Custom Shoe Closet: A Reluctant DIY

In our previous home, the living room had 19′ ceilings with loads of natural light and a fireplace.  It was a fantastic room and the only room we had available to relax and watch television.

Living Room (Staged)

The fireplace wall was screaming for shelves to bring in storage and add definition to the space.  We also decided to mount the television to the fireplace and would need somewhere to house the electronic components.    As this was our first house and neither my hubby nor I were very knowledgeable about ANYTHING, we decided to get quotes from contractors for this project.

Fireplace Nook (Staged)

It’s important that I explain what exactly we wanted.  I thought it was a fairly simple job.  We want four thick floating shelves on each side of the fireplace for a total of 8 shelves.  We contacted three different contractors and the lowest quote we received was $8,000! $8,000!!! Are you kidding me?  That’s essentially $1,000 per shelf.  I’ve since realized that I was naive because every time that I have custom cabinetry quoted, my jaw hits the floor and I end up having to come up with some drastically different plan.

I would guess by now, it’s fairly obvious that I hate not getting what I want (some negative people have names for this :)).  So I decided to research the work required to get the shelves that I wanted.  In all seriousness, I went to the home improvement store, purchased a book on woodworking, and read the book from cover to over to get a basic understanding of how the process would work.  Based on my new expertise (ha!) in the area, I realized that the length of the shelves would be problematic when trying to support a heavy load.  I was also concerned about my ability to build something that would actually be presentable.  Sooooo….I decided to do a “test” run on a small closet in my bedroom.

Small closet on the right

When I say “test” run, I intended to use the same technique that would be required for the living room shelves but in a smaller area to create a shoe closet.  This was my SUPER technical drawing:

Without getting into the details of the basic cleat and shelving system, I changed the closet from looking like this:

Empty closet (shelving and pole removed)

To this:

Cleats in place

Shelves attached (different heights to accommodate different types of shoes)

And finally:

I was a very happy girl this day

This closet was fairly tiny (less than 30″ wide) and I would like to say it was easy to get this done but it actually sucked.  This was our first DIY in the house and we did not have power tools.  All of the wood cuts were done by the home improvement store and required several trips back and forth.  I honestly don’t remember how long it took to complete this project but it was definitely more than a weekend.  (I could probably do this project now in a half a day with the right tools).  Nonetheless, I was very happy with the outcome and proud of myself for completing it.

If I thought this small project sucked, I would be wishing and dreaming for that “sucky project over the next few months as I tried to complete the living room shelves.  I’ll be back tomorrow to finish that story. (Story updated here)

P.S. You’ll notice that there is very little discussion of my hubby during these projects.  He generally chooses not to participate in my insanity and is simply the manual labor in the sense of carrying things that are too heavy for me.  We all have our role to play :).