Before and After: This $550 Closet DIY Swapped Out Wire Shelves for a Stylish Alternative

published Apr 13, 2023
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Before: white wire shelves holding kitchen items
Credit: Kim Williams

Wire shelving is a common enemy among homeowners and renters alike. Although it (mostly) does the trick, the common cookie-cutter shelving leaves a lot to be desired, aesthetically. Plus, when it comes to pantries, wire shelving’s open spaces leave jars wobbling, hot cocoa packets falling through the cracks, and so on.

So if you’re finding yourself frustrated with wire shelving and want to upgrade, check out this pantry redo or this laundry room redo for inspiration.

And here’s another idea to add to the list: Kim Williams’ (@westmainmusic) $550 project, in which she turned lackluster wire shelves into a design feature.

Credit: Kim Williams

Kim says she wasn’t really using the shelves in this particular closet for anything besides junk that needed to be put away elsewhere, and she’d always wanted an open shelving feature in her home. Because the bi-fold doors of this closet were somewhat clunky and blocked the pathway to the back deck in her home, she decided to remove the doors and make this the decorative shelving spot of her dreams. (And whether you’re looking to fill your shelves with decor or everyday essentials, her new wooden shelving is certainly sturdy and worth checking out!)

“The process took a couple of weekends, working a few hours each day,” Kim explains. “Taking the shelving apart was very quick. I removed the bi-fold doors and then donated the shelving and the doors to someone through a Buy Nothing Facebook group.”

Credit: Kim Williams

Next, she filled in the holes where the shelf brackets were screwed in and painted the ceiling, walls, and trim for a smooth finish. “The walls were done in the same color as the mudroom I had recently redone, so I already had the paint,” Kim explains. (It’s Benjamin Moore’s Sea Haze, a green-gray shade that creates a nice contrast against her new chocolate brown shelves.)

For her shelves, she used 2×12 Douglas fir boards from her local home improvement store, and cut those into four 53-inch-long pieces. “Each board was sanded and then took one coat of stain and two coats of polyurethane. I chose Varathane Oil-Based Wood Stain in Roanoke,” Kim says. “Waiting for the stain and the polyurethane to dry was the slowest part of the process.”

Her advice for achieving an even stain for wood pieces is to avoid staining in direct sunlight. “It will dry faster than it takes to finish applying the first coat,” she explains. She also recommends resting the boards on painter’s pyramids while you stain so you don’t smudge the side you’ve already done.

Credit: Kim Williams

Once Kim’s shelves were stained, it was time to hang the things. Because she was replacing the lightweight wire with solid wood, she had to install new sturdier brackets.

“The shelf brackets are quite substantial and were the most expensive part of the project,” she says. “I knew I’d want to store some heavy items on the shelves, so I located four wall studs and hung a bracket on each stud for every shelf, 16 in all … I was very diligent in making sure each bracket lined up with the ones above and below.”

Credit: Kim Williams

Her DIY BFF during this process? Her laser level, which helped ensure her shelves were all level, all the way across. Once everything was lined up perfectly, Kim decorated. “I chose dishes, bowls, vases, and pitchers which were stored away in cabinets to display on the shelves, which opened up cabinet space for other items,” Kim explains. “I love that I am now able to display those items that I may not use every day, but are still pretty enough to leave out.”

Credit: Kim Williams

Not only does the shelving and decor look nice, but the room feels larger with the closet doors removed, Kim adds. “Other than maybe choosing a lighter stain color to better match the wood floor, I don’t think I’d do anything differently,” Kim says. But she certainly plans to give more DIYs a try!

“I don’t do a lot of DIY beyond painting and decorating,” she says. “My newfound confidence has me now considering some updating to the design of my kitchen and dining room. And now I want some tools for Christmas!”

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: Scrapping the Wire Shelves Turns This Closet into a Practical Design Feature