All About Drawers and Shelves

Offering easy-access storage for all kinds of household and personal items, drawers and shelves are smart tools to use in a closet system.
Men's Shoe Racks

Men's Shoe Storage

Photo courtesy of California Closets

Photo courtesy of California Closets
By: Jeannie Matteucci

Drawers and shelves are two key ingredients of a well-organized closet and the clever storage choice for many items in your home, allowing you to create multiple levels of storage.


Drawers are a great solution when you want easy access to something in your closet, but not have it on display all the time. Shallower drawers are ideal for jewelry, while deep drawers can store your rolled t-shirts and folded sweaters.

Good candidates for drawer storage:

  • swimsuits
  • hair clips
  • hats
  • gloves
  • workout clothes
  • ties
  • bras, tanks and camisoles

Closet Drawer Organizer

Lucite Closet Drawer Dividers

Photo courtesy of California Closets

Photo by: John Granen

John Granen

Photo courtesy of California Closets

Drawers are made from a number of materials, and some higher-end closet systems offer soft-closing drawers with full-extension glides. The best choice depends on your budget and what you need to store. Just avoid placing drawers too high (no higher than chest level) because you want to be able to safely see what's inside.

Don't forget to include drawer organizers inside if you need to store small items. "I like to use movable Lucite dividers," says Kay Wade, Closet Factory Vice President of Design. "They're perfect because small items like bras and socks tend to end up in a jumble." When everything has a home, it's easier to find it and put away.

For those with a tight budget, an inexpensive kitchen cutlery or utensil tray can be used to organize makeup, jewelry or small home office supplies in closet drawers. Easy-to-find rolling plastic carts with drawers are another affordable storage option that gives you flexibility.

Laminated Modular System Holds Shoes

Modular Shoe Storage

Photo courtesy of California Closets

Photo courtesy of California Closets


For homeowners who want visual access to items or can't remember things out of sight, shelves are a handy addition to your closet. Available in many different materials, shelves can be built-in or used as part of an installed closet system. Adjustable shelves give you the most flexibility and allow you to make changes as your storage needs evolve over time. The amount of shelves you need and where you should place them depends on the items in your closet.

Here are a few useful tips for using shelves in household closets:

  • Slanted shelves are a great way to display and store shoes you use every day. With your shoes aligned and toe forward, you can quickly identify each pair. Shoes worn less often can be stored in clear boxes on a high shelf.
  • Shelves with acrylic dividers allow you to display and store handbags.
  • Lined rattan baskets on shelves can be used to hold folded towels in a linen closet or toys in a child's bedroom closet.
  • Place shelves for your most frequently used items between your shoulders and waist, so you can reach them without lots of bending or stretching.
  • Use a cushioned shelf liner in your pantry closet to keep the edges of dishes chip free.
  • Placing heavy items on a high shelf is a safety hazard. Store heavy items on lower, reinforced shelving that can hold the weight.
  • Don't forget about corner shelves, especially in pantry closets that help you utilize every inch of available space.

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