My walk-in closet system cost less than a pair of pants

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Let me start off by saying I am sucker for a good closet system. What made it difficult to move out of my parents’ house many years ago was that I’d be saying goodbye to the custom-built California Closet they had installed in my room (I mean, I’d miss my parents too, obviously, but I’ve accumulated more shoes over the years than I know what to do with). It was almost genius the way they transformed an empty space with the addition of a few well-placed bars, shelves, hooks, and more. I needed to find a way to recreate that on my own—within a reasonable price point.

The basics

Rubbermaid closet
Credit: Rubbermaid

Rubbermaid closet configurations can be customized for nearly any space.

You’ve probably seen the brand Rubbermaid floating around your miscellaneous Tupperware drawer. But they offer much more than food storage: the brand sells sheds (you heard that right: buy and build your own shed), cleaning supplies, water bottles and coolers, and more—all pretty standard equipment you’d need for everyday living. It’s thus not entirely surprising one of their best-selling items is a closet system. I mean, as we prepare for the apocalypse, we need all the storage we can get to stock up on canned goods.

The brand offers three types of closets: The FastTrack system that features expandable all-in-one shelving, the Direct Mount system that includes basic non-adjustable wire shelves, and the Configurations system, the one I have complete with bracket supports, hang rod supports, telescoping rods and more. While I wish I had a more eloquent response as to why I went with this one, it was all they had in stock at Home Depot at the time. But looking into their other two offerings, I’m glad the one I chose represents a healthy mix of both adjustable and fixed shelving. It’s meant to fit into closets between six and 10 feet wide, and its steel-based shelves and hanger bars support between 11 and 20 pounds.

What I liked about Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Kits

Rubbermaid configuration closet
Credit: Rubbermaid

This closet is easy on the eyes, the wallet, and the clutter.

The main thing I like about it probably won’t apply to everyone: While the brand claims, “rails, shelves, and telescoping rods can be set up in minutes with no cutting, using simple household tools,” I’m a little ashamed to say I hired someone to install it. Before installing anything heavy like this closet (which weighs 62 pounds once assembled), you need to hammer and nail directly into a stud behind the drywall (this can be achieved using a studfinder, which TBH sounds like a dating app I would 10/10 sign up for). If you don’t have studs behind your drywall that you can hook your furniture into, you’ll need to insert separate anchors to avoid having your drywall ripped out of your wall.

I am not a particularly graceful person with so much as a butter knife—I couldn’t trust myself to hit the nail on the head, so to speak. (And yes, I could have solicited my husband to do it, but we’ve learned that building furniture together puts a very real strain on our marriage, so we figured the cost-benefit analysis of hiring a handyman vs. a divorce lawyer made sense.)

My husband and I share a hollow nook that connects directly from our bedroom into an en-suite bathroom. When we bought the house, it was completely empty, so I like that this system made excellent use of wasted space. This tells me a product like this can essentially turn any old corner in your home or small apartment into a custom-built walk-in closet. Our handyman used a chainsaw to divide the shelving so we could place two units at opposite ends of our closet. My husband has around two feet of shelving since he owns like three shirts, and I have four feet of shelving.

My three levels of shelves house at least 50 sweatshirts (it’s cold in Canada, okay?!), and my hanger racks keep at least 20 button-downs and trousers crease-free. I also use the racks to hang items I’d normally pile in a heap somewhere, like purses, scarves, bras, and belts. Since having it installed seven months ago, I’ve noticed far less clutter in my actual bedroom. Wall shelving like this is also a great way to free up some space in your chest of drawers or armoire, should they be bursting at the seams.

I also appreciate that the system is said to be customizable even after it’s built, which is why I’ve held on to some extra pieces I hadn’t used, just in case I decide to change things up.

What I didn’t like about Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Kits

Rubbermaid closet
Credit: Rubbermaid

There's lots to love about these closets, but they're not perfect.

If it seems like I like having a closet system more than I like having this particular closet system, you’re not wrong. I don’t like that I felt intimidated by all the options. It felt like a very do-or-die situation. Like, what if the configuration I chose is not, in fact, the most economical use of space? Will I have to tear it out of my wall and start over? In the brand’s defense, that doesn’t seem like their fault. I just struggle with making decisions and sticking to them. I am much more used to reorganizing free-standing furniture to change up a room's vibe than resigning myself to one particular look.

I was excited about the prospect of placing shelves according to where I felt in my heart of hearts they belong, but I left it up to the handyman. He’s an engineer by trade, so I trusted him to have a sense of how its pieces would make sense aesthetically and structurally. If you don’t have self-confidence issues when it comes to home repairs like I do, I’m sure you would be able to install it yourself with a quick YouTube tutorial beforehand.

I wouldn’t say the material itself is flimsy—it can support the weight of an entire well-fed toddler, after all. My main quip is that the base of each shelf is made of wires separated a bit over one inch apart. That means if I stack a pair of heels on top, the heel plunges right through onto a lower shelf, sullying clean clothes. This requires I place a mat under each pair of shoes, which isn’t particularly convenient or easy on the eyes.

Another tiny issue I have is, again, entirely my fault. I don’t love that I built my hanger bars only a few feet from the floor. This means my blouses and scarves drag on the floor, which my cats interpret as the most interesting toy ever. However, it says a lot that the closet was able to withstand my cats swinging from my clothes like Jane and Tarzan (they collectively weigh 22 pounds, according to their last checkup).

Are Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Kits worth it?

Rubbermaid configuration closet
Credit: Rubbermaid

Store a serious chunk of your belongings in a fraction of the space.

Honestly, yes. I recognize how huge of a luxury it is to have the space to put up a wall-mounted closet in the first place, so that in and of itself negates some of my issues with it. If you plan on using the shelves to store large flat items, like folded sweaters, then it’s a great bet. But if you’re looking to use this as a sort of display case for smaller trinkets, cute little purses, or other accessories, you’re better off looking for something with a solid flat base. Like our writer Rebecca Boniface notes, this type of closet is a better idea if you own your home or are planning to stay in one place for a while, since it requires you to drill into the wall. (She listed this particular model as the second-best closet system you can buy right now.)

Its individual compartments are of perfectly fine quality, so the closet system is very much what you make of it. I can’t say for sure how it’ll turn out without the help of a handyman because, y’know, anxiety, but I have faith in you to pull it off.

Get the Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Kits from Amazon starting at $66.13

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.