepared for an intensive effort and learning curve to avoid structural issues down the road.
  • Custom closet systems require a big upfront investment, but pay dividends daily through upgraded storage convenience plus boost homes’ resale value significantly.

Hopefully breaking down key differences between DIY closet installation projects versus full-service custom closet designers and showrooms helps provide clarity. Once you consider your available space, organizational needs, skills, and budget, one option likely emerged fitting your scenario best. Trust your instincts!

At the end of the day, walls and shelves hold your belongings either way. Make sure whichever route you take – DIY or custom – reflects what matters most FOR YOU. Define your dream system’s must-have features, then craft your ideal walk-in closet storage paradise! Both paths can lead to daily delights – choose the one that resonates most.

Bayram Gulsen

Bayram Gulsen is the owner of Cabinets City. He always had this passion to redefine cabinetry to be at its best along with his dedicated team and the author of Cabinets City blog: You can find Bayram on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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