Budget Basics: Cheap Closet Systems

Shopper's Guide

With the popularity of high-end California Closets and mid-range Elfa systems, the more basic underdogs are often overlooked — here are 5 sources for CHEAP closet and shelving systems to get you started organizing on a budget.

Whether your turning your second bedroom into a giant walk-in closet or converting a tiny hall closet into a pantry, proper installation means a lot with budget systems — take weight restrictions seriously! Most mishaps occur when inexpensive components are loaded up with TOO MUCH STUFF.

Rubbermaid
Rubbermaid is a giant company and offers what is perhaps the most basic, most accessible closet system — I find their products to be the easiest to understand in a timely manner and Rubbermaid products (of one system or another) and its many components are available at nearly every hardware store (Home Depot, Loews, Ace, etc.) and large retailers (Target, WalMart, Amazon, etc.). Rubbermaid has many different closet systems in their vast collection: HomeFree, FastTrack and DirectMount. I found that their online tool for helping to choose which is right for your needs very helpful: Rubbermaid Closet Designer. These systems are designed to be simple, modular and reusable (you can take the pieces down and move them or reconfigure them). Components in the closet system are primarily wall-mounted track, rods, shelf brackets and Rubbermaid has a wide variety of shelves in different sizes and finishes.

IKEA
IKEA has two systems for closet organization — ANTONIUS is primarily designed for clothing and BRODER is designed for bigger, heavier items. Both are inexpensive but you'll find there are many more accessories like nylon bins, drawers and laundry accessories, casters with ANTONIUS. BRODER is best for basements, garages and heavy-duty storage. BRODER has the added benefit of stability: the wall brackets are also supported by L-shaped legs on the floor.

ClosetMaid
On the surface ClosetMaid appears to be very similar to Rubbermaid — except it is not nearly as self explanatory or understood as quickly (this is especially true when you compare the clunkiness of the Closetmaid website with the slickness and ease-of-use of Rubbermaid's site). The basic ShelfTrack system requires a bit more planning than other systems in the beginning stages but has an impressive number of components and accessories.

Martha Stewart Living at Home Depot
The newest product collection on this list, the Martha Stewart Living for Home Depot is fairly basic. The basic starter sets are made of wood (particle board) with a melamine finish. Closet systems have few options until you add in the many accessories like bins, drawers and specialized hangers (quickly adding to the cost).

Easy Track
Found primarily at building supply, lumber stores and independent hardware stores (and Amazon!), Easy Track is a 95% wood (particle board) with a single rail that all of your components hang from (like Elfa). There are a few basic starter kits that can be combined and customized with additional kits and accessories.

What is your experience with these closet systems? Share your stories in the comments!

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