Stop shelf woes with off-the-rack solution

: When we moved into this house, it seemed to have plenty of closet space. Now, with my daughters in their teens, there isn’t enough space. How can we install some inexpensive shelving to better utilize the closets? — Carla C.

A: It is amazing how quickly the closets fill with clothes and just “stuff” when the children hit their teens. You might try having a contest for your children where the winner is the one who gives the most old clothes (by volume, of course) to Goodwill.

Most closets have just one rod on each side from which to hang clothes and one shelf above each rod. Home interior design experts find, with proper organization and shelving, the typical closet can easily hold three times more than it does now.

Installing wire shelving is one of your best options to better utilize the space in closets. If the words “wire shelving” bring images of old utilitarian-looking shelves, you will be pleasantly surprised by the new designs and styles. They are attractive and have a uniquely clean, contemporary appearance.

Best of all, wire shelving is simple to install for even the most inexperienced do-it-yourselfer. Most wire shelving uses colorful and durable powder-coated steel wire. With the thick coating, the wire looks much heavier than it actually is, so you should have no problems handling and assembling it.

You can usually find a broad product selection at most home-center stores. Don’t plan on purchasing a kit on your first trip to the store. Select a style you like and then note the sizes and accessories you may need. These include drawers, tie racks, hat racks, clothes baskets, shoe racks, etc.

Armed with this information, go back home and measure your closets.

Using a pad of paper, make a scale sketch of each closet and position the shelving and accessories where you will need them. This planning process takes a little extra time, but it is the best method for effective utilization of your limited storage space.

Open-weave wire shelving is generally best for most closets and the easiest type to install yourself. It looks attractive and allows you to see what is on each shelf without having to remove things. The open design also allows air to flow through the clothes to keep them fresher.

All wire shelving kits have detailed instructions and tips for positioning the components. Generally, locating the first shelf about 36 inches above the floor provides enough room to hang blouses underneath it. Spacing other shelves 16 inches apart above that usually works out well.

Your shelving kit should include all the support poles, brackets, back clips and wall anchors to assembly the shelves. You will have to cut these items for an effective fit in your closets. Always use a hacksaw with a new fine-toothed blade. This will make a smooth cut through the steel material.

The key to sturdy shelving is properly anchoring the back clips to the wall. They provide the primary support for the shelves. The kit should include several types of anchors for various wall materials. If your house has drywall, make sure to use the anchors designed for hollow walls.

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