Don't have the space that a walk-in closet demands? Try building a walk-by. An old ladder bridges the gap between two basic shelving units and creates a homey space to hang clothes-a far cry from the typical sterile, stainless steel rod.
When it comes to the shelves, display your neatest, prettiest things out in the open, but keep your dirty laundry to yourself: We added easy-to-make wool felt panels to hide slightly unsightly piles, and stashed T-shirts, socks, and scarves in woven baskets. Just throw like things together so you don't have to fold.
Resources: "Lack" bookcases, $129 each, ikea.com. Wool felt fabric (panels for shelves), $18 per yard, Mood Designer Fabrics, 212-730-5003. Dowels (for panels), $1.50 each, homedepot.com for stores. Similar ladder, $84, arusticgarden.com."Iringa" baskets, $135 for set of four, bamboulaltd.com for stores. Rattan basket (with handle), $40, worldmarket.com. John Robohm branch hooks, $40 and $50, livewirefarm.com. Jolly Jumper" bench, $175, conranusa.com. Oxford" rug, $598, braidedrugstore.com. Roost Porcelain Bell" lamp, $219, A & G Merch, 718-388-1779. Eames Angle" stool, $799, roomandboard.com.
- Two pieces of 2-by-four-inch wood
- Wool felt
- Needle and thread
- 1/2-inch dowels
- Adhesive velcro
To make the supports that will hold each end of your ladder, measure the depth of your shelving units and cut two pieces of 2-by-4-inch wood to fit. You can also have them cut to size at a store like Home Depot.
Screw supports to shelving units, making sure they are level and at the same height. Then lay the ladder on top of the supports, using a nail or screw to keep the ladder from slipping off.
For a more polished look, use a tape measure and a pencil to mark both the center of one piece of wood and the center of the ladder's width (on a rung). Line up the marks so the ladder is centered on the piece of wood. Mark where the ladder's side rails hit the wood.
On the marks you just made, cut out notches that are slightly wider and deeper than the ladders side rails. Repeat on other support.
If desired, sand and paint supports to match shelving.
Screw ladder supports to the sides of the shelving units.
Slide ladder into the supports, positioning shelving units so the ladder sits snugly between them.
Making a panel: Cut a piece of wool felt to the dimensions of the opening of each shelf you want to conceal, adding 2 inches to the height (for the hem). We bought our turquoise felted wool at Mood Designer Fabrics ($18 per yard, 212-730-5003); another great, inexpensive source is ericas.com.
Fold up the bottom of the panel 2 inches, and sew.
To create the handle, cut out a notch 1 1/2 inches high by 3 inches wide -- centered on the bottom edge of the panel. Just be sure not to cut through the 2-inch hem.
Cut a 1/2-inch-diameter dowel slightly shorter than the width of the panel (so it doesn't poke out of the ends). Slide the dowel into the hemmed edge.
Apply Velcro tape ("Velcro Sticky Back" tape, $28, joann.com to the top of the curtain and the top edge of the shelf.
Affix curtain by sticking Velcro tapes together.