How To Replace Wire Shelving With DIY Wood Shelves

April 04, 2024

How to replace wire linen closet shelving with sturdy wood shelves. 

This messy linen closet has been a thorn in my side for YEARS! I finally removed the wire shelves and replaced them with wood in this closet makeover. 

Our upstairs linen closet is where we keep most of our linens for the house, since we use our downstairs linen closet for extras like paper towels, kitchen towels, toilet paper, etc. 

Yes, we are so lucky to have tons of storage in our house! It just doesn't always function how we would like! :) 

So let's finally fix that. I loathe wire shelves...but we went as inexpensive as possible in these closets when we built. I knew I could replace the shelving for cheaper. 

I just thought I would get it done sooner than almost seven years later. 😂

I first did this shelving project in our small pantry years ago and it made a huge difference! 

Here's the mess we were dealing with: 
messy linen closet

Most of the time I kept it somewhat under control, but over the past six months or so we kind of gave up and just started stuffing things in there and shoving the door shut.

Stuffing the pillows in between the door and shelves just right is a special talent. 

First, I removed all of the linens and pillows, then got to work removing the wire shelves: 
linen closet wire shelving

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Colby helped, as usual. 

The metal shelving lifts out easily, and then you're left with the brackets that are anchored into the walls. They are plastic brackets the shelves sit on, and to remove them you have to remove the metal pin first: 
removing pins in closet anchors

If you try to remove these brackets without taking the pin out first, you'll create BIG holes to fill. The holes from these anchors are bad enough, but that would create even more damage. 

Once I had a blank space, I grabbed some scrap wallpaper leftover from our mud/laundry room makeover
blue floral wallpaper laundry

I'm extra and thought it would be a pretty accent, so I covered the back wall of the closet:
Candice Olsen floral wallpaper

This wallpaper is the Candice Olson Botanical Fantasy peel and stick wallpaper and is SO beautiful! I had just enough to fill that back wall. 

Is this part necessary? No. Will I see most of it when the closet is full? Nope. Is it pretty and will it make me happy when I put our sheets and blankets away? YES. :)

Next up, I needed to install the supports for the wood shelves. I like using this small window and door trim because it doesn't make each shelf too thick in the end: 
window door trim shelf supports

They are small, but have held up well on all of my bookcase and shelf builds. 

One thing to consider though -- you need to take some care during install or the screws will split the wood. 
I first install the supports with a nail gun to get them where I want them, then use a small drill bit to drill through the wood at the studs: 
stud finder with wood

Pre-drilling prevents the wood from splitting when you the screw into the supports. 
These skinny cabinet screws are perfect for smaller wood pieces like these: 
skinny wood shelf supports

You're not even supposed to have to pre-drill with these screws, but I still do.

When looking for studs, you can always find them at the corners, so I always add a couple screws there: 
installing built in wood shelf supports

I placed the new shelves at the same spots as the old ones, so I didn't have to fill many of the holes from the wire shelving anchors with the new supports and shelving.

If you change up the shelf spacing, you'll want to fill the anchor holes in the drywall before you move on to installing the new wood shelves. 

Make sure to check for level as you're installing all of your shelf supports: 
leveling wood shelves

Here's what I ended up with when the supports were all installed:  
new wood shelves closet

Looking back, this would be the best time to fill the screw/nail holes and paint these supports. I'll have to keep that in mind for next time. ;) Don't be like me and install your wood shelves on top first. 

One issue I always noticed when we would put our blankets and linens on the wire shelves was that they were always a bit too short. Everything was always hanging off the front. 

So I extended the depth of the shelves just a bit, from around 16 inches to 22 (including the trim I added to the front):
wood shelves linen closet

I didn't fill and paint underneath ALL of the shelves -- only the ones you could easily see:
deep wood shelves linen closet

If someone gets down on the ground and sees the unpainted parts under the lower shelves...well that's their problem. Ha!

I had my wood shelves cut down at Lowe's and painted them before installing. I placed them on top of the wood supports and nailed in (with my nail gun) through the top to secure them. 

Because they weren't absolutely perfect, I had a lot of caulking to do along the sides (I didn't fill along the back of the shelves). 

Keep in mind your shelves will be filled with bulky linens that will hide a lot of sins. 

After it all dried I was able to fill the shelves again. Here's a look at this pretty linen closet with the new shelving and details!: 
DIY wood shelves in linen closet

I added that very top shelf -- that one wasn't there before. I always look up at that empty space in our closets and think it's such wasted space. 

I know that isn't the easiest spot to get to, but I like to take advantage of any space I can. So I installed a 12 inch (deep) board along the top. 

That shelf stores holiday sheets that I'll only need to access a couple times a year (to get out and to put away). I stored those in these canvas bins with handles
pretty linen closet redo

The deeper shelves allow for more room because I can store the bedding running front to back, which gives me way more usable space. 

I decluttered the throw pillows, and stored the rest in our guest room closet. But otherwise the comforters, blankets and sheets are all still there. 

I used these lidded storage bins (from HomeGoods) for our euro and throw pillow covers: 
lidded storage pillow covers

Because we do don't have lights in our closets, I added these magnetic motion sensor lights on the inside: 
magnetic motion sensor lights

They work great! Now we can see the pretty new closet at night: 
easy motion lights for closet

Now I can't wait to tackle our other linen closet and give it the same treatment. 

I can't TELL you how much a project like this soothes my soul. I kept opening the closet for no reason after I finished it up, just to look at it. 😃

The spaces we live in really do affect our mood and well being! 

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  1. Why don't you use compression bags for bulky items you don't use often? It saves a lot of space

    1. I used them years ago but found the seal never stayed shut. Thankfully I don't need them for this closet now!

  2. Really nice! And lots of great tips for those of us who may want to do the same thing!

  3. Awesome job! The wallpaper is a special touch I never thought of for a closet! Now I want to wallpaper my closets! LOL I re-discovered that you can still buy space bags on Amazon. After Christmas I am all about organizing and I bought enough space bags to compress most of our bedding. I like to do seasonal bedding for holidays and seasons so I have a LOT of king size comforters and pillow shams to store. They are so big and bulky and the space bags really helped cut down on the space I needed to store them in my linen closet! Just an idea there. They work great for storing pillows!

    1. Thank you! I used them years ago (and even blogged about them!), but then over time I noticed they wouldn't stay sealed. I may have to try them out again!

  4. It looks fantastic! I was just wondering why you didn’t come all the way out to the front of the closet, with your shelves?

    1. Thank you! :) I knew it would be really hard to get to the top shelf if I made them all that deep. I thought about making them deepest at the bottom and smaller as I went up, but I went with the easier version.

  5. What a great and useful tutorial! Beautiful! I can see why you open the closet often, just to look! Thanks!

  6. Great make over, great pictures, thanks..

  7. Great job! I especially love the wallpaper! It’s beautiful! Your carpentry skills always amaze me. Were you self taught or did you have a teacher along the way? What are your must have tools?

  8. Looks great; I do the same with that top shelf, why not?! I did that in our pantry, also making that shelf less deep for access and use it for items we use infrequently. And in bedroom closets. We had the builder do wood shelves, but as you often say, once you've lived there a bit, you find things to change that may not have been considered originally. Didn't realize there was all that "found" / wasted space!
    Your closet looks great!
    I plan to try out the closet lights you recommend, thank you!

  9. how many lights did you use and where did your place them?


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