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Project Seven: Well Who’d Have Thought it, I Just Made a Shoe Cubby!

January 23, 2011

We live in a rather small flat with almost no storage space, so to minimise clutter inside the house, we leave all our shoes outside the front door, in the corridor. Problem is, piles of shoes are not exactly aesthetically pleasing, and it has become a rather unsightly mess outside our front door. Hardly the first thing I want to see upon arriving home after a day at work.

So needless to say I got very excited when I saw instructions over at Chez Larsson for building your own shoe cubby. Her instructions, as ever, were so simple, I just knew I had to give it a go.

It’s probably a good time to mention that I have never done any proper carpentry before, and this is probably the most ambitious project I have ever embarked on. Funnily enough, it was also the first project I started this year, but it took me three weeks to complete it, in amongst all the other projects!

The first thing I did was measure the space and then measure all the scrap wood I already had. It turned out I didn’t need to buy much MDF, so the project was pleasingly cheap to construct. I drew out plans and cut all my wood to size before starting. In retrospect this might not have been the best thing to do, as it turned out some of my measurements were a bit wrong! Oh well, I managed to fix it all in the end.

Here’s what the hallway looked like before:

See that? The boy has a habit of just stepping out of his shoes and leaving them in the middle of the hallway, so hopefully the shoe cubby will encourage him to actually put them away!

I decided that unlike Chez Larsson I would not bother with a base and just have the bottom row of cubbies direct on the carpet, so I set to work and built the bottom layer upside down in my living room. I used dowels and wood glue to attach all the pieces, and painted as I built. All the  seams where two pieces of wood joined were filled with wood filler so give a smooth continuous finish. This is the first layer being constructed:

Once the bottom layer was made I put it in place in the hall and built the rest in situ, painting each layer as I went along.

Here’s a photo with the second layer of cubbies in place, and the side of the large wellie and boot compartment that will be at the end.

Here you can see the wellie and boot compartments coming together at the end, a taller one at the bottom and a shorter one above for the boy. The third layer of cubbies have been  attached, and you can see the dowels and wood glue are already in ready for the next shelf. At this point I tested out the top layer to make sure it fit. It didn’t. Somehow between measuring and cutting I had lost about an inch. No idea how that happened.(yes yes I know I should measure twice and cut once, but life’s too short).

With a bit of resourcefulness, a rummage through my wood scraps, a few dowels and lots of wood glue, I managed to find a solution:

Here’s the final layer of cubbies in place, with the dowels attached to the top. If you look closely at the two ends of the shelf you will see where I had to build them up higher as my measurements were a bit out. Oops. Thank God for wood glue and wood filler is all I can say.

I didn’t have any special marking to help me mark the wood to drill the holes in the right places for the dowels, so I had to be a bit imaginative and resourceful. I decided paint was what I needed. I raided the boy’s paint and found a big tube of bright purple. Perfect. Each time I needed to add a layer of shelving on top of the vertical cubby dividers I put a blob of purple paint on the top of the dowel and then lowered the shelf into place. Then I lifted the shelf off and drilled where the little purple dots were. It wasn’t an exact science, but it worked for me.


Here’s the top layer in place on top of the painted dowels:

Once the top shelf was securely in place, there was a small gap between the shelf and the wall, and I thought it would look nicer if that gap was filled in, so I had another rummage and found some thin pieces of wood that fit perfectly in the gap. I used wood glue and stuck them in place and then covered it all in a layer of wood filler.

I think the actual painting took longer than the construction, MDF really absorbs paint, I  ended up giving the whole thing two layers of primer and three layers of white silk emulsion (I don’t have the patience to use gloss, it takes too long to dry). Finally, three weeks after starting I could put all the shoes neatly in their cubbies, I am so happy with how it turned out!


All that is left to do is paint a fresh coat of magnolia in the hall as it is all a bit worse for wear and grubby and I need to paint the edge of the wall that meets the shelf as it has white paint on it! Personally I would rather paint the hallway white, but I have to keep it magnolia as it is a communal hall. Never mind, at least it’s not a messy hall any more!

The finished shoe cubby has 8 big compartments on the bottom two shelves for adult shoes, 12 smaller compartments on the top two shelves for children’s shoes and my smaller shoes, and two wellie/boot compartments, one taller than the other. It stands 31 inches tall and is 69 inches long and 11 inches deep.

Yep, that’s a cactus in a teacup. An old teacup from a set of four that I found in a charity shop years ago. I like little cacti in teacups.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. ladyseam permalink
    January 23, 2011 5:15 pm

    I LOVE your blog. It’s so much fun and inspiring. 🙂

  2. Helen Stead permalink
    January 23, 2011 6:43 pm

    WOW! You amaze me everytime you post! Absolutely beautiful! I’m definatly going to try this when I get chance.
    I love the cactus in a teacup as well! Cute idea!
    Thank you for the mention on your blog as well, that was very kind!
    Helena x

  3. Scarlett Dubois permalink
    January 23, 2011 8:22 pm

    Love this!

  4. The Boy permalink
    February 5, 2011 2:45 pm

    I love it makes my shoes SO much tidy

  5. Percy permalink
    March 2, 2011 9:30 pm

    I tried this and had a great time doing this! A note to whoever wants to try this, make sure you buy a jumbo size bottle of wood glue as you’ll definitely need it!

    • March 2, 2011 10:57 pm

      Wow Percy, that is great! I would love to see some photos of your finished shoe cubby, if you have any? You could email them to me. You’re right about the wood glue too!

  6. March 30, 2011 6:56 am

    Wow you truly are a super-resourceful mama!

  7. butterflyexperience permalink
    January 9, 2012 5:15 pm

    I need one of these! Love it 🙂

  8. msperfectpatty permalink
    June 26, 2012 5:47 pm

    I love this idea! I have way too many pairs of shoes and this would be perfect for my room! You really have a natural talent for this kind of thing! I’m glad I stopped by your blog!

  9. Beth Monroe permalink
    August 11, 2012 5:39 pm

    Thanks for posting this! I love it and just sent this link to my husband so he can look at it… hopefully he can get around to building one before school stars in a few weeks 🙂


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