A How-To for Storage-Strapped Shoe Addicts

Brace yourselves, boys and girls. Get your hard hats and band-aids ready. It’s time to bust out the power tools and do some DIY.

Since I recently (ok, so not-so-recently at this point, but you get the idea) moved into my new place, I figured what better way to make it my own than to get my hands dirty with some DIY projects. Plus who likes a standard-issue “vintage” apartment anyway? In the days of Pinterest: no one. Especially me.

First up: Adding some much-needed storage.

I’m a shoe whore. Always have been. Always will be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m nowhere near as bad as my aunt (she had my uncle turn a spare guest room into an extra closet for her shoes – you go Aunt Melissa!) but I have everything from running shoes to wingtips and from rain boots to ridiculously-uncomfortable-yet-super-cute leopard print loafers. God forbid they be homeless, but when you live in a studio finding a home for them is definitely much easier said than done.

Especially once you’ve already maxed out your under-bed storage with off-season clothing and shoes and other stuff that just needs a home. Out of sight, out of mind.

Always up for a good DIY project, I’d seen this project on Pinterest that looked like it’d have a relatively low chance of ending up as an epic Pinterest fail. Easy peasy. I could do this. Bring it on.

STEP ONE: Figure out exactly what all crap you’ll need.

Because the link on Pinterest takes you to a Buzzfeed article about cool IKEA hacks and doesn’t tell you how to make what you see, you have to kind of fend for yourself. Here’s what I came up with:

Necessary Supplies1 set TRONES plastic storage unit things
1 piece of wood 6-1/2″ x 21″L x about 1/2″ thick
Stain and a rag to stain with
Trash bags
Foam core
A cordless drill and drill bits
Anchors and screws
A level and tape measure
Patience and sanity

Minus the last article on the list, I was pretty sure I could find everything I needed in a matter of three places: My toolbox, Home Depot, and IKEA.

Oh wait. Houston, we have a problem. No Car = No IKEA.

Granted I can walk to Home Depot and IKEA ships select items – including the TRONES that I’d need to make this masterpiece happen, but let’s face it…I’m on a budget and not about to shell out $20 to have a $40 item shipped. Thanks, but no thanks.

STEP TWO: Gather necessary parts and pieces.

Clearly it was time to troll Craigslist and OfferUp – this nifty new app that’s slightly less sketchy than Craigslist with a million times less back-and-forth with potential sellers/buyers and the ability to rate a seller poorly for a lack of communication. Seriously….it drives me nuts. You want to sell xyz-item but can’t be bothered to email me back in a timely manner? Right. Makes SO much sense. Jackasses. Whoever thought this rating feature up is my hero.

Lo and behold, I found a set of three on OfferUp for $25. Not bad considering they retail for $40. Oh, and free delivery since the girl selling them would be near my apartment that week? SOLD!

Next up: Wood. These TRONES do-hicky-thing-a-ma-bobs are nice and all, but they’re pretty basic (read: ugly) on their own. The Pinterest project I’d seen had shown them with a wood top cap. Nothing fancy. Just a plank sitting on top. Home Depot sells wood. Home Depot cuts wood. Done.


Apparently the Home Depot near me doesn’t cut wood. Well, they do but only straight across. For instance: They’ll cut a 2×4 to a certain length, but that’s it. They have one of those saws where you pull the blade down and it cuts through something vs where it’s on a table and you move the blade left or right and slide the wood through – a table saw, I believe, is the name of this fancy gadget that I clearly don’t own nor should I be allowed to use in the first place lest I lose a finger or three.

Since I’m cheap and not willing to traipse across town via foot or a cab to go to another Home Depot that likely won’t have the capability to cut my piece of wood to the right size, I settle on the next best option. When all else fails, call mom and have her go to the local hardware store that DOES cut wood, find a piece of wood, have it cut to size, and mail it to me from Pennsylvania. I mean, it’s cheaper than me going out, buying a saw, buying wood, attempting to saw it myself, losing a finger, paying medical bills, etc.

STEP THREE: Wait impatiently.

Kim is always busy. It takes Kim a while to get to the store, buy the wood, cut the wood, and mail the wood. It takes equally as long for the USPS to deliver said piece of wood. Therefore, we wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually it will arrive.

STEP FOUR: Sand and stain your newly-arrived piece of wood.

This is where it gets fun. It’s time to get your hands dirty. Normally I’d say do this in a garage or outside or in your hobby room, but let’s get real. Who honestly has a hobby room? Martha Stewart does, and that’s about it. When you live in a less-than-300-square-foot studio apartment, space is at a premium (hence the need for a shoe storage project in the first place) so even if I did have the space I sure as hell wouldn’t be using it as a hobby room.

So those of us who don’t have a hobby room (read: 99.9% of you reading this) have to get creative if we don’t want to wreck our floors. We throw down trash bags because we’re too cheap/lazy to go buy a painting drop cloth. And then we stain.

For this step, I went to Home Depot. Of course. Why would I go anywhere else? Then again, there’s nowhere else to go, so Home Depot it is. You can’t stain something without stain. Obviously. I picked up a can of Varathane Wood Stain in Golden Oak because – after standing in the aisle for about 20 minutes debating between colors – this is the one I decided might match the existing wood in my apartment. Because it’s a little difficult to haul a night stand along with you, I decided to go off of a picture and wing it.

Does it match exactly? No. Is it close enough? Yes.

I found an old sweat-stained gym t-shirt that I didn’t care about anymore, tore it up, and used it to stain the wood. I know you’re supposed to use a foam pad or whatever, but I grew up using old rags and t-shirts and it seems to work well so why change my ways now?

A light sanding job and two coats of stain later, I was satisfied. And thanks to my trash bag drop cloth, not a drop of stain got on my vintage parquet flooring. Score.

STEP FIVE: Hang it on the wall.

Unless you’re some sort of prodigy or superhero whose superpower is an ability to perfectly eyeball measurements and tell if things are level or not, you’ll need a tape measure and a level for this step. And preferably a second set of hands or a friend but since I had neither at my disposal since I opted to do this at some obscene hour of the day when everyone else was either sleeping or working (how dare they), I had to make do with empty boxes, books, and whatever else I could find laying around to get these hung level and at the right height.

IMG_0002 copyBecause I’m anal about spacing, I wanted to make sure these were equidistant from the trim on all sides. You know what they say: Measure twice, cut once. Same goes for drilling. Since drilling into my walls is like drilling into concrete (which is probably what’s hiding behind my plaster walls), I wasn’t about to have to drill any more holes than I needed to.

A couple anchors, a few screws, and one broken drill bit later, this bad boy was officially hung on the wall and not going anywhere. To the point that if an earthquake or tornado destroys my building at some point, you’ll more than likely find my TRONES still attached to a piece of wall in the rubble. Yeah, it’s that attached. Not. Going. Anywhere. Not even with me when I move. Why? Because it’s cheap to replace and I’m not supposed to put holes in the walls in my apartment in the first place. Whoops.

STEP SIX: Put on wood top piece.

I’d had good intentions of cutting foam core to fit on the bottom of the wood in the dimensions of the inset part on the top of my TRONES so the wood wouldn’t slide, but by this point I was worn out and bored with the project. Plus once I sat it on top it wasn’t sliding around. If you have kids (bless your heart) or pets or are clumsier than I am and are constantly running into this, go ahead and don’t skip this step because you’ll probably knock the wood off at some point and try to blame me.

But if you’re feeling ambitious and really want to, go ahead and be an overachiever and cut a piece of foam core to fit the opening, glue it on, and voila. You now have a piece of wood that won’t slide around. Good for you. You’ve officially one-up’d me. Congratulations.

Disclaimer: If you decide skip this step and injure yourself, I’m not liable for any bodily harm or damages to whatever’s around your shoe hiding storage thing that you’ve just made. You’re apparently just lazy or didn’t care enough to do this step. Kind of like me. If you hurt yourself it’s your own fault. The end.

STEP SEVEN: Accessorize with a carefully-curated Apartment-Therapy-worthy collection of crap.

Since I have a treasure trove of stuff still packed away in boxes in my closet that I haven’t felt a need to unpack and find homes for (but really it’s because I don’t have anywhere to put half the stuff without my place looking like an episode of Hoarders), I dug out a few pieces to dress up the top of my new storage piece: a Jackson-Pollock-esque painting my sister did when she was in elementary school, a couple vases, and a candle. Fancy.

Bonus points if you happen to have a tastefully artsy deer skull sitting around. That’s always a nice touch. Lucky for me, I had one. Thanks eBay.

And just like that, I have somewhere to stash my shoes. If you have questions or compliments or even snide remarks about how you wish you were as crafty and resourceful as me, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. If you choose to try and make this yourself, I’ll leave you with these parting words compliments of RuPaul: “Good luck, and don’t fuck it up.”

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