For a long time, we’ve had a tiny little set of shelves by our back door to hold shoes. We put the whole family’s shoes on it, and space was a bit tight. Plus, it always looked cluttered, since it had four people’s shoes crammed onto it and no doors or drawers to conceal them. I started looking for solutions at Goodwill and on Craigslist, but it wasn’t easy. The main factor was space: There’s only 30 inches between the wall and the door, and I also had to make sure that whatever I put there left room for the door to open and didn’t obscure the light switches. So I basically needed something not more than about 25 inches wide and not more than 40 inches tall. It had to be deep enough to hold shoes (so CD shelves wouldn’t work, for example) but not so deep that the door would hit it when we went out.
Usually when I need something for the house, I’m able to find a secondhand solution within a week or so. But this one stumped me for a while. I was looking at small dressers, bookshelves (to be used with bins to hold the shoes) and even small entertainment centers that I could refinish. This wasn’t an emergency – the little set of shelves had been there for a few years already, and we didn’t need to rush out and buy something brand new. So I just continued to keep an eye out at Goodwill and on Craigslist and I knew I’d eventually come across something that would work.
Last weekend I was at Goodwill and spotted a cabinet (taken from someone’s kitchen) that looked like it would work perfectly. But then as I was looking at it, an employee came and put a sold sticker on it – bummer! But it inspired me to head over to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and see what they had in the way of kitchen cabinets. As soon as we got there, I found the perfect cabinet. It’s very well made, and the wood is beautiful. It was 39 inches high and 24 inches wide (made to measure for my space!), with four levels inside for shoes.
The only problem was the top surface, which wasn’t intended to be below eye level. The top of a kitchen cabinet wasn’t the look I had in mind. So I scouted around the ReStore looking for something that we could use to finish the top. A couple employees were looking with me, and we were considering all sorts of things like strips of lumber and cabinet doors that could be cut down to size. Then we hit on the perfect solution: tiles! The top of the cabinet is 12 inches by 24 inches, so it was a perfect fit for two 12 inch tiles. They had tons of patterns and colors available, so my son and I sorted through the tiles for a few minutes and found some that we really liked. We ended up spending $1.50 on the tiles and $40 for the cabinet. We also found some other supplies we needed for another project, for three dollars (we had priced them at $20 at Home Depot, so the stop at Habitat’s ReStore ended up being a very good one). I like buying things at places like ReStore, because I like knowing that my money is going to good cause. So all was well.
As soon as we got home, I cleaned the cabinet and moved it into position. It fit perfectly, and we really liked the way it looked – but we knew it would be a lot better once the top was fixed. Here’s what we started with.
Attaching the tiles on top took about three minutes. I just ran some caulk around the raised part of the cabinet top and settled the tiles onto it. I decided caulk would be the best way to attach them, since it would provide them with a slightly flexible and shock-absorbing bed. It worked great, and we love the finished product. Here’s the top after I attached the tiles.
Here’s the before and after… I love the clean, simple look that we ended up with, and the fact that our shoes aren’t falling all over the floor anymore! The basket on top of the cabinet came from Goodwill, and works perfectly for holding the leash and sunglasses and other small stuff that we need to grab on our way out the door.
And the inside of the cabinet has tons of room for our shoes, without having to stack them on top of each other.
Kitchen cabinets and tiles are widely available in used building supply stores and on Craigslist. And a lot of cabinets are 12 inches deep, which makes it easy to fit 12 inch tiles on top as a surface. So don’t forget about repurposed kitchen cabinets when you’re looking for floor-level storage solutions!