DIY Network

How to Build a Custom Storage Unit

Use these step-by-step instructions to build a creative storage unit that can help you stay organized.

More in Remodeling

  • Time


  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Design a Plan

This new cabinet will enable the space to remain better organized and be of greater use. The custom storage unit incorporates drawers in the lower section, built-in bench seating, hidden compartments under the seats, upper cabinets, and hooks for hanging coats and backpacks. The plans call for curved sides and an overall hourglass shape that will allow better access in the alcove and help maximize the hallway space.

To make room for the new storage unit and open up the hall space, a non-load-bearing wall must first be removed.

Wall Demolition Tips:

  • Before any partial or complete wall demolition, always make sure the wall is not load-bearing. If you are not certain, consult a professional.
  • Use a utility knife to score deeply and carefully around any trim. This allows both for easy removal of the trim as well as protecting the existing paint.
  • Use a chisel or pry bar to loosen and remove any trim and baseboards that need to be pulled out. Always do this carefully as they may need to be re-used later.
  • Using a utility-knife blade, score lines in the drywall to define the boundaries of the demolition.
  • Use a hammer to loosen and pop out drywall that needs to be removed.
  • Use a reciprocating saw to cut through the wall studs and framing.

Step 2: Cut the Upright Pieces

Begin by the cutting out one of the curved side pieces out of birch plywood. To create and mark the curve, use a flexible piece of wood trim. Bend the trim piece to the desired curve and follow the arc to mark the wood. Cut out the curve using a jigsaw. Once the first side piece is made, it can be used as a template to make the other side piece. A third curved piece serves as a center upright. Its curve is cut deeper to allow better access inside the unit. Once these three large pieces are cut, the edges can be rounded using a hand-held router. Rounded edges are particularly desirable for this piece since it will be located in a high-traffic area.

Step 3: Cut the Remaining Elements

Once the large upright pieces are done, cut out the other elements needed for the design. In addition to the three curved uprights, plywood elements for this piece include the back, top and bottom pieces, two doors for the cabinet fronts, two drawer fronts, two upper-cabinet bottoms, two bench-seats and bench-seat covers, two drawer bottoms and two hidden-compartment bottoms. Cut these pieces from birch plywood using a circular saw.

Cutouts, such as for the bench-seat pieces and the drawer openings at the bottom of the unit, can be made using a plunge cut with the circular saw. For the hidden storage beneath the benches, flip-top lids double as seating support and hidden compartment lids. Since these lids will double as seats, create finger holes for lifting the lids. Cut the finger holes using a hole saw.

Step 4: Assemble the Unit

Once all the pieces are cut, assemble the unit using construction adhesive and nails to secure the pieces together. The drawers are a simple box design. Cut the pieces out of birch plywood, then secure them together using wood glue and nails. Install the drawers using drawer glides.

Step 5: Add Beadboard, Then Prime and Paint

Once the piece is assembled, add a decorative touch by paneling it with beadboard. Secure the beadboard paneling to the inside back panel and cabinet fronts using a brad nailer. Add beadboard to the drawer and cabinet fronts by attaching with glue and then framing it with decorative trim (Image 1). Attach the wood trim using brad nails.

Once the pieces are all assembled, prime and paint. When the paint is dry, install the drawers, doors and hinges to complete the structure (Image 2), and move the new unit into place.