DIY Tutorials, House / Nursery, Storage & Organization

How To Hack an Elfa Closet to Create Decorative Wooden Shelves

On Monday I shared the Elfa closet hack that converted my standard Elfa closet system into a decorative bookshelf and clothes closet combination for the baby’s nursery. If you’re looking to blend decorative shelving with utilitarian clothes storage, this is a great compromise!

Nursery Closet After Elfa Shelf Hack

The main tip is to buy and stain solid pine boards to create the wooden shelves, because it is both cheaper and better than using the solid Elfa shelves sold at the Container Store. Their shelves are expensive MDF/Laminate, with an artificial wood grain, and don’t come in larger lengths than 30″.

Nursery Closet Wood Shelf Detail

Supplies Used:

  • Container Store Elfa Easy Hang Shelf Hardware: Top Track, Hanging Standards, and 10” Solid Shelf Brackets
  • 10” wide select pine boards from Home Depot*
  • Long screws
  • ORB Closet Rod and Closet Rod Supports from
  • Minwax Pre-Stain Conditioner, MinWax Wood Stain in Walnut, and Polyurethane Sealant

*Edit: my friend Becky commented with important info on the boards.  “The actual dressed size of a 1×10 is 3/4 x 9-1/4. In practice the width seems to vary between 9-1/8 and 9-1/2, but it’s *supposed* to be 9-1/4″.

The Process:

  1. Because my original closet design used Elfa Ventilated Shelves, I had to remove the shelves and the shelf brackets. This was a little wasteful, but I was installing Elfa in another closet so I knew I could use some of them there.
  2. I bought the 10” Solid Shelf Brackets from the Container Store, because they were the only ones that could have solid shelves or boards mounted on them. (I tried to use my existing Ventilated Shelf Brackets, but they didn’t work.) If you want more narrow shelves, they make shorter brackets as well.
  3. I bought 10” (really 9 ¾”) Select Pine lumber boards, cut them to length, and then sanded and stained them using this process.
  4. I placed the shelf brackets in the hanging standards, and then set the boards on them. The Solid Shelf Brackets have two small holes running through them. To secure the boards, I drilled screws up through the brackets and into the boards.Nursery Closet Attach Wood Shelf to Elfa Bracket

One challenge remained: The shelf with the clothes rod hanging down from it.

The closet rod was suspended from hooks that attached to the Ventilated Shelf Brackets. The Solid Shelf Brackets did not have the option to hang a rod. I set the board on top of the ventilated shelf, but after making the rest of the shelves look good, I didn’t like the mismatched style of the chrome rod, white hardware, and wood shelf.

Nursery Closet Elfa Wood Shelf Hack

It was hard to find closet rod hooks that would suspend from the board itself, but finally I found the closet rod and center support at OrganizeIt. I chose them in oil rubbed bronze to help them blend with the dark wood shelves. Nursery Closet Rod Detail

I installed 4 hanging closet rod center supports in the bottom of the shelf, hoping that that would provide enough support and it seems to.

Nursery Closet Vertical Shelf Detail

Disclaimer: I suspect this method of suspending a closet rod may not support a heavy rack of adult clothes.

I could have taken this project one step further by spray painting the shelf brackets to match the shelves, and painting the hanging standards to blend with the wall, but I wanted to keep the closet system white to work with any other configurations down the road.

Nursery Closet After Wood Shelves Elfa

This wooden shelf hack worked so well that I’m considering using it in other parts of the house where we’d like to install wall shelves but don’t want to drill a ton of holes and commit to one configuration.

Shared at iHeart Organizing, Tatertots & Jello, The DIY Showoff.

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  • Reply Becky at 7:36 am

    Note: the actual dressed size of a 1×10 is 3/4 x 9-1/4. In practice the width seems to vary between 9-1/8 and 9-1/2, but it’s *supposed* to be 9-1/4″.

    • Reply Jane at 3:06 pm

      Becky – thanks! I will update with this correction. I figure you would know given your building career! I find it so silly that the advertised measurements are not real. I’ve heard that good lumber yards sell true sized boards, but have yet to explore that on my own.

  • Reply Building Wooden Shelves In Closet | Woodworking Ideas at 2:25 pm

    […] How To Hack an Elfa Closet to Create Decorative Wooden Shelves […]

  • Reply building wooden shelves in a closet | DIY Woodworking Projects at 7:08 am

    […] How To Hack an Elfa Closet to Create Decorative Wooden Shelves […]

  • Reply DCarr at 2:21 pm

    Why can’t we see the photos?

    • Reply Jane at 1:40 pm

      Unfortunately my blog was hacked and the photo files deleted. I’m slowly tracking down all the old photos and replacing them but it’s taking a while. I’m so sorry.

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