Are you running out of space in your closets? Installing closet shelves is an easy and affordable way to increase storage space in your home.
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Do you ever wonder what building companies are thinking when they install closets?
I’m not talking about custom builders.
I’m talking about those big name companies that build an entire neighborhood (or 10) at a time.
After living in three new-build homes by three different large builders, it’s obvious to me that they’re really only thinking about one thing:
The bottom line.
Because the closets they install just aren’t functional.
Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge that I am so fortunate to even have a small walk-in closet of my own.
And clothing to fill it.
But this post is about how I’m working to make my small walk-in closet more functional by installing shelving.
My Closet, Before This Project…
Would you believe this shot was taken after I’d already made some improvements?!
When we first moved in, the builder installed one row of wire shelving in a U shape around the perimeter of the closet.
In 2017, I repurposed some IKEA Billy bookcases that we moved out of my son’s room and put them along the side walls for folding storage.
Clearly, my system still wasn’t working.
Or I’m a pig.
Probably a little bit of both… LOL
By the time I’m done, it’s going to be fabulous!
- My Closet, Before This Project…
- What You'll Need to Install Closet Shelves Like Mine
- Decide Where You'll Install The Shelves
- Why I Chose L Brackets to Support My Closet Shelf
- How to Install the L Brackets
- A Simple Way to Figure Out Where to Cut Premade Shelves
- How to Hide Rough Cut Edges
- Do You Need to Attach Shelves to an L Bracket?
- Why Crates Are a Great Option for Closet Storage
- Supplies and Resources
- More Closet Ideas and Inspiration
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What You’ll Need to Install Closet Shelves Like Mine
- 9-inch white steel L brackets
- White melamine or laminate shelving
- Tape measure
- Stud finder
- Impact driver and/or Drill/driver with Drill and driver bits
- Circular saw or Chop Saw or Table Saw
- 2-inch white wood screws
- 3/4-inch white shelf mounting screws
Decide Where You’ll Install The Shelves
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide where you want to hang your shelves.
My goal with my shelf was to add storage space above the hanging rods in my closet in a U-shape on three walls of the closet.
Use a tape measure to figure out how much shelving you’ll need. I ended up getting three longer shelves and one shorter shelf, then cutting them to fit.
Figure out how high you want your shelf or shelves, then use a stud finder to locate studs at that height.
Mark the stud locations with a small X.
There are lots of things you can hang on your wall where it’s okay to not attach them to a stud, but shelving that might hold heavier items really needs to be installed into studs.
After all, you don’t want all that stuff falling down on your head someday, right?
Or tumbling to the floor in the middle of the night!
Why I Chose L Brackets to Support My Closet Shelf
There are different options for hanging a shelf, but I wanted to use L brackets that didn’t have a supporting brace (that piece that makes them look like a triangle.
That brace would cut into the space below the shelves where I wanted to put more storage containers!
Crates and Pallet makes heavy-duty steel L brackets in several different color options including black, gold, and white.
According to responses to questions on the Home Depot website, you can install these brackets either way, with the support under the shelf, or flipped around with the support facing upwards.
I double-checked with my dad, a former physics teacher, and he said that the shelf would be sturdiest with the L positioned upside down so the support against the wall is below the shelf.
Something about the force pressing down and other things that make my eyes glaze over…
How to Install the L Brackets
To get started installing, place the L bracket at the height you want it on a stud and mark the location of the top hole with your pencil.
Position your level vertically and adjust the bracket so that it’s level vertically.
Be sure to always check both the top and bottom bubbles of your level when you’re leveling something vertically!
I was shocked to see that the bottom bubble wasn’t perfectly centered, even though the top one was.
Since you’re installing the brackets into studs, use a drill bit that’s just a little smaller in diameter than your screw to make a pilot hole into the stud.
Be sure to keep your drill level and drill straight into the stud!
I used 2-inch wood screws to attach the brackets into the stud.
Even with a pilot hole, I find it easiest to drive the wood screw all the way in with an impact driver.
When you factor in the thickness of these sturdy steel brackets, plus the drywall, this meant just over an inch of the screw went into the stud.
We’re all about keeping things safe and sturdy around here!
Now it’s time to repeat these steps for the bottom hole of the bracket.
Crates and Pallet recommends 2 brackets per every 24 inches of shelving, but the studs in my house are 16 inches apart so we installed a bracket into each stud.
After all, sturdier is always better!
A Simple Way to Figure Out Where to Cut Premade Shelves
Once the L brackets were all installed, it was time to add the shelves.
If you’re good at measuring accurately, you can go that route to figure out how long each shelf should be.
Or, you can try this simple hack!
I had three long shelves, and one shorter shelf based on the measurements I took of the closet.
We decided to position one long shelf on each side wall, with the end butting up to the wall where the door is located.
To figure out how much needed to be trimmed from those long shelves, we placed the shelves that were going on the back wall on top of them (see the photo above).
Then we simply drew a line where the shelves overlapped and that’s where to make the cut!
This simple method gave perfect joints all the way around!
The best part about this method is it helps to account for any irregularities in the closet walls.
After all, the odds of everything being perfectly square are pretty slim.
But you’d never know things aren’t square based on how the shelves lined up.
How to Hide Rough Cut Edges
When you cut melamine or laminate shelves, you’re going to end up with one of the sides having rough edges.
My circular saw and our table saw are currently both at the small house my husband and I are renovating, so I needed to use a chop-style saw to make my cuts.
The rough edge happened on the underside of the shelf.
The blade on this saw isn’t big enough to cut all the way through the shelf, so I needed to flip the shelf to cut the other side.
To make sure the rough edge was on the same side of the board, I had to turn the board over to keep the rough edge on the table surface of the saw.
You can gently sand these rough edges, but you need to be careful you don’t sand deeply or you’ll remove too much of the laminate coating.
I just brushed away the loose bits with a rag.
Then I placed the shelves on the brackets so that the rough edge faced the ceiling of the closet.
That way, the visible edges of the shelf look nice and neat.
Do You Need to Attach Shelves to an L Bracket?
The L brackets have holes on both arms of the L.
You have the option of not attaching the shelf to the bracket.
If you want to easily remove the individual shelves in your closet, you may prefer to not screw the shelf to the bracket.
However, if you’ve been paying attention, we’re all about keeping things safe and sturdy around here!
Especially since these shelves are mounted so high in the closet.
I didn’t want to risk the shelf slipping or falling down on top of me when I’m getting down the higher things from the shelves.
So we used 3/4-inch screws to attach the shelves to the brackets.
Why Crates Are a Great Option for Closet Storage
I love the unfinished wood crates from Crates and Pallet to store items on these shelves!
I haven’t decided whether I’m going to stain them or paint them or keep them natural, so I’m living with them unfinished for a while first.
Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of storage options and the crates are my favorite because they hide and contain the contents, but I can still see inside.
The crates are exceptionally well-made.
I love that they come in a variety of sizes too.
The small crates come in a 4-pack and fit perfectly on top of the Billy bookcases.
I’m using them to hold out-of-season purses and handbags.
And costume jewelry.
The large crates are sold individually and are perfect for my sun hats, satchels, and tote bags.
I may move my hats onto the door of the closet once the weather warms up?
And then I’ll use that large crate to hold the cozy throw blankets I’m not using in my bedroom during those warmer months.
The great thing is these large crates can hold all kinds of things!
I’ll be sharing more about this closet project in the next few weeks including how to install peel-and-stick wallpaper and all the other ways I’ve gotten this closet organized.
I’m finding that having a system and a place for everything is really helping to keep everything neat and tidy.
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Supplies and Resources
Click on any image to shop items from this post
Sources: Ryobi Tape Measure | White Shelf Mounting Screws | 24-inch Level | White 2-inch Wood Screws | White Melamine Shelves | White Steel 9-inch L Brackets | Ryobi Impact Driver | Ryobi Drill/Driver | Dewalt Radial Arm Saw | Stud Finder (not pictured)
More Closet Ideas and Inspiration
If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!
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