Installing closet shelving and closet organization

So when you move in a new-to-you/fixer upper house at 37 weeks pregnant, there are many projects and tasks that get added on to the not-a-priority/will tackle later list.  Because things like new flooring to replace pet-stained/torn up flooring, so many little repairs to plumbing/water heaters/electrical, overgrown landscaping to the point you can’t even see the front of your house and your home insurance requires you to at least get it cut away from the roof and gutters before they will insure you, pepto bismol pink glowing bathrooms, different bright colored paint in every room, and just getting your house unpacked and liveable take first priority.

This closet is in our entryway and definitely need some help but I could at least unpack the boxes of stuff that went in there and close the door until I had time to tackle it later. 🙂

So here’s the before…

I know most people would probably call this a coat closet but if you use your garage to come in and out of the house this is nowhere nearby that door?  So it didn’t make sense to use as a coat closet.  Plus we live in the south and honestly only have to get out thicker/overcoat jackets just a few times for a few weeks during our short winter.  We also have a very large master closet with plenty of room to store our coats in.  And I plan to make the other section of our long/narrow laundry room (which is 3 steps away from the garage door) into a mudroom where jackets and shoes can be hung and stored.

The previous owners must have had the same thought of not using as a coat closet and used for just additional kitchen or household storage… but the shelving they installed was like 4-5 inches away from the wall leaving a huge gap.

And not straight, level, evenly spaced, or even attached to the brackets.  It was a bit like a seesaw trick not getting the shelves to tip as you were putting things in or getting things out.

So all of that came out including the wire shelf and I started over from scratch.  I filled and sanded all the holes, and then painted the closet walls with Behr Wheat Bread (the color in all of our main living areas) and gave the trim a fresh coat of white paint.

Then I installed new shelving – I had to buy new laminate shelving so it would fit from wall to wall.  I prefer to use these coated shelving boards because they don’t scratch, are already finished, are easy to cut to length.  But you would also use regular wood and stain or paint.  My preferred easy and cheap method to install shelving is to make a ledge on the sides and back where the shelf will sit with inexpensive 1×2 boards.  This allows the shelf to be almost “floating” without having to use additional brackets or supports.  Now if you were installing shelves in a bigger closet where the shelves were longer than 2-3 feet wide you would need to add additional supports.  I’ll show you how I did that in the closet in my office soon.

If you wanted to use this same method in a pantry or open shelving with stained or painted shelving and cover up the support and shelving edge you can do what I did in my laundry room.  I ripped the 1×2 board to 1×1 (or you would use a square wood dowel), then lay your shelving board on top and trim the front with a strip of lattice trim.  You can see more details on these shelves here.

So here is the after with the closet all organized!

I got rid of probably a box and a half of stuff  – some games we don’t play, linens we don’t need, etc.  And then better organized everything!

We needed a place to store our games and this closet is perfect!  So the top 3 shelves are game storage.

Then the bottom 3 shelves are extra kitchen type items – extra crockpot, larger storage containers, table linens, paper goods, and lunch boxes.

Now when we have guests over I can proudly show them in this closet as we pick out a game to play instead of hoping things don’t fall out on me as I try to find a game 😉  I love making our home work for our needs!

Once again here’s a before and after picture!  So glad this finally got moved to the to-do list and it is now complete and organized.



  1. This looks really good now. Thank you for showing us how you installed your shelves. I have a cupboard that needs shelves and this is very helpful.

  2. Robyn Gouge says:

    Looks great! I have a coat closet in the kitchen that I am thinking about doing something a little different with, so you have inspired me!

    • I made our coat closet into my food pantry. I put 2 large heavy duty plastic shelf units in there with baskets and one wall with a large shoe hanger to hold spices, small jars and dried goods. It is so nice to just open the closet door and it is all there for me to use instead of walking towards my large food storage across the other side of the house. Life is so much simplier.

  3. Great job! You have inspired me to do something similar in my closet!

  4. Cornelia L says:

    Looks great! Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference and I love all the other easy update choices for better looking and working shelves.
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sandy Manning says:

    Another great job on your part! Looks functional and fantastic!

  6. I just moved into our new house-It had to be completely rebuilt after a fire totally destroyed our house last summer. Anyhow, all my closets just have the standard builder grade wire shelf on the top except for my pantry. I needed ideas for how to add shelving. Your rticle could not have come at a better time.

  7. Really great reorganization project!

  8. Hi Christina, I love organization posts! I think that it’s interesting that all of your games are at the top of the closet. Do you just have your one little girl? Then I can understand that you wouldn’t want her to be able to reach the games, yet. But as she grows bigger, you may want her to be able to reach them, and will want them to be on the lower shelves, while things like your crock pot could live higher up. It looks beautiful, though! Isn’t it fun to get things checked off of your to-do list?

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