DIY Coat Tree: Simple, Yet Elegant – Complete Guide

Black hooks on a white coat tree.

You’ve heard the expression, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

Perhaps this phrase ran through your head the last time you went to hang your heavy winter coat on a store-bought coat tree only to watch it immediately topple to the ground. Not a very nice welcome home, was it?

Did you know that for a comparable price and a few hours of work you can easily build your own stand-alone, sturdy coat tree that will actually remain in an upright position?

Best of all, you can customize it however you like to match your decor and fit your personal needs.

How do you make a DIY coat tree? To make a coat tree, select a thick, sturdy post and cut it to an appropriate height. Sand until smooth, level the bottom, and paint or stain. With screws, attach shelf brackets at the base level for “feet” and the desired number of hooks around the post.

Crafting a functional item customized with your own creative flair and catered to your family’s needs can be a lot fun and is easier than you think. 

I’ll take you through the process step by step and give you plenty of ideas for creative, personal customization. Let’s get started.

Why Make Your Own Coat Tree?

There are a few major problems with store-bought coat trees. 

First of all, they are typically quite poorly designed with bases that just aren’t wide enough for adequate stability and support and have a tendency to come crashing down. 

Not only is this annoying, but it could be a safety hazard as well. 

Little children and pets are particularly at risk as they are often there to greet you as you walk in the door and remove your coat. 

Walls and floors could suffer damage as well, and who needs more scratches and dents to deal with?

Another problem is the number of and position of the hooks. The majority of coat trees have only eight hooks, though some feature 12. 

For many families, when you factor in the light coats, the bulky coats, umbrellas, sweaters, backpacks, purses, and dog leashes, this simply is not enough. 

Additionally, most of these hooks are positioned fairly high which makes the structure top heavy and easily knocked over.

Sure, you can find coat trees that are somewhat adjustable, like this one by Vlush, but chances are you’ll soon wish that it had more hooks and more room for customization.

The answer to these problems is, of course, to make your own coat tree, tailored to your specifications and designed with your family’s needs in mind.

Customization Ideas for DIY Coat Tree

Still on the fence about building your own personalized coat tree? 

The process is really simple to do, only takes a couple of hours of work, and, better yet, it’s fun! Let your creativity run wild with this project to create a truly one-of-a-kind coat tree.

Paint or Stain

Of course, you could leave your coat tree “naked” for a natural look, but most people prefer to either paint their creation to match their home’s decor or to stain the wood to bring out the natural beauty for a more finished look.

Be sure to read my article here for tips on deciding between paint and stain.

If you choose to paint, consider going a step further with either freehand designs or stencils. Twisting flowering vines could be fun or maybe trace your children’s tiny handprints. 

Stencil on small umbrellas, rubber boots, puppies, moons and stars, whatever your family’s into. Have fun with it.

Fun Coat Hooks

Coat hooks come in all kinds of designs these days, so you’re no longer limited to purely functional hooks, though they do lend a classy look to a coat tree. 

In fact, that’s exactly what I went with for my first coat tree. You can find them here.

For coat trees I made for family members and friends, I broke from tradition and went the fanciful route instead. 

Check out some of these awesome, whimsical hooks:

Tip: Be sure to check the maximum weight limit of your hooks before installing.

Instructions For a DIY Coat Tree

The following instructions detail how I chose to make my coat tree. Feel free to copy exactly or to switch things up a bit.

Just make sure that your base is sturdy. Other than that, customize to your heart’s content!

1. Gather Materials

You’ll need:

  • One piece of 4 inch by 4 inch lumber at least 6-feet long.
  • Wood (or resin) deck post cap. (Deckorators make really nice ones.)
  • Hooks – as many as you like.
  • Four right-angle shelf brackets at least 6 inches by 9 inches.
  • Drill and screws – I used my trusty Black + Decker.
  • Wood glue – Gorilla works great.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Primer and paint or stain and finish if desired.

2. Prep the wood

First, cut the wood, if necessary, to your desired height. I got lucky in finding a 4 x 4 x 6, so I left it as is, but you may need to trim yours down if you purchased a longer piece.

Regardless of whether you’re using treated or untreated wood (if you’re having trouble deciding, read my article about choosing wisely), you’ll need to sand the wood pieces until they’re smooth and free of splinters.

Note: If you are using treated wood be sure it is completely dry before attempting to work with it. Treated wood is often still damp from the treatment process and can take weeks to dry out. Use gloves and a mask for safety.

Pay particularly close attention to the bottom of the post. It needs to be as level as possible. You may need to use a saw for this step if the bottom is very uneven.

Once sanding is finished, wipe carefully with a damp cloth to remove all of the sanding dust.

If you plan on painting or staining your coat tree, now is the time to get that done. Remember to let each coat dry completely before applying another.

If you’re using stain, don’t forget to protect the wood with a few coats of polyurethane, linseed oil, tung oil, or a similar finish.

Check out my advice and recommendations for selecting stain before you purchase.

3. Assemble

First, attach whichever cap you selected. Some just snap on, and others need a couple of small screws.

Either way, I’d recommend using some wood glue to be sure everything stays in place for years to come.

Now, you’re ready to attach the brackets to the base of the post. To do so, stand the post upright on a 100% level surface and have someone hold it in place. 

Double check to make sure that the post bottom is level and is sitting flush against the floor. Position one bracket per side with the long side on the floor.

Making sure each one is centered on the post and flush with the floor, use a pencil to mark where you need to drill holes for the screws.

Using the correct size drill bit for your screws, drill each of the holes, and then screw each bracket in place.

Have your helper let go of the post and check for any wobbling. Adjust the brackets if necessary until the post remains rigidly upright with no wobbling.

Here’s how it should look.

Legs made of brackets on a homemade coat tree.

Now for the fun part! Decide where you’d like all of your hooks to go.

You may want to stagger them around the post to accommodate for different sized coats or you can take a more symmetrical approach.

Parents of small children may want to place multiple hooks at kid-friendly heights so that little ones will have no trouble reaching their gear. (No more excuses for tossing coats on the floor!)

Predrill holes for the hooks’ screws, and screw each hook in place.

That’s all there is to it! You have a handmade, custom coat tree, simple, yet elegant. 

Don’t Stop Now

Now that you know how easy and fun it is to make a DIY coat tree, you’ll probably want to make one for all the special people in your life. I know I did.

So what’s stopping you? A personalized coat tree makes an excellent gift that anyone is sure to appreciate.