DIY: closet-organizing cubbies
Morgan Hungerford | Oct 4, 2007 | 8:36AM |
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DIY: shoe storage for yr closet

Do It With: a few sona tubes (cardboard cylinders used for pouring concrete; they’re available in the lumber yard at Home Depot or any place like it), a saw, some gloves for SAFE SAWING, measuring tape, paint and a paintbrush (optional)

Do It Why? Well, usually I wouldn’t get quite so BUILD-y in this column, but this past Friday morning I was looking for the left shoe of the pair I was planning on wearing and I COULD NOT FIND IT. During The Search, I destroyed what little (if any) organization my closet once had – I pulled shoes from EVERYWHERE: off the top shelf, from the top of the little dresser I have jammed in there, out of suitcases and the laundry basket – the damage is documented in the header above, but here’s a nice close-up for you. Very Upsetting. I’ve literally tried every way I can think of to store and organize them (creative stacking, shoeboxes + polaroids, underbed storage, etc) but they inevitably end up in that same horrible pile on the floor. Since my current system was CLEARLY not working (and knowing that I can’t be the only one with this issue), perhaps we should take about an hour and a half to DO IT OURSELVES. I thought about it for a while and decided that the best, cheapest way to utilize the space between closet shelf and closet ceiling would be to build a system of CUBBIES. Let’s go.

Cost: I bought 3 cardboard tubes from Home Depot for $7-$9/each ($6.67 for the 8″ diameter and $8.85 for the 10″), and everything else I either had or borrowed. Total cost: about $23.


1. Clear off the shelf in your closet, and measure the depth of the shelf with your measuring tape.
2. Based on your measurement, decide what the best lengths will be for your sona tube sections. My shelf space is 15″ deep, so I decided 13″ would be my maximum length, with some slightly shorter pieces as well. The sona tubes I bought were the standard 48″, and I planned on making one 13″ section, two 12″ sections, and one 11″ section from each. Once you’ve got your measurements worked out…
3. Use your sharpie to mark off lines all the way around each cylinder so you know where to saw. Put on your little gloves and HAVE AT IT. Sawing each tube into 4 parts took me a little over an hour, but if you’re in possession of upper body strength or a nice electric saw then you’ll have a shorter prep time. I have neither. Maybe one day.
4. You can make your sona tube sections AESTHETICALLY PLEASING by painting the inside and/or the outside with the color of your choosing, or wrapping it in nice paper, or any other idea you’ve got that you see fit to apply here. This is, of course, totally optional and based on you having the time and inclination to do so. I have neither. Maybe one day.
5. Place the tubes, with the longest on the bottom, on your shelf. Start against one of the walls and work your way OUT and UP; it’ll take two minutes to get them all in there but it’s worth it to take a little time and mess around with the arrangement a bit.
6. MY plan of attack for plaing shoes was to put the usual suspects and seasonal faves on the bottom, with the out-of-season pairs, larger boots, and pairs-I-hardly-wear-but-can’t-bear-to-part-with up higher. Small, crushable flats I found I could stick in the spaces between the tubes, and I even had a few spaces between that were big enough for pairs of patent heels that I didn’t want rubbing up against others. Once I had them all in I just stood back and admired my HANDIWORK.


Do I still need a stepladder to reach the top of my closet? Well, yes. Are all of my shoes STILL going to end up in a big fat pile on the floor? There’s no doubt in my mind. But hopefully this solution will at least DELAY the pile, and it’s certainly nicer to look at than the godawful stacking situation I had going on before – and I managed to get ALL my shoes in there. I could probably use at least one more tube, as my cubbies didn’t quite reach the closet ceiling, but for now I’m MORE THAN PLEASED with what’s been done. Now if I could just find time to organize my clothes…

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Recent Comments:
  • K8 says:

    OMG, you are clever and crafty-who in the world did you inherit all your talent from!!!

  • meg says:

    you’re a genius. really.

    you could also cover the tubes with faux bois or black + white checked contact paper if you are home sick for two days.

  • grace icon says:

    I’m so excited over closet organization. i keep trying to not live out of trash bags and piles on my floor.Every hanger in my two closets is tiered, so multiplied by five, i have an over-the-door shoe pockets thing filled with scarves, bracelets, gloves, and flats..but this is the best thing ever…i bought this and put all my too small to hang or fold stuff plus more tights, wristlet purses, belts, leggings, wraps, whatever fit and i love it. its clear, hangs in my closet and i can see whats in it

  • Lily says:

    yeah i have that sort of hanging multiple pocket bag thing for all my earrings and necklaces

    need to get an over-the-door shoe rack from the container store, too many shoes for the DIY version, which is pretty cool

  • KO says:

    I love this idea. I saw something like it at the AE Outfitters store in Indy. They used around 16″ in diameter tubes, Cut them about 12″ each, painted the outside white and the inside different colors. They used them to hold clothes, and then put flat cardboard in the middle to hold bottles.