Build an open closet out of gas pipe

by | Mar 29, 2020

My partner and I both own a full apartment’s worth of stuff. When we first talked seriously about living together, we realized that combining into either of our tiny apartments was a bad idea. Besides, each of us had sworn wouldn’t move our of current apartments unless it was for a place that we owned.

So we teamed up and bought a condo. It’s beautiful, two bedrooms and plenty of space. There’s just one area where it’s lacking, and that’s the bedroom. Please keep your mind out of the gutter; I’m talking about closet space.

There is one smallish closet in the master bedroom. I guess this is meant to be shared by two people? When we first viewed the place, I took one look at it and said “That’s not going to be enough”. I told my partner the closet was hers and started making plans for my new custom wardrobe.


Probably half my clothes come from Anian, a downtown Victoria handcrafted bespoke overpriced environmentalist hipster boutique. They have a lot of my money. They also have custom made gas-pipe clothing racks to display their wares on. It looks good in the store – I thought the clothes would look good on the same racks at home.

I love the industrial look, the colour of raw iron and the texture of the joints. The construction is sturdy but has a small visual footprint. I like to look at my clothes –  I try to only buy clothes I love, and buy them for life. I tend to forget about items that I can’t see, so having them visible makes it way easier to get dressed in the morning. Open plan was the best choice for me.

Plans, Parts, and Expenses

I drew four or five blueprints on paper, but I had trouble working at that level of abstraction. So I blocked out my plan by taping up the wall. The two parallel lines are the height of each closet tier, and the lower line is the height of a dresser I planned to get after the wardrobe was installed. I also blocked out the footprint that each would occupy on the floor, so that my partner could see how much room she had to walk past it and make sure she wouldn’t stub her toes.

I found the gas pipe at a local, independent hardware store in our neighbourhood, Castle Building Centre. My partner even has a discount there through her roller derby league.

I used 3/4″ black iron pipe. This stuff goes together like Lego – no tools required. It’s not as cheap as I thought it would be, but compared to the cost of custom closet systems, it’s the right price.

Parts list, with the prices from memory*:

  • 36″ pipe x 5 @ $18.99
  • 10″ pipe x 2 @ $12.99
  • 6″ pipe x 2 @ $6.49
  • flange x 4 @ $5.49
  • T-joint x 4 @3.19
  • elbow x 2 @1.99
  • 8×4 1/2″ unfinished cedar plank, cut in half x1 @ $12.00

Total including 5% GST and 10% discount: $163.12.

My credit card statement was more like $200, but I think I got some extra bits and pieces in there.

* I’ll try and get the accurate prices after coronavirus is over.

Other materials:

  • Household cleaner + rag for cleaning off the pipes
  • 10′ by 4′ canvas sheet
  • grippy stuff for screwing pipes together


I laid everything out on the floor and removed the packaging. The stickers I left on until the end, in case I needed to make returns (I did). The pipes and joints screwed together without the slightest trouble. The tricky bit was the two crossbars. It’s hard to make a closed figure using gas pipe that’s screwed the same way at both ends. As you tighten one end, you loosen the other. You can get a reverse-threaded joiner, or you can compromise tightness.

I tightened one side of the crossbar all the way down hard into the first T-joint, then backed it off a little while threading it into the opposite T-joint. So the bars rotate a little on the finished product. It’s fine.

I propped it up on the wall to make sure the flanges hit at the right spot. They did. I used a studfinder to screw the cedar backboard onto studs, then screwed the flanges into the backboard. Somehow the cedar board ended up too low, so I added the second one above it.

I cut circles out of the grippy stuff that you line drawers with, and used those to protect our floors from the flange feet. Then I peeled off all the stickers using a heat gun, and cleaned it with household degreaser. Your hands and clothes will get very dirty when working with black pipe. It’s covered with some kind of grease to prevent rust while shipping.


I love it! And it looks slick enough to earn my partner’s approval as well.

With some extra parts that I ended up with, I added a little finishing touch – this little bar for my belts to live on.