Practical Closet Shelving on the Cheap

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by the author of What School Should Have Taught You: 75 Skills You’ll Actually Use in Life


I’ve been adding a bit more shelving to my closet of late just to help to make things appear more organized and clean, and I suppose I’ve made a discovery on something that I had never had to encounter before: shelving is expensive.

You want your closet to be more than just a pile of junk lying there on the ground? Then you’re going to have to put down some cash – at least $100 – to get everything all organized with shelving throughout.

Want to put in wire shelving? Be prepared to spend more money than you ever would have thought possible to fix up a closet. Your shelving alone will cost something like $20/four feet, and that’s not considering the special brackets you’re going to need. Do you use the 45-degree angle pieces that you’ll constantly hit your head and forearms on, or do you choose the type of bracket system that stays flush against the wall?

Either way, you’re going to end up spending a good amount of cash.

While I wholeheartedly agree that wire shelving looks nice, is easy to clean, and will help you to stay organized, I also understand that there are times when people don’t have the funds there to throw into their closet.

So if this is you, struggling to get organized but lacking the money for shelving, here are a few frugal fixes that may help you out without costing you big bucks.

Make your own shelf #1

This is a fairly cheap means of putting a shelf in, and provided you paint or stain the shelf, this can really look nice.

First, you’re going to need a board that is long enough to run the length of your closet. You also want to make sure that it’s wide enough that you’ll actually be able to put things on it without their constantly falling off.

Next, either paint or stain that board. Do not wait until you already have it installed. Painting the thing while it’s nothing more than a board in your hand is 10x faster and more pleasant. I tend to use a coat of white Kilz if it’s knotty pine and just leave it with that. There’s no need for anything fancy for most closets. It’s a shelf.

Next, get yourself three ‘L’ brackets at your local Lowe’s. There are plain-Jane metal ones, and there are some really cool decorative ones out there as well. You want two for the edges of the shelf and one for the middle.

Put your brackets up and attach your board to them. Voila, a shelf.

Your brackets will probably cost you $2 each, and your board will probably cost you about $10+. I’d just rip a board I already had down to size if I were you if you’re going to use this method.


Make your own shelf #2

Like the above, this is best if you already have some scrap wood lying around. It’s also better for smaller spaces as it won’t be as strong as what a longer shelf would need.

First, I take a 1.5” wide strip of wood that’s the length of my closet and attach it to the wall (it’s already painted with white Kilz). Then, I attach two other 1.5” wide strips of wood to the walls on each side. I end up making a ‘C’ shape with these all touching each other.

I now take a big board that I can place so that it rests on the top edges of all three of these little boards that I attached to the wall. This makes for a perfect little shelf for a nook in a closet, inside a cabinet, or something like that.

A standalone shelf unit stuffed in a closet

This is by no means a fancy option, but it’ll get the job done. You can easily buy a stiff plastic standalone shelf unit at your local Lowe’s and then assemble it in your closet. When you open the door, you’ll be able to put things wherever, and if you’re needing to move sometime in the near future, you can just take your shelving unit with you for basement storage or something like that without having left a lot of money attached to your old home’s closet walls.

(You’re probably going to spend $50-$75 for this method.)


Tired of getting smacked in the head with a broom every time you open the closet? Me too.

It’s handy sometimes to be able to hang things inside your closets. Maybe it’s your ties, belts, brooms, or something like that. I’ve priced out a few different hook options, and from what I’ve seen, not only does it look nicer, but it’s cheaper to buy a decorated strip of metal that has 4-5 hooks already welded onto it at Lowe’s than it is to buy 4-5 separate hooks.

You can typically throw one of these up on the wall with two quick screws (and maybe some drywall anchors) and be good to go for all of $20 or so.

These aren’t super fancy options, but they can be done to still look nice and be practical.

What are your thoughts on cheap shelving? Are there other frugal means of organizing your closet that you think other people should know about? Help out your fellow readers by telling us in the comment section below.

About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to and Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

Practical Closet Shelving on the Cheap
Aden Tate

Aden Tate

About the Author Aden Tate has a master’s in public health and is a regular contributor to,,,,, and Along with being a freelance writer he also works part-time as a locksmith. Aden has an LLC for his micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American at Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

1 thought on “Practical Closet Shelving on the Cheap”

  1. Very good ideas here and I love a well organized closest. Now if only wood were cheaper! I think they make various forms of composite shelf boards now, which are still expensive. Luckily prices are coming down, a trifle. Even so, please tell me where you can find a decent sized board for ten dollars anywhere, particularly at Lowe’s?

    Also – it probably goes without saying, but for the uninitiated, rip cuts can be tricky so make sure you have experience with a table saw, or know someone with experience, before trying one. They scare the crap out of me but the spouse is usually doing things like ripping eight foot lengths. My closet is very wide so I’d need that.

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