DEAR MIKE: The closet in my master bedroom seems to have grown smaller each year. I have one closet rod, but I would like to reorganize the space to get the most out of it. I have seen wire shelving and the price is within my budget. Can you give me some installation tips? -- Janette G.
DEAR JANETTE: It sounds like you might benefit from an annual garage sale.
If you are a clothes horse, you will need to reorganize your closet, and wire shelving is an economical and durable choice.
There are two types of wire shelving. One uses a vertical track that allows the shelves to be adjusted up or down. It is a faster installation, but it is more expensive and has somewhat of an industrial look to it.
The other method is less expensive, but the shelves will remain in a fixed position. Since it sounds like the budget is tight, we will concentrate on the fixed shelving.
To start, take measurements of the closet and make a sketch of what you want. The fastest way to get more closet space is to install a second hanging shelf. This works well if your wardrobe consists mainly of items that would hang in a space roughly 42 inches high. If you have items, such as dresses, that would not fit in this space, you obviously would have to leave a space for them to hang.
There are lots of options available. You can add shoe racks (by inverting the shelving), storage drawers and baskets, or even a column of shelves for sweaters using pre-drilled poles. Some shelves include an option for a continuous closet rod if you don't want to use the built-in lip. Closet design is limited only by space and imagination.
Start the project by removing the old closet pole and any attached shelving. Typically they will be held in place with screws. From your sketch, use a level and a pencil and mark on the wall where the shelves are to be placed. Extend the level lines around the closet. If you will have two hanging shelves, one on top of the other, mark the top shelf at 84 inches high and the bottom shelf at 42 inches high.
There are three ways to install a shelf: from one wall to another, from one wall to an open space, and from one open space to another.
Each way requires wall clips and support brackets. If the shelf will be mounted to the side walls, use wall brackets. Wall brackets are mounted at the front of the shelf, which rests in this bracket.
The mounting hardware is specific to these wire shelf products. Choose the hardware for that length of shelf and whether or not it fastens to a side wall.
Trim the shelves to fit using either bolt cutters or a hacksaw. The trimmed ends will be sharp but will rest in the wall brackets. If the sharp ends end in an open space (not attached to a side wall), cover them with end caps so that you don't get cut and your clothing doesn't get snagged.
The manufacturer's instructions will have recommendations on the spacing of hardware and supports. Whether it's wall clips, support brackets or wall brackets, they all install in the same manner. If you are mounting them over a stud, screw the hardware into the stud using a one-inch No. 8 screw. If you are securing the hardware into drywall, drill a one-quarter inch hole, push the hardware in and tap the metal pin. The pin will spread the end of the anchor out, which will secure it to the drywall.
Install the wall clips along the level line according to the manufacturer's instructions. These clips hold the back of the shelf. On the ends at the front of the shelf, install either the wall bracket (if it connects to a side wall), or a support bracket with end caps. Simply snap the back of the shelf into the wall clips and then to either the wall brackets or the shelf support.
To extend the shelving around the perimeter of the closet, you will have to negotiate the corners. The options are to install a corner piece, which has a sweeping curve, or to butt two shelves together for a 90-degree turn. To butt the shelves together, you will need a corner support to keep the assembly rigid.
The finished product will be a more efficient closet and more room, at least for now.