How To: Make Your Own Pottery Barn Vintage Lockers

As I mentioned in the previous post, it was love at first sight when I stumbled upon these Vintage Lockers in the Pottery Barn catalog. The honeymoon ended when I realized the set of 4 below would cost me $1,500.

However, when I fall in love, I find a way to make it happen. Just ask my dog that I stole. Ahem…back to the point. Once I showed John the pictures, he was on board immediately, so we devised a plan, gathered our materials, and got to work. This is our best attempt to share what worked for us, but cue the usual “This is just a plan that worked for us, it may not work for you, and we are not experts” blah blah blah. Thank you overly litigious society for making us all paranoid.

So here goes nothing! Oh and by the way, the following play by play marks the first time John has actually sat down and typed something into the blog. So if you have a problem with anything written below…blame him. Also, I know this post contains a lot of detail, so definitely leave a comment or email me if you have a question on any of it.


  • cabinet grade 3/4″ plywood (it resists warping better than solid lumber)
  • knot-free 1 by 4’s for door bracing and trim
  • STRAIGHT tongue & groove planks for the cabinet doors (you can always use plywood if tongue & groove ain’t your thing)
  • 1/4″ thick fiber board sheets to close the back of the cabinets
  • natural toned paint, thinned with several cups of water and well mixed (or color of your choice if you want a different look than the PB ones/ours)
  • wood glue
  • hardware, including: hinges, handles, magnetic latches and numbers


  • table saw or circular saw and a steady hand
  • tape measure
  • small torpedo level
  • pneumatic nail gun and 2″ finish nails
  • sanding device of choice: sand paper, sand blocks, or powered orbital sander

Oh – here’s a tip for you. If your tool shed is lacking and you’re in need of one of the above or something else, we recommend checking out Harbor Freight Tools. They have a pretty darn good selection, and their prices are literally 40% of the cost of Home Depot. In fact, we just picked up a low speed mixing drill this past weekend. For $39.99. Then we went to Home Depot and find the exact same tool…for $169.99. So clearly, it’s worth a trip.


After you have gathered all your materials, determine the size you want your lockers to be. Pottery Barn sells theirs in sets of two, which are 32″ wide x 15″ deep x 71″ high. Based on the space in our Back Room (where these puppies will live), we decided to do 3 lockers, each 18 inches wide, for a total of 54″ wide x 12″ deep x 84″ high. We will use these dimensions for simplicity in the instructions below.

Construction will consist of three parts: Frame Construction, Door Construction, and Putting it Together.

Frame Construction

As a general FYI to everything described in the steps below, after each piece was cut, we sanded and painted it.

By the way, cutting, sanding, and painting takes a long time…so plan accordingly.

We used Glidden’s Eloquent Ivory and diluted it just a touch. We only used one coat to give it that rustic/whitewashed look.

The picture below is important. You should reference it often as you read through the following steps.

1. Cut 4 pieces of plywood as deep and as tall as the cabinet size (12″ by 84″) – we’ll call these the panels.

2. Cut three pieces of plywood 2 inches wide by the width of the cabinet openings (18″) and three more pieces 4 inches wide. These pieces will serve as the spacers at the very top and bottom of the structure. The wider pieces go on the bottom.

3. There will be two types of shelf styles that you will need to cut:

  • 18″ x 11.25″ full depth (3 per cabinet; 2 “shelves” are actually the top and bottom of the cabinet and 1 goes in the middle)
  • 18″ x 10.5″ shallow depth (as many as desired – we added 3 per cabinet, which gave us 5 “true” shelves (including the bottom and middle full depth) plus the top piece. The shallow depth shelves are shorter to clear the door bracings (aka the pieces of wood on the back of the doors – more on that later).

4. Assemble the cabinet as if it were laying on its back. First, nail an end panel to a 2″ spacer at one end and then another panel to the other end of the same spacer. You should have a spacer connecting the end of two panels, creating one cabinet opening. Repeat for all three cabinet openings. Nail a 4″ spacer at the bottom-front of each opening.

5. Install the top and bottom full depth shelves at the edge of the top and bottom spacer. Nail the shelves in though the panels – you may need to install a piece of scrap wood above and below the middle shelves as a nailer. Install the middle shelves the same way, but a few inches off center to avoid the door bracings (again, more on those later).

6. Make the cabinet top by measuring the overall width and cut a piece of plywood that wide by the depth plus 2 inches, creating an overhang at the front. Nail onto the top of the frame.

7. Flip the frame on its side and nail/staple a piece of fiberboard, cut to fit, to the back. MAKE SURE you square the frame first by measuring the diagonal distance each direction. Each distance should be the same length – therefore, it makes a perfect square (Maggie note: apparently that’s what “square the frame” means).

8. We then made the shelf supports out of 1″x2″ wood and screwed them to the inside of the frame where we needed shelves; see the picture below.

Door Construction

1. Once you have determined your desired door size, glue each of your tongue and groove pieces together to create the doors and let them sit overnight to bond. Tip: if you are aiming for 18″ wide doors, assemble enough pieces to go a little wider than the door you desire. For us, 4 pieces per door did the trick, with an inch or so shaved off of each end.

2. Measure the inside of the cabinet openings (panel to panel and spacer to spacer) and subtract about 3/8″ to get the overall door size. If you have less than a square frame or bowed panels, you may want to increase this to 1/2″.

3. Cut the doors to size, centering the middle plank.

4. Glue and nail a 1″x4″ piece of wood to the back of the door in three places. These are the elusive door bracings we mentioned above. These will help stabilize the door and resist bowing over time. It will also be the backing for the hinge screws, so make sure they are in the same place on each door. Here’s a picture if you’re visual like Maggie:

Putting it Together

1. After the cabinet is stood up and set into place, put a door in a cabinet opening and a 3/16″ shim under it to hold the door in place. Make sure the reveal is equal all the way around the door and it is not touching anywhere.

2. Screw the hinge to the door at each door bracing, then screw the other end of the hinge to the edge of the panel.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for all doors and install the handles, magnetic latches and numbers to each door. We fastened our magnetic latches to the tops of each door, and opted for a lower strength magnet so they are easier to open. Also, as you can see in the finished shot below, we chose to fasten stamped iron address numbers to our lockers rather paint the numbers like the Pottery Barn version. While painting wouldn’t have been tough, we liked the look and the simplicity of the address numbers, so that’s the route we chose. We also decided not to paint the hinges like the PB version, because we liked the contrast of the iron/whitewash look.

So there you have our knockoff Pottery Barn Vintage Lockers. They have already given us a delightful amount of additional pantry/overflow storage. In fact, I truly do not understand where we put everything prior to installing these.

And did I mention the total cost in materials was somewhere around $225? It sure beats PB’s asking price of $1,500, doesn’t it? As John said, you’ll never remember the time that went into the project (15-20 hours, in our case), but you’ll remember the money you saved doing it yourself. In this case, I say the trade-off of time vs. money was worth it to do it ourselves.

What do you think? Are you ready to make some Vintage Lockers of your own?


Filed under Back Room, Cabinets, How To..., Pottery Barn Knockoff

42 responses to “How To: Make Your Own Pottery Barn Vintage Lockers

  1. bungalowhutch

    you need to post this on anna white!!!!!! by the way – i want some for my birthday.

  2. Clark

    We are really impressed with these. Can’t wait to see them, touch them, and open them!

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  4. Great tutorial…they look better than PB…..and the cost savings is incredible!!! Thanks for sharing…visiting from LC.

  5. Fabulous!!! I’m so impressed. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  6. Your lockers look reaaly awesome!! What a great piece, tons of storage and beautiful too!!

  7. I love how they turned out. Quite a project, but so rewarding to make something for much cheaper than you can buy it.

  8. I LOVE pottery barn, but not the prices, and Im ALL about finding alternative ways to getting what I want from there, and this is perfect! you guys did a great job recreating this piece, I may even have to try it myself someday!

  9. Meg

    I love these! They turned out great!


  10. Dad

    Hi Maggs, John and Jackson,
    All that you have done shouts out “welcome and relax”. We are the lucky ones. While others view the style, craftmanship, creativity, colors, patterns and construction accumen, when we visit, we are surrounded by your hospitality and love. Your home brings out the best in friends and family. Reminds one that a home’s real character is not just structural.
    Love you!
    PS: Next visit can you put a ham and swiss on my pillow?

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  12. Kathy

    Hi, Just found your blog at 2:30 a.m. when I couldn’t sleep. I LOVE the lockers…..and I think I love Dad too!!! What a sweet comment. I’d give you ham and swiss AND a brownie or something, if you came to visit me!!!

  13. WOW! These look fabulous! I would love to have you come do a special guest post about this on my blog Remodelaholic if you are interested I will send you the details!

    Thanks, Cassity

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  17. These are just amazing!!! You guys did a great job!!!🙂

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  19. Marie K Grubbs

    I’m jealous! What attractive and useful storage. I agree there is no better feeling of accomplishment than to do it yourself and save money. And yours looks better to boot!!!

  20. Del

    Where did you purchase the hinges?

  21. Samantha Frost

    Love your cabinets! I am hoping to build a similar set in the near future. If I can talk the hubby into it. *fingers crossed*

    Thank you for sharing!

  22. What a fantastic tutorial, thanks! I have this linked to my lockers post too today, nice job!!

  23. Jennifer

    I was on here looking for a way to make my own lockers.. I have four children and I homeschool, plus we don’t have much storage so this will be great to do! I have a space already in mind, just have to measure and get my husband going! Thanks for the great tutorial! I hope ours come out just as nice!

  24. They turned out great and look like a fun project!

  25. Ben

    My wife is hoping I can build a set of lockers like these. I am very impressed with how the your lockers came out and I think they look better than the original. As I was planning it out from this tutorial, I had came to a roadblock. Maybe you can help me out. In step 4 of the cabinet construction you say to attach a bottom spacer to two panels to complete one opening. Then you say to do the same for the other openings. So, the question I have is how to nail the next spacer into the panel that already had a spacer attached. It would seem that that spacer would block the logical nailing area for the second locker opening. Is there a trick to nailing this spacer and the next? I would think this also becomes an issue for the top and bottom shelves. Hopefully this makes sense. It would be great if you had any insight or advice. Again, incredible work with this project!

  26. jessiebelle

    These are super pretty, I’ll definitely be making these. Well I say I will, my husband works in a timber yard and my dad is a carpenter so I think I’ll just be on beverage duty….

  27. Steve Hayes

    Where did you get the hinges?


    This tutorial is exactly what I have been looking around for, thank you so much! I can’t wait to make my own.

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