DIYdiy projects

diy project: kate’s rolling coat rack

by Grace Bonney

to continue the entryway fix-up theme, i decided i needed something to hold coats and shoes. i have always liked the stylish, pared down nature of rolling racks. they always look clean and minimal in small boutiques, so why not bring the idea home? this is also a smooth hostess move if you have a party…actually having a place for guests to put their coats! my entry is teeny tiny so this rack is very compact, but you can size it up however you wish. i added some fabric covered hangers for a special touch. have fun!! – kate

CLICK HERE for the full project instructions after the jump! and click here to learn how to make the umbrella caddy in the picture above!


1. steel plumbers pipe (this come in two finishes – galvanized and black, and usually two sizes – 1/2″ and 3/4″. i used 1/2″ galvanized because it is the cheapest. this also comes in different lengths to customize your rack.) i used the following pieces: two 48″ pieces for the height, one 18″ piece for the width.
2. plumbers pipe fittings: two flanges (circular floor fittings), two 90 degree elbows
3. paint (i used ordinary house paint in satin finish)
4. paintbrush
5. wood (you can use a pre-made shelf, like one from ikea, or have a piece cut to the size you want at the lumber store. i used a piece that is 12″ wide by 22″ long and 2″ thick)
6. hangers
7. fabric (cut into 2″ thick strips)
8. hot glue gun
9. sandpaper
10. four rolling wheels (available at hardware stores)
11. 16 1″ screws
12. drill



1. if you purchased cut wood, sand your wood down to remove any rough spots.

2. flip your piece of wood over so the bottom is facing up and measure 1/2″ in from each corner. this is where your wheels will go. use the drill to screw down your wheels and flip your wood over. you now have a skateboard.


3. remove all the stickers from your plumber’s pipe and clean the pipe with soap and water. screw your pieces together to form the “u” shape of your rolling rack. screw each piece as tightly as you can. screw on the floor flanges last.

4. on the top of your wood piece, measure and mark the middle of the left and right edges. this is where you will place the flanges.

5. screw in one flange to the wood. position the other flange and eye it to see if the pipe goes straight. screw the second flange down.

6. the rack is now complete! if you like the rough unfinished look, leave it how it is! if you want to paint it, lay the rack over a scrap of newspaper and use your brush to paint the entire piece. let the first coat dry and give it a second coat to really cover the pipe.

7. to wrap the hangers, take the end of a strip of fabric and glue it to the end of the hanger with hot glue. twist the fabric and wrap it around the arm up to the metal hanger in the center. glue the piece of fabric on the backside of the hanger to secure. do the same with another piece of fabric on the other arm of the hanger and meet the first piece of fabric in the middle. glue in the back to secure. snip any loos threads. repeat with all desired hangers.


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  • is the paint strong enough to hold up to the metal hangers? i love this project, but would be totally distressed if the paint chipped off the bar!

  • love it! my dad is a a plumber and he and my mom used to have racks like this in the closet for their clothes (minus the green paint). i will be forwarding this to him…

  • Is there a reason that this rack needs to be on wheels? I feel like it would look just as great as a plain coat stand – and it might be easier to make! I think the platform would definitely still be a necessary component – the shoes fit oh so well – but maybe it doesn’t have to be quite so mobile.

    Love the color choice, too.

  • I suspect the paint will indeed scrape off in time. If you can’t live with that (I can), I would suggest leaving the top bar unpainted.

  • Though I LOVE your DIY attitude, gusto, and talent – I am lacking on all three. I also really adore the look of antique metal, rolling racks – can someone recommend a source (online or in San Francisco) for purchasing such an item?

    Thanks for sharing!

  • a friend of mine made one (just shorter) to house and display her daughters dress up clothes and tu tu’s…i never thought to make it adult sized.

    nice work!

  • I would love to try this without painting the pipe and using an old piece of reclaimed or distressed wood for a more natural / patina finish. Such a great idea. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • hi there!
    i also agree that this would look great unfinished, especially if you use the black pipe. if you are worried about dings from the hangers, spray the finished project with a coat of protecting clear sealant spray (in the paint section of hardware stores), i have had good results against scrapes with that. and no, it does not need to be on wheels, you can vary this project many ways!

  • I have one of these in my entryway, and it’s fabulous for parties. No more wet coats on my bed!

  • rubby the top bar with a candle would also help to prevent the paint from wearing off, as well as helping the hangers glide smoothly.
    i love this idea and will definitely keep it in mind for future apartments. unfortunately my current entry area wouldn’t allow such a large piece.

  • umm… that is really freaking cute. i love distressed paint, btw. you could always layer it up there with the intention of it scraping off over time and allowing the other paint layers to show through. well done.

  • Such a great idea! (Plus it combines great with the umbrella holder) but I would use some anti-rust, maritime type paint

  • Wow! What a cool project. I really love the color. You could spray the top of it with a silicone spray and also spray your hangers this would prevent the paint from being scratched off. Those of you looking for coat racks already made can find them at http://www.clothesracks.com

  • joanna, i believe those boots are frye veronica slouch. at least they look very similar. best boots i’ve ever owned!!

  • I just made one!! I used indoor/outdoor spray paint on each piece separately, but I left the horizontal bar unpainted, so as to not risk chipping.

  • i love this and hope to make one — maybe one of those plastic shower curtain rod covers cut to size covering the horizontal bar?? (scratches in that gorgeous paint would but me too)

  • Such a simple but very awesome idea. I’ve got to make one for our entryway and one for my daughter’s dress up clothes.

  • nice and easy and smart
    not to mention really cute.
    bravo and thanks for the inspiration.

  • Love this! My boyfriend and I just moved into a loft that seriously lacks closet space. We are so happy we found this tutorial!

  • I just moved into an apartment with no closet space and I have been looking for a good DIY clothes rack. This is perfect!
    just wondering..

    -How long did it take to put together?
    -How much did it cost to make?

  • I made a slightly wider version of this with the black-coated pipe. The materials cost about $70. I did not buy the wheels because the other materials were more than I expected, but hope to add them later. It took a couple of days, but I put it together gradually. Besides waiting for the paint to dry, this project could be completed in an afternoon.

  • You just made my day! I’ve been looking for a great set of instructions on how to accomplish this, and I’m beyond stoked!! Will also paint mine a bright color, which I hadn’t thought of. Thank you for taking the time to share.

  • What a great idea! I’ve been looking for something like this that’s DIY for a long time!

    Although I LOVE the look of the metal piping, do you think PVC pipe would work? I’d rather use what I have then buy something else.

    Thanks for the AWESOME idea!

    P.S. The green looks great :)

  • Would make a perfect garment rack for my sewing room. Have been looking for something mobile and functional. However, when I try to print the instructions, all I can get are the pictures and background. What am I doing wrong?

  • Do you have to use galvanized pipes? Could you use plastic if you were hanging something like say… a photobooth backdrop?

  • I just made this with a few modifications: 1) instead of the 2″ x 12″, I used a section of edge-glued, stain grade wood from Lowe’s. I wanted a larger base, and this one came in at 3/4″ thick by 16″ deep; 2) I used a 24″ cross bar instead of 18″; 3) instead of using wood screws to attach the flanges, I used bolts, washers, and nuts that went all the way through the thinner base to reduce the risk of tear-out; and 4) I left the galvanized pipe raw and stained the wood base “Early American”. Looks fantastic, and holds four heave wool and down coats with room for one or two more.

  • Katie you are a girl after my own heart. I had been thinking about this idea but just didn’t know how to get started. My church is planning a yard sale soon and we have aloto f clothes but nothing to hang them up on outside. Now we can just roll the hanges on our vacant lot and put a brick by each wheel… Sounds like a plan to me. Thanks

  • With a few measurement changes, this would make a great bicycle hanging rack! Thanks for the instructions.