Closet Systems - Review Yours Please

SadieVSeptember 15, 2011

We're in the midst of a major remodel and decided that now is the time to update our closets. We have 2 reach in closets in the foyers, one reach in linen closet, and our walk in closet in the master bedroom. I've looked online at the various systems -- wire and laminate and I prefer the laminate. I'm concerned about the strength of it though and want to make sure I can put my heavy items on rods and shelves without worry. What brand did you use -- happy, or not so much? Would love your suggestions.

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I spent countless hours researching, pricing and getting estimates for our master closet and foyer closet. Prices and quality varies all over the place and price and quality don't necessarily equate. Long story shorter, I decided on the Elfa closet system from the Container Store. It took some measuring and a good deal of planning and I had to order everything and pay for shipping because we don't have a store in our area. DH was a little flumexed when a semi pulled up and dropped off boxes and boxes of closet parts. But everything was exactly as planned and easy and fun to finally put in place. Everything hangs from a single top rail and vertical pieces. We have drawers, tons of shelving, versatile hanging storage, basket storage and even jewelry drawers. I think I did our master closet, foyer closet and my sewing room shelving for about $2500. They have good sales a couple of times a year that are worth waiting for if you can. You can check them out at The staff was extremely helpful as well.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 5:15PM
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I've made several small online purchases of Elfa units from the Container Store and they proved to be easy to assemble, sturdy and attractive. During my last visit to NYC, I went into one of their stores and an associate designed a free-standing storage unit for a laundry closet -- with sliding baskets, shelves and a closet rod on top -- based on dimensions that I provided. I specifically wanted their free-standing unit, which I haven't seen elsewhere, because I did not want to put screws in the wall (for reasons not pertinent to this discussion.) The design software in the store is more powerful than the online DIY version and I was impressed with the quality of the service and recommendations. It's easy to get carried away with accessories and finish options when you see everything first hand (making the cost spiral), but the associate was able to revise the design several times and give me pricing for each variation, so that a final decision was easy to make. After the unit was assembled in my house, I decided to purchase an accessory that I ordered online. All I can say is that every purchase I've made either online or in the store has been flawless and the quality of Elfa is much higher than other systems I've seen. There's a 25% sale on shelving going on now and there's also an annual sale of all Elfa items.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 3:07PM
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It might matter what you mean by heavy. I used Elfa (and some Metro) pieces for my walk-in pantry. The shelves hold heavy countertop appliances (e.g. stand mixer, waffle irons, etc) along with stone mixing bowls without a problem.

We did a custom closet for the master bedroom, but wish we'd done an off-the-rack-type system through California Closets or Elfa. So much easier to reconfigure or repair! They have some really nice-looking laminate options too.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 10:26AM
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We are having our cabinet maker make our closet systems for our new build. The cost was comparable to off-the-rack w/ 1/2 inch domestic maple plywood construction and we got to design exactly what we wanted and it is going to be a lot fancier looking:

My closet:

Fiance closet:

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 7:05PM
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Our house was built in 1915 so closet space is scarce. One of the smaller bedrooms has a 3/4 bath off it. We made that bedroom into a dressing room. We will have to sell the house someday, so I didn't want shifting the space back to a bedroom to be hard or messy. I used Elfa freestanding units. Love 'em. They are easy to assemble, sturdy and reconfigurable. The best accessory is the shoe pullout. For the first time ever, DH puts his shoes away! Least favorite accessory, the tie/belt pullout. Feels like it uses more space than it's worth.

I like the units so well that I used them inside a normal closet, too. Much easier that trying to find studs and patching plaster, etc.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 4:01PM
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Hello, new to this forum. I want to try the Elfa for DH's closet,so good to see you are satsified. He needs more space for his clothes, and our closets are small in our 60's ranch. We have a Container Store about 10 min away, and I'd like to take advantage of the 30% off sale.

If we really like this one closet, we can do more.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 9:52AM
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We just had California Closets do all of the closets in our new build. I had consultations with Closet America and Closet Factory as well. To be honest, I really liked the Closet America product most of all. It looked great, and the quality was impressive. Closet Factory was okay, but they wanted to cut out the baseboards behind the parts of their system. I'd just paid the builder and painter for those baseboards, so that didn't thrill me!

In the end, the price of California Closets was competitive, their turn-around time was lightening fast, and now that it's all installed - it looks fine. Closet America would have looked better, but the function is the same. And it's a closet system inside a closed closet. I'm pleased.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 12:23PM
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I see that ikea has lots of closet ideas....did anyone look into these? Elfa seems to have a lot of fans here, wonder about the cost/functionality comparison....

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 12:44PM
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I do like the PAX systems at IKEA. In France it isn't unusual to have a bedroom without a closet. Friends there used a wall of PAX in their den/guest room. Nice if you are looking for something that looks like a wall of furniture. There was plenty of room for my clothes in a small section. They showed me the rest of the storage and it looked like it worked well for them. The downsides are the size and weight. They aren't inexpensive either either.

The Elfa works better for me because of the portability and flexibility.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Update: We had the Elfa installed this past Sat. I also repainted the inside of the closet and trim, which had probably not been painted in 20 years. We picked it up but had them do the install. The other side of the baskets is not shelving but another short hang area. The closet is only 66 in long, so not even 6'.

Plus, DH got rid of some of his old clothes to Goodwill, so that was bonus.

I don't have a picture yet of it with the clothes back in. I want to get the sliding tie rack for him.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 7:37PM
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Mick Mick


What type of hangers are you going to use?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 10:10PM
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I just used what we had! I will pick up the tie rack this weekend.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 10:04PM
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We used rubbermaid wire systems in all our closets, money was a issue at the time. They work well for the price. But I highly suggest using laminate or wood for any shelves...small items (purses, socks, small shirt) tend to fall through the slots in wire shelves and it is a bit aggrivating. Even our cheap closet systems can hold a TON of stuff, just make sure you bolt to a stud or use drywall anchors.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 12:56PM
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Our system has little plastic "placemat" type things that cover the vents in the shelves. DH was reluctant, but I think they will help.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 7:53PM
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We jsut installed an Elfa system in a hall closet and my sons' bedroom closet. We spent about $475 for these two reach-in closets. My sons' closet is 56" wide. It now has three 16" deep shelves (one shelf has a full lenth clothes rod attached to it) and three 12" deep shelves. The former layout had about 13.5 linear feet of shelf space, now it has nearly 28 feet of linear shelving. It holds so much! The hall closet was basically a huge mess, just jam-packed with stuff that made no sense the way it was stored. At twenty-six inches wide, it now has six 12" deep shelves, and they way the shelves are attached to the standards, three is about 3 feet of clear space at the floor of the closet so my son has somewhere to go in case of a tornado.

We had to get some of the shelves re-cut because they were too short, about an inch short. The designers want to measure your closet for shelving 2" shorter than the overall width. We did not want gaps at either end, so by requesting new, slightly longer shelves we have shelves that go from one side wall to the other. We carefully measured where the shelf would end in the store. I was very sorry to have to return to the store during such a busy period of time for the Container Store. But of course there are so friendly.

I have mixed feelings about the cost of this project , it was a lot of money. The $475 total does not include any extras, just shelves. However, I will say that the platinum wire shelves are fabulous looking and seem extremely sturdy but flexible layout-wise too. I would recommend Elfa. Saw the Rubbermaid system at Lowes, and it looked very similiar, except that you have to measure and cut your own shelving. That was enough to steer us away from a DIY system. Elfa was 30% off, we could not have afforded to pay full price for these shelves. This annual sale ends tomorrow.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 9:25PM
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We just ordered elfa for the Master and Guest closets. We finished our whole house remodel in Aug, but didn't do closet interiors (I replaced the closet doors, tracks, baseboard, and trim). In the process of turning our compartmentalized 1960 ranch into "open concept," adding essential space in both bathrooms, and adding a wet bar we actually eliminated 6 closets in our remodel.

Whereas before it didn't matter that we only had poles and a shelf in these closets (we could just pile in our junk) now the closets need to work a lot smarter.

Like many people I suppose, I always viewed Container Store's elfa system as overpriced (which is my view of this store in general)--"the same can be bought at Home Depot for 1/3 the price you know..."

Well anyway, I've changed my tune. Did some measurements at home yesterday (after I noticed TCS had a sale that was ending today) and went over there last night. A wonderful woman spent at least 2 hours with me designing the closets, explaining options, working around my architectural issues and running different pricing based on different finishes. I left the store with a folder full of all the information I needed, renderings of the closets and pricing and info to show the DS. We went back this morning and got another hour or more of a very helpful guy's time making some tweaks and last minute items. Both closets will be delivered and installed in less than two weeks. The entire experience was pleasant, easy, and satisfying.

This weekend I also installed ClosetMaid shelving that I bought from Home Depot in my hall closet for shoes. What a difference.

The ClosetMaid stuff may look like elfa, but it's not. Spend any time with the two products and you see everything from the BigBox line is inferior quality-wise. It doesn't fit as well, it's not as sturdy, it's flimsy, etc. elfa is coated in a nice enamel. ClosetMaid is coated is some kind of sticky epoxy. elfa can be specified with well fitting acrylic mats that set on top of ventilated shelves to provide an even surface that's easy to dust. elfa has covers for unsightly and sharp edges. elfa has endless options, including a 22" chest of drawers that are interchangable--exactly the size I needed and couldn't find a similar item at Depot, Lowes, or IKEA. It's just a different product; elfa is made in Sweden, ClosetMaid is made in China. It shows. Additionally, I needed to cut down some shelves from the size sold at the Depot to fit my closet. Depot told me to buy $50 bolt cutters and cut the shelves myself. A lot of sweating later (it's more work than it looks) these shelves are installed and are a very functional shoe rack, though I suspect the sitcky epoxy coverings will eventually get quite dirty. I believe TCS will cut elfa for you if needed without charge (you should confirm). But I can't imagine having to do this kind of work on my own for the much more complex bedroom closets. The Depot staff are clueless, the store is a mess, and it's very hard to find any information about how everything is supposed to work or find the parts you need.

I think the Rubbermaid isn't much better. Certainly not very nice when compared to elfa--I've had some of these shelves before and actually used their parts for the track that holds the ClosetMaid shelves as it looked slightly sturdier. I do think their system works better than ClosetMaid and have read about people who have succesfully used (abused) the free TCS design service and recreated an elfa solution with Rubbermaid products so that may be an option for some.

The only budget DIY system I looked at that I care for for use in my bedroom closet is Space-Pro Flex sold at Lowes. The problem here is that there are extremely limited components available so I would have been required to cut the shelves down, live with dinky little drawers, and waste at least 2 feet of my small Master Closet because no options were available for certain spaces. And it was only a few hundred $ less than elfa. Plus with elfa I get cool extras like Valet Rods and Glide Out Tie/Belt Racks.

You get what you pay for. Part of what you pay for at TCS is the great knowledge from the closet designers and their valuable time. I got this whole closet thing sorted in 1 day without pouring over catalogs and making inventory lists. And the installation is several hundred $ but it's quite reasonable considering they remove the old closet stuff and patch and paint your drywall (and it's optional). Our last home had California Closets installed by previous owner and they were wonderful. elfa is not quite that wonderful (no good laundry hamper like the last house), but it's mid-grade, not high-end as far as pricing goes. Overall, I'm generally thrilled to have this over with and have completely wonderful, functional closets showing up shortly that I'm confident will last. No Bolt Cutters required. Another nice thing, since elfa is terribly customizable I'm not stuck with the layout in the Guest room if that ends up turning into a nursery in the future.

I think that the cheaper big box stuff is fine if you just want some wire shelves to hold paper towels and supplies. But when you want to combine storage with clothes, really use your space and need a lot of choices to do that properly, want flexibility to make changes in the future easily, and just want a nicer looking sturdier product, elfa is worth the extra cost.

Good luck to all in their search!

PS -- we bought during the elfa shelving sale which is 25% off except the drawers (I know, weird). The better sale starts Christmas Eve through Jan-Feb and it's 30% off everything. We could have saved several hundred, but I didn't want to wait until after the holidays. For those that missed this one, get designing now so you can put your order in right away. I understand the 30% sale is a lot like the IKEA kitchen sales (i.e. bedlum).

This post was edited by ChrisInSD on Mon, Oct 20, 14 at 12:53

    Bookmark   October 20, 2014 at 12:26AM
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I converted an 8 1/2 ft. reach-in closet with a single pole and two overhead shelves to a Rubbermaid Configurations Deluxe 4-8 ft. Closet Kit this weekend. I was skeptical because the old closet held a ton of clothes (perhaps literally -- they were very heavy). But the new system is holding everything just fine with some room to spare as I gained 4 feet of hanging space. I'm astonished, frankly. Those wire systems always looked so flimsy, but they must be a lot stronger than they appear. We went to the hardware store and got extra screws & drywall bolts to secure the system into the studs & wall, just in case. And the closet got a new coat of paint for the first time in 44 years -- fresh white semi-gloss. It's wonderful -- now I can see everything at a glance and know exactly what's there.

I didn't need a beautiful closet with pretty drawers and stylish finishes. I just wanted a more functional closet. And I got one for under $100 as Amazon had the Rubbermaid systems on sale. Actually, the new closet is better than more functional. It's highly efficient and will save me time -- no more hunting & hunting for something to wear and not noticing perfectly good items because they are buried amidst the crowd.

I like that I'm not locked into a closet configuration. As my wardrobe changes over the years, I can add, subtract, or switch out hanging rods, shelves, baskets, shoe storage.

In short, I didn't expect to be this happy with just a Rubbermaid kit closet. But I am, and quite impressed too.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2014 at 9:46AM
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We've had our Ikea Pax equivalent system for 20 years through 3 moves. I think it's called System 210 but the current Pax is even more versatile. We started small were fortunate that on each of those moves we were able to purchase an extension unit. The three attached units now take up one wall of our bedroom and holds all my clothes, and is also our future gifts repository. My husband uses the bedroom's built in walk in closet. I wish we had purchased fancier doors but these were purchased early in our marriage when price trumped looks. They have held up incredibly well.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2014 at 9:07PM
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I put Elfa into 5 different home areas (closet-room, computer room, kitchen, storage/laundry hallway, and garage) during the past year or so, after researching and going to look at all the available options.

I absolutely do NOT regret paying more for the Elfa. The quality of the components and the professionalism of TCS is top notch. This is what I found worked best for me:

Although I started out with 'designed' spaces, I quickly found that a designer's idea of the best use of my space did not mesh with what I am comfortable having. I'm super picky about layout and need 100% flexibility to be able to change anything, anywhere, to anything else anywhere. I was going from a house with a LOT of space to a house with very little space, and needed the Elfa in place before I actually moved in. So I really had no choice but to literally build it on the fly, LOL. I just tossed all the planned spaces, had all the top rails installed by my contractor (it was cheaper than having Elfa do it, and I'm far too unsteady on a ladder myself) and worked up my own initial design.

What I did was to base EVERY Elfa room/area on a 24" spacing between the hanging standards, and using ONLY their 24" wide components. This has given me the freedom to move any component (shelf, basket, you name it) to anywhere else -- and I've done that numerous times already. As my "stuff" changes in type, size, location and quantity over time, this total flexibility is priceless. Sometimes I find that a shelf here or there is just a tad to high or too low for comfortable reaching (especially at my age, LOL) but hey, no problem, it can be shifted in about two minutes. Occasionally I have had to buy an extra shelf bracket or two but other than that, no problems.

In the computer room I created a desk area along one wall, and have a pair of freestanding drawer units with 3 deep drawers for hanging files via their special insert. The ONE quibble I have is that the drawer that contains the most files does not open as easily or smoothly as the other two which have a lighter load. To be fair, this should be expected because these are not standard desk drawers with glides; you have metal on metal, no "rollers".

When I was at TCS recently to pick up something else (non-Elfa, believe it or not, LOL) one of the designers mentioned that Elfa is currently working on the possibility of introducing doors for their closest system. He didn't have any specifics on how that might be accomplished, other than that they are supposedly working on it. Also supposedly there are some other new Elfa components in the works as well. I noticed that they now have solid opaque drawers in some sizes to fit the freestanding drawer units (as an alternative to putting a clear liner inside one of the metal ones). Apparantly these are a trial balloon to see how they sell before expanding it to all of the drawer sizes.

This post was edited by Helena2013 on Thu, Nov 27, 14 at 14:33

    Bookmark   November 27, 2014 at 2:31PM
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We've used the DC-area Closet Factory several times and have been very pleased with the design process and final product. We've done interior closet spaces and also a free standing (visible) mudroom with cubbies and doors. We are currently in the midst of a major remodel in a new-to-us house and will be calling on Closet Factory again for a mudroom and several closets.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2014 at 2:37PM
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