Easy DIY shoebox shelves

Before and after closet photo

Closet cleaning isn’t a flashy subject, but I can’t help it: I’m in full organization mode. I blame the new year. I simplified this closet by chucking old clothes and sticking with just three types of hangers: wood, padded, and skirt hangers (the latter two are on the left side of the closet).

White wooden shelves with shoeboxes, photo

The solution to the shoe mess: plastic shoe boxes from The Container Store. Plastic shoe boxes are also available at Organize.com. I built a simple shelf unit for them out of plywood that I got on Freecycle. Rick at The Barn Woodshop was kind enough to cut the wood. Once the pieces were cut, assembly was a cinch.

Update 3/8/21: While plastic shoeboxes come in handy for storing all sorts of things (spare cosmetics, first-aid supplies, craft paraphernalia, duct tape, etc.), I no longer use them to store shoes. Why? Because plastic doesn’t allow your shoes to breathe, and they get smelly after a while. If you’re going to store shoes in plastic boxes, I would suggest you let them air out overnight before storing them in their box, or put some sort of moisture/odor absorber in each box.

Hall closet before and after photos

While my bedroom closet project was about paring down, my linen closet project was about organizing so I could cram more into it. When you live in a small apartment, that’s what you do. So, while it’s stuffed, I can easily find the things I need. Mission accomplished. (Notice the shoeboxes holding my cosmetics.)

How to make easy shoebox shelves

  • plywood cut into these pieces (in inches):

    • top: 34½ x 13
    • sides (2): 30¼ x 13
    • shelves (2): 33 x 13
  • primer

  • paint (I used Benjamin Moore Navajo White [N333 73])

  • wood screws

  • wood filler

  • plastic shoeboxes (this will hold 16 women’s shoeboxes, 4 men’s shoeboxes, and 1 boot box)

  • drill & drill bit

  • sand paper or electric sander

  • ruler & pencil

  • paint brush or small paint roller

Sketch of the shoebox shelves

1. Cut all the pieces of plywood to size. (See the supplies list.)

Drill and screw the sides to the top, photo

2. First drill pilot holes to screw together the top and sides. I used two screws for each side.

Top and sides assembled, photo

3. Once the top and sides are assembled, flip it on its side to measure and make where each shelf should go.

Mark wher the shelves go, photo

4. Draw where the shelf should go, line up the shelf, drill a hole in the middle of the two lines, then screw in the screw. Then move to the next screw, and so on. (I usually counter-sink the screws and cover the holes, but considering it’s just a closet unit, I didn’t bother this time.)

Shelves installed, photo

5. Once assembled, fill any gaps in the plywood with wood filler. When dry, lightly sand the edges, then wipe it clean from dust (with a tack cloth or vacuum attachment).

Paint the shelves, photo

6. Prime (one coat) and paint (two coats). Let dry overnight. Ta-da!

Crafty Nest shoebox shelves Pinterest image

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