Wednesday, January 4, 2012

27 Reader Space: Caitlin's Space Saving Shelves!

There are endless options when it comes to creating storage for any given room or situation, but sometimes, the pre-fab stuff doesn't come in the dimensions you need and can be extremely costly.  Today's reader left me in awe and inspired of her ability to take on a storage DIY project all on her own!

Caitlin wrote:

After a summer of building, finding the right storage boxes, and organizing, my beloved shelves are finally up and functional ... just posted about them here -

I built them from scratch using pine planks, Minwax stain, and shelving brackets from the Home Depot - total cost to build was around $200 {NOT cheap, but definitely less expensive than getting something custom made for me or buying a bunch of smaller bookshelves for the space}.  From there, I used baskets and bins I mostly already owned, plus a few quick trips to Target and the Container Store for the remaining storage.

I LOVE knowing that all of my paperwork is organized and easy to find.  Like your Lego posts, I also love having space {the two milk crates} for in-progress projects.  My art supplies have all been wrangled into an old wine crate which makes it a lot easier to track down what I need, when I need it.  I'm also a sucker for keeping sentimental things {I have probably fifty-plus letters from my mom throughout the years, all of my shower and wedding cards, old notes from my husband}, but I like to have them stored away, so keeping them tucked out of sight in the polka-dotted boxes is perfect.  My stationery is now organized by occasion, my stamps are always in the same place, and my wrapping paper never gets crinkled because it's always neatly put away in the long storage box on the bottom right.

All in all, it's a huge upgrade to my office and I'm so proud that I built them myself.  Let me know what you think!  I really love your blog and all of your great ideas!

Let's take a peek at Caitlin's before picture:

"When we were packing up our apartment in NY, I found a ton of our important documents. Tax returns, stashed away with old letters from my mom. Our mortgage information, house insurance documentation, and passports all stored haphazardly next to my art supplies. It was a mess and I vowed that as soon as we got into our new home, I'd have a dedicated place to organize papers.

Instead of buying standalone filing cabinets {not exactly the aesthetic I was going for} or pre-built bookshelves {I couldn't find any in the size I wanted}, I decided to build a set of shelves in my office where I could store our papers, my art supplies, my wrapping paper, some design books, and a host of other items that would benefit from some organization.  

I measured one of the bare walls in my office and trekked down to the Home Depot, hoping for some guidance.  The employee who helped me there actually gave me a hard time about it {"Is your husband going to do this for you?  Do you even know anything about woodworking?"}, but that just made me more determined to make these on my own.

Here was step one - finding the wall studs and installing the brackets:

I knew I wanted my planks to look a little more finished, so the next step was to add trim to the edge of the shelves and to stain them.  Using brad nails, I nailed the decorative trim to the planks and sanded everything down.

Next, I took all of my planks into the garage to stain them.  My can of Minwax said that I'd need two coats.  I did about five.  It took that many to get the wood dark enough.  Finally, I took all of my boards up to the office and screwed them into the brackets (already mounted on the wall).  Once my shelves were up, it was time to get organizing!

I stashed all of our paperwork, warranties, and old magazines in files boxes and magazine holders from The Container store.  I keep basic office supplies in that pink tray, and my stamps and to-pay bills in the black organizer.  On the lower shelves, I have a stack of blankets.  

I keep my art supplies in an old wine crate {found in the trash pile of my favorite Brooklyn wine store}, put all of my in-progress projects are stored in the two wooden milk crates.  In the polka-dotted boxes, I have all of our wedding cards, some old letters, and a handful of other small things I want to keep but don't need to see every day."

Ready to see it all pulled together?  Be ready to be in love!

  • Caitlin did it HERSELF!  Go girl go!
  • She built something custom that fit her personal needs.  She didn't settle when she couldn't find exactly what she wanted out in the shopping world.
  • She used a mixture of storage essentials that she already had, some that she found for FREE and some pretty ones that she purchased, to create the perfect storage combination.
  • She used the vertical wall space!  All of that clutter spread out all over the floor took up a TON of real estate.  Going vertical is always a great tip.  She was able to use the wall instead of the floor to gain a ton of area back in her room.
  • She found a way to save items that were necessity for tax purposes, and a sentimental need, without letting it become clutter.  Those boxes are the perfect way to easily find all of her documents and keep the paper monster piles away!
  • All of the colors paired with the natural elements of the wood and woven baskets makes me swoon!  It all works so well together to make her office space so pleasing to the eye.

Super star job well done to Caitlin!

Who's left impressed?  What's your favorite part from today's story?  Has anyone else found benefits from going vertical with storage lately?

ATTENTION!!  Want to be featured in a Reader Space edition?  Have an awesome organizing story to share?  I am looking for projects that have made a positive impact to your life.  Please send your story and photos to and I would heart to feature them right here, on the blog!!  Photos should be high resolution and unedited.  Please include a description of the project, including any costs, inspiration, and how it has changed your life and routine for the better!  Oh, and no worries my friends, we will NEVER judge "before" pictures because that just wouldn't be nice!  Only love goes on at this blog!  More info HERE.


  1. Love it! I'm usually all about uniform, but I adore her different storage containers.

    ❤Jodi from...
    ★★The Clutter-Free Classroom★★
    Helping Teachers Get Organized

  2. Oh how wonderful, love all the wonderful mix of color but now so beautifully organized, congrats!!

  3. thank you sssssooooo much for posting! Have been wanting to do my boys closet and incorpoate baskets etc but could not find the shelves....these will do great!

  4. that looks AMAZING! I love that it has character, great job!

  5. I love this times 100!

    We have slanty walls in every single room upstairs, so it's nice to see how other people have made it work.

  6. I love it she did an excellent job. What I love the most is that she did it her self great job.

  7. Dang! I wish I had seen this about a year ago! Before I bought a big old desk that is too big for my office at Ikea. This would be so awesome on one of the walls and build a desk on the other wall for a computer.
    Who wants a giant Ikea office corner desk? beech top?

  8. totally amazing what she's done!!! I'm loving the added storage!

  9. So perfect for the space. I love that she put that Home Depot worker to shame too...who says she can't do it herself?

  10. Beautiful! It is giving me momentum to turn one of our closets into an office space!

  11. I love this idea! I would love it if you would share this idea at my linky party! I know all my readers would benefit greatly from this post. Here is my link to the party All your friends are welcomed to join too! Happy New Year!

  12. I am blushing like crazy over here! Thanks so much for sharing, Jen!

  13. Super space saving!

  14. Love your shelves, and love that you did it on your own. I am planning to install similar shelves in my craft area; more inspiration to encourage me. Thanks.

  15. Love this!! A perfect example of it takes a little effort to be organized but it's so worth it in the end : )

  16. I love this post! I've always seen these at the store and thought they weren't attractive- seeing the finished project it turned out amazing! Will consider this the next time I need some shelves :)

  17. LOVE it! I need shelves for storage so bad right now. I just may try this!

  18. I'm in love. I have so much inspiration for this year's organising adventures already.

  19. I love the whole thing, but the best part is that she did it herself! I would be way to chicken to attempt it, so I'm impressed.

  20. I absolutely loved this post.. That was some major job but SO worth it! The end result is perfect.. I am bookmarking this post because my home office looks like her before shot and I needed ideas to get myself on the road to organization. I can't stand the mess I have now! Thank you for sharing this with us :)

  21. Great post. The shelves and its organization look wonderful. I took on a project like this with my linen closet this past summer. There's such a since of accomplishment when you can say I did it myself. Great job!

  22. Happy New Year!
    We just need to know is the video

  23. I love the shelves! I encourage clients to go with custom shelving for the exact reasons you mentioned but mainly because it ensures they get the exact organizing solution they need. I use wooden shelving (purchased from Lowes or Home Depot) in garages because they are much more sturdy then ClosetMaid and offer a flat surface to store items on.

    They look great -- love the idea of adding trim!

  24. I love how just adding the trim to the edge of the shelves makes it look much more expensive!

  25. CONGRATULATIONS... YOU HAVE BEEN AWARDED MY INSPIRATION BLOG AWARD ... THANK YOU for all that you do! :) have a blessed day!

  26. Caitlin did an awesome job!!! Love it all. Gives me some ideas for my office at home. Thanks as always for sharing!!! :)


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