Perfect place in our closet for a shoe shelfA shoe rack in our master bedroom closet was the first weekend project I planned. The planning started the day after we decided to buy the house. We were walking through the house again, and I noticed an unused corner nook in the front of the closet. I told my wife, “That will be a perfect place for a shoe shelf”. She agreed. The house we lived in at the time had a small walk in closet, and a small master bedroom. The owner had carved a space out of the bedroom to add a master bath and has added on the space for the walk in closet. It was better than sharing 1 bathroom between the four people in the house, but it was not a good long-term solution for us.

I promised to make the shoe rack my first project in the house. Fast forward 10 months and the shoe shelf plans were still unrealized. Other things like ceiling fans, pet stairs (unfinished when we lost our cat), the garage floor coating, and landscaping the backyard had taken priority. When I did the bike lift project, and finished the structured wiring box in the master closet I started to wonder if I was starting to do less important projects to avoid starting the shoe shelf. Finishing the structured wiring box also led to the closet looking much better once I took the tools, and supplies out of the closet, rearranged a few things, and moved an extra chest of drawers into the closet. I decided it was time to get moving on this project.

Original Shoe shelf PlanI had drawn up plans for a floor to ceiling wooden shelf that would hold 2+ pairs of men’s shoes (room for some flip-flops in between), or 3 pairs of women’s shoes on each shelf. My wife’s Samsung 10.1 Note tablet makes it easy to hand draw plans and have them handy when you need them. There would be 3 fixed shelves and the rest, at least 7 more, would be adjustable.

Just as I was dusting my thoughts off on these plans we had dinner with my son and his wife and were shown their new “closet system”. It all looked great, but what jumped out at me was the shoe shelf. It looked to be the right size, would hold at two times as many shoes, and would be much less work! The deciding factor was the ability to hold twice as many shoes in the available space. It was not a cheaper alternative, so I considered modifying my plan so it would do the same thing. By the time I added full extension pull-outs the price was closer to the same. I found some shoe shelves that were similar design, but they were actually much more expensive. So we decided to go with the closet system shelves.

Elfa System top bar and down rods installed in our closetThe system is the Elfa shelf system from the Container Store. We had already had them design the system for us so we would know the cost, it was just a matter of calling them, completing the order and picking the shelving up the next day. The one downside to the system is that the top rail is pre-drilled and the holes are spread out fairly far apart. That means it is unlikely that one will line up with a stud. In our case they did not. I considered drilling an additional hole or two, so I would feel more comfortable that the system would stay up, but the instructions stated to just use the drywall anchor screws, so I decided to just follow the instructions. Our plan called for the top rail to be 12 inches from the ceiling, so I measured down 12 inches, placed the top rail, leveled it, and traced the hole in the top rail onto the wall. I drilled the holes following the instructions, inserted the anchors, and attached the top rail. When I assembled the drop bars, I realized that the plan measurements were off. The drop rails went all the way to the floor and were against the woodwork at the bottom. This would not work, so I removed the rail, dry fitted the drop rails to select an appropriate height for the top rail, and repeated the process of attaching the top rail. If you look close you can see the patched spots below the top rail.

After the down rails were in place the rest of the shelf went up fairly easily. Snapping the shoe shelf/drawers into place was the trickiest part. It definitely uses the space better than the one I planned to build.

Elfa Hanging Shoe Shelf installed in our closet

We were able to get all of our shoes off the floor and out from under the bed. Much more organized…

Elpha Hanging Shoe Shelf installed and fully loaded

Even though the shoes go two deep, they are easy to get to because the shoe shelves are on rails/glides, and easily slide out for access to the shoes in back.

Elfa Hanging Shoe Rack with shoes - shelf pulled out

It took 2 hours to put the shelves up including about 30 minutes needed to fix my mistake when I didn’t verify the height of the hanging bar before installing it. Add a couple of hours checking it out and having it designed at The Container Store, and this was much quicker than building one myself. Since we’ve put these up I’ve seen some things that are close to the same at IKEA, but they don’t glide as easily and they require wooden sided shelves. They were cheaper, but not that much, especially considering the difference in quality. I would recommend checking out the Elfa system at The Container Store if you have a spot all picked out for shelves. They have a lot of different configurations, they are reasonably priced for the quality, and they are very easy to install and configure.


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