Not Martha

to make: shoe rack

I love the j-me shoe rack:

(picture from the DWR catalog)

(picture from gnr8)

I love that it floats off the floor, I love that it doesn’t take up much space when no shoes are present, I love that it was the perfect shoe solution to my very cramped back entryway. So, I nearly cried when I found out it was about 5 inches too long to fit into said very cramped back entryway.

I set out to wander around a very large hardware store and find something that I could use in the same fashion. I had grand ideas about repurposing ductwork pipes or gutters or something meant for plumbing. I predictably didn’t find anything that would work. So I went with Plan B: wood. We basically built shelves, narrower ones above wider ones, to work like this:

We bought poplar boards from the trims aisle of Home Depot. We chose boards 1/2 inch thick and 6 inches wide (1/2x6x3) for wide lower shelves and 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches wide (1/2x3x3) narrow top shelves. We cut the wood to size (in our case 22 inches) with the handsaw in the store.

We also bought large and small L-brackets to attach the wood to our walls and appropriate hardware: short screws to attach the brackets to the wood planks (.5 inch), longer screws and plastic drywall anchors to attach the brackets to the walls. I think we used 1.5-inch #6 screws for the walls and white #6-#8 drywall anchors.

Cameraphone spy pictures from the store:

We decided to stain the wood and went with a dark expresso finish, we used two coats. We sealed it with a polyurethane clear semi-gloss. Waiting for the weather to be dry enough to stain the wood was the longest part of this project. You could just as easily use white trim, or simply paint the wood for this project.

Tangent: I had never used stain before and this turned out to be a good learning project for stain, the importance of sanding between each step became really apparent when we put on the polyurethane and all the bits of rough wood created tiny bubbles on the surface.

I was considering painting the planks with a colored paint, and if I had done that I might have painted the wall between the top and bottom shelf set the same color to create a visual whole for each set. Also, if the shoe racks were painted a darker color than the wall, it might be easier to disguise the inevitable scuff marks the toes of the shoes will leave on the wall.

Here is the smaller L-bracket attached to the smaller 3-inch-wide board:

We attached the bracket to the boards first, then used them to mark the walls for where to drill. We used the plastic sleeve type drywall anchors so we pre-drilled the holes, pounded those in (gosh this is starting to sound dirty), then screwed (see?) the shelves into place.

We determined there needed to be 2 inches between the planks for optimum shoe holdage. Happily, the smaller bracket was 2 inches so we were able to use that as a guide.

And that’s it. We have something that doesn’t look too strange, doesn’t take up a lot of space, keeps shoes up off the floor and doesn’t visually encroach on the space.

What I would have done differently: I would have spaced the pairs of shelves closer together. We left 5 1/2 inches between them. When we’re standing in our tight back hallway the shoes seem well spaced from the angle you can see them at, but the pairs of shelves could be closer together, say 3 inches, and leave plenty of room for the height of the shoes themselves. If I could do it over I also would have gone ahead and made a third set of shelves, having shoes tidily stored at the door has proven very nice.


After, empty:

After, with shoes (we painted the doors between that picture above and this picture below):

I could see this as a solution for storing shoes in a shallow closet, but I wouldn’t store good leather shoes in this way for any amount of time, I’m sure the weight of the shoe where the toe presses on the narrow top shelf would create an unfortunate crease. But for the shoes we use everyday it’s just fine.

Conclusion: While we came nowhere near the low profile of the j-me shoe rack, we created something that works better for our purposes and for our small space than anything we could find in a shop. We’re pretty darn happy.


187 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Patricia // Feb 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I love this!
    Good idea. Thank!

  • 2 All Hung Up: An Apartment Update | churn bklyn // Apr 8, 2011 at 4:17 am

    […] of sealant, but again I was at this stage of the project in October. I do know that I referred to Not Martha’s Shoe Rack project many times for advice/instructions on wood […]

  • 3 Lorraine Brecht // Apr 20, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    How about using galvanized steel rain gutter material? Isn’t that the right shape?? ;o)

  • 4 megan // Apr 20, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Lorraine – I hear you but go walk around the gutters and duct section of a hardware store and you’ll find the shapes are wrong. Gutters are much wider than I expected, it was the first thing I looked at when trying to find a good material to create this sort of rack.

  • 5 max // May 4, 2011 at 7:15 am

    great thing, but to be more baby-safe I’d add round corners

  • 6 Kim Steele // May 15, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Looks like I need to go out and get some shelving for my shoe collection! Thanks for the great tips!

  • 7 water removal // May 20, 2011 at 9:41 am

    very creative way to use your space. Love it!

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    […] Vía | The home rejuvenation blog Más información | not martha […]

  • 9 Holly@homestyletips // Jun 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I love this shoe shelf! It’s so simple and takes up a lot less space. Guess I’m heading to the store for my next project!

  • 10 ana // Jul 7, 2011 at 5:47 am

    OMG I just saw this j-me shoe rack and was wondering how to DIY. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I´m going to attempt this project this weekend!

  • 11 Regan // Jul 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I want to make these all the way to my ceiling. All I would see would be the brackets… Anyway to paint or an alternative to them?

  • 12 megan // Jul 19, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Regan – I’m afraid that is up to you. I have seen regular shelves used, the sort that fit into a tidy bracketing system. If you have the space that might be a better option for an entire wall of shoes.

  • 13 Jasmine Johnstone // Jul 25, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Fantastic idea! I have so many shoes, so suppose we need many of these shoe racks :-)

  • 14 S Club Mama // Aug 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    LOL this wouldn’t work for my husband’s shoes – size 18! But very cute otherwise.

  • 15 Lynn // Sep 12, 2011 at 9:28 am

    That is awesome!

  • 16 Anna // Oct 5, 2011 at 6:15 am

    This would work great for heels. <3 Great idea.

  • 17 hks // Nov 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    where did you find the small wall hanging coat rack?

  • 18 reverse cycle split system // Feb 18, 2012 at 2:50 am

    i have too many shoes to place it ..thanks it would be helpful to me to manage my shoes…

  • 19 David // Mar 16, 2012 at 8:13 am

    For non-marring your dress shoes try this:
    glue a layer of “Felt” to the bottom face of the upper ledge board.

  • 20 David // Mar 16, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Let’s simplify hardware & overall cost…
    You can pre-fab these with a 3rd piece of wood approx 1/2″ thk. for the wall side. Glue-n-screw the assembly into a rigid piece before mounting. Anchor to wall with (2) toggles or molly bolts in-lieu-of the 8 or so screws shown. A faster installation and neat w/o the galv. brackets.

  • 21 JODI // Mar 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    wouldnt it just be easier to do the bottom rack long enough for the whole shoe to sit on and not have to worry about the top one to hold the toe in?

  • 22 megan // Mar 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Jodi – I see what you’re saying but the corner between those two doors doesn’t allow for such a deep shoe rack without getting in the way of the pattern of walking back there. When the shoes are in the rack it’s true that I bump into them but it’s far more comfortable to bump into a shoe that can wiggle around than a stationary, hard edged shelf. I’m clumsy enough as it is. I realize it’s difficult to convey just how tight the space by the back door is but you’ll just have to trust me when I say I wouldn’t have gone to such detailed measures to find a solution when a few shelves or a premade shoe rack would have worked.

  • 23 JODI // Mar 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    lol, gotcha!

  • 24 Weekend Project: Make a floating shoe rack | SHOCM // Jun 29, 2012 at 4:46 am

    […] Shoe Rack [not martha via MAKE] […]

  • 25 Leave Your Shoes Behind - CAVDESIGN // Nov 20, 2012 at 9:58 am

    […] As a host, have a few pairs of stylish slippers you wear to set the example. Some beautiful Moroccan slippers are usually a good choice But what to do with your guests’ shoes? Have a shoe rack or some sort of shoe storage in the entry way and make space in it before they arrive.  This cool shoe rack is a floating one from gnr8: A DIY guide to making your own (more affordable) version is on Not Martha blog. […]

  • 26 Kylae J // Jun 28, 2013 at 9:35 am

    What a genius! This is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • 27 45 Design Ideas For Small Apartments // Nov 18, 2013 at 9:57 am

    […] DIY some clever built-ins like this wall shoe rack. Check out To Make: Shoe Rack on Not […]

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    […] How To Make A Floating Shoe Rack – Allow your shoes to simply float off the floor with this clever DIY rack. You can build it in the bottom of your closet and create some much-needed extra space! […]

  • 29 Smart Storage Hacks for a Shoeaholic | The Storage Blog // Mar 13, 2014 at 9:24 am

    […] how to install shelves, this task can be as easy as 1, 2, and 3. To create a shoe rack just like Not Martha's, all you'll need are two sets of ½ inch thick boards that are 6 inches and 3 inches wide, large […]

  • 30 Benedict Dela Cruz // Mar 26, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Where would be a good place to build this. I see you’ve placed it in a small area in between doors. Where would other good places?

  • 31 megan // Mar 27, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Beneedict – The back or side wall of a closet would be another good place to put this shoe rack, or perhaps the wall of a bedroom or dressing room if you’re lucky enough to have space for one.

  • 32 Spring DIY Projects | Atchley Insurance // Apr 14, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    […] still gives the same simple and modern effect as the original!  Check out the tutorial on her site: Modern Shoe Rack — View her tutorial on […]

  • 33 Creative shoe storage solution - The Sawdust Diaries // Apr 21, 2014 at 4:02 am

    […] have come up with some pretty creative storage solutions.  This shoe storage solution from Not Martha is no exception.  These floating shoe storage shelves are pure genius.  She’s got a full […]

  • 34 One can never have too many pairs of shoes.. | design eyes // May 4, 2014 at 3:31 am

    […] DIY shoe storage from not martha. Almost like a full blown shelf but saves a bit of space and is a little bit […]

  • 35 25 Of The World's Best Organizing Ideas // May 20, 2014 at 7:25 am

    […] 9. How To Make A Floating Shoe Rack – Allow your shoes to simply float off the floor with this clever DIY rack. You can build it in the bottom of your closet and create some much-needed extra space! […]

  • 36 Heidi // Dec 30, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Love this idea and I always come back to it when I look for ideas for our small entry way closet. My only question is practicality for winter cities… the inevitable boot drip to the shoes below. I have a loose idea how to avoid it but wonder if anyone else has tried it and can confirm if it’s really that awful or not with wet/snowy weather.

  • 37 Lloyd // Jan 1, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    The original J-me looks like a piece of roofing/siding material that is called j-channel. Has anyone tried going to a local metal roofing dealer and asking to have pieces made and cut to the size/color that they wanted? You might could get that done for only a small amount of money, if they would deal with you.

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